Thursday 29 May 2008

Using wikis with EFL students

In this feature I want to share another tutorial that you can use with your students showing how to edit your wiki and have a look at a live demo wiki that you and your students can play around with.

In my previous post I looked at how to create a wiki using WetPaint and a few of the reasons for using one.

This tutorial shows you how simple it is to edit the wiki. As a demonstration I've set up a wiki using the Cinderella story so once you have had a look, by all means register and have a play around with this.

So how can we use wikis with our students?
  • You can upload student work for collaborative editing, though you should make sure they are comfortable with this first. If they aren't you could try uploading some other documents which need correcting or redrafting and get them to work on those instead.
  • Get students to create a story collaboratively. Give them the start or even the start of the first few chapters and get students to add parts to it. The nice part of creating a story in this way is that through hypertext links to other pages you can create 'back stories' filling in information about other characters and telling their stories too. You could start this off by creating or copying a short story of fairy tale and creating hyper links to pages about each of the other characters possibly telling the story from their perspective. For example with the story of Cinderella that I have created, you can tell it from the perspective of an ugly sister or from the rat that got turned into a horse! This is a good way to develop some creative thinking skills and help students to see things from different perspectives.
    • I've set up an example of this here:
      Feel free to register and participate or get your students participating in this.
    • Some possible tasks you could set students using this wiki are:
    • Add some adjectives and adverbs to the text
    • Add an extra sentence to one of the back ground stories
    • Try to insert a new character into the text
    • Find words that you don't understand and add them to the glossary
    • Try to add some definitions to some of the glossary words
    • Write some questions that you would like to ask some of the characters and put them into the to do list
    • Look for questions that someone else has asked about the text and try to include that information in the text.
  • You could use a wiki as a sort of learning record which all the students could contribute to. This could be based around themes, having separate pages within each theme for vocabulary, useful expressions, grammatical structures, or it could be based around grammar and students could research and share what they know about various tenses and verb forms.
  • You could use it to create your own online course book, either working with other teachers or your class. You could get students to select texts and subjects that they are interested in and type / paste them in to pages on the wiki, you or they could then create learning materials to go with the text, as well as adding extra information and background on the them or topic or the grammar or lexis that goes with the text. You would then be able to build on this with other classes.
  • You set up collaborative assignments such as Webquests and get students to use the wiki and work together to produce their outcomes
  • You could upload or link to videos or images and set group or pair work tasks for students to do. You could use the 'To do' feature of the wiki to set up tasks for different groups or students.
  • The wiki also has a lot of communication features so you could set up online discussion / forum tasks with students so that they could discuss the story and make decisions about how they want to change or develop it.
  • If you have the means to set up a project with a school in another town or better still another country, you could use the wiki as a cultural research tool. Your students could research the country and the culture of their partner students and create a wiki about it. The partner students could then correct or comment on any errors or misunderstandings of their culture.
Wikis are a wonderful tool for students to work together and produce high quality texts. They are also great if you want to be able to share students' work with parents or the rest of the world, or just limit access to your class.

I hope you enjoy using this tool and if you have examples of work that your students have produced using wikis, by all means post a link in the comments section below.

To have a closer look at WetPaint and create your own wiki go to:


Nik Peachey

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Anonymous said...

It's really great! I have created a wiki for my EFL students , and I will try to use it fully during this whole Fall semester .


Nik Peachey said...

Hi Zena

Hope it works out well for you.

Good luck



Ana said...

Hello Nik:

I've been searching the site and loved the wonderful ways in which we can exploit the story of Cinderella and the use of this collaborative tool. I've been using Googledoc so far but after having read about WetPaint today I can't wait to start using it.

I'm so thankful for having the chance to learn from your sites and posts.


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