Archive of Learning Design Instructional Guides


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What's a Wiki?

A wiki is a tool which allows a group of users to edit a set of Web documents from a browser without needing to use a separate HTML editor.

Many people use wikis as a home page editor, but others use it to build jointly created documents. In many respects, a wiki is similar to a content management system like Plone or Drupal.

Quick examples


Some wikis like the Wikipedia allow anyone to activate an account and edit pages. Hence entries are marked by "Edit" links. See example below from TiddlyWiki with Edit& links above each paragraph.

Tiddly screen capture

Others like the Chance News educational newsletter restrict editing privileges to only a few users. If you implement a wiki, you should consider how much editing privileges to give to others.

Potential Disorientation

Because wikis are "decentralized", many users find the navigation disorienting. When reading a wiki, look for an About section to get a sense of purpose and navigation structure.

Wikis and RSS Newsfeeds

Some wikis also generate an RSS Newsfeed which can be read in a feed reader. Links marked as RSS or XML are RSS feeds.

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Educational Uses

A wiki can be used to

Some Examples

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Create Your Own Wiki

There are several tools which allow you to include the functionality of a wiki.


  1. Decide on a theme for your wiki. Will it be a class project, an online reference or a place to post journal entries?
  2. Designate a section in the wiki for your course work.

Penn State Wikispaces (

Still in the Pilot Phase. A wiki service from ITS. By default, pages are viewable by all Penn State faculty and staff, but you can use UMGs (user managed groups) to control access rights (and you can include students). Instructions are at

ANGEL Team File Space Documents

If you create a team in ANGEL and activate team file space, then students will be view and edit team documents. See the ANGEL Help Pages for more information.

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Setting Permissions

If you want to use a wiki for a class project, then you may need to ensure that only students can have edit privileges on the wiki. The ANGEL workarounds have the advantage of allowing access by teams.

Grading Challenge

When more than one student works on a wiki, there should be some mechanism in place to track individual student progress. Suggestions include assigning sections to students, requiring students to maintain a work log or periodic monitoring of wiki progress.

See the TLT Teamwork Tips page for more information on incorporating team projects.

Links on Using Wikis

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