Auteur(es) : Renée Fountain
This article endeavours to denote and promote pedagogical experimentations concerning a Free/Open technology called a "Wiki". An intensely simple, accessible and collaborative hypertext tool Wiki software challenges and complexifies traditional notions of - as well as access to - authorship, editing, and publishing. Usurping official authorizing practices in the public domain poses fundamental - if not radical - questions for both academic theory and pedagogical practice.
The particular pedagogical challenge is one of control: wikis work most effectively when students can assert meaningful autonomy over the process. This involves not just adjusting the technical configuration and delivery; it involves challenging the social norms and practices of the course as well (Lamb, 2004). Enacting such horizontal knowledge assemblages in higher education practices could evoke a return towards and an instance upon the making of impossible public goods” (Ciffolilli, 2003).
Cet article décrit et promeut des expériences pédagogiques qui ont recours à une technologie libre et ouverte désignée sous le terme «wiki». Un wiki est un outil hypertexte collaboratif fort accessible et d’une très grande simplicité, qui remet en question et rend plus complexes les notions classiques de paternité d’une oeuvre, d’édition et de publication. Le détournement des pratiques officielles concernant la paternité d’une oeuvre dans le domaine public pose des questions fondamentales, voire radicales, tant du point de vue de la théorie académique que de celui de la pratique pédagogique.
Le principal défi sur le plan pédagogique est celui qui relève du contrôle : les wikis sont en effet plus efficaces lorsque les élèves peuvent exercer une plus grande autonomie sur le processus. Il ne s’agit pas uniquement de configuration et d’exécution; il est aussi question de remise en question des normes sociales et des pratiques d’enseignement (Lamb 2004). La réalisation de tels assemblages de connaissances dans le monde de l’enseignement supérieur pourrait évoquer un retour vers «l’impossible bien collectif» (Ciffolilli, 2003) et constituer un exemple concret de ce bien collectif.
Wikis as public palimpsests
A wiki is a collection of web pages that can be edited by anyone, at any time, from anywhere . The overriding goal of a wiki is to become a shared repository of knowledge with the knowledge base growing over time (Godwin-Jones, 2003). According to its original creator Ward Cunningham, “a wiki is the simplest on-line database that could possibly work.” (Leuf & Cunningham, 2001). It is “a freely expandable collection of interlinked web pages, a hypertext system for storing and modifying information - a database, where each page is easily edited by any user with a forms-capable Web browser client“ (cited in Schwartz, Clark, Cossarin & Rudolp, 2004). Browser-based access means that neither special software nor a third party webmaster is needed to post content .
What is unique about wikis is that anyone in the world can change anything in a wiki page. That is, no one authorizes the creation of wiki pages. Everyone is automatically (by default) authorized to write, edit and publish. However, not only can people write, edit and publish their own work, they can rewrite, edit and even “un-publish” the work of others. This “un-authorization” in terms of ideas and their dissemination applies not only to content, but also to the organization of contributions. Hence, by definition all wiki content is “work in progress,” or, in wiki language, WorkInProgress. (Some important theoretical and pedagogical implications and consequences of open editing are outlined in the Pedagogical Potential section.)
Wikis have been described as analogous to “open, three dimensional ThreeRingBinders” (JohnDeBruyn in reference Category Wiki-1), as “FlyPaperForIdeas” (References, Category Wiki-5) as collaborative stories (References, Category Wiki-8) and as “mindmapping using keywords” (References, Category Wiki-5). A seemingly apt metaphor for a wiki is a Palimpsest.
Wiki is Hawaiian for quick. (Yes, there is a real “wiki” in Hawaii: a bus at the international airport in Honolulu). "Wiki" (with a capital “W”) is shorthand for the WikiWikiWeb, otherwise known as “WardsWiki” (Ward being the author who created the original wiki website). A “wiki" (with a small “w”) is a site that operates along the same principles as WardsWiki. The best-known wiki is probably Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Wikis are lightweight collaborative technologies. They are people-centred tools (Brereton, Donovan, & Viller, 2003). As such their design is intentionally basic. While images can be added, wikis are primarily text-based. One can write text directly within a wiki page on-line or copy and paste text from a word processor. Text formatting to date has been extremely simple, with each wiki determining own simple markup language styles. However, more and more wikis, especially in educational contexts, are being configured to use what is referred to as a “What You See Is What You Get” (WYSIWYG) interface. (SeedWiki  is an example; see also http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue42/tonkin/)
Wikis are Open Source Software and are often part of the Free Software Movement -FSM (free as in freedom). Wikis typically use GPL (the Gnu Public License) . “The underlying philosophy of the FSM (and these wiki tools) sees the source code as a public good, not to be owned nor controlled by any one group or person.” Daignault (in process; 2001) makes the case that the values underlying the FSM model of public knowledge dissemination and mobilization have both strong ties with and important implications for educational theory and practice. The underlying technology of these new tools is XML (extensible markup language). XML separates content from formatting, encourages the use of meta-data, and enables machine processing of Internet documents. “The latter is key in the ability to link automatically disparate documents of interest to individuals or groups. The new collaborative opportunities this enables have led some to consider the growing importance of XML as the signal of the arrival of the second-generation Web” (Godwin-Jones, 2003).
Blogs are often quite structured, while wikis are more flexible. Blogs are chronological whereas wikis can be organized in innumerable ways (subjects, categories, hierarchies, etc). Wikis include a search feature, whereas many blogs do not. Once a blog message is posted, it cannot be edited by others. Wiki pages can usually be edited by anyone. (Wiki pages are, by default, open but they can be configured to give selective access, or may even be entirely closed.) And while blogs can be highly personal, wikis are intensely collaborative (Godwin-Jones, 2003). 
