Hello. We are from the Sandi Port Errant Language and Culture Learning Center, a the new faculty resource center at University of Illinois at Chicago that first opened in Fall 2007. We were excited to host the Language Symposium last year during our first year of operation. *Introductions: Susanne, Charity, Caitlin, Michiko, Adam* We are going to discuss how wikis can be used in language courses of all levels to advance real-world writing and communication skills.
First of all, what do we mean when we say “wiki”?
Well, let’s start easy. Give me a shoutout: who’s ever used a wiki?*click*(words appear)*click*That’s right – we all have, at a minimum, searched for answers and read Wikipedia in some language.*click*Has anyone here edited Wikipedia or another wiki?If you have, you’ll know that it’s easy and intuitive – we’ll talk about how wiki editing can be more meaningful for students than essay writing.
*read definition, once found!**click*We’ll use a mix of English and target-language wikis from introductory, intermediate, and advanced language courses.
To create a wiki, students must write a fair amount. To write, they have to have a topic.
Alternatively, I could say here, “Why wiki?”What we have found in various courses mentioned on the previous slide is that a wiki provides opportunity for writing, editing, and critical language skills not offered in the essay format. *click*This is in part because students are not just writing to YOU, the language instructor. If your wiki is appropriately structured, they are at a minimum writing for each other. And right there, students will sit up and pay attention, take their output to a different level than what you see in homework, if not immediately as high as what they may provide to you in an essay. But later Susanne will talk about iterations and writing as a process, and how your students can learn to refine their work.*click*Additionally, students will be wading through target-language real-world websites in the course of constructing their wiki content. They may incorporate print sources as well, such as the textbook, articles you would have had them use for an essay, or a piece of literature – but if they are required to link to real target-language sites then they will also have to read those sites to link in the appropriate context. That’s a great deal more target-language input.*click*In the same vein, an audio or video requirement also forces students to search for, and presumably listen to, many videos in the target language to identify one that is relevant to their topic. If they also must explain this A/V content with text to receive credit for having linked it, you can also ensure some comprehension – or at least a way to evaluate their comprehension and grade them on relevance of content.*click*It’s promising, but can you do this successfully? Yes, absolutely. In fact, who already has??
Here is an example of student work from an advanced language course. The students grabbed images representing the country whose history they are writing about, and linked a relevant video. More than one student worked on this section of this page, and the page itself continues beyond what we can show on one slide.
This is NOT the way to do it. Where to start? How do you nudge students in the right direction if they didn’t even know what the right direction was in the first place?
Before you even begin, think about the purpose of your wiki. It is not an essay, or an exam, or a grammar activity.*Click*What will your students be writing about? We have an example from an English-language culture course from Russian.*click away*…return….*click*So what ELSE could a wiki be about, besides just grouping students by country or literary genre, etc.? What about dialects in Spanish or French?*click*Or a mock newspaper in the target language, either from a community in the US, perhaps with US or community-related news, or from a specific target country – which btw would require them to read actual newspapers online from the target country, and link to them?*click*Having decided that, in what format will you organize your students to work on the wiki? Note that it does not necessarily have to be a long-term project, depending on how you structure it.*click*And finally, it’s important to consider what you want your students to get out of the wiki and thus how you will evaluate their work.*click*If every time they add a sentence, they get email from you pointing out the disagreement of their articles with their nouns or misconjugation of verbs, your students will clam up in a hurry and you won’t get any content at all.*click*For this reason, we recommend creating a rubric that covers what you are really after with this wiki, to help you as the instructor not focus on the language errors that may be glaring at you. This rubric would address content in various ways, and the “wikiness” of the pages. We’ll talk more about grading wiki work later and explain “wikiness”.
Put ellen’s grading document here?
However, text, visuals, etc. do not just spring up of themselves. It’s important to scaffold this new activity for your students to have success.
