A wiki is a website whose users can add, modify, or delete its content via a web browser using a simplified markup language or a rich-text editor. Wikis are typically powered by wiki software and are often created collaborativelyby multiple users (Source:

Plainly put, a wiki is a website where anyone can edit anything anytime they want (Richardson, 2006), as long as they are member of that wiki community. Some wikis, like Wikipedia, are public and open to anyone to edit. Most wikis are closed, and open only to members to modify.

I wanted to embed a video here that neatly explains what a wiki is but the embed code on YouTube has been disabled, so you will just have to click on the link Wikis in plain English. But just to demonstrate that you can embed videos into wikis you might like to look at this, or not:

Intended characteristics of a wiki

  • A wiki invites all users to edit any page or to create new pages within the wiki Web site, using only a plain-vanilla Web browser without any extra add-ons.
  • Wiki promotes meaningful topic associations between different pages by making page link creation almost intuitively easy and showing whether an intended target page exists or not.
  • A wiki is not a carefully crafted site for casual visitors. Instead, it seeks to involve the visitor in an ongoing process of creation and collaboration that constantly changes the Web site landscape.

Advantages of wikis:

  • many wiki tools are free
  • they are simple to use, and do not require an advanced knowledge of html or other mark up languages
  • wikis employ hypertexts or the ability to link directly to other places and sites on the Internet
  • you can insert images, videos and other widgets into a wiki page
  • they are stored 'in the cloud' meaning you don't have to be tied to your own computer to access your wiki
  • they support asynchronous communication so they foster collaboration between people who know each other and those who don't
  • they support collaborative knowledge building
  • you can see what changes have been made, by whom and when
  • you can revert to earlier versions of a page
  • most wikis have the facility to support communication between members/contributors via discussions and/or comments.

Wikis in the classroom

Wikis are used educationally for a variety of functions.

But in whatever ways wikis are used, it is important from an education perspective to ensure that notions of collaborative knowledge building and student as creator and publisher are foremost.

Here are some suggested uses:

  • Students might use a wiki for a group project to jointly publish what they found. This could involve a group or a whole class of students sharing new knowledge about a particular topic, where each student is responsible for publishing a section of that new knowledge. An example might include a project on Endangered Animals, where each student publishes their findings about a particular species on a separate page within a wiki.
  • Students might use a wiki to build an interactive story -choose your own adventure story, for example Terry The Tennis Ball
  • A teacher might establish a wiki site as a class web page, as a way to connect parents and other members of the wider community to what happens in their classrooms. Students might be responsible for adding content to the class wiki. For example, Yarra Road Primary School Grade 5
  • Wikis are also frequently used as personal digital portfolio for students. This wiki explains more about using wikis as digital portfolios for students Digtial portfolio examples. More about digital portfolios can be foudn in this comprehensive wiki built be teachers from Echuca - Digital portfolios and more!!!

Wiki tools

The most popular wiki creation tool in education is Wikispaces.

Wetpaint is also used.


Your task today

1. Nominate someone from your group to add a new page to the class wiki where as a team you will publish the required information on your Web 2.0 application. Each person in the group must edit the page. Add an image; embed a video; type in words; change someone else's words; explore what other things you can add to your wiki page.

2. Your second task is to post some feedback to this page - how do you react to the use of wikis? What do you see as their advantages? what might be some fo the diasdvantages of using a wiki? What other ideas can you imagine using a wiki for within your classroom?