The tools we use may matter. According to Idhe "Technologies transform our experience of the objects in the world non-neutrally." (1994). Daignault (2001) argues that if this principle of non-neutrality is upheld, technology will reflect the interests of a given collective and will give rise to both creative and destructive tensions concerning its use. The collective tensions created by wikis — for those who dare to risk living them — may radically alter pedagogical praxis. Wikis’ collective, open structure redistributes the traditional (i.e. academic) knowledge-power nexus along non-authoritative lines. Some ensuing concerns for academics writ large are presented in the About Research section.
You are invited to co-author and rework this text. Perhaps in this “WikiWay”, we can build a critical and creative database about these intensely collaborative and particularly open (which is to say, leveling) tools. Go to WikiPedagogy to contribute in English, and/or WikiPédagogie to contribute in French if and when the text gets translated.
Wikis are lightweight collaborative technologies. One can write text directly within a wiki page on-line or copy and paste text from a word processor.
Text formatting to date has been kept extremely simple, with each of the many types of wiki determining its own simple markup styles. However, more and more wikis - especially in educational contexts - are choosing (or configuring their wikis to use) what is referred to as a “What You See Is What You Get” WYSIWYG Interface. Specific guidelines for How to WikiWork are in the Production Section.
As Brian Lamb (2004) points out, it is risky to talk about wikis as if they’re all the same. Even dedicated wikiheads engage in “perpetual arguments about what constitutes true wikiness. But some fundamental principles (usually) apply" . Lamb comments on four “Wiki Essences” that are particularly noteworthy .
The most famous wiki to date is Wikipédia.
Typically a wiki is very "clean". This means there is mostly (or solely) text. However, images can be added.
Information is organized according to the author’s wishes. That is, there is no built-in hierarchy or arborescence. A wiki author can create one very long page or create as many other interlinking pages (subcategories, directories or links) as they wish. These “structurings” can easily be undone or redone. To see possible wiki components, see the Templates and Tools section.
Wikis have been used successfully in education (Collaborative Software Lab, 2000; Guzdial, 1999). Research has shown that teachers and students can get very creative and develop innovative and useful activities for learning (Synteta, 2002). For some, wikis become objects to think with (James, 2004b), for others, wikis can help build an understanding of a community’s shared knowledge.
Specific examples of wiki work are presented below in the Examples Section.
The best-known wiki is probably Wikipédia, a free-content “encyclopedia” that anyone can edit.
According to Stallman, “In the past, encyclopedias have been written under the direction of a single organization, which made all decisions about the content, and have been published in a centralized fashion.” With Wikipedia, this is no longer the case. Stallman also elaborates on some of the unique qualities of this service, commenting that “The free encyclopedia will not be published in any one place. It will consist of all web pages that cover suitable topics, and have been made suitably available. These pages will be developed in a decentralized manner by thousands of contributors, each independently writing articles and posting them on various web servers. No one organization will be in charge, because such centralization would be incompatible with decentralized progress.”
What is astounding about Wikipedia as an open, collective knowledge repository is that it worked and continues to work. For an interesting history of how Wikipedia developed (it was not originally intended as such), as well as an outline of the value opportunities created by Wikipedia, see Klemm. For additional “large” wiki initiatives see the Wikmedia Foundation.
According to research that looked at 24 wiki uses in Western universities, wikis tend to be used by specific departments or for particular topics rather than on a campus-wide basis. Their use in scheduling, faculty use, learning support materials and course management seems to be rare. Project management is a fairly common function (especially for course-related or group projects in particular fields, notably music and languages). University-based wikis seldom appear to be used for entertainment, student feedback or journalistic purposes. Wikis with a definite purpose or structure appear to be more common than wikis basically left unstructured or for personal student use (Schwartz et al, 2004).
Wikis have been used for a variety of co-web purposes in educational contexts , such as co-creating and co-monitoring projects (writing, design) over time (within and between sessions). Specific uses include collaborative concept elaboration (4) (see examples: File Transfer Protocol (FTP), Firewall, chatting, Video Streaming, ICT pedagogy presentations (4) (see ).
A particularly innovative wiki use (in this authors opinion) is DramaticIdentity. A DramaticIdentity is a temporary hat that you put on when you assume the role of another (nonhuman) entity, allowing it to speak on the topic at hand. (Peter Mereal in References, Category Wiki-5)
1 = Schwartz et al, 2004.
2 = Collaborative Software Lab, 2000.
3 = Will, 2004.
4 = Fountain, 2005 a & b.
5 = Synteta, 2002.
6 = James, 2004a.
7 = James, 2004b.
8 = Tonkin, 2005.
NOTE: An important follow-up reference for anyone seriously interested in Wiki use in education is the 2000 CoWeb Catalog (a description of classroom activities that students and teachers have invented for the CoWeb at Georgia Tech). Also, peruse this list of Other CoWeb Papers.
In terms of composition, Barton (2004b) notes the effective use of wikis for:
This last element by Barton is crucial. Some discussion papers looking at what this “open-crowd-authorship” may entail for academia are presented in the About Research section.
The 21st-century Teaching and Learning project at Texas A&M University is built around a wiki, as is the conference planning process of the TESOL CALL interest section. A sample wiki site was set up by Awaji Yoshimana for the JALTCALL 2002 conference (Godwin-Jones, 2003).
Patrick Plante (French) created a wiki for a graduate course. It includes links to other wiki pages (texts he created for coursework), to his favourite on-line journals, to his personal web site, and so on. What is important to notice is that each person can create whatever and whenever they wish.
Judith Horman (French) presents the papers for a graduate course (students were required to read — and comment — on each others’ work before notifying the professor that the “final” version was ready). She offers links to her personal web site and to the courses she herself is offering, and describes a host of other projects in which she is involved. Hence, there is often a mixture of personal and professional interests, questions, and even “To do” lists that include the preparation of articles like this one.
This includes undergraduate work, where the co-elaboration of "techne" concepts has been developed over one university session. The goal, enforced by coursework requirement, is that each session students (and the professor) will go both deeper (nuances, questionings, critique) and farther (pedagogical examples and implications) in studies of how these concepts do and do not work with and for society. Here is one example, Internet2. Note: these concepts then serve as material for exam questions for students in subsequent sessions of the same course.