*click*Not only do you have to have a solid plan as an instructor, but you have to cultivate student interest. If students see this as an online essay, you won’t necessarily get those additional benefits of student audience-awareness – if they want to impress their peers they may go out and listen to 10 different speeches by a politician to find the best double entendre to get a laugh. But if the pages is about, say, the politics of a specific country, then they just got tons of additional target-language input. They’re learning without even realizing it.So, the wiki has to be embedded in the course. In the syllabus, and woven throughout the unit, or term, or however long the wiki project will last.*click*Before presenting the wiki to your students, or making it available to them, or asking them to even look at it, be sure to create a substantial framework for them to climb on and create in.*click away to framework…**click back*
At the top/center is the homepage, which we already discussed should reflect the same qualities you’d like student pages to have, with respect to language, links, A/V content, etc. Everything in this blue oval is instructor-created. Please note that YOUR wiki can have a different structure. In fact, the French wiki we saw, the instructor created every single page. She only put content on the pages in blue, though.Instructions, evaluation criteria, deadlines and due dates, all need to be within the wiki. These could be on a central page like the homepage, or at the top of each group page (if you are doing groups). These group pages may also have starting-place ideas. Very important: EVERY PAGE created by the instructor must have a two-way link to AT LEAST ONE OTHER PAGE. This interlinking is what makes a wiki A WIKI.Caitlin’s graphic of wiki structure MAKE HYPERLINK TO PREVIOUS SLIDE on graphic itselfDiscuss: BOTH Russian AND French wikis had this layout. The difference is that “individual” pages in Fr334 were still collaborative efforts.
Here’s the first step in scaffolding that students see: a homepage that is sort of like a mini-example of what you want them to create. Your thoughts on what the wiki is to be about – and what you’d like them to get out of it – should be on the homepage. If their work should be in the target language, your homepage should be in the target language. If you want hyperlinks throughout text to internal AND external pages, the homepage should have that as well. Pictures or video? On the homepage too.*click BACK to return to “things to consider” slide*
Students taking German language courses have different majors and vary in their motivation for taking German. Some of them find it simply like German music. Allowing students to work on different topics of interest provides student centered learning materials.
We have set up specific benchmarks throughout the semester to avoid student procrastination and to ensure that writing as a process actually happens.
So weseeagain a clearstructurethroughoutthesemester. Whatwasreallyniceaboutthis wiki wasthewayitwasincorporated in thecourse. Ratherthanplunkingthe wiki down in themiddle of thecourse, thedecisiontoimplementthe wiki actuallyshapedthedesign of thecourseitself and evensubsequentassignments. Assignmentsnotactuallycompletedwithinthe wiki werestillrelatedtoit and thishelpedstudentsrecognizethe wiki as a fullyintegratedpart of thecourse.
Work on the wiki began as 4 groups of students assigned to a different francophone country, with each student in that group assigned to work on a separate topic about that country. As the semester progressed, a well-orchestrated system of musical chairs ensued. Students would change topics every two weeks, so someone assigned to geography of Senegal would begin by editing previous content the first week and adding new content of their own the second week. Then that student would move on to history of Madagascar. In this way, no student ever worked on the same topic or the same country twice and students had to get “up to speed” with what was already done on that page before they could start adding their own content.
Grading was periodic and divided into subsections; a student might have added beautiful formatting, but neglected to edit the grammar of the classmate who worked on the page before them.
Using wikis - beginning or advanced classes
Susanne Rott, Charity Anne Caldwell,
Michiko Kato, Adam Gacs, Caitlin Cornell
Of course you have…
Who here has ever edited
Wikipedia or another
a collection of Web Examples presented here include:
pages designed to enable
• Intermediate (4th semester)
anyone with access to language courses
contribute or modify – Japanese 104
– German 104
content, using a
simplified markup language. • Advanced language courses
(it’s easy to do) – French 334, Jr/Sr level
Wikis are often used to create • Culture courses conducted in
collaborative websites and to English
power community websites. – Russian 116, Soviet Culture
Language-learning contexts Other contexts
• Literature? • Politics? History?
– Exploration of – In-depth analysis of a socio-
literature/authors/genres/ political situation – nowadays
works read in your course? In or set in the past.
• Culture? • Something else …
– Of a single country? – A mock website for an
– A mock newspaper? From US organization?
or abroad? • Advanced science courses?
• Language? – Large projects with extensive
– Global role of the target lab reports
• Any course where students
– Analysis of dialects in different
countries? read and present articles!
• Writing for a real • Ability to incorporate
audience, not just the authentic listening/media
instructor – Embedding videos first
– How “real” varies wiki to wiki: requires a great deal of
• just peers in the same class? listening and even reading
• The whole department? native-speaker content on
• The whole world (a la websites
Integrating research and
• Incorporation of authentic culture – on any language
– Target-language websites
– Print sources as well, if
Original text by students in a near-final version of wiki.
There are two external links in the section shown, one to a target-
language website and the other to a video about one of the cultures of
What is shown above was created by one student and edited by two
more students for content, organization, and (last of all) grammar.
• Multiple drafts over time
• Peer editing/proofing
– Learn to be critical writers
– Learn to evaluate/revise own work through practicing on
• Progress is graded throughout
(not just final version!)
