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Category: Wikis

Blogs aren’t the only show in town when it comes to easily creating a Web presence.  A Wiki might be just what you are looking for. So what’s a “wiki”?  The wiki was created and named 14 years ago by Ward Cunningham. He was looking for a name to call his easy-to-use Web page software. Cunningham, who in the late 80’s helped develop HyperCard on the Mac, remembered the name of the Honolulu Airport shuttles called Wiki Wikis. Wiki is a Hawaiian word for “quick”. The Hawaiian word is actually pronounced wee-kee, but has been distorted in the context of technology to “wick-ee”. wiki

A wiki is an easy-to-use online piece of software that lets users create Web pages without having to know anything about, well, actually building Web pages. But wikis are intended not for just a single user, but for groups of people to collaborate in sharing information. Wikipedia is the most well know example of a wiki where anyone can add information about any topic.

What would you use a wiki for in an educational context? Currently wikis are being used for maintaining meeting minutes, classroom projects, grant writing and more. Any group that is collaborating online could use a wiki.

But you’ll get a better feel for how you might use a wiki by looking at these examples:

1000 Names: A Canadian first and second grade classroom wondered what 1000 names would look like.

21st Century Ed Tech: Resources and tools for the 21st century technology classroom.

Adams Middle School News: Everything that is happening at this Redondo Beach, California school.

The Teenager’s Guide to Everywhere: Students in an English class researched interesting information about places and created FAQs for them. The combined effort has produced a kind of travel guide for fellow teenagers.

Terry the Tennis ball: Students in Australia created this “choose your own adventure” story using a wiki to collaborate.

A quick way to get started is, no suprise, Google Sites. You can quickly create your own wiki with a Google account. Anyone can do it. It’s Web 2.o after all.

Okay. That might  be a bit of hyperbole, but for most educators, the need for a Web page is quickly disappearing.  Web pages are, in the context of an educational setting, so Web 1.0 which is all about posting information and hoping someone shows up. Unless you have a high-end need for displaying and sharing content, building a Web page is too time-consuming and  expensive.

If a teacher or administrator wants a Web presence, spending hours learning DreamWeaver, and even more hours building and modifying Web pages, makes no sense. Hire a Web designer, buy a domain name and  pay for a hosting service and still you’re just edging toward the milk and honey of Web 2.0. And, when you add in the inability to easily make a Web page interactive and attractive, educators are much better off focusing on content and building a Web of Relationships on the Internet.

Web 2.0 is for Educators

Take a drink of Web 2.0.

Over the past two years, I’ve stopped teaching workshops on creating Web pages and turned down work from clients wanting a Web page. Instead I have pointed them in the direction of free blogs or wikis.

It makes a lot of sense for an educator to set up a free blog in a matter of minutes and have content appear in not much more time. And, unlike the traditional Web page, a blog can be highly interactive and easily discovered by search engines. And blogs are the perfect environment to create a community of like-minded users. Instead of dancing teddy bears or purple text on a red background, a blog gives you hundreds of clean, professionally designed templates.

The differences between a traditional Web page and a blog are beginning to blur as blogs taking on more of a Web page look, while retaining their ease of use and interactive nature. You can allow comments, moderate comments, create pages, add picture, sound and videos files without taking a class or buying a 500 page user manual. And the cost for a very professional-looking blog is free. That’s F-R-E-E, teachers. Free always appeals to educators and blogs should too.

An educational blog is a great way to provide information and resources to parents, students and colleagues. However, blogging in the Web 2.0 world is much more than that. Using a blog to simply provide information is more Web 1.0 than Web 2.0. Blogging in today’s Internet is all about creating community. So here are three  suggestions for how, as an educator, you might create that community:

Tell the world every chance you get. . .

Tell the world every chance you get. . .

1. Use your blog to illicit input. Ask questions, post a survey, wax philosophical, sollicit volunteers or talk about a educational challenge for which you need help.

2. Use every interaction with your audience to encourage them to participate with you in blogging. This might mean having a volunteer at parent-teacher conferences show parents how to get to your blog on the Web. It might mean highlighting your blog in newsletters that get taken or mailed home. You might make a brief presentation at your next staff meeting or PTO meeting.  Ask your district’s Web master to post a link to your blog. Every contact you make might be an important link to creating your blog community.

3. Join other educational bloggers through RSS feeds and online readers (discussed in the next posting). This might initially mean just educators in your building or district. But there are educational blogs state-wide, nation-wide and even world wide that you might find interesting. Most importantly, joining these bloggers creates a larger community where the sharing of ideas can have a very positive impact on both your job performance and on you personally. It is rewarding and exciting to know that someone in North Carolina has read your blog or given you a great idea for tomorrow’s lesson plan.

Leave a comment here if you would like your blog added to the links on this blog; or if you know of an educational blog that would be useful to educators, pass it along.

Welcome to the world of blogging as we now know it!