Wiki Work
sourceThis wiki was created for our 13 Things @ Coe challenge. You'll see it has multiple pages (look to the left) and allows anyone, with no registration at all, to edit the page.

Let's add some content here! Your comment here will actually be the content for your blog post, as well—you'll just copy and paste it right into a new post on your blog.

Write about your impressions of (or experiences with) wikis, and how you think they would useful for your department, classes, clubs, etc. Do wikis seem more/less/differently useful than Google Docs? Do you see yourself using this tool?

To add your content to this page, click "edit" (below). Feel free to play with the formatting, add a picture or a link if you'd like. When you're through composing be sure to click SAVE.

(Remember to copy and paste your comment into a new post on your blog.)

Bruce: When I was in graduate school, my church group did some volunteering at a home for troubled kids. One week we colored Easter eggs with them. There were a bunch of kids and a bunch of eggs, so there was no individual ownership. While some kids in my group did some interesting things with eggs that were temporarily theirs, there was one boy who kept grabbing eggs and putting them in all the different dyes. So all our eggs ended up brown.

I have not used wikis in my classes, which tend to stress individual written and group oral work. Moodle has the advantage of having conversations between individuals, with people clearly responsible for their personal contributions. Maybe I will use wikis in the future. I didn't think I would ever use Blackboard (predecessor to Moodle), but along came a pedagogical problem and Blackboard was the answer. So maybe that will happen with wikis, too.

Note: Despite all the editors, Sara's class blog still has a sentence that reads "England controlled England," or something like that. I tried to edit it with my newfound wiki skills but it wouldn't let me.

Tom: I haven't found much use for wiki's in my work except if I'm looking for a quick answer to something that I don't need a reference for. For example, when booking music for campus I often times check out a wiki page about a band to see if they are active or have changed members.

Personally, I've had it on my list to create a page in Wikipedia for my dad. He was a world-ranked boxer in the early 1970's and my goal is to create a page for him and send it to him as a birthday present. Considering his birthday is now two weeks away, I don't think I'm going to get to it this year.

Gavin: I'm with Tom. I have never created or edited a wiki page (until now). I have used wiki's (like wikipedia) since students are familiar with them as starting points for material searches.
I never used blackboard either (although I do see some uses for both of these interactive forums). I'm glad to see you can compare versions of the wiki (to see exactly what has been changed by whom) that at least seems to keep some academic integrity.

I guess by putting my name on the post it really defeats the purpose of a wiki (but I saw it was otherwise just calling me an anonymous editor in the history link).

Amber: I've only used a couple of wiki's. Wikipedia and JICSWIKI ( The JICSWIKI is a wiki that has
anything to do with Jenzabar's JICS web portal. I have not used the wiki too much but remember thinking that it seemed kind of clunky getting around in. I felt that it was hard to find information that I was looking for. I admit, I haven't been back to the site since it first
came out and I'm sure there is a lot more information out there now. I wonder how the name Wiki came about?

@Amber: According to Wikipedia (which I assume is an appropriate source on the history of wikis, "'Wiki' (pronounced [ˈwiki] or [ˈviki]) is a Hawaiian word for "fast"."Wiki" has been backronymed by some to "What I Know Is"."

I have used a wiki, aside from my mad skills of looking up pop culture facts on Wikipedia (which I suspect is one of the areas of greatest veracity on the site), in my recent job search. There is a wiki that keeps track of the job market in academia, run by those in the 'rat race' (so to speak), to keep each other informed of status of various searches (e.g. conference interview requests have gone out, offers made, etc.). In some ways it was helpful to be kept in the loop, but in others it was all the more nerve-wracking.

In terms of use in the classroom, I have not personally used a wiki, but a colleague who teaches courses on photography uses it as a means of keeping track of sites of interest (artist websites, critical reviews, gallery exhibitions, sites of cultural import, etc.) while using different computers and then as a means of disseminating those texts to her students. The students can also add to the 'list of bookmarks' and the websites are discussed in class. I might experiment which such ideas in an upcoming class, as I think it might be quite helpful in collecting 'thinking packets' (as opposed to course packets) as we move further into the brave new world of the digital age.

And I do see them as useful in a different way than Google Docs, providing a means to keep tabs on changes - especially when the site is being collaborated upon by a large number of individuals.

JaneI used a wiki for the first time this past spring term. I felt my Advanced Writing Workshop students needed to learn about professional writing for Web 2.0, and I figured it would be better for THEM to do the research than for me to do it and give it to them. So the students brainstormed various topicsprofessional writing for Facebook was the most popular!and divided them up. Then they did some web research on the topics and created wiki pages for each one. First they just dumped their info on the page; later, I had them integrate and synthesize the material so it wasn't just a patchwork.

