I am about to start a project with the 7th grade science teacher at my school and I think a wiki would be a good tool for us. The students are working in groups and researching different genetic disorders. I thought that we could have a separate page for each disorder and the kids in the group could edit their page, adding information, links, and images that show what they have learned about that disorder (ok - it probably isn't going to be pretty). We can call it "dis-wiki" or "gen-dis-wiki" or ...

This will be my first experience using a wiki with kids. I would love to hear your suggestions and advice about how to manage this. Which wiki tool do you think is best? Has anyone used Wetpaint? I also have a Wikispacees account that I could use. Or, maybe you think a wiki isn't the best tool. I welcome your suggestions!

Tags: genetics, research, wiki

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Our 7th grade did an experiment and recorded the result on a wiki.
You can see it here.

we used mediawiki because we like the article and discussion tab and we have an installation on campus.

Rather than teach the kids wiki table syntax, we took screenshots of excel work and used images.
I've used wikispaces for a long time, and truly love it. I'm not sure why I prefer it, but I've really come to appreciate how much space you have and its uncluttered appearance. It would be perfect for the project you've described. Great idea.
A wiki sounds like the perfect tool for this. I have always been a fan of PBwiki. And like Diane said, the new voice chat feature looks awesome.
As an example have a look at these science wikibooks I suspect will help a LOT!


Also there is a more general wiki support area at the bottom of the page

| Wiki General Info | Wiki Hosting | Wiki Directories | Wikis and Education |

Good luck with the project .... it would be great if you could share the URL when started.
I wouldn't say that Wetpaint was a Wiki ... but that does not mean it isn't the best tool for the job.
If would be helpful to hear the view of others

There are now many options similar to Wetpaint ... see a list of some at

I have tried a few online wikis and my issue with most of them is that I don't like having advertising in the sidebars and that is what keeps most of them solvent. (That's one of my main objections to most free online Web 2 tools.)

If you have the option running them in-house on your district web server is my recommendation. I like DokuWiki since it does not require a database and is great for small to medium sized projects.
Wikispaces has ad-free wikis for educators: http://www.wikispaces.com/t/x/teachers100k
I used wikispaces for a climate unit with eighth graders. You can see it at http://kms-science.wikispaces.com. My mistakes resulted in most students simply posting content and results to their own pages. The student pages were originally put in to help facilitate assessment but that didn't pan out. Wikispaces worked well for me, their support was great when our proxy and filters restricted parts of their site. I am beginning a new project next week on local history with another wikispaces site. Second time around will be better.
How do you invite students into the wiki? Do they need to have an e-mail address? Is there a way around that?
Wikispaces will register your students for you. Very nice perk! I just sent them a tab separated list of usernames and passwords, no personal info, no student email replies. Their teacher accounts are advertising free for free. If you have the Google ad supported version, again, just email them and they will drop the ads. This is their teachers registration page http://www.wikispaces.com/site/for/teachers100K with a link to an faq about where to send your usernames. They registered about 100 students for me overnight. Hard to beat that.

Good luck with your project!
Thank you so much! This sounds perfect.
I don't know about other wiki platforms, but I have experience with using the wiki built in to Moodle. There were quite a lot of issues. Often multiple students would save and end up overwriting data when many were online at the same time. We also found that the linking structure connecting one page to another was cumbersome and prone to glitches causing dead links or orphaned pages. It used a different protocol than that of all the other activities in Moodle for making links. The kids and I all became frustrated. There has been a new Moodle release since then. Perhaps they have worked out the problems.

What we found more successful was Cmap. It is a free program that can be downloaded from http://cmap.ihmc.us/download/index.php . You can opt to host it on your own server or use one of the public servers. It can be worked on assynchronously or synchronously. My students always got a kick out of watching concept boxes and links appearing on the screen seemingly out of thin air. and watching the boxes move around as each student worked on their section. There are several collaborative tools such as a built in text chat that automatically activates when two or more users are on a map simultaneously. You can also attach a forum to the whole C-map or just to specific nodes. The students do still need to be careful when they hit the save button, so we designate a 'saver' who warns everyone a save is about to occur and then is responsible to do it. If you want to see a static, non-interactive version of the Cmap we use for training for collaboration, go to our How-To Cmap html version at

To have access to make additions and changes to a Cmap, the students enter their Cmaps via the Cmap software not the html link. This lets the students have a completely public version to share with others that outsiders cannot change, but lets them have full access themselves. The Cmaps have additional security in that they can be password secured.

Here is a link to some of our Cmap pages. I am bringing you in on a student portfolio page since that will give you the most efficient access to large numbers of independent and collaborative Cmaps:

Tim's portfolio
From this page you can link to the subject Cmaps for the various courses he is taking by clicking on the boxes and chosing a link from the menu that pops up. Tim has been a particularly consisten Cmapper for his course notes and has created many as a collaborated project on many of them.

Greg's college Cmap portfolio
Greg spearheaded online study groups using Cmap in most of his classes in his first semester. Many of the linked Cmaps from his portfolio were collaborative. This semester all his classes are hands on labs, so there has been little need for Cmaps. He plans on using them again next fall when his courses lean once again to content heavy courses.



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