Featured Wiki: “Anything is Possible” with Ray Mirhsahi’s Projects

Ray Mirshahi teaches at Timberbank Junior Public School in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and is a regular Twitter contributor to the educational community. He teaches ICT / Media Literacy in the morning to the whole school and Grade 3 in the afternoon, and we were so thrilled to be able to sneak a few minutes of his time recently to hear all about how he has used Wikispaces Classroom.

Ray uses this education-specific version of Wikispaces.com to design an engaging learning environment for students, and manages several different wikis as the ICT and Media Literacy coordinator. One worth a deep dive is his teaching resource site. He also has a separate wiki for his schooland for his class, where he shares short and long term curricular plans. Finally, he has a wiki for his students where students post work, share feedback, and are assessed by Ray. By creating separate wikis, Ray allows himself to differentiate the content and permission levels he’d like for different audiences. We think it’s a great example, and encourage you to give it a go! Remember teachers, you can have unlimited wikis.

Take a moment, relax, and watch as Ray walks us through his ‘student wiki’ using Wikispaces Classroom:


Ray has shared more here and be sure to say hello to him on Twitter. Thanks Ray!

Setting Up Your Navigation

Many teachers use the navigation bar on the right-hand side of their wikis to simply list all of their pages. Ray took it a step further: he edited the navigation bar to include specific links to his different classes, and even for his archived alumni sites.

Create alumni links using "edit navigation" in the navigation panel

Create alumni links using “edit navigation” in the navigation panel

Want to try it? Click “Edit Navigation” at the bottom of the navigation panel– twice!– and then you’ll have access to that whole space in the side panel to customize. Enjoy!

Click on "edit navigation page" to customize

Click on “edit navigation page” to customize

Personal Spaces for Each Student

Ray says, “We use wikis to allow students to collaborate, as well as let their individual voices to come through,” and that’s obvious as soon as you see the individual pages he has set up for his students where they can post things that interest them. Ray adds: “Students need their own safe social media spaces where they can work and play, and Wikispaces in my opinion is the best platform for that.”

To set this personal space up Ray created a new Project and then created a page for each student. This makes it easy for him to check on students’ work quickly and give them feedback. It’s so easy to do, the principal even comes in and leaves comments, which naturally is super-exciting for students.

Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 11.43.13 AM-1

One Project, Small Group of Students

This is a great example of managing small groups of students working together in your class. In this case, Ray creates Projects and then only adds two or three students to it. He has a collaborative page where they can work on things together, such as this awesome “Ghost Ship” story. Then, he creates a page for their own individual work, where they can easily leave each other feedback and ideas.

Ray creates Projects and puts several students in each to work together.

Ray creates Projects and puts several students in each to work together.

One Project, All Students

As Ray says, “It’s so easy!” He uses a variety of Project formats based on the lesson and needs of each of his classes. In the case below, Ray created a Geometry Project and he uses it as an “extension of the lesson.” For instance, he has his students go to the topic they are studying and add to his digital activity, such as identifying vertices on a shape using an animation and having discussions about it, right there on the “lesson page.”

Create one Project, add all students to it, and you've got yourself an interactive lesson space.

Create one Project, add all students to it, and you’ve got yourself an interactive lesson space.

One Project, All Students, Uploading Files

Another use Ray has discovered for the Project space is creating one Project and then simply instructing students to upload their files to that page. This creates a lovely list of files that you can actually comment and give feedback on right there. In this case, for his Audio Jam project, he had students upload their .mp4 files directly to the page and each is able to easily be commented upon.

Uploading Files on a Project Page

Uploading Files on a Project Page

Want to try it? Create ONE Project, and then simply put your instructions on the home page and have the students just “Add File.” Then, go to “Pages” and you’ll see them all waiting for you to peruse.


Posted in Wikispaces | 2 Responses

Join Us! Research Q and A with Justin Ellsworth: Wikis and Professional Development Best Practices

As the end of the school year draws near for many parts of the world, many educators are taking the time (if they can find it!) to reflect. We hope you can find the time to think about what you have learned this year and hope to build into your professional development (PD) and learning in the coming school year. Justin Ellsworth took this type of reflection to the next level, making it the focus of his own academic student from 2009 to 2011, and recently published the results below. 

Justin EllsworthJustin, a former high school science teacher, is now an instructional technology coordinator at Farmington Public Schools in Michigan, where he focuses on the integration of technology in teaching and learning. From 2009 to 2011, he researched how to best design technology training practices and measured their effects on teacher learning.

His study finds that “participation in PD that is sustained, student-centered, participatory, and supported by adequate resources can have a significant impact on teacher learning and practice about specific technologies.”

Based on our experiences with students and teachers over the past decade, we strongly agree with Justin, and hope you enjoy reading more about his methodology below. Originally shared in the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) Journal of Research on Technology on Education (JRTE) in 2012, we are thrilled to have permission from ISTE to share it here on our blog for wiki users to integrate excellent training in their schools and districts.

Give it a read and let us know what you think and any questions you have for Justin! Feel free to share with us on Twitter @wikispaces or with the hashtag #wikipd. You can also join our ongoing TodaysMeet board and post down your question or connection here.

Some guiding questions for reading the research:

1) What are you currently doing for teacher training and professional development in technology at your school?

2) What ideas do you have to enhance it for the coming school year?

3) As a wiki user, which skills do you feel are most important to help teachers and students learn?

4) What is one quote that really resonated with you?

Join Justin and Wikispaces on Thursday, June 5th, at 12pm Pacific/3pm Eastern. Register here and get ready to be inspired!

Posted in Wikispaces | 10 Responses

A Big Wikispaces Welcome to Justin and Erin

Wikispaces has grown! Today we are excited to welcome to the team Justin Francesconi, our new DevOps Engineer, and Erin Connery, our new Operations Manager. Both started in the past few weeks and we’re very excited to have them!

