My Story: Effie Kyrikakis

Though she’s new to wikis, Effie Kyrikakis’ bilingual Sunny Thought Project and Winners in Education wikis are generating a lot of buzz with their emphasis on positive thinking and global collaboration. We asked her to tell us about her experience:

Have you had to learn something from scratch recently? Well, I have. Allow me to tell you my story.

A need is born
Our school has always been committed to teaching using the most up-to-date methodology and resources. So I was completely flabbergasted when I accidentally realised a few months ago that there are educators and schools around the world who are connected in different ways and actually collaborate and share resources and projects on a daily basis! Our school simply had to catch that train. But how? I had no idea whatsoever. It was obvious, though, that the ticket to this trip was a website in English where we would be able to present our school to the world and display our work and collaboration to our local students and their families — many of whom do not speak a word of English. Hard problem to solve… until I came across wikis and the idea was born to create a bilingual wiki.

Challenges…
Now, that was easier said than done. My greatest challenge was I had no idea how a wiki — or a blog for that matter — worked and, at the time, I would have gladly chosen to climb Mount Everest instead. (I wouldn’t suffer a mental burnout there at least…) However, our new-found Skype friends were waiting, so I finally got down to work. I found tutorials in YouTube, asked friends, slept very little for about a month and, Hurray, finally found my way around it. That wiki developed into our bilingual website, winnerseducation.wikispaces.com. It has become a huge success with our students and their parents and has been our link to the world. Although the wiki editor still drives me crazy at times, I think it is one of the best tools a school can use to present their work — for free!

Unique features
What makes wikis unique for me is their user-friendly design. Once you get to grasp the general idea, even a newbie like me can create a very presentable wiki, which has the added benefit of being interactive! Visitors can take part in the discussion or ask to be members. (Be careful who you approve though, as a hard day’s work can be destroyed in a jiff.) A little more digging and you can actually turn your wiki to a professional-looking website. No programming, just easy-to-use tools.

Another very handy feature is members: All members are allowed to work independently, but still house together. Pages can easily be created and handled by a different member, while all members have access and can take part in the discussions. This is what inspired us to house in a wiki our new global project, What Makes Us Happy. More than ten schools from around the globe are already members and new ones are added by the day. Each of us can upload their students’ work at their own convenience.

There are certainly more features to be explored that will make my life easier. Yesterday, for example, I discovered by chance that I can email all the members at once by one push of the button. Wow!

I’m really thankful for this unique tool. Plus, this whole adventure has reminded me what it feels like to learn from the other side: that of the learner.

This precious insight cannot but make teaching better, don’t you agree?

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14 Comments

  1. Posted February 6, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    Congrats Eiffie. You deserve this recognition. I have been indulgently watching your efforts at connecting, collaborating and contributing at and . Keep up the good work. All the best.

  2. Posted February 6, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    Effie is such an inspirational educator! She has wonderful ideas and passion for her students. Great wiki and fun, exciting project!

  3. Jerome Gomes
    Posted February 6, 2012 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations !!! Your story is simple,straightforward,contagious and inspiring. I loved your caption, ” A need is born ” to put it in other words, ” Necessity is the mother of invention ” and there is no limit to what we can attain if we put our minds to it——- Sky is the limit.

  4. Katherine Zablatnik
    Posted February 7, 2012 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    I shall follow her footsteps. It’s worth it.

  5. Posted February 7, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Enthusiasm is infectious or should I say viral?

  6. Posted February 8, 2012 at 4:45 am | Permalink

    Bilingual blogging and wikiing is great. Hope this will inspire more non-English teachers to become proactive with this medias! Congratulation Effie!

  7. Sabely
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    First of all thank you!
    I totally agree with the last comment: enthusiasm is viral :)
    Second, sorry for my broken english… i can read it perfectly but im afraid i need to practice a little more…
    Thx for sharing !!

  8. Cynthia Taber
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Effie, your honesty is refreshing and helpful! I am encouraged to try something new because of your spirit of adventure and willingness to make mistakes. Bravo!

  9. Jim Krueger
    Posted February 12, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Wow looks like fun

  10. Posted February 13, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for your supportive comments everyone!
    It’s so exciting to be connected to like-minded educators who cannot but inspire one to
    grow and reach higher goals.

    Not in my wildest dreams had I imagined a few months ago when I embarked in this thrilling adventure what wonderful people were awaiting me out there, helpful, committed, willing to be infected by my enthusiasm and let me share theirs.
    Thank you @HLWskypers @globalclassroom
    I promise I’ll keep making creative, viral mistakes…

  11. David Karnoscak
    Posted February 15, 2012 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Effie is an amazing educator. I am amazed at how connected she is to her students. She truly knows how to make her classroom walls explode!

  12. Liliana S-Gonzalez
    Posted February 17, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    Hi Effie you work with my sister Dora and I always hear many wonderful things about you. It is great to see the care that you have with the students!

  13. Ian
    Posted February 25, 2012 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    Very interesting article. A lot of stuff can be accomplished using wikispaces

  14. Posted February 27, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    David and Liliana,
    Thanks for your encouraging comments, which go to show what great people networks one can built on the net with people we have never been together but feel that we share a lot with.

    Ian, glad you found this interesting. Every time I log on our global project wiki
    http://thesunnythoughtproject.wikispaces.com
    I find new, fresh ideas from students and educators around the world that bring a smile to my face and make me optimistic for the future!

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