Projects: A better way to work in classroom groups

Several months ago, we locked our programmers away in a secret laboratory with a single, all-consuming directive: find a better way for wiki members to do independent classroom group work.

We’re calling this new feature Projects. Whenever you have a particular assignment or activity, you can create a project for it, then define teams of members, each with its own unique pages, files, and permissions. Team content (that is, pages and files) are grouped together, separate from the main area of the wiki. That way, students in teams can do their group work completely independently from other teams.

As of today, projects are available on all Education-plan wikis (both K-12 and higher education), Plus- and Super-plan wikis that are categorized as Education, and all education Private Label sites. Projects have been built specifically for classroom work, so we are rolling them out to our education customers only. If you’re curious about how Projects work, check out our project  help documentation — or keep reading.

Wiki organizers
If you’re an organizer of your wiki, it’s up to you to create and manage projects. As long as you’re logged in as wiki organizer, you’ll see the Projects icon in your action menu. Click on it to view, manage, and create projects on your wiki.

Creating a project

  1. Go to Projects in the action menu.
  2. Give your project a Name. Like page names, project names must be unique. If you expect that you’ll be creating several similar projects, consider adding numbers to your project name. For example, the August biology unit might be biology-08.
  3. Decide how your teams will be defined.
  4. Set default team permissions for this project (you’ll be able to adjust individual team permissions later).
  5. Click Create.

Assigning teams
When you create your project, you have four choices about how to assign teams:

  • Name the teams now and add members later
  • Upload a spreadsheet with usernames and team names
  • Randomly assign members to teams of a set size
  • Use an existing project as a template

No matter how you assign teams, you can always rearrange them later. You can even rearrange team memberships while the project is active, as many times as you want:

  1. Go to Projects in the action menu.
  2. Click on the name of the project with teams you want to rearrange.
  3. Drag members into the teams you want to reassign them to.

As organizer, you and any other organizers on your wiki will be considered team leaders of all teams. You will not appear on the member list for any individual team, but you will have access to all teams and team pages.

Managing permissions
You have several options for team-level permission settings:

  • Public to wiki: All wiki members can view and edit pages
  • Protected to wiki: All wiki members can view pages, but only members of this team can edit pages
  • Private: Only members of this team can view and edit pages
  • Custom: Define custom permissions (on available to Super-plan wikis or wikis on Private Label sites)

You can change these permissions at any time. Just go to Projects, click on the project name, then click on the permissions link for the team you want to change.

Remember that custom team permissions overrule wiki permissions. For example, if your wiki is set to private, but your custom team settings include “Everyone can view pages,” even people without membership to your private wiki will have access to pages on that team. Custom team permissions do not overrule Private Label site settings.

Wiki members
If you’re a member of a wiki, you’ll only see the Projects icon if you’ve been assigned as a member of a team on an active project. Once you have been assigned to a team, you’ll see a list of the teams you belong to, and can follow those links to the home page for that team.

Adding pages
When your team is brand new, there’s nothing in it but a home page. As you work, though, you’ll probably want to add more pages.

To add a new page, just click the New Page icon in the action menu. This will create a new page on the team (not on the main area of the wiki), so it will be protected by the same permissions as the rest of the team.

To see a list of the pages on your team, just go to Manage team > Pages.

Adding files
Your team also has a special set of files, separate from the files for the main area of the wiki. If you upload a file while editing a team page, it’ll be added to the files for that team.

To see a list of the files in your team (and upload more files), just go to Manage team > Files.

We can’t wait to see what you’ll do with Projects. So be sure to send us an email at help@wikispaces.com, telling us what you think.

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46 Comments

  1. Posted August 31, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    This is just about the best thing I’ve seen in awhile. I’m an avid wikispaces user and promoter in and out of my school district and this is just awesome. What a GREAT idea! Thank you!

    Dianne Krause
    Instructional Technology Specialist

  2. Posted August 31, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Fantastic! This will really help with my PBL classes.

  3. Posted September 1, 2011 at 2:48 am | Permalink

    I thought wikispaces was just about perfect, but this tops everything. I can’t wait to get my students started on private projects that will go public only when they are ready. This feature is fabulous!

  4. Anne Maxwell
    Posted September 1, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    This is a brillant addition!. Thank you Wikispaces!

  5. Posted September 1, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    This sounds really promising!

  6. Mercedes
    Posted September 1, 2011 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    Thanks a lot. I’m willing to start with my new students so that I can practice all these tips!

  7. C
    Posted September 2, 2011 at 2:38 am | Permalink

    Fantastic- and great timing as well!! We are just about to start on a study of the countries involved in the Rugby World Cup. What a great platform for this! Thank you!!

  8. Posted September 2, 2011 at 3:34 am | Permalink

    As the new school year begins I am very excited to share this feature with my teachers. This is exactly what teachers were looking for to add student group collaboration to their class wikipages. Thank you for developing tools for the education sector!! Our district has a private label wiki and all of our students have account. Let the group projects begin!