That last part was the hardest: synthesizing all the material. Students seem to think if they find, copy, and paste material, they've "researched" it. Always has been that way, but web 2.0 makes that process really easy. Synthesizing the material is still hard. I need to think more about how I conduct that assignment if I do it again so that it's not just a patchwork of cut and paste.

I use Wikipedia as a "first source" when I'm finding out about something I know nothing about. Like pop culture, Claire!

EJM I have used a wiki in my "Birthing" class, after they read a book, they write comments about it, or in one instance I had them keep a Wiki page of definitions of birthing terms. They are a lot of work for the instructor, in my opinion. It is just another thing to do when teaching a class. Having taught for so long, I have many "tricks" in my repertoire for getting the points across, and wikis are another "trick". I also find that all students do no use their on campus accounts, especially nursing students and nontraditional students. And often they are not very sophisticated about learning additional things.

Peggy: I have not had a chance to use wikis but can see the usefulness of doing so. In my case, I could put some tips for using various software and ask others to contribute ways they make use of the program or different shortcuts that help them do things more quickly or efficiently.

Another option I see is family history. Right now I am working on the genealogy of my family and have several questions about the location of my ancestors and whether, or not, I really am related to Pocahontas. I could invite others to read what I had researched and they could add and correct the things I found. [[]] By using Wikipedia I found that she never married John Smith and I appear to be related to her husband, John Rolfe

Sara: One of my assignments for grad school was to create a Wikipedia page. The text editing was simple enough, but I spent a lot of time on Wikipedia's 'how to' page learning how to encode citations, add images and create information boxes.

I am not sure what I would use a wiki for at Coe. I'll have to think about that one.

***Mandi: My reflections on wiki is called "wikiality." In 2006-2007, every speech communication student at Iowa State knew this term. As teaching assistants and lead professors for the speech communication department, we took a stand against Wikipedia as a credible source for speeches. We believed it was a good "start" to research references for speech, but not a creditable source to be used during speech or for a research paper. Together, we showed "wikiality" a Steven Colbert Report clip to our 600 students to stress our point. Check it out! Look up the story to the aftermath from this comedy sketch to Wikipedia's website. It is an interesting discussion to have with students about online resources, referencing, and creditability. The following is the link to the Colbert Report I must admit, my days as a Cyclone have tainted my view on Wikipedia. However, after reading about various groups who have used for service-learning reflection work and colleges integrating wiki's with alternative spring break writings and posting, I am open to this new discovery and development. I may try to dabble a bit more into the world of wikis before totally shunning the wikiality in which our world has come to know.

Teresa: I will have to admit that this week's Wiki work was not as exciting to me as Google docs. As an admin support person, I was excited to hear about how several of you have thought of some cool uses for Google docs in your day to day staff operations. I will be reaching out to some of you! As far as wiki's, I enjoyed reading the content from Sara's class and could see how their use in the classroom might be beneficial. I do not see myself diving in this world yet, although at this point Google docs, blogs and wiki's all have the same basic underlying theme of collaboration and info sharing.

Erica: I have often found myself telling students, "Wikipedia does not count as a resource." I teach a leadership course to some pretty amazing students at The University of Iowa each summer and we do a research project to capstone their learning. The first day in the computer lab, we always talk about how to find valuable information on the web, and what that looks like. First of all, there are a ton of resources online to tell you how to find reliable resources online. Ah, the redundancy and information hole that is the world wide web. Here's one "collection" of useful sites: Teacher Tab: Evaluating Internet Resources. Thanks, google (again).

What makes a reliable internet source?

  • Author(ity) — who is the author and are they credible?
  • Objectivity — is the information biased?
  • Authenticity — where did the information come from?
  • Reliability — is the information accurate?
  • Timeliness — is the information current?
  • Relevance — is this information helpful?
  • Efficiency — is it easy to find the information you need?

What's unfortunate is that many "wiki" sites, and even blogs, have many of the criteria generally used to evaluate a "good" source. Wikipedia, for example, can cite the author and where the information originated, offer accurate and incredibly current, helpful information and for all other purposes appear as a credible source. There are even ways to warn other people that the information presented might be biased so that you can keep looking for more information. Blogs function in much the same way, and can seem even more reliable because we "know" the author.