A required part of coursework was to provide public feedback (in French only) on other students’ technology integration lesson plans. This was carried out according to collectively established guidelines. The feedback began in the fall of 2004 (in French only). Each student on this page presents his or her work. The critiques offered by other students are found in the commentary section at the bottom of each page. Critique of this critique will take place in the fall of 2005.
Students were required to collectively research one of five technoscientific issues during a 13-week period. The collectives consisted of students (typically six in number) from two science classes (three students from each class). Here is an example of student WikiWork pertaining to stem cell research (in French only), which forms part of our SSHRC research on technoscientific literacy.
NOTE: It is important to reiterate that the student pages listed in the section “Some specific wiki uses within education” could be rewritten, reorganized and/or deleted by anyone, in any way, at any time. There is no supervision of these pages: the students write, edit and publish with no intervening authority .
1. Wikiversity is a new idea to create a wiki-based learning community. Here, you might participate in on-line courses or create a course yourself. See this page for some ideas about what the Wikiversity might become.
2. This paper discusses a wiki project under way at Deakin University. This project uses a wiki to host an icebreaker exercise intended to facilitate ongoing interaction between members of on-line learning groups. Wiki projects from across America are outlined and future wiki research plans are also discussed. These wiki projects illustrate how e-learning practitioners are moving beyond their comfort zone by using wikis to enhance the process of teaching and learning on-line.
The evaluation of some Wiki use in educational contexts is presented in the Evaluation Tools Section.
General Pedagogical Potential
Wikis are new to the university context. (Some recent implementation practices are presented in Examples section, and several guidelines for wiki use are offered in Evaluation Tools section). Wiki pedagogy is literally — and figuratively — “in-the-making”. Wikis, both in and by their ontological existence, circumvent traditional power/knowledge relations. What these democratizing tools may — and may not — enact in and across educational settings remains to be seen. While the descriptions about their potential enactment are brief, the issues they invoke are complex and challenging.
Wikis enact knowledge building with and for others. The focus is on the community itself rather than on the individual learner (Holmes, Tangney, FitzGibbon, Savage, & Mehan, 2004). The implications of communal constructivism for the university context are of particular import. In the words of Holmes et al (2001), "What we argue for is a Communal constructivism where students and teachers are not simply engaged in developing their own information but actively involved in creating knowledge that will benefit other students. In this model students will not simply pass through a course like water through a sieve but instead leave their own imprint in the development of the course, their school or university, and ideally the discipline."
The goal of such “co-curricularization” is to influence the quality of ALL work, not just one’s own  Quality is to be influenced OVER TIME (long term sustainability of knowledge) (Ciffolilli, 2003 & Schwartz, 2004), ACROSS collectivities (across students, over classes, over years, over generations; see, e.g., Scardamalia & Bereiter, 1994), VIA open-natured projects and TOWARDS creating “impossible public goods” (Ciffolilli, 2003). While creating assemblages of valuable collective goods is not new, tools that intrinsically incite them — and on such a large scale — may be truly new (Godwin-Jones, 2003).
Like many on-line environments, wikis create the possibility for international “Collaborative Collectors” and interdisciplinary “social webs” that enhance social life through knowledge of and mutual participation in new types of cultural and leisure activities (Mark, 2001 cited in Muirhead, 2004). Networked collectivities purportedly allow for wider, diversified, teamwork (Ciffolilli, 2003). Teamwork is said to invite multiple perspectives, induce higher developmental skills, reduce uncertainty during complex activities, and increase participation (Harasim 2003, cited in Muirhead, 2004).
Several on-line environments (such as forums and news boards) enable such potentially innovative exchange and labour practices. Like wikis, they are premised on a distributed knowledge-building model, wherein information flows freely without having to pass through a central authority. However, in wiki technology, such distribution pertains not only to the exchange of ideas but to the editing and publication of ideas as well. Wikis are based upon a principle of non-exclusive authority. Anyone and everyone gets to decide what will be said (content), how it will be said (organization), and whether it will be said (dissemination). Some potentials and concerns about distributed authorship, open editing, and public as publisher are outlined in the About Research section.
Specific Pedagogical Potential
That is, they maximize the written word advantages of reflection, reviewing, publication, of witnessing cumulative written results. It is important to note that dissatisfaction in interplay may be key here. When students do not like what they see — for example, the approaches taken by others — they may act to create otherwise (Scardamalia et al, 1994).
In wikis anyone can play. “This sounds like a recipe for low signal (noise) as Wikis get hit by the great unwashed as often as any other site — but to make an impact on Wiki, you need to generate real content. Anything else will be removed. So anyone can play, but only good players last.” (Reference: Category Wiki-5.)
“Allowing everyday users to create and edit any page in a Web site is exciting in that it encourages democratic use of the Web and promotes content composition by non-technical users” (Leuf et al, 2001). For an excellent critique of democracy — indeed, a case for its rethinking — see Agamban in the About Research section.
People take time to think, sometimes days or weeks, before they follow up some edit. So what people write is generally well-considered (References, Category Wiki-5).
The extremely simplified hypertext format may allow for a greater concentration on the text itself, that is, on the content or the writing process (as opposed to figuring out or playing with text tool options or presentations). The lack or small number of images may also enable a greater emphasis on quality content creation and/or comprehension (Fountain, 2005a; Godwin-Jones, 2003).
Co-authoring is complex, whether in the real or the virtual worlds. There appear to be many ways of writing together. Roles can vary scribe&consultant/parallel writing/joint writing in Mitchell, Posner & Baecker, 1995) dynamics (collaboration alters within and between authors in Mitchel et al, 1995) politics (participation and engagement is not necessarily equal in Fountain 2005a, Hormon, 2005, Mitchel et al, 1995).