  9. Posted September 2, 2011 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    I would love to try this feature as a Super User, Non-Education! We have a lot of committees throughout our department that would greatly benefit from this feature! Pretty please ;)

  10. Posted September 2, 2011 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    This is great. I had always created new wikis for projects, but this would allow me to keep the project under the umbrella of the same wikispace.

  11. Posted September 2, 2011 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Brilliant new feature! Is there a way to convert a project page (or collection of pages) into a regular wiki page later? I’m thinking of a situation where I might want a group to work together on a new section of the wiki that is kept as a private project while they’re working out the kinks but when it is done gets “promoted” to the main wiki. I do see that I could convert it to a publicly viewable project, but it still remains under the Projects link in the navigation.

  12. Posted September 3, 2011 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Project work is “an approach to learning which complements mainstream methods and which can be used with almost all levels, ages and abilities of students” (Haines 1989:1).

    Project-based learning is as a variable tool to fully integrate language and content learning for teachers working in a variety of instructional settings.

    Why Project Work?
    * Motivation is increased
    * All four skills are integrated
    * Autonomous learning is promoted
    * Tasks and language input are authentic
    * Interpersonal relations are developed
    * Content and methodology are negotiated
    Read more on Project Work at: http://www.wiziq.com/tutorial/8183-project-work

  13. Posted September 3, 2011 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    WOW! This is fabulous! This will so help us move education forward!

  14. Posted September 4, 2011 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    This sounds like a great addition to Wikispaces’ services to educators, but I have a question. Do the students have to register with Wikispaces in order to join a wiki and be assigned to a team? I’ve always kept my student wiki pages wide open (public) so they can edit without having to register. In Canada, according to our privacy laws, we aren’t permitted to ask students at any grade level to register with websites that will store their information on servers outside our country.Can we still use the Projects feature?

  15. Posted September 4, 2011 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    This truly helps collaborative instruction. And promotes continual revision. And new ideas from team work. As a trusted member and user of wikispaces. I am so pleased to see wikispaces supprting 21st century thinking and a collaborative work environment. Thank you!

  16. Nazik
    Posted September 4, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Great Feature for PBL. But personally I don’t have “Projects” on my action menu, I wonder why.

  17. Posted September 5, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Love, love, love it! I’ve already set up project groups for reflective thinking in our class of year 2 children. Will get it started with them tomorrow. Can’t wait!

  18. Posted September 6, 2011 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Hi Sue — yes, using custom permissions you can set the projects to be public.

  19. Posted September 7, 2011 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    I’ll use this feature of wikis in my classroom, too.

  20. Posted September 7, 2011 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    I’m part of several initiatives that are educational and cultural (and not-for-profit) but are not linked to any educational institution — they are self-organised by communities of interest. Is there any way such community education initiatives can seek classification as “education customers” to get access to Wikispaces projects, please?

  21. Posted September 7, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    What’s the thinking on availability of this feature for non-education sites? This seems a good fit for informal collaborations with different subgroups of colleagues whose contributions should remain private amongst members of the same project.
    In what way has the Projects feature set been “built specifically for classroom work”, which might make it inappropriate in other situations?

  22. Steve
    Posted September 7, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Is this just a premium feature? I can’t seem to find it.

  23. Cleairene Granger
    Posted September 7, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    I have been in the teaching industry for 29 years and I have seen nothing like this.
    Even though it may be clever, I believe that we teachers can manage without ‘technology’ GETTING IN THE WAY.

  24. Posted September 7, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    Steve — it’s enabled for education wikis only at the moment. Drop us an email at help@wikispaces.com if you’d like us to recategorize your wiki.

  25. roslyn haynes
    Posted September 8, 2011 at 4:59 am | Permalink

    Technology use in the teaching/learning situation is a must for 21t. century collaboration/co-ooperation in and out of the classroom. It will also aid in the development of new and old literacies.

  26. Martín Ruiz
    Posted September 8, 2011 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Excelente!!
    Se tendrán más herramientas y mejores para las nuevas modalidades educativas. Permite el establecimiento del proyecto, la interacción, el avance y evaluación con el equipo de trabajo.

  27. Justin
    Posted September 8, 2011 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    I`m looking forward to trying this feature. Sounds wonderful!

  28. fratondo
    Posted September 8, 2011 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    how big could be the file attached by each participants?

  29. Ove Christensen
    Posted September 9, 2011 at 1:07 am | Permalink

    I’ve created a wiki for education but I don’t see the feature ‘Projects’ in the action panel. Is there another setting for educational wikies?
    It sounds like a great feature and I’m sad that I’m unable to try it out.

  30. Posted September 10, 2011 at 1:21 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much for adding this! In my class, we are beginning to complete hefty participant observations and need a place to compile data and all our empirical findings! This is perfect for the groups completing separate research projects. Thank you!