Justin is a talented engineer who will be optimizing and supporting the infrastructure that Wikispaces runs on. Previously Justin worked at Eventbrite and before that TubeMogul. Outside work, Justin is a passionate chef. Every so often he donates his time as the stand in chef at a favorite local restaurant. Welcome, Justin!


Justin whipping up a pizza

Erin comes to us from The Hatchery, a coworking space for startups he helped launch in San Francisco. Before that, Erin worked in a corporate social responsibility organization. He has worked at several startups over the past five years and really enjoys optimizing teams. In his free time he is usually outdoors, either climbing on rocks or running up mountains. He swears he is smiling in the picture below.

Erin Connery

Erin smiling as he climbs some rocks.

Our team will continue to grow in May. We’re still on the search for fantastic software engineers to build and scale our quickly growing education technology platform. Please refer to our website http://www.wikispaces.com/jobs for more information.


Posted in Wikispaces | 1 Response

Going Mobile with Wikispaces Just Got Even Better

“If I could kiss @wikispaces right now, I would! Have you looked at your wikis on an iPad today?”

We were excited to read @RhondaLuetje‘s response on Twitter and hope you feel the same! Our team knows how important it is to access their content from a variety of devices, and our most recent update has a few features that will change your mobile experience for the better.

1. Responsive Sizing

Websites sometimes look different depending on the device you’re using, and we want to make sure Wikispaces looks just as good no matter what you’re using. Now you should see much cleaner navigation with some awesome responsive sizing elements. For instance, you won’t see horizontal scrollbars on your phone and tablets while still maintaining a nice juicy large screen experience to your desktop browsers.

2. Improved Pop-Ups

Pop-up screens come up for a variety of reasons in your web world, and sometimes they can act a little funky on mobile devices. Now, with Wikispaces, they should act a bit more behaved for you on the small screen. Menus should appear and take up the entire screen, making it much easier to read, scroll, and make the customizations you need.


Pop-ups now take up the entire screen.

3. Larger Button Targets

Screen Shot 2014-03-14 at 1.26.50 PM-1Sometimes, when we use our fingers on our mobile devices, we feel like we’re mashing the screen with huge unwieldy mitts that never get those pesky buttons to do what we want them to do.

To help with this phenomenon, our engineers have made buttons larger so they can be more easily clicked with your finger. On the navigational menu, you’ll notice all of your buttons on the side and easier to press. Sadly, they still won’t work if your fingers are in a glove or covered in Cheeto dust, but we’re working on it.


Now larger buttons for your navigation menu!


4. Top Navigation

We’re nothing without our navigation – in fact, we’d be lost without it (nyuk nyuk). Now everyone gets a top navigational bar on even the smallest screens that incorporates menu items in one place. This saves precious screen space and lets you easily access all of the controls you need.

Let us know what you think at @wikispaces or help@wikispaces.com because we’re always striving to improve your experience.

Posted in Wikispaces | 3 Responses

Now Looking for Ridiculously Talented Folks to Join Our Squad!

You may have heard that we’ve recently joined forces with education powerhouse TSL Education. This is great news on many fronts. For one, it means that we’ll be expanding our team in South of Market in San Francisco, California!

WikiDoorThere are a lot of reasons you might want to join us, not just because of the fabulous array of lunchtime eateries within walking distance of our HQ. Have a listen to Eric, for instance, our Account Manager who has been with Wikispaces for 4 years. “I have the opportunity to work with an intelligent team of well-rounded, genuine people who bring a sense of purpose and humor to the office,” he notes. “While I get clear guidance from the team, every original idea is welcomed with honest advice and support. Interacting with our users, I get a real sense pride from learning about the impact our work has had on teachers, students and the larger educational community.” Eric is our first point of contact on the phone and email for our Wikispaces Campus members and he helps them design the experience they need for success at their school.

If you join our team as our Operations Manager, you’ll have all sorts of opportunities to work with Eric and the rest of our team. You’ll get to help manage our vendor relationships, run our recruiting program, manage our employee benefits programs, handle incoming payments from our customers, arrange meals and travel, handle our (simple) accounting, manage and update basic financial reports, and generally be responsible for our team being happy and productive. It’s an amazing opportunity to help shape the way our company grows.

Wikispaces has been evolving in so many exciting ways over the years, thanks in no small part to our talented team of software engineers, and now we are looking for new members to help push the platform even further. Our partnership with TSL will bring resources and a demand for all kinds of creativity. So if fun challenges are your kind of thing, you may consider becoming one of our Software Engineers. If you join the team, you’ll be designing and building new pieces of the application, working on our front-end javascript and AJAX, squeezing a few more requests/second out of our web heads, and working on our replicated databases and file storage. We’re also looking for a DevOps Engineer to help manage and scale our cloud-hosted infrastructure. Candidates must have a love for automating the things they do today so they can do more interesting things tomorrow and of course they’ll get to work with a pretty fantastic team.

Maybe you’re more into User Interface design? Perfect. Come join our team as ouUI/UX Designer and realize your vision in HTML and CSS. You’ll own our interface and will make your mark on a site with over 35 million monthly visitors and thousands of customers.

Max leads our Support efforts, and really enjoys “working in an environment that understands the value of teachers, and actively works on providing teachers with tools that make teaching more efficient and engaging.” Everything you do in Operations, Software Engineering, DevOps or UI/UX will revolve around that principle, and maybe Max will even teach you some of his krav maga moves. If you’re lucky.

Read about all of these jobs in detail at wikispaces.com/jobs and send us your CV right away if you’re talented, a great team member, and you feel like we’d be a good fit for you.

Posted in Wikispaces | Comments closed
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