A wiki is a very basic webpage (or collection of pages), which can be accessed and edited by multiple contributors.
Wikis differ from conventional websites in a variety of ways, the most significant being that a wiki page is never necessarily considered as a finished product – it is a perpetual 'work in progress', which might be modified many times by many people.
Perhaps the best-known wiki is Wikipedia – an online encyclopaedia which can be edited and expanded by anyone, and is therefore continuously being revised and updated.
Wikis can be used in education to assist with the creation, collaboration and dissemination of resources – and therefore provide an essential tool for online group work.
A wiki tool is included within Blackboard, and can be used at a course or program level for such learning activities.
- Wikis are best suited to learning activities requiring collaboration and revision/tracking. If an activity calls for individual work, or a product which is unlikely to be revised over time, it may be best to select an alternative tool – a blog or an ePortfolio, for example.
- Access to a Blackboard site is limited to participants in a particular course or program. For wiki activities that require input/access by other individuals, consider using an external wiki service.
- Using external wikis may pose issues of privacy, security and reliability. Staff and students should explore these issues with their chosen service – and consider undertaking their own back-up activities (e.g. periodically archiving a wiki as a zip file or HTML site).
The Blackboard wiki tool is easy to use and can be configured in various levels of collaboration – including for individuals, small groups or the entire class.
If you require your students to collaborate with individuals external to the course (e.g. other students, industry partners), Blackboard will not be suitable. Many externally-hosted wiki tools are available online – Wikispaces is a well-regarded example.