Since wiki authors are typically anonymous; unless the group is extremely limited and/or identification of textual input is imposed, one will not normally know who the author is. Thus, unlike threaded discussions in which the writer is identified, it is usually impossible to identity contributions to a wiki (Schwartz et al, 2004).
Such anonymity poses enormous questions for academic institutions wherein rewards (grades, bursaries, grants, publications and hirings) are still typically based on individual contributions and efforts. However, it is possible to insist upon authorial identification within any given wiki. But the advantages of “non-identifiable authorship” may outweigh the disadvantages in certain academic sectors. Garcia & Steinmueller (2003) outline three potential advantages:
1) an intensification and diversification of non-ownership/non-proprietary models; 2) an emergence of self/other identification hybrids; and 3) the proliferation of consumer/producer horizontal assemblages, reflecting the multi-authored character of information goods produced through collaborations.
The non-hierarchical decision-making about what counts (or what will remain published) can occur between students, whether within a given course or across extended periods of time (Holmes et al, 2001) .
First, they subject writing to constant scrutiny (Barton, 2004a). Mutually editing content may improve the quality of ideas (concerns about the potential to “destroy” others’ work are discussed in the Production section). In addition, witnessing and participating in the progression of editions, and seeing editing as a political struggle (Barton, 2004a), could lead to heightened creativity and more nuanced critical skills with respect to document production and evaluation (References, Category Wiki-5).
Second, making editorial changes public (as wikis do) could provide excellent data for:
1) quality analysis (in terms of both form and content) pertaining to what counts as improvement or not;
2) political analysis in terms of decision-making (quality according to whom).
Note that this second option is only possible if the authorship of wiki changes is made explicit. The use of egalitarian editorial decision-making seems to enable rotating leadership roles, allowing participants to build on what works (reference: Category Wiki-5).
Wikis permit the creation of “publics, not masses” (Barton, 2004a). Arming a public to edit means that “an armed society is a polite one” (References, Category Wiki-1). Wikis make texts intensely public and potentially durable. Work is placed for the wider community to see and edit, both in the present and in the future. Writing for a “real” audience seems to be highly motivating, leading towards the desire to attain better language skills, including expression (Fountain, 2005b). It may also lead people to be more thoughtful in terms of content and structure (Godwin-Jones, 2003). Yet, while expression is important, “being heard” may be more so. When one “goes public”, receiving no response can be as troublesome as receiving a bad response. The relationship between “listen” and its anagram “silent” merits considerable reflection. As Oscar Wilde said, “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” Feedback then, at least in an educational context, is key.
Educators can insist that students read and respond to others. The elaboration of what constitutes appropriate feedback, and the creation of guidelines for its equitable distribution, are two fundamental issues in educational contexts.
Wikis created in pedagogical contexts wherein collaboration is forced and enforced (since participation is often related to the student’s grade) — a kind of Lacanian “choix forcé” — may prove to be a factor that determines why wikis may not work for some educators. That is, the voluntary aspect of wiki work, which involves an “opting in” to knowledge construction, may prove to be an essential and non-negotiable component of creative and sustainable participation.
The import of responsible anonymity (creating and/or responding responsibly and ethically to public speech acts on the web across potentially extremely large audiences) needs no elaboration.
Wikis have no rules; non-interference with respect to creativity is high (Godwin-Jones, 2003).
Wikis require trust: trust the people, trust the process and enable trust-building (reference: Category Wiki-6). Building trust and enabling it in the digital domain, across differing and often divergent times and spaces, may prove to be too great a challenge to ask of educators who already lack time and resources.
We need to question:
According to Palloff and Pratt (cited in Li, 2003 and Muirhead, 2004) the virtual student wants: 1) communication and feedback;
2) interactivity and a sense of community; and
3) adequate direction and empowerment to carry out the tasks required for the course.
In virtual work, there are typically four types of behaviour upon which to focus: participation, response, affective feedback and focused messaging (Horman, 2005; Burge, 1994 cited in Muirhead, 2004). Of particular importance to effective behaviour are:
1) the degree of social presence;
2) the quality of the feedback received;
3) the intellectual depth of dialogue; and
4) the virtual presence of the instructor (Berge, 2002; Gunawardena, 1995; Swan, 2001 cited in Muirhead, 2004).
Some specific guidelines for wiki work : 
Neus- offers five guidelines to support a strong collaborative culture and improve the quality of information in virtual communities of practice:
1) Accountability: The prerequisite for reputation
2) Focus and culture: A community charter
3) Trust and identity: Personal profile pages
4) Collective memory: FAQs as efficient knowledge repositories
5) Membership criteria
All wiki software comes with a “How to wiki” section. Extensive documentation, bugs and requests for new additions are typically located on the home page of the wiki software in question. “How to” documentation is generally available in a variety of languages. This section presents some of the general possibilities offered by most wikis, as well as some initial descriptions of what it means to work (write, edit and publish) in wiki spaces. Remember, wikis are designed to be simple, so that they can be uploaded and altered both quickly and openly. Their strength lies in this simplicity. Pedagogical guidelines for effective integration are located in the Pedagogical Potential section. Some examples of how wikis have been used creatively in higher education are found in the Examples section .
All pages can be edited by clicking on the EDIT link at the bottom of the given page:
or at the top (right) of the page:
All pages have a RecentChanges link wherein you can see all previous versions of the text. No, nothing is lost!
They all come with a Sandbox where people can practice without worry.
They all come with a page explaining their FormattingRules. (Note: these are always VERY simple).
They all use a WikiWord format to create new pages. This is a word with a mixture of upper and lower case letters using a minimum of two capital letters with no spaces (and no accents).
And, finally, WikiPages that are empty (nothing in them yet) are always followed by a question mark after the WikiPageName. When you click on the question mark you get an empty page that looks like this:
For beginners, BriefIntro (by Ralph Mellor) offers all the information one needs, as well as a tutorial. Mellor also offers links to issues that matter on a longer-term basis. For some of the more elaborate possibilities of wikis, for example, to know more about Deletion Conventions, see explanations offered on the OneMinuteWiki. For those interested in wiki page design, Ward Cunningham outlines a number of important underlying principles.
