What is a Wiki?


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The term wiki means "quick" (in Hawai'ian) and thus refers to fast and easy creation or editing of web page. The wiki software was originally designed by Ward Cunningham in the mid 1990s as an online collaborative editing tool. Wikis provide any easy means for one or many authors to quickly create web content that any one can post, edit, update or reorganize. Additionally, authors who contribute to the wiki can utilize online discussion tools related to the web content within the wiki itself.

Set up Your UMassD wiki at http://www.umassd.wikispaces.net
Please Note: Only UMassD affiliated faculty, staff, and students with a UMassD email address can use this service.

How do wikis work?
Wikis have two modes, read and edit. In the read mode the wiki looks like a regular web page. The edit mode is when an author chooses to change, update, or contribute additional content to a wiki page by clicking the "Edit this page" tab. Wiki authors can then use the editing mode to add content, images, links, and in some cases multimedia to the wiki page. Some wikis provide an editing toolbar that provides the author with content formatting abilities. The changes that are then made by the wiki author are recorded to a history tab with a date/time and if enabled a notification can be sent to all authors informing them that changes have been made to the wiki page.

Some wiki features:
  • a fully editable web site
  • organized by topic
  • open to all (some permissions can be enabled)
  • multiple authors
  • online discussions
  • automatic notification of changes in content
  • keeps a history of revisions and author's name
  • ability to review and revert to previous versions

How can wikis be used for teaching and learning?
A wiki offers both faculty and students an online collaborative learning environment that can promote knowledge sharing and construction and peer interaction among a group of learners. (Auger, Rittman, and Zhou, 2004)

Some potential instructional uses include:
  • research projects
  • writing assignments
  • project development
  • peer review
  • simple websites
  • resource sites
  • course sites
  • study groups
  • a presentation tool
  • track group projects
  • distribute information

See: this link for a video explaining the layout of a wiki.

What are the main differences between blogs and wikis?
The main difference between blogs and wikis is how each tool organizes web content and the number of authors and contributors. A blog's content (postings) is organized chronologically with the most recent posting appearing at the top of the page. Although both blogs and wikis have the ability to have more than one author, a blog usually has one author with visitors able to post comments to the authors' postings or a link back to another blogger's posting. Wikis are organized into topics of content and have simple navigational features as a means to link between each page of content. Wikis by their design are best suited for multiple authors that need to share knowledge and collaborate in one central location.

Free Wiki Services
Wikispaces
PBWorks
Wetpaint