• Focus on content first, then grammatical form
• Introduction of new writing genre: the wiki!
– Concise summaries
– Integrated referencing
– Integrated media and hyperlinks
Multiple students edited this page.
The “View Diff” button on the left brings up the version for that
date, with that student’s changes highlighted.
Go ahead, create lots of interesting, relevant content using your best
target-language writing skills!
(Hint: this is not the way to structure or introduce your wiki!)
• What is the wiki about?
Show of hands/tweets/etc.:
Suggestions? Ideas for your specific course?
• What will its role be in your course?
– Semester-long group project?
– Individual research projects (long or short)?
– Presentations of weekly news articles for comment?
• What will your students be graded on?
– Grammar should not be the focus of evaluation.
• Writing as a process!
– Evaluation of content
– Evaluation of “wikiness” of final version of pages:
• Encourage writing Encourage multimedia
– Minimum word count content
• Per person? – Minimum number
• Per group? • Images (2)
• Videos (1)
• Build vocabulary, etc. • Audio?
– Minimum # of (hyperlinked) – Contextualized with writing!
entries to a wiki-wide
“Glossary” page Encourage references
– Minimum # of hyperlinks to
Encourage collaboration external websites
– Minimum # of hyperlinks with
other wiki pages. – List all external pages at the
bottom of a given page
– Minimum # of
edits/comments by other
• Fr334 wiki eval criteria
are included in the
section about that wiki
specifically at the end.
Tips and tricks for getting the content you want
…and avoiding the tech headaches you fear.
1. Incorporate wiki into During that class, go over:
syllabus. – Criteria
– Due dates
2. Create framework for
– Topology of wiki
– Home page, criteria. Have students do each
– Blank group pages, topic criteria in class as a trial
pages, etc. – Write text
– Make links
3. Introduce wiki in class
– Embed all types of media
– Students need hands-on
time to explore the wiki.
Group 1 Group 4
Group 2 Group 3
Student 10 Student 11
Student 1 Student 2 page page
Student 3 page
Student 4 Student 7 Student 8
page Student 5
page page page
Students receive two grades:
Glossary/collocation page can be
• Individual page work
added to any wiki configuration.
• Collective group-page grade
Students receive two grades:
•Individual page work
•Collective group-page grade
Instructor has included intra-wiki hyperlinks, images, and text of the sort
she would like her students to create. The homepage is a model for what
your students ought to produce.
4. Schedule at least one 5. Wiki-draft day
more day in a computer – Several days before first
lab graded deadline
– Students with difficulty or – Provide criteria for what
procrastinators get a 2nd you expect to see by this
guided tour point
– Groups have some – Look to see if they are on
collaboration time the right track
6. Talk to class about
– Do not comment harshly
about specific pages.
4th semester Japanese. Last semester of basic language program.
Instructor used English and some Japanese to encourage students to use
Japanese where they can.
Requirements and deadlines are listed further down on the
homepage, along with group assignments.
• Class divided into 8 groups, 3-4 students each.
• Each group has a collective page.
• Guidelines for group pages include:
– Length: 200 words per group member.
– Multimedia: At least 1 video or audio clip embedded by EACH
– Links: both intra-wiki and external links are required.
• Students may decide to create their own pages in
addition to the group page. (not required)
Pink strikethrough text shows student deletions from this page on a
specific date, by a specific student. See these examples for the list of all
revisions and this example to see the parts showing who edited a
This page was created by one of a few students who is fairly fluent in
Japanese. The embedded video shows how to make a specific dish, and
there is a link to a restaurant that serves this food.
This example shows how students can use a wiki to the fullest extent of
their abilities - and classmates an be required to link to, edit, or comment
on pages. This provides yet more input to the class as a whole.
4th semester German. Last semester of basic language program.
• Wiki is the final culture-focused project. Serves as a basis
for an oral class presentation (8 minutes)
• Students choose their German culture topic they are
interested in. Learn to write and talk about a cultural
topic of their interest.
• Collaborative research: learning about German online
• Collaborative writing of multiple “drafts”: peer and
This course had students create
individual wikis as the basis for their
Students taking German language
courses have different majors and vary
in their motivation for taking German.
Some of them find it simply like
Allowing students to work on different
topics of interest provides student
centered learning materials.
In future implementations, we
recommend that this course create
one large wiki with general subpages
on cultural topics.
The individual groups can pick the
specific subtopic of interest, for
instance Deutsch-Metal, and link it to
Students are asked to submit an
abstract to their teacher to make sure
that they will the language skills to
work on the project.
