This is the second in a series of forum posts asking for feedback on the software and services around the different categories of Classroom 2.0 programs. This time it's wikis. What programs or services do you use? Wikispaces, PBWiki, Wetpaint, Jotspot, or some other?

Which are your favorites and why?
What features are important to you?
(If you're feeling verbose) What are the pros and cons of the programs you've tried?

Hopefully, these discussions will provide an unparalleled reference for new users making choices about what tools to use.

Tags: reviews, wikis

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I have been exploring a different kind of wiki, one that at first glance is not a wiki at all. It is Xtimeline, which I think is a special purpose wiki: to create and jointly edit timelines.

Whatever category it fits into, I think it is an excellent tool. But for me, the most interesting thing has been the way my use of it has evolved over a week.
I teach a course called Multimedia Literacy at Flinders University in South Australia - for teacher education students. I thought it would be nice to embellish this week's lecture with a timeline to illustrate the impact of technology on communication over the centuries. Three hours later I had put together a quite nice time-line using xtimeline. A History of Multimedia. Why three hours? Because I am a sucker for new applications. Was it worth this much time? Well, not a first glance. Then it occurred to me that I could allow others to edit it. Since the students are required to use a range of web 2.0 applications in the course, this fits in well. So now I have four volunteers to add to my work so far. Then it occurred to me that there is no need for it to be private, as I had set it up initially, so I made it public. So now this is a work in progress, and probably will end up much better than I originally intended.

By this time, my thinking about the task had evolved. What was initially a self-indulgent little exercise to support a single lecture, had grown into a serious attempt to create a potentially quite useful time-line for students around the world, with an editing team of 5 people.

I think the people at xtimeline have done a very good job. It is attractive, intuitive to use, flexible, and allows quite detailed material, including multimedia, to be added to individual events. I hope it grows and grows as more people realise its potential. It has the main ingredients of a wiki - simplicity and public or at least joint editing, but has a specialist format. What other specialist wikis can we expect?
I'm only really familiar with Wikispaces, and so I'm very interested to read others' replies in this forum. I'd highly encourage everyone to link to their wikis, etc. in these forum replies in order for us all to be able to pop out of it to see examples--what a great teaching resource this will be!

My own most fully developed wiki is my "Classroom 2.0 and Us" workshop one, which--once it was linked into the blog (at blogger) that I originally set up for the week-long teacher workshop this past summer--soon took on a life of its own, as the participants fleshed it out with content. Out of that workshop, the crown jewel product is a 7th grade teacher's prealgebra wiki, which bears watching as it grows over this semester. It's easy to use Teachertube to share videos and then to paste the embed code into one's wikispaces site and a look at Joel Bezaire's "Textbook Topics" entry is a good example of how a teacher with a Flip Video device can quickly create video tutorials (or hand over the Flip for the students to do so!).

One issue I do have with wikis is that though it's easy to create one, it's not so easy to get organization folks to actually use it. Joel has a captive audience with his 7th graders, but my team working on the creation and design of the Tennessee Distance Learning Association, though all very tech-savvy, has failed to belly up to the wiki bar and use it for collaborative design (the posting of this link proves I'm not afraid to share my failures :). Another of my workshop participants created a very tasty looking wiki for a NAIS focus group, but reported only yesterday that "no one's using the wiki" and wonders about strategies to encourage its use. Any ideas? I'm thinking that offering prizes might help (only half kidding).

I plan to wiki-like-crazy with my 4th graders this year, and I'm looking for success stories I an emulate in my own school setting, where I get the kids one day a week, K-4 and where 98 percent of them have Web access from home.

Looking forward to learning from you all...
We completed 4 wikispaces wikis last year for 4 different purposes.
The Wright 3 Wiki
Unsolved Mysteries Wiki
CSI Wiki
Weathering Wiki

I like to use wikis as they were originally intended (?) We use them as collaborative research tools, not book discussions, websites, message boards, parent communication etc. All in all I've been happy, the young people who run wikispaces very helpful and prompt with their service. I've had a few glitches adding pages (without ads). There is a "correct" way to add pages for no ads--I tend to do it incorrectly but the wikispaces guys always change it for me. My students also need a spellcheck--in the back of my mind I feel a niggling of regret when students have to use Word for their writing and then c/p into blogs and wikis. I'd like eventually to have all the writing done at the space. (My blog has a WYSIWYG and that is nice)

My other concern is one of aesthetics. I'm very design conscious and wikis just aren't "pretty" enough design wise. That is so shallow.
Nancy:

If you use Firefox (newest versions), then there is spell-checking built in. I just tested with Wikispaces and it worked. It also works in any text box here in CR2.0/Ning... :)

If you want to start a new K12 wiki with wikispaces, you can go to SupportBlogging.com and there is an ad for them on the left side to get to their free wiki setup. You can even just copy that link into your bookmarks.