However, in spite of these very complete descriptions, a brief orientation about how to wiki work follows.
Creating new wiki pages is extremely simple .
First, click the EditText or Edit link on an existing page.
Second, create a WikiWord to create a new hypertext page. This consists of creating a single word containing a minimum of two capital letters. For example, if you wanted to create your own wiki page within an existing wiki page, you might decide to put your two names together. For example, Richard Stallman would become RichardStallman. But you could also create a longer, more descriptive WikiName. To use the same example, Stallman might create his WikiPage name as: "RichardStallmanTheGreat" or "GNUManStallman". What is essential is that any given WikiName used to create a new wiki page must contain at least two capital letters and have no spaces .
Third, when your WikiWord is created, simply click on the Save button. The page that you have just edited will now show your new WikiPageWord. It will be followed by a question mark. This means there is no text on this page, and that it is still empty. Simply click on the question mark to have access to this new page. To edit it, simply repeat the first step outlined above. That is, click the EditText or Edit link. You can copy-and-paste text from your text editor.
In terms of navigation, every time you type an existing WikiWord, an automatic link is made to the page with that title within the local wiki database. An interesting wiki option is that you can click any page title to see a list of all the pages that link to the page within the local wiki database. Hypertext links to other sites can be typed directly; no formatting is necessary.
Create your own WikiHomePage by creating a page with your name (follow the steps above). This automatically creates a UserName for yourself that will show up in RecentChanges. If you login before creating/editing, it can be used as a WikiSignature (to use when appropriate or if you would like to). You can then type this name on any other wiki page (within your wiki database) and a link to your HomePage will automatically be created. Most wikis have login capacities.
Real names are preferred. Yes, it is easy to use someone else’s name. Please don’t, but don’t assume that signatures have any significance other than simple politeness.
The Wikipedia neutral point of view policy (NPOV) states that one should write articles without bias, representing all views fairly. The neutral point of view policy is easily misunderstood. The policy doesn’t assume that it’s possible to write an article from just a single unbiased, "objective" point of view. The policy says that we should fairly represent all sides of a dispute, and not make an article state, imply, or insinuate that any one side is correct.
When editing you are advised to:
1) Be bold in your editing!
2) If you find a block of text in need of a clearer, simpler explanation — and you have one — then supply it.
What about security? There is no security at all. Anyone could jump in and delete content. Some things might get restored. Don’t worry about it; it’s part of WhyWikiWorks. See WhyNobodyDeletesWiki. Security is pointless in this particular software.
On this Advice from Old-timers page, they suggest three things to do before editing or adding pages:
Pedagogical guidelines for effective integration are located in the Pedagogical Potential section. Some examples of how wikis have been used creatively in higher education are found in the Examples Section.
In this section some of the available wiki programs are presented. This is followed by an outline of the more commonly available wiki features. Following this, a recommendation of wiki software programs is offered, with special emphasis on two that are deemed most suitable for educational use, based on this author’s experiences.
According to meatball wiki (2003), there are more than 200 wiki programs, although only a handful are considered unique. Schwartz et al, (2004) compare the following “unique” wikis (unique in the sense that they offer differing options) in terms of source code, wiki management, page formatting, access control, communications, support and other advanced features:
For a list of many other wikis see the Wiki Directory.
For an excellent list and commentary on Francophone wiki software options, see Framasoft.
Modular construction means that wikis can be very simple or complex according to user needs and skill levels. There are SandBoxes in which to practice, RecentChanges to see changes in any given text, NewRecentChanges for versions of previous pages, search engines through FindPage, UserName for identification, and so on.
Wikis allow for external web links (hyperlinks) and internal wiki links (crosslinks between wiki pages). Creating links requires no particular knowledge of hypertext markup language (HTML); you simply type in a web address (URL) or write the name of an existing wiki page. Links are automatically created. It goes without saying that this permits an extremely interesting referencing system for organizing and linking content.
Participants can be notified about new content by using email notification.
Low graphic use results in pages that load quickly.
Access is flexible: all that is needed is a computer with a browser and an Internet connection.
While not all wikis automatically come with all these features, any given feature can potentially be incorporated into any other wiki by accessing and customizing the source code. Those marked with an asterisk are common features in most wikis. According to Leuf and Cunningham (cited in Schwartz et al, 2004), a wiki functions independently of any special add-ons or plug-ins (advanced features such as blogging, polling, calendars, RSS, etc.), and so tends to better meet the needs of a fairly broad audience.
To choose the wiki package that will best suit your needs, think about the features you need. Remember, however, that more features mean more complexity. For example, how much text variety should students be offered? Do you need WYSIWYG formatting? While WYSIWYG formatting can be a distraction — since students can get carried away with the formatting rather than concentrating on the content — they are nonetheless used to these features.
If you work in the francophone world, two wiki packages integrate almost all of the unique elements outlined above. The first is Wikini MST, adapted for educational use by RÉCIT MST Quebec. This wiki software program allows for the insertion of mathematical symbols, text highlighting and colours, RSS and many other options that are important for educators. Merci mille fois RECITMST ! The second — and most popular — wiki package is MediaWiki, available in English and French. Both of these wiki packages offer extensive documentation and FAQs, and accept requests for additional features to be considered in upcoming versions.
Before you decide to use MediaWiki, please take a look at other wiki engines (see, for example, the list at http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?WikiEngines) and determine whether one of them might better meet your requirements. For small wikis, UseMod (http://www.usemod.com/cgi-bin/wiki.pl) is always a safe bet — it does not need or support a database. The latter is, of course, also a bottleneck in terms of functionality. Requests for new features should be submitted to MediaZilla (http://bugzilla.wikimedia.org).
