Help:Bringing classes to EduTechWiki

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1 Welcome

Teachers from related fields are encouraged to use this wiki for student writing activities (e.g. in a writing-to-learn perspective). You also can use this wiki as training ground for advanced English teaching (like Sarah Guth does). A good example of a student writing were a series of articles categorized under learning approaches and technology trends. Students were enrolled in Elizabeth Murphy's Education 6620, Issues and trends in educational computing course at Memorial University, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.

I may intervene if your students do "wild stuff" like choosing weird titles (in this case I'd rename the title and forward from the old one), delete huge chunks of text by mistake (I will revert to old versions), badly format text (I will add structure to an article), etc.

Below a few ideas and rules for consideration. Basically anything goes, but there some principles I'd like to stick to, e.g. making sure that this wiki is a somewhat organized space.

Also please send Daniel K. Schneider a mail if you plan to have your students do more than just reading and editing a few small things. I can create accounts for you (if your group isn't too big) and/or put your students into a authoring group that doesn't require solving in captchas each time you edit....

2 Wiki culture

There is no such thing as wiki culture. Wiki cultures, power structures and rules can be very different. In particular, this wiki doesn't work like Wikipedia. E.g.

  • I (Daniel K. Schneider) own this wiki and I decide, but I am cooperative person ;). I made up the initial rules and of course will adapt them to emerging needs.
  • You can express opinions, make speculations, create unfinished stuff without worrying about quality etc. (just try to give the reader an idea of the status of what he is looking at).

I suggest that you tell your students to read:

  • Editing rules. Have them respect these more or less (but insist on the three rules below).
  • Basic edition. Students really ought to know this much wiki syntax. In particular, they should understand titles and links. Maybe print out a paper copy of this page and hand it out.
  • Template demo (templates are practical ways to format text or add specially formatted information). Wikipedia has hundreds, we only got a few.

Finally, just let them know that some other person may change what they wrote. Of course, we all should try the best to make good use of everyone's contribution. In my experience, students have a lot of trouble understanding hypertext and collective knowledge building. Both together can be quite a challenge to teach...

3 Rules I will enforce

These are in principle not negotiable and I may take corrective action (i.e. I will just repair, not delete things)

(1) Students must have their wiki homepage filled in (link on top of each page)

They should insert a description of who they are, but there is no need to provide a traceable identity. So it can be very short, e.g. something like this:

Rationale: On the Internet, it's important to know who wrote something.
  • I also suggest that the login they take is something like "Joe Student". This way it's much easier to express opinions, sign articles etc. They can just use the shortcut: "~~~ has the impression that ..."
(2) Within an article, students should use hierarchical titles

E.g. use "=== section title ===" and not " this is bold "

Rationale: Helps user navigation (automatic generation of a TOC)
(3) New Article titles should follow at least somewhat the editing rules, i.e.
  • Avoid capital letters (the first letter can be either one, e.g. example article is the same as Example article but Example Article is not.
  • Use singular in general: E.g. pedagogical theory.
  • Make them as short as possible
Rationale: Wiki writing is about linking. Linking is easier if you just can insert the title of an article in a phrase.

4 Some other remarks

It's probably a good idea (also for the wiki as a whole) that students understand that this wiki is an organized knowledge space (not just a collection of isolated articles). You may spend some time explaining how categories work (or give them the tagging article to read). Then you also may discuss the concept of hypertext. Of course, this depends on the kind of work your students will do.

More ambitious students should understand how to navigate as a reader.

  • Understand the Mediawiki search field (not so good) and understand that Google search is a few days behind reality.
  • Become familiar with categories. If you as a teacher feel that categories are missing, feel free to add new ones.
  • Have them have a look at the the big picture (have to work on that page some day though ...)

If students wish to be "left alone" a bit while they are working on an article you may tell them to insert a template like this:

{{under construction}}. 

E.g. like in learning_by_teaching.

There is no prescription on article structure etc. I usually use a similar structure for most articles. But it's a habit, not a rule. They certainly also can reorganize articles, not just complete them.

Students may express opinions (but make it clear). They also can sign articles or sections if they wish or can at least add a <pageby/> tag on top of a page like in Reflection. This may help their motivation.

Also, if they want to work on something and an existing article seems to be really incompatible, they can just create a new one. But tell them to link the two. I am not fanatical about the idea that each concept should only be discussed in one place. Along the same lines, you also may give them as an assignment to compare concepts or to associate a concept with a case study. Typically, such writings would rather require a new wiki article (but again, ask them to link it in all directions).

Finally, please do not worry about quality. Most existing articles are not good, nor academic .... would take me years to do something that is perfect. I rather just went for volume.

5 Organizing teacher's monitoring and scaffolding work

It's a good idea to come up with a plan to monitor what your students do, but with a minimal amount of work for you.

There are 2 ways and that can be combined:

(1) Require from each student that they list pages they worked on in their wiki home page. In addition you may ask them to write down exactly what they did change;

(2) You can require students to add a course-related tag to each modified page and to each one's home page, e.g. something like

[[Category: Course Staf-2x]]
  • Make sure that you create the category beforehand, e.g. in your teacher's home page and then edit it (e.g. add a link to your official course page).

Benefits for you are:

  • You quickly can find all your students and what they worked on.
  • You have a Wiki teaching portfolio that you can show.

Here is an example from the french version:

6 Template that you could give to your students for reading

1. Create an Edutech wiki account here:

In order to prevent spamming, public wikis now have to require that users to fill in some personal information. You can choose to anatomize your name, but I must be able to figure out who you are.

E.g. for real name: Anna M or AM or Anna
E.g. for personal biography: Student, participant in a wiki assignment for Prof. X

is fine enough according to the administrator of the wiki

2. Creating new pages can be done in several ways.

I suggest clicking on your user page (icon on top right on every page) and then insert a link to the new page: Example:

 [[Affordances and constraints of podcasting]]

Then save, click on the link to the new page and edit ...

3. Refer to the help page if necessary

4. Try to respect the wiki spirit

  • Structure your pages with headings, e.g. use == ..... == for level 1 titles.
  • Link to other articles and the other way round
  • Make sure that your article is "tagged". Tags in a Mediawiki are called categories. Copy/paste the following lines anywhere in your article (we suggest at the end). Provide them with a tag for your class


 [[Category:COURSE X]]
 [[Category:Collaborative learning]]

You can check the list of existing categories here:

It none fits, the wiki will create a new one for Category: your new category