Today I had the privilege to participate in Discovery’s Beyond the Textbook forum. One of my take-aways from the day’s conversation is that most of the technologies that we want to use to make textbooks interactive and meaningful for students already exist, we just need to organize and utilize them in a way that makes sense for teachers and students. I’ve combined that take-away with a recent request from a reader to delineate some ways that teachers can use Wikispaces to create this list of ideas for using wikis in classrooms. Please feel free to add your suggestions, with links if possible, in the comments below (please note, I’ll be on planes for the next 18 hours so there will be a delay between your comment submission and its appearance on the blog).
1. As a digital portfolio of student-created videos.
2. As a place for students to share notes on each unit of study in your courses.
3. As an alternative to textbooks. Work with colleagues in your school or department to create a multimedia reference site for your students. Include YouTube videos that use the “choose your own adventure” model to allow students to pursue areas of interest.
4. As an alternative to textbooks. Have students create reference pages for units of study in your course. When you do this students become responsible to each other for creating accurate and meaningful content that they can refer to when it comes time for assessment. For example, when I get to the 1920’s in my US History curriculum I have each student create a page on a wiki about a theme from that decade. Some of the themes that the students cover are fashion, entertainment, and sports. I mentioned this briefly on a podcast that will be published soon by Steve Dembo and Dean Shareski.
5. As a place to track, document, and manage on-going community projects. In my district every student is required to complete a community service project before graduation. As a homeroom or “common block” advisor teachers are supposed to help their students take the necessary steps to document that work. By creating a homeroom wiki you create a place where students can make weekly updates about what they have done to complete their projects.
How are you using wikis in your classroom? Please leave a comment below.
If you’re not quite sure what a wiki is or what makes it different from a traditional website or blog, watch Wikis in Plain English from Common Craft.