Wikis have developed over time and now it can be hard to see the difference between a content management system and a wiki. Generally though Wikis contain things like widely editable pages, a page history, records of discussions about the page's development, and the ability to subscribe to notifications of changes to the page. Duffy and Bruns (2008) provide a good quick overview of wikis and their uses in 'The use of blogs, wikis and RSS in education: A conversation of possibilities'.
As some interesting examples of non-education specific uses have a look at:
- Wikipatterns - A collaboratively updated book about different ways in which wikis can be used
- Pulp Bard - Colaborative project to translate the Pulp Fiction film script into a Shakespearean equivalent
- Wikipedia (English Version) - The largest wiki
- Wikia - A site hosting 1000s of wikis where the communities have collected information about things like travel, games and films.
Many educators have used in Wikis in Higher Education. Some uses we are aware of at Edge Hill include:
- Encouraging writing at an early stage of a student’s university career (Rob Spence)
- Facilitating collaboration on critiques of set texts (Damien Short)
- Running 'World Café' style activities online (Garry McDowell)
- Administrative uses such as sharing board papers inside and outside the university using a Campus Pack wiki (Undergraduate Professional Development Board)
- Sharing lists of Frequently Asked Questions [nb: EHU login required] (David Callaghan)
Other uses elsewhere in Higher Education include:
- Georgia Tech used wikis for many different activities, including collaborative FAQs, cross-semester discussions and collaborative writing activities.
- The University of California have “one class where the students are evaluated entirely on their contributions to a public wiki” (Mark Guzdial). It’s a Biology class where they are using the wiki to “assemble and annotate the genome of the UCSC mascot Ariolimax dolichophallus, the slender banana slug”
- Mark Phillipson (in Cummings and Bartson, eds. 2008) proposes a taxonomy of five types of wiki use (resource, presentation, gateway, simulation, and illumination) to help newcomers understand the range of potential uses.
Potential benefits reported have included
- Wikis "supporting social-constructivist models of pedagogy" (Feng Su and Chris Beaumont, 2010)
- Wikis "invite collaboration and tolerate dissension, moving toward consensus and defined disagreement" (Cummings and Barton, 2008)
- Students can benefit from quick peer feedback when there is a vibrant community. (Feng Su and Chris Beaumont, 2010)
- Wikis can be used to promote integration of learning - i.e. "the ability to connect, apply, and/or synthesize information, knowledge and skills across varied contexts" (Barber, 2012)
Potential issues to be aware of, include those related to orientation and usability of the technology.
- "inadequate socialisation at the start of the collaborative activity was a key obstacle in conducting group projects or activities at a distance" (Dr Shailey Minocha)
- "When participants fail to form functional groups in their wikis, their ability to engage with the task and to form a community of enquiry... is impaired." (Benson, et al, 2012)
- Finding the right wiki tool for your particular use. "usability is the key attribute for a positive user experience" (Shailey Minocha and Peter G. Thomas, 2007)
I've started making notes around a few articles and my list might help you get started exploring the literature.
Finally, the following videos have been created to show how certain simple things can be done using Campus Pack wikis.