From E-Learning Faculty Modules


Module Summary

Instructors are sprinkling their courses with the use of web 2.0 tools along with tools available in a Learning Management System (LMS). Wiki is a tool which instructors are using to supplement their course to encourage active learning and building learning communities. Learners benefit using the tool by developing cognitive skills and writing skills, and getting feedback from peers. In this module, we will talk about what is a wiki, its uses, and free wiki tools available for instructors to use.


Learners will learn

  • What is a wiki?
  • How a wiki works?
  • How can it be used in teaching?

Main Contents

What is a Wiki?

The word “wiki” comes from the Hawaiian word “wiki wiki” meaning “quick” or “hurry”. A wiki is a Web application technology that facilitates mass collaborative authoring and acts as a repository of information and knowledge. Wikis allow any user to create and edit pages and then link these pages together without specialized tools or knowledge. Wiki content can be accessed with or without restrictions depending if it’s public, semi-public or private. The most famous wiki is Wikipedia (, which is an ever growing online encyclopedia where people from all over the world contribute on a subject collaborating and editing one another’s work. Information can be updated easily and quickly. This model of sharing, editing and collaborating is being imitated by many instructors in facilitating collaborative e-learning.

Importance of a Wiki

This video explains how a wiki functions and allows for collaboration, editing and communication among a group of people without the exchange of emails

How can it be used in teaching?

Instructors using a wiki in their course allow students to contribute and edit their own page and promote constructivist teaching. Each student in the course can contribute to their own work and express themselves, students can’t be invisible in the class, and has to participate in the class. Wikis can be used to have discussions, create a glossary, create teaching plans, portfolios, share resources, share plans for a group project, research, and share ideas for a club, class field trips and many other opportunities. Instructors can use a rubric for assessing student work on the wiki. Instructors can look at the history of a wiki and analyze the contributions. Learners create a learning community amongst themselves during the duration of the course and beyond.

How does a Wiki work?

Wiki pages are edited as plain text with very basic formatting options, but if needed wikis may include more advanced text editors. Each time a person makes changes to the wiki page, that revision of the content becomes the current version, and an older version is stored in the page history. This way, wiki contributors can contribute, comment, and edit the contents of the wiki to the most recent page and if necessary, an “older version” can be used. All wikis have a history page/tab where a revised track of the history of a document is kept. Wikis usually eliminate the process to store the content in other places, since everything is stored on the history page. The wiki history is useful for collaborators to review and reflect on how the text has evolved over time. Public, semi-public, or private wikis are available. Public wikis are open to all, semi-public or private are restricted by invitation and use of a user name and password. Instructors can make their wiki any of these types depending on the objective of the wiki used for teaching.



How To

Anybody can sign up for a free wiki account and start using a wiki, however you can contact an instructional designer and work closely with them to sign up for a wiki, understand the layout and design of the wiki, how best to use it for your course and see examples.

Possible Pitfalls

Inclusion of a wiki in the course requires instructors to be more thoughtful in the planning and design of their course. Certain students may take over on the wiki with their contributions, while others may not adequately contribute as per the requirements of the class. Wikis can be edited rapidly so keeping track of the changes is important for an instructor. The text can be edited or deleted by anyone. Make sure students are aware of editing skills, and net etiquette skills. Some students may need more hand holding than others.


Open Source Wikis Free open source wiki applications available on the Web:

For more, please see List of wiki software on Wikipedia.

Extra Resources


Birth of Wikipedia Birth of Wikipedia