A Wiki is a collaboratively-edited website which many people also view as an anarchistic publishing tool. The distinguishing feature of wikis is that they typically allow all users to edit any page, with full freedom to edit, change and delete the work of previous authors.
For some, wikis convey a highly collaborative view of composing and creativity. People who contribute to a wiki need to understand that their words may be deleted and changed by others. Wiki authors do not claim ownership of a text.
Wikis give focus to the last draft, yet wikis provide a history. Each time the text is changed, a new version is saved. Anyone can go back later and see previous versions. This allows teachers and students to see the writing process in action.
Revision is privileged in the wiki. Each new reader can suddenly become a writer. The draft that matters is the last draft. Power and authority are given to the community rather than an individual or official staff.
Wikis are designed specifically as a writing space. They are not a presentation space nor a course management system. Wikis make it possible - and necessary - for writers to continually build upon, revise, and edit an emerging text.
How can teachers can use wikis to facilitate teaching, writing development, and learning? (1)
Provide a space for free writing.
Debate course topics, including assigned readings.
Share resources such as annotated bibliographies, websites, effective writing samples, conferences, calls for manuscripts.
How can teachers can use wikis to facilitate teaching, writing development, and learning? (2)
Maintain a journal of work performed on group projects.
Require students to collaborate on documents, such as an essay written by the entire class.
Discuss curricular and instructional innovations.
How can teachers can use wikis to facilitate teaching, writing development, and learning? (3)
Encourage students to revise pages or take on new wikipedia assignments.
Inspire students to write a wikibook .
Support service learning projects (i.e. use wikis to build a website about their school, likes, music, etc.)
How can teachers introduce wikis to students? (1)
Introduce students to the rules for writing on wikis. For example, does not allow for reporting original research.
Develop a system for recording the efforts and accomplishments of individuals. (You can accomplish this by having students sign the pages they author or contribute to.)
How can teachers introduce wikis to students? (2)
Almost every wiki has a StyleGuide: a guide to the writing customs and the culture of the wiki. Have students collaboratively write a StyleGuide for their wiki. Here's an example of a StyleGuide.
Ask students to play particular roles. One important role is the "Guard"--the person who watches the wiki pages and ensures that spam or bad edits are not entered, undermining the hard work of the wikiauthors.
Wikis conflict with traditional assumptions about authorship and intellectual property.
Students are sometimes reluctant to contribute to wikis because they lack confidence in their writing, they worry about not receiving credit for contributions, or they do not like their ideas, words, contributions being revised or deleted without consent.