Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wiki Pages

I took a slightly different twist on Wikis than Rob is proposing in the previous posting. When someone mentions wikis most people's thoughts turn to Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia. A wiki, as defined by Wikipedia, is "any website that uses wiki software..." The key to most wikis is the software used and collaborative nature of the work. I wanted to take this concept and apply it to a group project for my AP Psychology students.

For many, many years, just prior to the AP Psychology Exam, I had my students work in groups to create review outlines of the various AP Psychology units. These outlines were then reproduced for everyone to use in their preparations for the exam. Students found the project very useful. For me the activity was, as most group projects are, a bit difficult to grade as you could never tell who was truly responsible for what. In addition, it was very hard to quickly reproduce the needed copies for over 125 students.

This year, rather than create paper reviews outlines, the students created electronic wiki outlines. Wikispaces (one of a number of companies that provides this service) at http://www.wikispaces.com provides free wiki space for teachers. Students worked on their outlines by going to the website, making needed changes right on the main document.

The site allows me to restrict membership to just my students and tracks all changes made to each page. I could look at the history page for each outline and see exactly what each student did. I must admit I still had some problems distinguishing who did what as some groups delegated the task of uploading all the material to the wiki page to one student. The site even includes a discussion page which some students used to work out problems they were having with the wiki word processor.

The activity was far from problem free and I have a number of changes for next year. Please contact me at kkorek@germantown.k12.wi.us if you are interested in hearing about those or for more information on the wiki outline project. For the first time through, I felt the project was successful enough to warrant repeating next year.

3 comments:

Rob Mc said...

Very cool! Maybe someday there will be groups of students in different classes all working on these together? Neat!

Anonymous said...

Could you give us your Wikispace name?

Kent Korek said...

Our Wikispace is called GTownAPP. Please be aware, the site has a membership restriction. My students applied to join and I then accept them. If you are interested in viewing the pages my students created you would have to do the same. Please leave me a note with your application letting me know you are someone interested in viewing the site. If you have any problems or questions, please contact me at kkorek@germantown.k12.wi.us Sometime later this summer I will be taking the site down to get it ready for next year.