Since the project will finally be
presented as an oral presentation to
the entire class the content needs to
be comprehensible for all classmates.
One component of the proposal is
identifying German keywords.
• Week 5: subtopics with preliminary content outline in German
• Week 6: partner feedback on content –in different font color
• Week 7: instructor feedback on content
• Week 9: instructor checks revisions
• Week 11: instructor feedback on content and grammar
• Week 13: final version of wiki is due
• Week 15: final oral presentation of wiki
Jr/Sr required French course: Oral and Written French, with a strong
Thoroughly incorporated to • Wiki used as main writing
syllabus and every aspect of project
course. – 20 % of overall grade.
– Replaced two essays.
• Week 1: pre-wiki individual
• Oral discussions relate to wiki
• Week 3: Introduction to wiki content.
and hands-on tech time.
• Both other paper also relates
• Week 4: initial “pre-deadline” to wiki content.
review and follow-up tech
time. • Wiki found to be excellent tool
to help students relate
• 2-week page rotations for “grammar” lessons to actual
duration of term. writing and content.
4 francophone countries, 4 aspects Groups move together.
for each country:
• Each student works on one wiki
• Literature page at a time for two weeks
• History – Week 1: edit previous work on that
• Geography – Week 2: add new content to that
• Music same page
(16 pages in total)
After two weeks:
Students do not create new pages. • Group is assigned a new country
• Students move to new topics
within the new country.
– Again, proofread 1st week
– Develop content 2nd week
Evaluation of rotating wiki Grade has 4 sub-points
• After each 2-wk cycle, each o On-time-ness
• Wiki submission not completed
student receives a grade for at the last second
that period (5 grades for the
o Number and quality of
term) external references (links)
• Intra-wiki linking not required. o Style of page
• Media content must be
contextualized. Page must be
• Extra-wiki linking is vital organized.
• Grading found to take
o New culture-oriented
equivalent time to evaluation vocabulary
of the two dropped essays. o This point dropped from rubric
Instructor created homepage, main country pages, and 4 category pages
for each country.
On the homepage, she included a video for each country.
There are also intra-wiki and external hyperlinks within the text written
by the instructor.
These specific changes
shown below were made
when? And by whom? Use these arrows to click
through time and see the
This is the start page provided for each subtopic of each country. Note how
the deadlines and basic expectations for a given topic are
enumerated, even though they appear on the syllabus and were discussed
in several class sessions.
This is also an example of viewing the history of a page in the wiki. The
versions are all listed as shown on this slide, and an instructor can also
click through using the “Diff” arrows on the top right.
Here is a recent version of the same page. It has a map as requested and
addresses some other issues particular to Haiti, for instance the video
with audio examples of Haitian Creole. At the bottom of this page, as
with all pages, students hyperlinked the websites they used as references
in the creation of this page, besides hyperlinking to specific content
within the body of their text.
This is a composite of some parts of the La Cuisine Algérienne page
showing rich multimedia components available in a wiki project. The
video shows the process of making couscous.
Students from the course have since gone to the cafe shown and
reported conversing in French with people in it.
Note also the References linked at the bottom.
Plagarism Valid references
In the examples shown • Provide guidelines as to how
here, instructors spot-checked much referencing is expected.
suspicious text. In the Japanese and
French wikis, all student work was – Once a paragraph?
legitimate. – Each sentence?
– At least 8 external references
A more systematic way, for Blackboard per wiki page?
or non-Bb wikis could be:
• Provide guidelines as to what
• Grade students throughout the sorts of pages are legitimate.
– Must be in target language?
• At the final deadline, students – Must be “appropriate”
copy&paste their final pages into a – Must be relevant
Word document. • Explicitly ban pages that
• They must submit that document students should not use /
to SafeAssign within Blackboard. cannot count as references:
• This would be an additional – Wikipedia
requirement of the wiki project. No – Personal blogs?
SafeAssign = fail project. – US gov’t pages?
• Students in the advanced French course are so proud
of their work, they have asked the professor to make it
publicly available (outside of Blackboard)
– Bb wiki allows “Export site” which downloads a zip file of
all pages, embedded images, links, etc.
– This can easily be uploaded to a webspace, and all links
work, videos still play, etc.
• The final version is linked from here:
• Wikis are a great way to inspire students to think
creatively about their second language writing
• Want to use a wiki? Don’t forget to:
– Decide how, why, and where a wiki will best serve
– Make a clear framework for you and your students
– Craft your criteria for grading carefully