The value that wikis may hold for educational contexts, through the efforts of the many over time, has not yet been established. Surowieck has suggested that large groups of people are smarter than an elite few, no matter how brilliant; groups are better at solving problems, fostering innovation, coming to wise decisions and even predicting the future. This “Wisdom of crowds” is evinced in the ever-increasing quantity and quality of WikiProjectEndeavours, both inside and outside of education. See, for example, the WikiMedia Foundation Projects (such as Wiktionary, WikiNews, and WikispecieS), EvoWiki (a reader-built encyclopedia of evolution, biology, and origins), SEEK (Science Environment for Ecological Knowledge), Wikibooks (a collection of open-content textbooks that anyone can edit), Wikiversity (a free, open learning environment and research community), OOPS (An Opensource Opencourseware Prototype System for lecture translation at MIT), and the WikiTravelGuide. The important criteria of project durability remain to be seen. But if the Linux project is any indication of Open Project potential, these typically virtual enactments may prove to be powerful and sustainable creative forces.
Before looking at some specific evaluations of Wiki use in higher education, the following is a brief summary of the literature regarding what Wikis may do best. 
Wikis may work best for...
Detailed evaluation of specific wiki use  in educational contexts is embedded in a number of papers:
While the evaluation of each of the aforementioned pedagogical use of wikis is intimately tied to specific contexts (domain requirements, course goals, students’ confidence and competency levels, Internet access, time and timeline allotments, etc.), there are several general points of evaluation:
While the following example is not taken from higher education, it is extremely relevant, and may be indicative of how such “problems” get resolved. Grade six students in an elementary school devised their own publishing protocol in a public environment (a blog). They created their own (French version) language work ethic and icon for “how” they wished to create their texts as well as “when” they were ready for their texts to be evaluated grammatically. It is important to note that this quality of language question (“mistakes-gone-public”) was of such significance to both teachers and parents that the entire project almost closed down. It was the students themselves, who took the initiative to create and enforce a language policy so that they could continue to publish online.
Though analysis is still underway, I would like to offer some preliminary comments pertaining to the wiki research work conducted in my graduate and undergraduate technology courses at Laval  as well as in our SSRHC project, “Technoscientific literacies via open source enabled virtual research collectives” .
Preliminary analysis across these two research projects indicates that the exclusive use of wiki software (asychronous, text-based technology) to conduct research across digitally-based virtual communities, within which participants did not know each other, complicated student psychosocial relationships. These included frequent misunderstandings due to the lack of virtual and audio clues; the organization of projects was also cumbersome, and synchronous chats were eventually added to address this issue. Yet in spite of these difficulties, students reported that they liked working with wikis. They appreciated the simplicity, the autonomy of access, the ability to share work with others and the ability to view others’ work. 
Analysis of the following issues is presently underway. If you are interested in being informed about ensuing articles on these research lines, please write to Renee.Fountain@fse.ulaval.ca.
Many of these issues pose fundamental — if not radical — questions for higher education, and, as such, merit considerable discussion. Several references are included for those who wish to peruse some of these wiki-related theoretical and methodological underpinnings.
Wikis are challenging traditional notions of authority and the criteria of academic legitimation (Barton, 2004a, 2004b; Lamb, 2004). According to Barton (2004a), "legitimation in the wiki world is not solved by censorship," and wiki " does not find its authority in the credentials of authors; indeed, the entries quickly become autonomous from individual authors and take on their own existence. They are always developing as new collections of individuals aim to refine or destroy them; but each edit only pushes upwards. Gradually the entries connect with one another and thus bring together communities of wiki authors."
Wikis discourage the feeling of authorship and the building of subjectivity. As Barton (2004a) points out, they are not good for those struggling to find their voice and authority. Blogs may prove to be a better tool for this.
Wikis can be created by multitudes of people. Excessive degrees of consensus can foster mediocrity, creating bland discourse (Hopper, 2003, cited in Murihead, 2004). Could this lead to “group think”? For an interesting discussion on the potential and perils of “crowding,” see The wisdom of crowds.
Requiring students to make their work public (we do not post their grades publicly) evokes concerns about whether a future employer might go back and see how someone fared. Intermediate measures might be to subsequently delete work, or to insist upon a form of identification known only to the professor.
Open source principles are applicable to a wide variety of activities, and models for their application and adaptation are evolving as experience is accumulated through different projects. This emerging experience provides a fertile ground for future research and a plethora of opportunities for new initiatives (Mateos et al, 2003).
For comments on virtual learning environment for the future, see Scott’s blog entry (January 17, 2005) titled The VLE of the future.
A wiki is a primitive newsgroup format; its formatting is primitive, the presentation is boring and the (traditional) lack of security is unworkable. See John Passaniti for a response to these critiques (References, Category Wiki-1). Richard Kulisz (2003) writes about Why Wiki Works Not.
Aronsson, L. (2002). Operation of a large scale, general-purpose wiki website. [Electronic version]. In João Álvaro Carvalho, Arved Hübler, Ana Alice Baptista (Eds). Elpub 2002. Technology Interactions. Proceedings of the 6th International ICCC/IFIP Conference on Electronic Publishing held in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic, 6-8 November, 2002. Retrieved December 22, 2004 from http://cde.athabascau.ca/softeval/r... Available in PDF.
Barton, M. D. (2004). The future of rational-critical debate in online public spheres. [Electronic version]. Retrieved November 18, 2004 from http://www.google.ca/search?q=cache.... Available in HTML.
Barton, M. (2004). Embrace the wiki way! [Electronic version]. May, 21, 2004 -14:34. Retrieved December 18, 2004 from http://www.mattbarton.net/tikiwiki/.... Available in HTML.
Brereton, M., Donovan, J., & Viller, Stephen. (2003). Talking about watching: using the video card game and wiki-web technology to engage IT students in developing observational skills. In ACE, Tony Greening and Raymond Lister (Eds). Fifth Australasian Computing Education Conference (ACE 2003), Adelaide, Australia, 4-7 February 2003,197-205. [Electronic version]. Retrieved November 30, 2004 from http://crpit.com/confpapers/CRPITV2.... Available in PDF.
