"Wiki" is a Hawaiian word meaning fast.
(The Wiki-Wiki shuttle carries passengers around the Honolulu airport, and was the inspiration for the first use of this term for web pages.)
A wikiis a web page or pages designed to be easily edited by anyone. Often used collaboratively, they provide a means for different people to contribute to a piece of writing. Thus, the best of many brains can be merged into a single document. As with any web page, wikis may contain text, images, and links to other pages or media content.

This is a wiki.Wikipedia-logo.png

Wikipedia is the greatest example of the power of wikis. There are currently over 3 million articles (in English alone) on Wikipedia. Countless millions have help create this content by adding their thoughts or editing those of others. This is becoming "the sum of all knowledge". Though sometimes maligned as being unreliable, several studies have shown Wikipedia to have a high degree of accuracy.

Indian Ocean earthquake 2004 - an example of a wiki covering an event in a comprehensive fashion. Started 9 hours after the quake, this wiki now has been edited over 7,000 times.

Wikis can be used as sources of information
  • Wikipedia
  • There are wikis devoted to just about any subject imaginable (search for a topic with 'wiki' appended)

Wikis can be used as places to store and organize information
  • Create a wiki with class information to supplement your text materials
  • Create a wiki with information about some personal area of expertise

Wikis can be used as collaborative tools
  • for a class of students, or a project team to record, organize, and share their learning
  • for curriculum departments or faculty groups to coordinate projects or share information

Wikis can be used as publishing tools
  • anyone can create a wiki for the world to see
  • anyone can contribute (in most cases) to an existing wiki

Some wiki examples and resources

Overview of Wikis with examples and basic How To's - from the Arizona K12 Center

Best educational wikis of 2010

How to use wikis in education
Wikis in Education Ø
Best Educational Wiki Awards for 2008
Browse these sources for examples or add 'wiki' to a Google search and see what you find.

Where to get a free wiki for educational use.
Wikispaces Recommended site for use at school (How To Edit a Wiki document, Wikispaces video tutorials)
pbwiki Ø ( = blocked as of this writing)
Wetpaint - wikis in education Ø
(Caution: There are other wiki hosts but many contain unsuitable material)

Going further in applying wikis
Curriki- collaborative site for curriculum
Wikibooks - collaborative site for creating textbooks Ø
Wikijunior - books for young children. Read and help write Ø

Some issues and considerations
ANYONE can edit - clearly a potential problem. However, some wikis allow for access by members only. Wikis also have a 'history' tab that allows one to see who edited what. Wikis also have an ability to restore to an earlier version if needed.
ANYONE can view - not always a problem. Again, some can restrict viewers to members only. There is also the possibility of hosting the wikis on-site so network login is required for access.
Multiple simultaneous editors can overwrite each other.

3 Challenges to Wiki Use in Instruction and More Challenges with Wikis: 4 Ways To Move Students from Passive to Active
both by Ruth Reynard

Comments on collaborative writing with a wiki from Why Wikis? By Ruth Reynard
Some of this comes from an article on Collaborative Writing by Michael Spring
"The communication requirements of the writing task are: task division, brainstorming, editing, general discussion, and goal setting. Task division relates to assigning tasks and communicating the associated requirements and deadlines. Brainstorming is generating and recording ideas to be used in production of the text. Editing involves members indicating their comments about and enhancements for the text. These comments and suggestions will be used to revise the existing text. General discussions can include formal team meetings as well as casual, impromptu conversations. Determining what the purpose or goal of the document is goal setting. Also, goal setting can include establishing the timeliness and activities that relate to task division."
" simply suggest collaboration to students does not result in high motivation and participation. The Wiki provides the location and the tools; the instructor provides the general and specific goals..."

For an in depth look at wiki pedagogical and research issues see Wiki Pedagogy.