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Suggested Best Practices for Wikis in Moodle

Why Use a Wiki?

A wiki is a simple, flexible tool for collaboration. Wikis can be used for everything from simple lists of web links to building entire encyclopedias. As an example, Wikipedia is the largest wiki in the world. At the most basic level, wikis allow students to make sets of inter-linked pages and upload text, images, and other media.

In your own class, it's important to have a plan for your wiki so students know how it fits in with their learning. A great advantage of a wiki is that all edits are clearly visible and reversible. If it's a individual wiki, will students be graded? Is it simply a staging area for group work that will be submitted as assignments later? Will you let students be completely responsible for the work? How will you deal with inappropriate content? 

The wiki available in Moodle at UMass Amherst is Wiki (enhanced). Developed by Open University (also known as OU Wiki), this wiki tool provides a variety of features for instructors, including the ability to save as template, set release time for editing, get statistics on individual student’s participation, and easily grade and provide feedback, including ability for to annotate pages (by teacher or any role given permission).  For more, see Wiki (enhanced) Activity in Moodle.

Specific Ideas for Using Wikis

Group lecture notes

Creating a wiki for group lecture notes after a lecture gives students a chance to combine all their notes. Those that missed information can get it from their peers. The group can also decide what information is critical and give it proper emphasis. Group lecture notes can be done with the entire class (if it is small enough), or with small working groups. Groups can also compare notes for further discussion and refinement.

Group Project Management

A teacher assigning a group project can give students a place to work by creating a wiki with the group mode enabled. This will give each group their own space to record research, develop outlines, and create the final product.

Brainstorming

Brainstorming is a non-judgmental group creative process in which group members are encouraged to give voice to any ideas they personally consider relevant to the group exercise. In a face-to-face meeting, a brainstorming facilitator will usually stand in front of a big piece of paper and elicit ideas from the participants in the room. A teacher can create an online version of this process by setting up a wiki for the entire class or for smaller student groups. People are asked to submit ideas around a brainstorming topic, and can add ideas as they occur and link to other wiki pages for elaboration.

Contribute to Other Wikis

A teacher might assign his or her class the task of contributing to Wikipedia, Wikiversity, or to another wiki on the Web, on any class topic. This can be done by assigning students to groups (or making it a class project if the class is small enough and the topic broad enough) and challenging them to collaboratively create an article they would feel confident posting to a public-information space. Students will use the course wiki to create drafts of the article they will eventually publish to the community at the end of the semester.