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Using Wikis to Establish Digital Partnerships

Bill Ferriter

Under construction

One of the easiest tools to use to connect your students to sister classrooms abroad are wikis. The resources on this page will help you to start using wikis with your students.

  1. Using Wikis to Establish Digital Partnerships
    1. What is a Wiki?
    2. Why Wikis?
    3. How Wikis?
      1. Signing up for a Wiki
      2. Inserting an Image on a Wiki Page
      3. Selecting a Theme for Your Wiki
      4. Editing Existing Pages
      5. Editing Your Sidebar
      6. Creating a New Page
      7. Creating a Link to an Existing Page
      8. Wiki Project Ideas
      9. Wiki Security
    4. Sample Wikis
    5. Wiki Services

What is a Wiki?

Wikis are defined by Will Richardson—author of Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms—in this way on his own Presentation Links wiki: “A wiki is a type of website that allows users to easily add and edit content and is especially suited for collaborative writing (Wikipedia). That means that on typical wikis, anyone can edit anything at anytime. Fun! Because of how open most wikis are, many educators find them a bit tough to deal with. Richardson goes on to include links to wikis being created by several teachers across a wide range of grade levels and content areas. He also describes several free wiki services, including PBWiki: Check out his developing collection of information regarding wikis by visiting:
This 3-minute Commoncraft tutorial also does an excellent job introducing wikis:

Why Wikis?

In 2006, Bill Ferriter and his colleague Mike Hutchinson conducted an action research project on the impact that wikis had on the students of their sixth grade classrooms. Some of their primary findings were:

  • Wikis encourage students to use the web for two-way communication: Few people would argue that the Internet is increasingly becoming an important vehicle for personal and professional communication. To prepare students for this new digital reality, educators must take time to introduce students to tools and skills for digital collaboration. Wikis do just that. As Hannah writes, “The wiki is also written by the kids who were there listening to the teacher. And another cool thing about the Wiki is that the students help each other out. If someone made a mistake, we can easily go to the Wiki website and fix it or add to it. It’s fun to watch the pages change.”
  • Wikis generate increased interest in classroom content: In our digital world, it has become increasingly difficult to engage children in meaningful studies of content. Wikis, however, has made that possible for us. 100% of our students report enjoying wiki work and feeling a sense of pride in what we are creating. 78% of our students report using our wiki as a study guide for tests and 91% agree that our wiki has made them more interested in current events and classroom content. As Andrew writes, “I like the wiki the best because everyone can participate in it at home and no one is left out…Wikis provide instant access to great information--- and the info you are looking for is always there!”
  • Wikis reinforce skills across the curriculum: Students working with wikis utilize skills from across the curriculum. Of particular interest, wikis give students opportunities to practice revising and editing. By “polishing” information that has been posted by others, students learn to identify and correct common writing errors. They also learn the importance of verifying online information before accepting it as fact. As Abbey wrote, “I like the fact that we get to edit things via the computer. This improves our typing skills and we get better at editing… I am proud of the fact that I edit other people's work and I fix their errors. This makes me feel smart.”

The remainder of Ferriter's research---complete with handouts that can be used with students---can be found in this document:

external image type_pdf.gifWikis, One Pager.pdf

How Wikis?

Using wikis is easier than you can ever imagine! Here are several tutorials---created by other educators for their students and colleagues---that will walk you through common wiki processes in PB Wiki, one of the most popular wiki services for educators:

Signing up for a Wiki

Inserting an Image on a Wiki Page

Selecting a Theme for Your Wiki

Editing Existing Pages

Editing Your Sidebar

Creating a New Page

Creating a Link to an Existing Page

Wiki Project Ideas

Wiki Security

Sample Wikis

High School Collaborative Writing Wiki: An interesting project of a NYC High School that engages students in writing about several different content areas.

Studying Societies at JHK: An amazing project that engages students in the study of societies ranging from Cromagnon man to Feudalism.

High School Track Wiki: A wiki being used by a high school track team to communicate with parents and students.

South African Curriculum: Remarkably, the National Curriculum of South Africa is being created using a wiki!

Westwood Schools Wiki: Being created by a high school computer teacher.

Pre-Calc Wiki: A pre-calculus class uses a wiki to create a solutions manual.

Scribe Post Hall of Fame: Many teachers use wikis as a way to create ongoing "scribes" of classroom content.

Wiki Services

There are a wide range of wiki services that are available to teachers interested in starting a classroom wiki project. Three, however, come highly recommended by teachers:

PB Wiki: The wiki service that NCIW---and their digital partnership technology advisor, Bill Ferriter---have embraced.

Wikispaces: One of the earliest wiki services to catch the attention of educators.

Wet Paint: A wiki service that is beginning to gain attention for flashy presentation and interesting features.
to gain attention for flashy presentation and interesting features.