'I have found the best feature of the wiki to be its nature as a collaborative creative space, and particularly, a space where students can work together primarily as co-authors by collecting pieces of a project into a coherent whole.' (Harding 2007, p. 135)


Reasons for Using Wikis:


Providing students with skills for the 21st century

Using ICT in literacy is viewed by a number of educational researchers as essential for 21st century education, to prepare students for the digital age (for example, Kalantzis, Cope & Cloonan 2010; Kitson, Fletcher & Kearney 2007; Luke & Elkins 1998; Meiers 2009; Neal 2005; Spires, Lee, Turner & Johnson 2008; The New London Group 2000) and to cater to the needs of ‘digital natives’ (Prensky 2001).

Extending students’ existing experience with ICT

'Students’ comfort with online social networking makes the wiki a perfect forum for students to coauthor works and to respond to each other’s writing.' (Gibbons 2010)
Students are accustomed to technology at home and expect to use it at school.
Gibbons experimented in using a wiki for writing tasks – he had one class complete their paper in the traditional mode while his other class completed theirs entirely using a wiki. What he found was that 'On the wiki, students fell into their comfort zone and were more willing to share and contribute than the students who did not use the wiki (the "control class") were.' (Gibbons 2010, p. 36) By comfort zone Gibbons is referring to the comfort level students feel when working with social networking software and tools. Gibbons also observed that the standard of work was significantly higher in the wiki group than in the control group. In addition, as students realised their work was to have a greater audience, they were more motivated in aiming to write for this audience – in other words, their writing had greater authentic purpose.

Increased student engagement

(The above link will take you to the page on wikis and engagement)

Increased self esteem(Faux 2005)

This occurs when using ICT and multimedia in general. This in turn increases confidence and willingness to take risks, which leads to a progression of increased experimentation, increased involvement, meeting new challenges, improved performance, resulting in increased and more lasting learning. (Faux 2005)

Greater depth and breadth of learning in English

Wikis are multimodal – ‘the more modes that are accessed, the more learning occurs.’ (Benson 2008)
Students are exploring new literacies and gaining visual literacy skills. (Luce-Kapler 2007)
A more sophisticated analysis and understanding of text occurred through collaboration. (Gibbons 2010; Harding 2007)
Students are reading, interpreting and writing/creating webpages (therefore it enhances students’ abilities in reading and writing!)
Students are communicating with others via asynchronous discussion pages.
Students are engaging with the text.

Scaffolding

Using an ICT multimedia environment allows for scaffolding of student learning. (Faux 2005)
Allows for a decrease (‘fading’) or increase in level of scaffolding. (Faux 2005)
It is sometimes possible for the student to control the level of scaffolding. (Faux 2005)

Freedom of expression, representation, negotiation and choice

'the capacity to create, edit, and restructure web based content could allow students to represent data in a more freeform manner than existing asynchronous collaborative tools, such as discussion boards.' (p. 1) (Bower, Woo, Roberts & Watters 2006)
'A blank wiki page’s complete lack of structure can highlight that the inclusion of multimedia elements is a rhetorical choice'. (Lundin 2008)
'a more negotiated meaning than if we were working ‘face to face’' (p.7) as stated by a student in the study (Bower et al. 2006)
‘working together as co-authors’ (Harding 2007)
'A boost in student creativity was observed' (Mak & Coniam 2008). I also observed this in my wiki experiment.

Collaboration can be easily monitored (Bower et al. 2006)

Teachers are able to monitor the levels of collaboration and individual student input to the online discussion (Bower et al. 2006; Harding 2007) (compare this with face-to-face discussion that is difficult to monitor and assess as it takes place in the classroom).

Easy to use for both teachers and students

'Require little specialised knowledge and no specialised software to manipulate multimedia Elements' (Lundin 2008)
'Because they are so easy to use, the technology recedes into the background, allowing anyone to become a publisher.' (Educause 2005)

Varying levels of teacher control

'The teacher can participate at any level he or she wishes at any time in the process: as collaborator, guide, editor, or site administrator.' (Morgan & Smith 2008)
'Access to all parts of a wiki can be controlled by the teacher. Changes in the wiki can be closely tracked and compared with earlier changes in terms of frequency and type of engagement.' (Morgan & Smith 2008)

Audience of peers for advice and criticism (Lundin 2008)

Peer teaching, peer feedback and a defined audience encourage and engage students.