  31. Keith Critchett
    Posted September 11, 2011 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant. Thank the team for something I have been longing for, seriously changes how I can teach in a collaborative environment now :)

  32. Posted September 12, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm, on reading this carefully and watching the video, I am now confused about whether “project” and “team” are actually synonymous, or are they distinct? That is, do “project” and “team” have distinct properties? The discussion says “This will create a new page on the team”, which suggests that team is either the same as project, or team is finer-grained than project.

    Further, how is a page associated with a team/project, and can that association be changed later? For example, can a team work on pages in private, and then as each individual page is ready, “publish” them to a wider audience by changing what team/project/whatever that page is associated with?

    Thanks,
    Graham

  33. Peter Nelson
    Posted September 13, 2011 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    This is a nice feature but it’s too bad it’s limited to “education” users. Wikispaces seems to be focused on it’s education base while non-education centric users get left behind. Why not roll this out to everyone?

  34. Posted September 13, 2011 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Hi Graham,

    All good questions. The Project is basically a category for grouping teams together. All the actual pages, files, and members in that project must be associated with a specific team.

    Once a team has been created under a Project, it stays in that Project. Likewise, once a page has been created on a team, it stays on that team. But you can absolutely publish a single team page to a wider audience: just change the permissions on that page. To change page permissions, hover your mouse over the down arrow on the page tab, then select Permissions from the list.

    Hope that helps!

  35. Posted September 13, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Hi Peter,

    We built Projects based on loud and clear feedback from our education audience, who are the majority of Wikispaces users. Along the way we thought hard about whether to make the feature generic. We chose not to out of fear that we’d add a feature that wasn’t great for education and wasn’t great for other uses — our worst-case outcome!

    The good news is we’re happy to reconsider. We know what our education users want out of Projects. What would be incredibly helpful is if you could tell us how you would use this feature. What uses you have in mind, which users would go in teams and with what permissions, and what kinds of structure you’d look to build. Shoot us an email at help@wikispaces.com. Thanks!

  36. Greg
    Posted September 14, 2011 at 3:25 am | Permalink

    I can’t find PROJECTS. We really want to use it. Help?

  37. Posted September 14, 2011 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Hi Greg,

    If you have an education wiki, you should see the Projects icon right underneath the Wiki Home icon in your action menu. If you think you have an education wiki but you’re not seeing the icon, send us and email at help@wikispaces.com and we’ll see what’s going on.

  38. Posted September 14, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    I’m having trouble with the permissions here – it seems like you can change the page, once it’s finished, to be a public page even though it’s part of a team…I can lock it (organizer edits only, which is a good way to enforce a “due date” by the way), and it says anyone with access to the wiki can view it under that choice. But I can’t get it to work that way! I was just hoping I would be able to let students finish their work and then email parents to take a look at what they had come up with (and be able to see it without being members) – it doesn’t seem like that’s possible. Am I doing something wrong?

    Also, as a development suggestion, it would be nice if members could be “groups” of some kind so if you are wanting to create a project several separate classes are doing you can still use the “random assignment” feature in the teams but confine it to only specific members ahead of the random assignment – I couldn’t see a way to do it.
    Thanks for this – despite the problem, I’m excited!

  39. Rema Menon
    Posted October 15, 2011 at 5:27 am | Permalink

    This is really an awesome site for teachers! And the projects is just want I have been wanting for my groups!

  40. kelly
    Posted November 3, 2011 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    Is there a way for students to edit a page simultaneously like you can in Google docs?

  41. Posted November 6, 2011 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    I am totally lost. I am trying to set up a sample student to see how to give my real students directions to participate and am…lost. I keep returning to my page. How do I tell the students to ‘log on’?

  42. Posted November 7, 2011 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Hi Kerin— Send us an email at help@wikispaces.com and we’ll help you resolve your problem.

  43. David Fields
    Posted November 9, 2011 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    How can I move pages within the website? After I moved some students between groups, they lost access to their old pages and now have started creating pages on the main wiki. I need to move these pages back up within their project group.

  44. Posted November 9, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    Hi,
    thanks for this feature. I have been using it for my new math PBL for decimals. My problem is, how can I make the team pages public so they can show their families. It seems that if they are not a member, then they can’t see their page. Also, when the teams add another page, how come you can’t see it without going to manage team then pages. Shouldn’t we be able to see any additional page as a tab from their home page?
    Thanks for any help you can offer.
    Leona

  45. Fernando Delgado
    Posted November 14, 2011 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Hi!!

    This is great but, it is possible to add a previous page to a new created team? If it is. How can i do that, Thanks.

    Fernando

  46. MANUEL
    Posted November 26, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    ¿por qué no lo traducen al español?

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  • By Chandler Salcedo on November 18, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Chandler Salcedo…

    Muchos Gracias for your article post.Much thanks again. Great….

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