I haven't looked at WetPaint lately, but I think graphic design there is a strength.
Don't have Firefox at school. Have you seen this little ditty? WriteToMyBlog Sometimes Web 2.0 tools make me smile. N.
I have used several services, Wetpaint, PBWiki, Wikispaces for various activities. I have found the Wikispaces the easiest FREE program to use. The Wetpaint has some interesting variables, but is cumbersome when you need to rearrange pages or want to reorganize things. The free portion of PBWiki is very limited, but easy to use. I think the overall best program for me is the Wikispaces. The fact that all of these are free is very enticing to education. We are very fortunate to have a tech director who allows these programs in our schools.
We recommend that teachers supplement their existing wikis: www.K12.bz

Why use teacher wikis at HelpingStudents.org?

HelpingStudents.org, also known as Helping Students Education Corp., is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. School administrators or teachers may apply for additional federal, state, and community block grants to support their 21st century learning projects by coordinating with a nonprofit entity. Serving all 50 states: Search for HelpingStudents.org

1. Track all user contributions and easily restore previous wiki page versions. This feature enables teachers the ability to start a new wiki project each year from a template. Example

2. The wiki has Whiteboards and the WikiWizard editor is user friendly and very easy to use.

3. True project ownership: Your Wiki and content may optionally be downloaded on your own computer or school server.

4 Teachers may create a new wiki or coordinate with their school and use the wiki that has been reserved. There are over 12,000 wikis reserved for schools and organized by state.

5. Ads will be removed for teacher or school wikis.

Advanced technical considerations:
You may transfer your wiki project onto the school's JSPWiki server within minutes. Our nonprofit uses JSPWik, an open source technology available for download at www.JSPWiki.Org JSPWiki supports web 2.0, remote web application deployment, and has hundreds of plugins available.
I've used Wikispaces for a while and I've liked it a lot. However, I've found that my students take a long time to get used to the interface. Even after using their great tutorials, it just doesn't sink in.

I've started using Wetpaint recently. I think the ads are in a better location. They don't seem to get in the way of the content as much. The interface seems a lot more intuitive, so I'm going to pilot it with students this semester and see how it goes. I have found the navigation to be a little tricky, but I also like that it builds the navigation automatically.

What's most important to me right now is the ability to use font colors. Either I'm doing something wrong, or Wikispaces doesn't allow you to choose font colors. For me, this is insane. Wetpaint does allow it.

Dan
We are promoting the use of wikispaces in our school district, this is the one wiki site which is unblocked for us.The ease of use is a major factor, also the creation of student logins and passwords, either by a teacher or wikispaces themselves, and the private/public features are important to the administation for student safety. I have not tried any other programs, the IT people felt wikispaces was the most secure.
Our university has its own wiki system which is annoyingly complicated and difficult to use. You can see my wiki here. I also use PBwiki for a collaborative writing project and like the fact that it is private and easy to add cowriters.

You can see my list of wiki tools here http://wiki.usask.ca/db/index.php/Wikis
Another vote for wikispaces and rather reiterate the many positives a few additional points. Adam Frey and his team are very supportive, quick to respond and empathetic. If they can not help, then the wider wikispaces community are on hand.

I particularly like the 'notification' and RSS options. As students update their work you can receive regular automated updates too.

Discussion forums are very usual for post class or extended discussion / activities - which give equal voice to all students - allowing quieter students to be heard.

Simple colour changes are effective visual cues to updates. The new print icon and renaming tools are effective.

Wishes: Perhaps more templates to match pbwiki. A filing systems for uploaded files. Otherswise excellent.
I'm a huge fan of www.wikidot.com. Why?

1. It's free.
2. It's big (100 megs per wiki)
3. It's ad free.
4. It's easy to learn (both teachers and students have picked up the basics with ease)
5. It has all kinds of different permissions you can set to restrict areas or make your wiki private (at no cost)
6. If you want to get elaborate, you can attach a domain name to your wiki
7. If you have an ongoing project, it's easy to make someone else the administrator and give your wiki away to another person

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