My wiki adventures began in early 2010. I originally planned to use my class wiki as an online message board to keep parents informed about what was happening in my class of 10-11 year olds and to post information, such as homework assignments and important dates. The wiki format was quick and easy to use and the “What you see is what you get” editor suited the needs of a busy teacher.
The collaborative nature of Wikispaces meant that the children were soon getting in on the action and making their own pages. There were pages dedicated to sport teams, pets, gymnastics, art tutorials and even cookery tips. The children began uploading images and text without me even showing them how to edit the page.
We started to use Wikispaces more frequently in class and eventually we ditched our class page on the school learning platform and started using our Wikispaces page as our online hub. The children began to make even more impressive pages with embedded content and media from around the web. One memorable project involved the class making their own TV production company, for which they wrote, designed, filmed and produced everything for their own TV show, including advertisements. We used a range of websites to help us, but every stage of the process was managed, collated and published on our class wiki.
I began to upload most of my lesson resources to the wiki so that the children could access some of the material before they came into class and so they could get on with applying what they had learned as soon as they got there. I only found out much later that many educators were “flipping” their classrooms in this way. The response from the children and their parents was superb and we found that the wiki was getting hits from across the world.
My class also worked on a collaborative project with our partner school in China using a separate wiki,
http://speechbubbles.wikispaces.com. Both schools began making videos to teach each other our native languages. The children choose the words and phrases they thought would be useful to new learners. They made the videos in small groups between classes and edited them during the school’s tech club. This project caught the attention of the local government and I was asked to talk about using wikis in education at a number of conferences and meetings.
More and more teachers from other schools contacted me about the resources I was sharing and about how they could create their own wikis in their schools. In December 2010, I setup a wiki that was designed to share the interesting things I found online with teachers in my school and with educators around the world. Three years and many awards later, the ICTmagic wiki at http://ictmagic.wikispaces.com receives thousands of hits each day and it is full of resources for every kind of teacher.
Now with the new “Classroom” setting, our wiki page has become even more useful and interactive. The front page allows you to add messages and create a feed for parents and the children. There is also a project feature which allows you to manage classroom assignments and homework by creating teams and pages for a special project. The assessment tool allows me to see which parts of a wiki page were edited by whom and how long they worked on it, making it easy to ensure that everyone is pulling their weight and to help or congratulate individual children on their posts.
It is not hyperbole to say that using wikis has changed the way I teach, learn and collaborate with my class and with other educators. Start on your own wiki adventure and see where it takes you.
Martin Burrett (@ICTmagic) is a Year 5/6 teacher at Mersea Island School in Essex UK. He is an educational speaker and an advocate for using digital technology to improve teaching and learning in schools.