Wikis for Teaching


Ideas and Strategies for Using Wikis


Enable students to collaboratively create and share knowledge

Use wikis to engage students in collaborative knowledge building activities. They provide a simple way for groups of people to build shared resources and collaboratively edit and refine documents. In education, they can be a powerful tool for group projects or to build a knowledge base over time that extends beyond one class term.

How do Wikis work?

Wikis are a simple and collaborative space for groups to publish material online.  The flat structure means that anyone can edit any piece of content.  All revisions are tracked in the history feature so it is easy to see who made which changes.  There is also a discussion space for each page where editors can explain revisions or work through disagreements.


Compose and Edit

Compose & Edit

Work collaboratively to create, edit, and publish content.



Revise or add to existing content developed by others.



Utilize the discussion space to pose questions and start conversations with the community.



Take a look at the revision history to see how the content has evolved overtime.

How Are UBC Arts Instructors Using Wikis?

Example Wiki Pages

Examples from other Universities

How can they help improve student learning?

Wikis can facilitate student learning in a variety of ways:

  • Encourage interaction and collaboration among students
  • Facilitate knowledge building activities where the products of student learning can be shared and used beyond the course
  • Promote active learning by allowing instructors to facilitate knowledge creation among students rather than transmitting content
  • Allows students to work with others asynchronously outside of class time or in remote locations


  • Allows for open editing and access and is an effective way to have students work collaboratively.
  • People can work together asynchronously without having to schedule face-to-face meetings.
  • Expands students’ learning community through interaction with people around the world.
  • Keeps a record of the revision history and users can easily revert back to a previous version.
  • Encourages students to use their technological skills, writing skills, and research skills.


  • Since anyone can edit, content can become disorganized if not properly managed
  • For instructors, grading a Wiki can be overwhelming as it is difficult to keep track of all the students’ contributions when it is constantly being revised.
  • Wikis have a special mark-up language for editing and will require some time for users to get use to.
  • Requires internet connectivity to view and edit content

Ideas for Using Wikis

Wikis are a good choice for activities where a group of students work together to create a shared resource. This could be a group project where a group of students works to edit a single page or group of pages or a cooperative class activity where each student is responsible for creating an individual page in a larger shared knowledge base. They areis a great mechanism to see the evolution of students’ thought processes (using the versioning history capability to track changes over time) as they continually revise and update the Wiki.

  • Glossary/Manual – Compile a manual or glossary of important terms and concepts related to the course. Have students define terms or explain concepts in their own words instead of using textbook definitions.
  • Knowledge Base/Study Guides – Create a space for students to share and revise each other’s notes and eventually come up with a knowledge base that can be used for studying purposes. Re-use and add to the Wiki term-to-term, allowing users to see how this collective knowledge evolves overtime.
  • Solving Problems – Pose a difficult problem on the wiki and have the class work collaboratively to solve it. Students can review the revision history and see how the problem resulted in its conclusion as a self-learning activity.
  • Peer Review – Have students post their essays or assignments on a Wiki so their peers can proofread and provide comments based on rubric criteria devised by the instructor.
  • FAQs – Create a space for students to post frequently asked questions and have students try answering them first. The instructor can jump in and edit the Wiki in areas where the information is incorrect or misleading.
  • Sign-Up Sheet – Establish a single Wiki for the entire class with placeholders for teams and the number of team members. Then have the students add their names to the team they would like to be a part of.


Some of the tools that are commonly used by instructors in UBC include: UBC Wiki and Wikipedia.

  • UBC Wiki is UBC’s installation of the MediaWiki, which is the same platform Wikipedia is built on. Content is viewable to the public but editing is restricted to users with a UBC CWL.
  • Wikipedia is a web-based, free-content encyclopedia that is collaboratively written and freely editable. Wikipedia can be viewed and edited by the public (except in limited cases where pages are protected).

Below is a matrix describing some of the functions that each Wiki tool provides:

UBC Wiki Wikipedia
UBC CWL Authentication checkmark
Open to public viewing and editing checkmark
Allow for commenting or discussion checkmark checkmark
Track Revision History checkmark checkmark
Embed Wiki content to WordPress checkmark checkmark
Use of Wiki Mark-up checkmark checkmark
Print/Export Wiki checkmark checkmark
Convert content to PDF checkmark checkmark

Other Free Wiki-based Platforms:

Tips for using Wikis in your class


  • Provide detailed instructions and make expectations explicit. Specify guidelines for students to follow such as use of language and mannerism.
  • Come up with a clear schedule with due dates especially if your Wiki consists of multiple phases or milestones. For example, indicate when they will need to create their account, make their first edit, publish their first post, complete their bibliography, etc. This allows students to understand the workload and plan accordingly.
  • Provide how-to guides and links to relevant resources as a reference for students.
  • Explore existing Wikis as a class or individually to see how others are using this in their courses. Get inspiration from others see how it can be incorporated in your own class!
  • Create mini “onboarding” assignments to help students get use to the Wiki platform and the concept of working collaboratively with others in an open space.
  • Start small—start with small assignments such as creating content in a small group or a sandbox and publish it to the course before publishing it to UBC Wiki or Wikipedia. This exerts less pressure on the students as their work have gone through preliminary reviews already.
  • Develop a rubric that explains to students how they will be evaluated on their Wiki contributions. Unlike essays where your mark is based solely on your own work, Wikis requires collaboration with others and students will want to know how they will be evaluated.
  • Extend the Wiki to the classroom. Generate discussions or create activities that are connected to the Wiki content so students are encouraged to continually contribute to the Wiki.


  • Time. There is a learning curve and instructors will need to dedicate time to learn the new platform (more so for Wikipedia) before they can use the tool effectively in their class. As most students are not use to using Wikis, instructors will have to spend time overseeing student’s work (e.g. ensuring appropriateness of published information) and addressing student concerns (e.g. technical questions).
  • Instructor Overload. Grading Wiki assignments or activities can be different than grading traditional essays. Depending on the way the Wiki is being used in the class, the amount of grading may increase for the instructor. If instructors are using rubrics, they will have to spend time devising an efficient grading rubric that will effectively evaluate students’ contributions. Using a peer evaluation tool like iPeer can be useful for these type of group projects to allow students to evaluate the contributions of their fellow group members.
  • Student attitude and workload. Students may find Wiki assignments more challenging than the traditional paper-based assignments because they need to dedicate time to familiarize themselves with the new platform. Students may feel stressful as their work can be viewed and edited by the public audience. Thorough planning by the instructor is essential in making a successful Wiki project.

Adapted from: Outreach Wiki – Education/Reasons to Use Wiki

Additional Resources

Getting Started

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