CATEGORY WIKI [electronic version]. http://c2.com/cgi/wiki? Retrieved December 5, 2004. Available in HTML. (Many of the following WikiLInks can be found via this Category wiki link.)
Ciffolilli, A. (2003). Phantom authority, self-selective recruitment and retention of members in virtual communities: The case of Wikipedia. [Electronic version]. Retrieved December 20, 2004 from http://firstmonday.org/issues/issue.... Available in HTML.
Collaborative software lab. Projects measuring the learning and cost-effectiveness of the CoWeb. Integrative learning in the engineering curriculum. [Electronic version]. Retrieved January 15, 2005 from http://coweb.cc.gatech.edu/csl/29. Available in HTML.
Collaborative software lab. (2000). A Catalog of CoWeb? Uses [Electronic version]. College of Computing Georgia Tech, November 2, 2000. Retrieved November 1, 2004 from ftp://ftp.cc.gatech.edu/pub/gvu/tr/.... Available in PDF.
Critical methods. (2003). Wikis. [Electronic version]. Retrieved December 11, 2004 from http://www.criticalmethods.org/coll.... Available in HTML.
Daignault, J. (2005a) (in process). Les concepts de liberté et de virtualité au coeur des pratiques éducatives à base de logiciels libres.
Daignault, J. (2005b) (in process). Hacking education. To be presented as the keynote address for the Complexity and Learning Conference, Louisiana, November, 2005.
Daignault, J. (2005c) (in press) Le virtuel, est-il un souci? In Communautés virtuelles: Penser et agir en réseau. Presses de l’Université Laval.
Daignault, J. (2001) La force des communautés virtuelles: créer en ne s’actualisant pas. [Electronic version]. Esprit Critique. 3(10), Octobre 2001. Retrieved October 1, 2004 from http://www.espritcritique.org/0310/.... Available in HTML.
Fountain, R. (2005a) (in process). WikiProjectFeedback: UndergradsAtCritique. [Electronic version will be posted here]. http://wikipedagogy.tuxcafe.org
Fountain, R. (2005b) (in process). WikiTechConcepts: UndergradsAtConcept Development. [Electronic version will be posted here]. http://wikipedagogy.tuxcafe.org
Fountain, R. (2005c) (in process). Technoscientific literacies via wiki research collectives: a project overview. [Electronic version will be posted here]. http://wikipedagogy.tuxcafe.org.
Edwards, C. Discourses on collaborative networked learning [Electronic version]. Retrieved December 1, 2004 from http://www.shef.ac.uk/nlc2002/proce.... Available in HTML.
Godwin-jones, B. (2003). Blogs and wikis: Environments for on-line collaboration. [Electronic version]. Language, Learning and Technology, 7(2), 12-16. Retrieved December 4, 2004 from http://llt.msu.edu/vol9num1/emergin.... Available in HTML.
Guzdial, M. (1999). What is a Wiki? [Electronic version]. Retrieved December 28, 2004 from http://tecfa.unige.ch/guides/tie/ht.... Available in HTML.
Holmes, B., Tangney, B., Fitzgibbon, A., Savage, T, & Mehan, S. (2001). Communal constructivism: Students constructing learning for as well as with others. [Electronic version]. Retrieved November 29, 2004 from http://www.cs.tcd.ie/publications/t.... Available in PDF.
Horman, J. (2005). Une exploration de l’interaction sociale en ligne lors de la réalisation d’activités d’apprentissage collaboratif dans deux espaces interactifs: un site Internet et un wiki. Masters Thesis. Université Laval.
Ihde, D. (1994). Philosophy of technology as hermeneutic task, Document dactylographié, p. 8.
James, H. (2004a). My Brilliant Failure: Wikis in Classrooms. [Electronic version]. In Kairosnews, May 25, 2004 - 14:13. Retrieved December 11, 2004 from http://kairosnews.org/node/3794. Available in HTML.
James, H. 2004b. How I learn on a wiki. [Electronic version]. In Kairosnews, May 27, 2004 - 22:07. Retrieved December 15, 2004 from http://kairosnews.org/node/3794. Available in HTML.
James, H. (2004b). Aiming for communal constructivism in a wiki environment. [Electronic version]. In Kairosnews, May 27, 2004 - 22:07. Retrieved December 14, 2004 from http://kairosnews.org/node/3809. Available in HTML.
Keep, C., Mclaughlin, T., & Parmar, R. Palimpsest. [Electronic version]. Retrieved December 21, 2004 from http://www.iath.virginia.edu/elab/h.... Available in HTML.
Lamb, B. (2002). Open Spaces: Wikis, Ready or Not. [Electronic version]. EDUCAUSE Review, 39(5), September/October 2004, 36-48. Retrieved January 18, 2005 from http://www.educause.edu/pub/er/erm0.... Available in HTML.
Leuf, B., & Cunnignham, W. (2001). The wiki way: Quick collaboration on the web. Boston: Addison Wesley.
Li, Q. (2003). Review Essay: The virtual student: A profile and guide to working with online learners, by Rena M. Palloff & Keith Pratt. [Electronic version]. Retrieved January 14, 2005 from http://www.ucalgary.ca/~iejll/volum.... Available in HTML.
Lih, A. (2004). Wikipedia as participatory journalism: Reliable sources? Metrics for evaluating collaborative media as a news resource. [Electronic version]. Journalism and Media Studies Centre University of Hong Kong. Paper for the 5th International Symposium on Online Journalism (April 16-17, 2004). University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved December 13, 2004 from http://journalism.utexas.edu/online.... Available in PDF.
Mateos, G., & Steinmueller, W. (2003). Applying the open source development model to knowledge work. [Electronic version]. Brighton: SPRU, Science and Technology Policy Research, Open Source Movement Research, INK, Working Paper number 2 (January). Retrieved November 27, 2004 from http://www.sussex.ac.uk/spru/public.... Available in PDF.
