Wikis in Education


Gina von Esmarch


Schools are increasingly under pressure to incorporate the latest Web 2.0 technologies into the education process, since many students commonly use them in their personal lives to collaborate with their peers. They come to school expecting to access Websites and applications like MySpace, Flickr, Facebook, Wikipedia, instant messaging and blogging. The challenge for educational institutions is to find ways to best incorporate these existing tools into the classroom experience, while also identifying new tools that can provide value in the education process.


Boston College depends on web-based tools that facilitate learning and increase communication between faculty and students, as well as collaboration between the students. They chose to use a wiki-platform because:

  1. They were looking for a social software to stimulate the education process and create lively interactions between students and faculty.
  2. Had tried Facebook and found that it was not flexible enough for classroom purposes.
  3. Wikis enabled up-to-date content development and active discussion, which ultimately led to students achieving better scores.
  4. It was easy to learn and enabled email, RSS feeds, and search integration.

Educational institutions like Boston College, use the Socialtext wiki, a valuable framework for real-time discussions so that in-class curriculums can be modified on-the-fly to reflect the latest events in the business world, and incorporate input directly from the students based on topics they want to cover or have interest in.

‘How to make your wiki your text book’ is something that Intro to Management professor, Jerry Kane faced and based on his experience, he notes that using a wiki as new educational tool has made him move from being an expert teacher to at times being a moderator of content collaboration. In many ways, using a wiki decentralizes the education system but also drives the learning process forward.

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Clif Mims is a Christian, husband, father, teacher, cancer warrior, and fan of the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Memphis Grizzlies.