Learning together introducing wikis/Resource

From OER in Education

Learning together: introducing wikis

Course information

You will need access to

  • a computer with a web browser
  • a class/group of students – groups could be within classes, whole classes or groups across classes (e.g. clubs) and schools (e.g. collaborative projects across schools).

Duration of the course 6 hours (including a 2 hour face-to-face session with a facilitator) over six weeks

  • Online total - 3.5 hours
    • independent study - 2 hours (e.g. course preparation, reflection)
    • collaborative - 1.5 hours (e.g. forum discussion, posting reflective experience)
  • Offline total - 2.5 hours
    • face-to-face - 2 hours
    • workplace - 30 minutes (planning a wiki-based collaborative activity for your learners).

Learning outcomes

Professional and reflective practitioner skills

At the completion of this course, you should be able to

  • identify opportunities for groups of learners to use wikis in a collaborative situation
  • consider how wikis may be used in other contexts to encourage learners to collaborate on multiply authored projects.

Practical skills

At the completion of this course, you should be able to

  • create a wiki page using open source software or register for a hosted wiki space
  • make use of wikis that are already available on your school VLE or learning platform.

Knowledge and understanding

At the completion of this course, you should be able to

  • consider how a wiki could be used as a tool to support learners in a collaborative activity
  • understand how to support learners in the collaborative activity by providing ground rules and making all learners feel able to add to the wiki.

Cognitive skills

At the completion of this course, you should be able to

  • critically assess the use of wikis as a tool for successful collaborative activity
  • discuss the issues around codes of conduct for multiple authoring.

Course schedule

Activities Type Duration
Activity 1 What are wikis? Online 30 minutes
Activity 2 Research into the use of wikis in secondary schools Optional 1 hour

Activity 2a Example of primary school wiki Online 30 minutes
Activity 3 The Becta report on Web 2.0 tools Online 30 minutes
Activity 4 Planning activities for wiki-based collaboration Offline 30 minutes


This course introduces the use of wikis to support learners in collaborative activities. Open source wiki software will be demonstrated, with ideas for collaborative projects across a range of subject areas. Recently published research that has looked at the use of Web 2.0 tools in schools, including wikis, will be considered to help identify barriers to full participation by all learners in collaborative wiki-based activities. This course is an introduction for making quite basic use of a wiki. If you would like to understand more about the versatility of wikis, including adding images, uploading video and other media, look at the Learning together: developing wikis (V01s) online course in the Vital Library.

The reflective cycle

Vital courses are based on a cycle of professional reflective practice as shown in the diagram below.


This cycle draws on, and develops, personal and professional knowledge bases. The latter may be seen in the literature, resources, policies and other materials that are used to inform practice.

Throughout the course small icons will indicate the stage of the cycle being addressed.

NB Prof/Pers KB = Professional/Personal knowledge base.

Preparation for face-to-face session

This preparation will take around 1 hour. These activities are intended to give you an overview of some recent research into the use of wikis and other Web 2.0 tools in secondary school classroom. The activities will be addressed by the course facilitator at the beginning of the face-to-face session.

Activity 1 What are wikis?

30 minutes in the days preceding the face-to-face session

The objectives of this course activity are to

  • become more familiar with wikis
  • understand the role of wikis in supporting collaboration in learning.

Before the facilitated session, read the document ‘7 things you should know about wikis’.

Reflect on the sections ‘Why is it significant?’ and ‘What are the downsides?’ In the context of your group of learners, think about how you can make use of wikis as a tool in collaborative activities and what safeguards you may have to think about to ensure any wiki space works effectively and safely. Make some notes that include opportunities or concerns you have identified around the use of wikis with your learners from your reading so far.

Activity 2 Research into the use of wikis in secondary schools (Optional reading)

1 hour in the days preceding a face-to-face session

The objective of this course activity is to become more aware of research that has been carried out into the use of wikis in secondary schools in England.

The article 'Using Wikis in Schools: a Case Study' is a case study of wiki use for collaboration in a Gloucestershire secondary school. It is a research paper, and has sections relating to background literature and methodology. You may want to read the whole paper; however, if you want to just dip in and pull out the most relevant content, the findings section begins on page 5.

Read through the Findings section and the conclusion. Focus on the students’ behaviour and response to the opportunity to contribute to the wiki. Do any of the anecdotes and examples resonate with your experience with your own learners?

Make notes from your reading that include any further thoughts on how your learners would respond to using wikis collaboratively.

Activity 2a An example of a Primary school wiki (Optional)

30 minutes in the days preceding a face-to-face session

The objective of this course activity is to browse an example of a Primary school wiki to see the range of content included and individual pages created and edited by individual learners.

[Guide. You will find more information on the use of wikis in this Wiki guide ] Go to http://www.sandaigprimary.co.uk/ wiki which is a wiki created by a Primary school in Glasgow, Scotland. Browse this wiki, scrolling down to look at the Year 6 projects featured. Individual learners have their own pages, which you can find by clicking on a project link and then on individual learners’ names. Are you surprised to see this amount of content in a primary wiki? Reflect on whether your primary learners could contribute to a similar resource and whether any projects planned for the coming school year could be displayed in a similar way to the work produced by Sandaig Primary School. Add to your notes any thoughts you have about creating a similar wiki site with your learners.

Activity 3 The Becta report on Web 2.0 tools

30 minutes in the days preceding a face-to-face session

The objective of this course activity is to understand the issues identified by Becta in the use and management of wikis in classroom situations.

In 2008, Becta published the results of a study of the use of Web 2.0 tools in Key Stage 3 and 4 classrooms. You can access this report here, or in editable (.doc) format File:Becta report.doc. This is a lengthy report covering all aspects of Web 2.0 tools (including social networking and blogging) but there are some sections that focus on the use of wikis.Go to page 20 of the report for statistics relating to teacher perceptions of wikis and experiences of their use in the classroom. Reflect on the final bullet point that relates to use of wikis and their management. Think about whether wiki management could be an issue for you and your learners and how you might deal with this, for example, creating wikis for smaller groups and introducing a code of conduct. Add to your notes from the previous activities any further thoughts arising from your reading.

Go to page 34 and read the section that considers the issues of private versus collaborative learning. An important point is made here about some learners who prefer their own private space for learning and therefore find it difficult to engage in collaborative activities. Reflect on whether any of your learners may have this preference and could find collaboration through a wiki to be difficult. Could you encourage such learners to become involved by careful selection of a small group of students to work on a wiki-based activity? Again, add any thoughts you have to your notes.

Activity 4 Planning activities for wiki-based collaboration

30 minutes after the facilitated session

The objective of this course activity is to make use of some of the ideas shared in the face-to-face session together with your reading to plan teaching and learning activities that could be carried out collaboratively using a wiki.

The face-to-face session introduced some ideas for collaboration using a wiki. You may have already thought of some activities that your learners could engage with that will allow them to contribute collaboratively through wiki pages that you will provide. Think now about an actual activity that could give you and your learners opportunity to work together on wiki-based collaboration.

You may want to divide your large group of learners into smaller groups that may be deliberately structured to work together effectively. Each group could have one small activity to work on that altogether makes a larger project. For example, small groups of learners could take measurements locally of environmental or community-related factors, for example, amount of litter, different availability of public transport, or local provision of facilities. These could then be added to the wiki to generate a larger data set. Students could find out one historical fact about their local city, town or village and add it to the wiki. A project on war poetry could include asking each learner to find one war poem they like and add it to the wiki.

Plan your collaborative activity, keeping it simple if it is the first time you have used a wiki, and work out how you will divide your learners into groups. Several groups will need several wiki pages.