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Muirhead, B. (2004). Research insights into interactivity. [Electronic version]. Retrieved December 4, 2004 from http://www.itdl.org/Journal/mar_04/.... Available in HTML.
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Firstly, I wish to thank my collaborators Jacques Daignault (UQAR, Lévis campus), Daniel Oliva (École de technologie supérieure) and Éric Francoeur (École de technologie supérieure) for their invaluable input, as well as Anne-Mireille Bernier for her impeccable editorial work. A special acknowledgement goes to Jacques Daignault for introducing me to (and keeping me up-to-date on) wikis and the Free Software Movement generally. Without the underlying philosophy and hope of collaboration, openness, and freedom intrinsic to the FSM movement, I would not be involved in technology education.
Secondly, I wish to thank a number of people who participated in my wiki research projects:
Thirdly, special thanks goes to technicians Laurent Duschene and Samuel Cossette at Équinux and David Mercier at Lévinux for their invaluable help and patience in creating, adapting and managing all these wikis. Thanks also to Florence Bezier (in charge of faculty computing in the Department of Education at Laval) who has graciously allowed us to autonomously run and manage the open source servers that, together with those situated at Lévinux, house many of our wikis.
And finally, I would like to thank Stephen Downes (and indirectly the National Research Council of Canada, which intelligently employs him) for his highly informative daily newsletters that introduced me to many of the wiki authors cited in this text.
 For those interested in wiki history, wikis began in 1995; see Cunningham or Aronsson.
 According to Schwartz et al. (2004), this eliminates the need for distribution with the associated risk of virus transmission
 The GPL license (often called the GNU GPL) is the most widely used license for Free Software projects
 Lamb’s footnote: Various authors, “Elements of Wiki Essence,” WikiWikiWeb.
 Additions to Lamb’s text (in parentheses) are added to facilitate comprehension for those unfamiliar with certain terms.
 To lighten the text and to avoid repeating author’s names, numbers follow each wiki use. The corresponding article for each number is indicated at the bottom of this section. Where we can elaborate from our own research WikiWork, examples are given via direct wikipage links. It must be said that, given their novelty, we simply do not yet know how such open spaces can be used to their full advantage. Certainly, to date, wikis have been successful, in that:
 project integration work — http://wikini.tuxcafe.org/wakka.php... (click on any link), managing a long-term design process (2), student driven-puzzle creation (2), problem solving (5), practising constructive (public) critique of pedagogical projects (4) see commentaries/critiques on project integration work, cross class/courses projects (interdisciplinary projects) (5)
 Psychological factors important to negotiation, such as fear and vulnerability, seem to be somewhat reduced when people are familiar with each other (Holmes et al., 2001). Negotiating inter-project writing across courses between students who are strangers requires an ability to support uncertainty and ambiguity, a willingness to develop written communicative skills, additional time and special tools (Fountain, 2005a; 2005b).
 These suggestions are taken from a variety of author’s experiences, notably Fountain (2005a; 2005b; 2005c); Tonkin (2005); Horman (2005) ; James (2004a) ; Holmes et al (2004); Muirhead (2004); Brereton et al (2003) ; Synteta (2002); Muirhead (2001, as cited in Muirhead, 2004); and Collaborative Software Lab (2000).
 However, there is a sandbox if you simply wish to practice. Remember, any text can easily be undone in a wiki; that includes what you deem to be your mistakes!
 Obviously one would think that the principal disadvantage of having too long a WikiPageName is directly related to one’s memory retention, that is, if the PageName should ever get forgotten. But this is not an obstacle in wikis, since no text is lost. Each change and each version is archived into a history. Clicking on the RecentChanges feature will give you the latest versions, recuperating what seems lost but which is simply no longer visible.
 However, the large diversity of markup formatting (however simple it may be) has led to a lack of standardization across wiki programs.
 GIF/JPEG images can be inserted only by referencing a URL; they must be uploaded to the net.
 NOTE: Wikinis do not, by default, come with image insertion possibilities. However, this capacity can easily be added to the software. See this Framasoft article for a presentation of WikiniMST features.
 Collaborative renderings may ease the difficulty of learning to identify assumptions, querying attributions of causality as well as imaging implications and consequences associated therein (Scardamalia et al, 1994).
 If the ideas are complex (which is arguably to be hoped for), students could begin by pointing out what is hard to understand and/or the inadequacies of explanations to date (Scardamalia et al., 1994).
 Again, is it important to note that given the relatively recent emergence of wiki technology, the following evaluations have not occurred over long time periods.
 highly recommend Judith Horman’s masters thesis (2005) to those interested in the social interactions that do — and do not — take place in these “forced” digital collectives.
 The SSRCH project was conducted by researchers Jacques Daignault (UQAR, Lévis campus), Jacques Désautels, Marie Larochelle, and myself (Laval University). I wish to thank the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for its support in funding this wiki research.
 However, the task of publicly critiquing others work proved to be psychologically difficult (afraid to hurt or be hurt) and frustrating (offering, but not receiving quality critique) for many. For a detailed analysis of the psychosocial factors in undergraduate wiki coursework, see Horman (2005).
 Questions pertaining to the quantity of text produced — i.e. whether students wrote more and more often — are hard to gauge, as individual contributions to text versions were not noted. However, if individual contributions were important, these could be foregrounded in small collectives wherein each person would write in a specific colour. As was previously noted in the Pedagogy section, chronological version analysis, while rich, is extremely time-consuming, as changes in each version are not indicated. This could, however, be used to enable students to increase their analytical and reading observation skills.
 Other than the initial two concerns (Fountain, 2005a; 2005b), these technical issues are taken from References Category Wiki-1, Category Wiki-3, Category Wiki-5 and Category Wiki-8. Authors are identified if their names were indicated on the wiki page.