Course Page Wiki

March 21, 2006 at 1:47 am | Posted in history, libraries | 2 Comments

I’m trying an experiment with one of the courses for which I’ve done instruction this semester. The course is a required intro. to historical research for undergrad majors in history, with this particular section focusing on the Haitian Revolution. The professor has emphasized to the students that collaboration is an integral part of being an historian and so she wants to encourage them to help each other as they do their papers: if someone finds a document/resource that might be useful to others, then he or she needs to share. Hearing this, I immediately thought of a wiki: the students, the professor, and I could all collaborate online and participate in the traditional mode of research for historians (word of mouth).

I wasn’t sure if there were sites offering free wiki hosting (in the manner of Blogger or WordPress), but sure enough, a search of Meredith Farkas’s website yielded the suggestion of pbwiki. There are ads, unfortunately, but the whole thing was easy to put together. Here is what I’ve come up with:

I created four pages: a place where students can list their project, a page for recommending primary sources, a page for recommending secondary sources, and a page for questions/concerns/comments. I seeded the whole thing (except for the student project list) with a few suggestions and then presented it to the class during our second instruction session. The students in the class seemed interested in the concept, but almost a week later and I’m still the only one to have done anything with it. I think if the prof. decides to make using the wiki mandatory (or at least give some kind of credit to those who do so), then it may work. We’ll see.

UPDATE (3/23):  A few students are using it as is the prof., so it seems to be working out pretty well!


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  1. Hi

    I was interested to discover another librarian using pbwiki in the classroom! I’m based ‘over the Pond’ and have a number of pbwikis. One of these I used in class with a group of First Year students. Like you, I created and seeded a wiki expressly for them. In class, students followed the suggested activities (or explored pages for themselves) and posted comments on their discoveries. It worked a treat and they loved it. I would have liked them to create new pages but students tend not to do things that are ‘not counted’ as part of assessment!

    Do you know of other librarians using pbwiki in the classroom?

    BTW pbwiki has moved on a lot since your experience last year and if you set your wiki as ‘educational’ you’ll avoid all the ads!

  2. Hi Ginny,

    I don’t know of anyone else using wikis the same way as you are. One of my current colleagues asked librarians if they were using blogs, wikis, or podcasts in the classroom and the responses she received are online: Using Blogs Wikis and Podcasts in the classroom. Other than what is mentioned on this page, the only other librarian whom I know to be using wikis extensively is Chad Boeninger. You may also want to ask a wiki expert: Meredith Farkas.

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