Monday, June 13, 2011

UNIT 5: Wikis

UNIT 5: Wikis

According to Erben, Ban and Castañeda (2009), “A wiki is a collaborative website that many people can work on or edit. This idea was originally conceptualized by Ward Cunningham in 1994; he named it wiki, which is a term meaning quick in Hawaiian. The computer program allows users to access the original postings and add or change content.” As we can see in this definition wikis are very interactive websites. They have many pages and users can create almost whatever they want. They can download pictures, videos, gadgets, polls, among others things.

It is important to highlight that blogs and wikis are 2.0 pages, but wikis are more interactive than blogs because they identify the users. Wikis have are very personal because you are like a kind of owner when you have a wiki. You can leave comments and also edit information. Wikis are important because they are constantly updated too.

What is wiki for?

According to Richardson (2006), “Wikis promote student-centered teaching in that students themselves have control over what is written and what stays on the wiki pages.” So teachers can promote this approach to the students. If the idea is that students have the central attention inside or outside class and the teacher is just a facilitator, then, wikis can facilitate that and one advantage is that students are much attached with technology since they are very young. So they can learn that computers can be used for learning purposes. Some activities that students can do using wikis are: forum, discussion, social networks, workshops, on-line presentations, among others.

Teachers can also design course syllabus, course content, course projects, projects for kids, among others.

Why a wiki?

Wikis are important because they are free, friendly and allow many users at a time, reading is available to everybody, the language is simple, they are easy to manage (upload videos and pictures, write comments), improves interaction with people you already know or even people around the world, they facilitate group projects, they improve teacher-students and student-teacher interaction, etc. Focusing on the educational field, students are free to create and edit what they want. And this is the idea nowadays. Students must create a real environment in order to learn English as a foreign language.

Wikis in the Educational field

Both students and teachers can use wikis for their own benefits. In the case of teachers, materials are very easy to upload and manipulate. Teachers can modify, edit and add more elements to the material, picture, videos, etc they are using. It is also easy to assess students’ skill. You can assess them individually and there is no risk of cheating.

In the case of students, they can work in their their computers directly, personalize their wikis, and add the information they want follow the teachers’ instructions.


Erben, T, Ban R, Castañeda, M. (2009). Teaching English Language Learners through Technology. Routledge. New York and London. (133-134).

Richardson, W. (2006). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

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