Using Wikis to Support Professional Learning Communities

What is Web 2.0?

What is a wiki?

How can wikis be used to support professional learning communities?

Wiki Wisdom: Lessons for Educators

Some examples of wikis used for professional education

Creating wikis with Wikispaces

Wikispaces Teacher Help

Scan through the list of help topics. Of particular interest:

How can I learn how to use Wikispaces?
Try our video tutorials. They are a great way to get started.

I hear you offer free Plus spaces (which are free with no advertising) to K-12 (primary and secondary) teachers. How do I sign up?
That's right. You can sign up here.

Where can I see some examples of other teachers using Wikispaces?
Have a look over here. It's a wiki so you can contribute your own examples and ideas.

I am already using Wikispaces and am a K-12 teacher. Can I take advantage of the free Plus space offer?
Sure. Just email us at and tell us the names of the spaces you need us to convert and mention that you're using those spaces exclusively for K-12 (primary and secondary) education. If you want to create more K-12 spaces, you can do so here.

The Value of Wikis

What is the value of understanding how to navigate and use wikis for learning and professional practice?

In what's been dubbed the "wiki workplace," a growing number of organizations have begun shifting from traditional hierarchical structures to self-organized and collaborative networks, using wiki software—a basket of technologies that include wikis, blogs and other tools—to foster innovation across organizational and geographic boundaries. - Power in Numbers: How wiki software is reforming bloated bureaucracies and changing the face of communication - Newsweek, August 6, 2007

The information and communication technologies that are transforming media, culture, and the economy are also reshaping how companies and employees function. New social computing tools such as wikis and blogs put unprecedented communication power in the hands of employees. - The Wiki Workplace - Business Week, August 20, 2007

More thoughts on wikis

[From Power in Numbers: How wiki software is reforming bloated bureaucracies and changing the face of communication - Newsweek, August 6, 2007]

"Wikinomics" coauthor Don Tapscott says wikis have the potential to spawn new models for international problem solving and dialogue, increase transparency in government and open communication between citizens and policymakers.

"Collaborative software has become a very important part of how businesses will invent and innovate," says Ken Bisconti, IBM's vice president of messaging and collaboration software.

Q&A with Wikipedia founder, Jimmy Wales

NEWSWEEK: How would you describe the development of wiki technology in recent months?
Jimmy Wales: It’s just really exploding all over. In the early days of wikis, it was pretty much the tech geeks who were the adopters, but now we’re starting to see it more and more mainstream. Some of that has come about just because of the sheer popularity of Wikipedia, but the technology has also become a lot easier to use as well.

When do wikis work the best?
When the people involved in writing the wiki have a clear and shared vision of what they’re trying to accomplish; if you have a simple, stated goal that everyone can understand. Otherwise, if you have a wiki whose purpose is too vague, it makes it really hard for volunteers to contribute.

What can wikis provide that other forums don’t?
One of the great things a wiki does is allow for really quick collaboration—the name wiki comes from the Hawaiian word for quick. It’s also a really great way to feel around for consensus. The very nature of a wiki is a kind of mutually assured destruction, so if you’ve got something on there that even a very few percentage of people find irritating, they’re likely to come in and change it. So everything has to be worded in such a way that almost everyone would agree it’s reasonable, and if you can do that, then it survives. So for an organization like the United Nations [link to OV1206], which is charged with finding consensus in the world, the wiki seems like a great technology for them to try to use.

What would you say is the lure of collaborative technology for use in corporate settings?
It breaks down a lot of barriers and it’s a very quick and efficient way to get things done. I think at a lot of organizations people get very frustrated by the overhead of just getting things done, which is why we’ve seen the wiki blow up in the corporate world. It just sweeps away a lot of the nonsense.

Should organizations worry about security as it relates to using wiki technology?
You can’t expect to have a wiki if you also expect to be doing business as usual. A wiki is all about letting go of control, it’s a real free-form attitude. So if you’re an organization that’s accustomed to doing things by committee after long deliberations, well, that’s all going to change—but hopefully for the better