First, for those of you who don't know what a wiki is, here's a quick definition which comes from one of the most famous wikis, wikipedia.org.
"A wiki is a collection of web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content [ ...]. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites and to power community websites."
So, what really differentiates a wiki from a normal website is the fact that anyone who has access to the site can modify its contents (this is often, though not always, restricted to people who create a login or register to use this feature), unlike a normal website, on which the content is usually edited only by the company or person who owns the website.
To show you how easy it is to create your own free wiki, I've recorded these tutorial movies. They are each around 2 mins long and show you how to set up your wiki by using a free service called wetpaint (this takes about 2 -3 mins to do), how to change the style and look of your wiki (this takes about 2 mins) and how to start adding extra pages to your wiki (this takes about 2mins). Hope fully this will convince you that creating your own wiki is not only easy, but it's also very quick.
For anyone having problems with these embedded videos, or who wants higher quality. I've added links to Quick time versions that you can download at the end of this article.
So here is how you set up the wiki using http://www.wetpaint.com/
This movie shows you how to change the style and look of you wiki
This movie shows you how to add new pages.
Hopefully you can see just how easy it is to setup your own wiki.
What I like about wikis
- Wikis are really quick and easy to setup, which means that you can forget about the technical aspects and get busy with the serious business of creating and sharing content.
- The collaborative aspect is great, enabling other users, whether it is a select group or whether you open up the wiki to anyone who wants to contribute, takes the emphasis off you as the creator / author and helps you to share out the work and draw on a much greater pool of knowledge and creativity.
- Many wikis like wetpaint also incorporate other planing and communications features like discussion forums, to do lists, photo galleries etc. which can help you share out the work on the wiki and co-ordinate dispersed teams or group of distance learning students.
- There isn't much not to like on a wiki, perhaps with the exception of advertising if you decide to opt for a free service. Most service providers also offer a premium ( paid for) service which you can choose if you want to get rid of the ads. This option often gives you access to extra features too. It's definitely worth thinking about a premium service if you work with younger learners, as this will ensure that you don't get any 'unsuitable' advertising springing up along the side of your wiki.
- Wikis can be a bit limiting in terms of design and what you can add to your design, such as amazing Flash games, videos etc, but there are often work arounds to give you access to these.
Well this posting seems to be long enough for now. I hope I convinced you of how easy it is to set up your wiki and in my next postings I'll be looking at how to use wikis with your EFL students and How to use them for teacher development.
Here you can download higher quality versions of the tutorials in Quick Time format