What does this mean for wikis and education? Part of me screams, "Danger, Will Robinson, danger!" The other part of me thinks (a little more quietly), "hmmm…cool." I've used Wikipedia more times than I could even think of counting as a starting point for research, whether about a word or term I've never heard of, or to learn about something interesting to me personally, like the tree of life and Great Danes. We used wikis a little bit as a part of the Residence Life Staff Moodle page this past year. My staff didn't like them and felt in many ways that they were a more difficult and timely process than just emailing in a journal and keeping the handwritten duty log in the office. I was really surprised. I would personally much rather type than write by hand…usually. Then again, a piece of paper is a little more portable than a computer on rounds of the building.

I do like that wikis offer a different element than google docs in that it's more like an active webpage with links, different pages to navigate among, etc. At the same time, the "usability" and familiarity of the Microsoft counterparts of google docs might mean that students are a little more apt to jump on board with them. This generation is pretty adaptable1, though, so only time will tell, I suppose.

We'll see where wikis take me this year. I'm enjoying the collaborative nature of the wiki and seeing everyone's contributions. This is a lot easier than reading everyone's blog! At the same time, it's not as easy to find specific information within the wiki like you can with each singular blog post (by tagging it). What I don't like all at the same time is that this is a rolling conversation in a lot of ways. We read what's written, identify ourselves, offer our own information, and then maybe respond to some other participant's information. This becomes a little muddled, like the brown eggs Bruce wrote about. Should I comment right after someone else's edit? Do I identify myself so they know who edited it? Should I just add a footnote? I don't know the rules, and as a "J" on Myers-Briggs, I desperately want some structure. At the same time, there are endless possibilities here. A wiki might be the penultimate version of truly giving up authority on knowledge when it comes to web 2.0 — something I am realizing I might be a little less comfortable with than I initially hoped.

I'll still tell the students in my classroom that Wikipedia is not a credible source, though it can very well lead to some and I'll continue to use it myself for the random information gathering I do online. If I use wikis, I'll probably set up some structure, at least until we get to a place where we feel comfortable exploring without some structure. I hope to experiment with some additional ways to incorporate these things into my work in the fall, most likely with the RA and ARD staff. This should fit nicely with my goal to be better company for the journey.

until next time, ekg

Sandy—Working in the library and remembering when Wikipedia began it was difficult for me to change my opinion of the resource. I now understand and appreciate this as a tool for quick reference help but still caution users of it's limitations. As with most things in life it is important for full information so you can make better decisions.

I have never used a wiki but after watching the youtube video I can see its uses. At first I wondered at why you would just a Googledoc but I like the fact you can add links and other items. Also, this seems to be an activity that college students are familiar with and so is helpful for us to have some knowledge. It will take time for me to see applications for myself but glad I was able to add to this wiki.

Dan: Naturally, I lift all of my lectures from Wikipedia. Despite that, I've never contributed to one or used them in my classes. I do use the wiki function in Moodle to keep 'hidden' notes for me in most of my classes. Like Bruce, I've used Moodle for group discussions, but I've yet to venture out from there. I'm not sure how I'd want or need to use wikis in my classes at this point. I want to be open to using it, but I also want to be mindful of not letting the technology drive the pedagogy.

Sarah: I often do an activity in class called Carousel Brainstorm. Topics from discussion or reading are posted on large chart paper in the room. Pairs or individuals start at one chart and add any information they have about the topic. When time is called, students move to the next poster, read the information and add or edit. The process continues, shortening time at each round, until all students have visited each chart. Wikis for the technologically challenged!
So, if this was done as a Wiki, then more class time could be spent discussing the information. This could also promote the importance of assigned readings.

Rachael: Wikis have always intrigued me, but like Erica, I usually don't trust them as an entirely reliable academic resource. That said, when quickly googling unimportant information (how old *is* Felicia Day? []), I do use wikipedia. I've wanted to explore using wikis in my classroom, but haven't quite found the right fit yet. I do have my Intro students do a few exercises outside of class and require them to take photos of the activity. Thus far they haven't been able to see and comment on each others' photos - perhaps a wiki might do the trick.

CHRISTY I see tons of benefits of wikis but find myself using Google docs for some of the things I might have used wikis for in the past. Right now, I'm using technology for teaching, not scholarship, so I make Google sites (that I can control) and have the students share documents with me and each other. I think I'd like to use a wiki if I were working with a group of people collaborating on something…Checking in on Wikipedia: I don't consider it a final reliable source. That is, if I want to know a factoid, I'll be ok with Wikipedia (Was JFK left-handed? Yes, per But if I'm quoting something/someone, I don't rely on Wikipedia. And I would expect the same from my students. I kind of think of Wikipedia as a companion to Trivial Pursuit.

Ryan - In my line of work, I don't see a big use for Wiki's. However, I can see it being a useful tool for professors at Coe to help keep things organized with students. I am however a big fan of Wikipedia for looking things up. I can easily access it from my phone, so if I'm in a pinch, I can get a nearly accurate answer. I can see how Wikipedia shouldn't be used to credit a source in a paper, but for looking up mostly useless (I kid) knowledge, there isn't a better place to go.

