Sharing ideas, brainstorming, and learning
The Wiki

The wiki is about sharing our innovative thoughts and ideas with one another. It is based on the assumption that we are better off together with our shared insight and wisdom, than we are working alone - in isolation. It entails the philosophical belief that we all have invaluable experience and expertise, as well as meaningful ideas to share. The wiki can be used a number of ways and it can serve many different purposes. 

This web-based tool can be used for collaborating, sharing information, and exchanging ideas.  For example, as an instructor, I might share ideas, links and resources on the wiki. As a colleague or a participant in a learning environment, another individual may build on the initial discussion by participating in the conversation, providing input, and posting additional ideas and resources.  Hence, the wiki can be used for effective instruction through an open forum for group work, collaborative projects, and sharing between peers (Lin & Reigeluth, 2016). This kind of instruction is also essential for 21st learning goals as the collaborative nature of the instructional method is much more meaningful and dynamic than traditional lecture where students are expected to be passive recipients of learning.

Another instructional approach for using the wiki to promote learning is scaffolding (Jung & Suzuki, 2015; Lin & Reigeluth, 2016). Scaffolding occurs when students are provided with foundational support and as the learning process evolves, learners can be given more autonomy (Bruner, 1983 in Jung & Suzuki, 2016). While using the wiki, there are a number of ways to scaffold the learners’ experiences. One example is when instructors provide scaffolding through specific and clear descriptions of course expectations (Jung & Suzuki, 2016). When using this approach, however, it is essential to provide guidance that meets the needs of learners but also ensures that this support is “not too prescriptive or confining” (Jung & Suzuki, 2015, p. 834). By providing clear guidance, while at the same time offering flexibility, instructors can provide support and at the same time, students still have opportunities to think critically and creatively. Engaging in deeper reflection and thinking critically is an essential aspect of 21st century learning (Spector, Ifenthaler, Sampson, Yang, Mukama, Warusavitarana, Lokuge, Dona, Eichhorn, Fluck, Huang, Bridges, Lu, J, Ren, Gui, Deneen, San Diego, & Gibson, 2016).

Due to its collaborative structure, the wiki may be most effectively integrated through a hybrid format. The hybrid can be ideal for team and community building (Li, Dong, & Huang, 2011). Using this delivery method is optimal, as individuals can meet each other face to face, develop a rapport, and begin building relationships that may later be strengthened through virtual work together using the wiki tool. In addition, the scaffolding can begin in the face-to-face setting, which may be helpful for those who face a steep learning curve and have never used the wiki before.

Participants can get started in an initial face-to-face session of the hybrid model. In this face-to-face session, participants could be assigned to a small group practice opportunity with the wiki. This practice in small groups can help participants feel more confident when they later use the wiki at a distance. For example, participants might engage in a collaborative action research project where they address a group problem or a burning question, and begin their work together face-to-face. Later, group members can continue their efforts by using the wiki to share ideas, articles, and resources. At the end of the face-to-face session, participants should leave with a plan for how they will use the wiki to communicate with one another and make progress as a group. Specifically, they should identify roles, future tasks, and timelines for completion, as well as outline a process for providing feedback to one another.  This process is particularly important while using the wiki, as without clarification, the tool can become confusing, and it may create a fragmented experience that lacks strong user leadership. In addition, through the design of the wiki tool, instructors can track and monitor participants’ progress and they can easily follow the contributions made by each individual (Avci & Askar, 2012).  

A side note: The photo (shown above) is of my son posing with "Einstein" at the Madame Tussauds museum in New York City. Do you have a picture, illustration, or short video that represents what shared learning and use of the wiki tool means to you? Please feel free to share. 

Additional Sources for Learning about the Wiki

Malamed, C. (2016). Using wikis for learning and collaboration. E-learning coach: Helping you design smarter learning experiences. Retrieved from

E-Learning Industry (2013). How to use wiki in the classroom. Retrieved from


Avci, U., & Askar, P. (2012). The Comparison of the Opinions of the University Students on the Usage of Blog and Wiki for Their Courses. Educational Technology & Society, 15-2, 194–205.

Jung, I. & Suzuki, Y. (2015). Scaffolding strategies for wiki-based collaboration: Action-research in a multicultural Japanese language program. British Journal of Educational Technology. 46-4, 829-838.

Li, Y., Dong, M., & Huang, R. (2011). Designing Collaborative E-Learning Environments based upon Semantic Wiki: From Design Models to Application Scenarios. Educational Technology & Society, 14 (4), 49–63.

Lin, C-Y. & Reigeluth, C.M. (2016). Scaffolding wiki-supported collaborative learning for small group projects and whole class collaborative knowledge building. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning. 32-6, 529-547.

Spector, J. M., Ifenthaler, D., Samspon, D., Yang, L., Mukama, E., Warusavitarana, A., Lokuge Dona, K., Eichhorn, K., Fluck, A., Huang, R., Bridges, S., Lu, J., Ren, Y., Gui, X., Deneen, C. C., San Diego, J., & Gibson, D. C. (2016). Technology Enhanced Formative Assessment for 21st Century Learning. Educational Technology & Society, 19-3, 58–71.