Susanne—I'm with Tom and Gavin. I have never created or edited a wiki page (until now). I discourage students using wiki's (like wikipedia) b/c even though students are familiar with them as starting points for material searches many times they end up as concluding points as well. I find them cumbersome and too detailed, hard to scan and find what you want so to speak.

I am not sure I would use this as opposed to Google Docs. I like the privacy on Google Docs.

CHRISTY: I found this:
10 Things the Internet has Ruined and Five Things it Hasn't

"For some people, the Internet is the killer app—literally. From newspapers and the yellow pages to personal privacy and personal contact, the Net has been accused of murdering, eviscerating, ruining, and obliterating more things than the Amazing Hulk. Some claims are more true than others, but the Net certainly has claimed its share of scalps."


Write about your impressions of (or experiences with) wikis, and how you think they would useful for your department, classes, clubs, etc.
- My impression is that wikis are a great place to anonymously post nonsense and other untruths. Who's the gate keeper and why do they have the keys?
Do wikis seem more/less/differently useful than Google Docs?
- Less useful
Do you see yourself using this tool?
- Absolutely I'll use it…so I am eligible to win the iPad :)


I'd like to comment on Dan's remark,"I want to be open to using it, but I also want to be mindful of not letting the technology drive the pedagogy." This sounds very similar to what my piano students say when they want to cover up the fact that they haven't practiced their piano lesson for the week. What a cop out!

In response to this lesson's questions, I don't foresee using using wikis on a regular basis. Google Docs seems to be much more useful for my purposes. If I were involved in a research project, wikis would be something I would explore. Since my life is dictated by editing and more editing, Google Docs is for me!

Kim: The only WIKI I ever used was wikipedia. I like the collaboration but have concern that anyone can post anything as content regardless of its reliability or verfiability and youth (or the not so youthful) take it as the TRUTH which may not be the case. Of course time has proven that to be the case with some information from sources considered reliable. It causes concern that so many public school age students race to wikipedia as their primary source of information. THAT SAId I can see useful purposes to the WIKI and have encouraged nursing faculty to give it a try as I have no students of my own to experiment on…with. I recently planned a camping experience for 20 Young Women aged 12-18 to enjoy the rain, heat and sweat of Iowa in late June (great fun…really), a wiki would have been a very useful way to conduct some of our planning especially food and resources.

Karen: Creating a collaborative website may be helpful when you are working on:
group presentations
service learning projects
conference research
wish lists for an event

Wikis allow for a group of people to edit one document and sidestep email.

Pro - the working document has the most recent changes
Con - only one person can edit at a time, so you can't procrastinate until the night before on a group project.

Time management is a must. My students tell me of the problems with wikis in other classes due to procrastination until the night before the document is due.
Have I used them yet? No. Would I like to try? for some things.
I think google docs may work better for some applications - but I have no idea which ones yet.
It seems like google docs or wikis would be helpful for our extended family birthday and Christmas Idea Lists that we email back and forth each year.

Mary Beth - this is something I haven't used and I am not sure I would - I basically have only used wikipedia for quick reference, but knowing it is not accurate, use it for info only - I would use google docs more

Harlene - I have used Wiki's—at least Wikipedia for the most basic info check. It's hard not to when you are looking for a quick answer. I can see their usefulness in some of the situations listed above. For myself I don't think I'm inclined to start one. I actually did submit some info to Wikipedia about Sam Waterston and the page was updated. Today I was going to add more to the site about the Nightmare Years, in which he plays Coe alum and famous author, William L Shirer. But after seeing how much time was involved just trying to write "their way" I decided I'd let it go for now.
Since I have been conducting classes here at Coe since the early 90's when the WEB really started to take off, we have been trying to impress upon students the importance of making sure the info is accurate and reliable. We've had a kind of check list on the Libray's web site since then. See:

Wendy: I think wikis are very interesting, but I see them as extremely similar to Google docs. I like the privacy of Google docs, but can see how an actual website might be more effective for some situations. I personally would stick to Google docs (probably honestly because I"m more familiar with it) but also because I know more people (at least at Coe!) have access to Google docs just as easily. I've also been taught as long as I can remember that "wikipedia is not a credible source" but I find it very interesting to look around when I've got some free time!

Shaner: My experience with wikis can be summed up in a few words. Nada, nothing, ziltch. This exercise is really my first experience using wikis. Everyone has to start somewhere right? With only a few days left to get my 13 Things done, now seemed like a great time to start.

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