Q. I am a teacher and want to assign a WikiProject for my students. Are there any best practices that I should know about?
A. We would love feedback from teachers on what you use as Best Practices when using WikiProjects, so feel free to post yours here! However, we do have some tips to get you started.
As with all group projects it is a good idea to set up classroom rules for how to work in a group. We find with WikiProjects, since the content is being added online, and students don't have to be in the same room to work on the same project, that it is important to know a few things about how editing content works in order to avoid potential conflicts.
You can organize your WikiProject in many ways. Each project centers around Pages and Blocks, just like teacher sites. Students will want to figure out how Pages are going to enhance the organization of their project. For instance, Pages might be organized in terms of topics & subtopics, or perhaps by lesson or by unit. The structure will also likely inform each role the student is going to have in the WikiProject. It may be helpful to ask students to plan a site map of the project before they begin creating content.
It may also be helpful to encourage students to delegate responsibilities ahead of time. It could be that each student is in charge of a page or set of pages, or a topic or subtopic within the larger project. Or perhaps each student will have a role - Researcher, Scribe, Editor, Publisher, etc. The assignment may create clear roles, or it may not. Either way, knowing whose responsibility it is to do what is very important when it comes to online collaboration. Read on to find out why!
All students have equal edit rights, regardless of who created the content. Knowing who is responsible for editing which content is therefore very important when collaborating in a WikiProject. One student may think they are helping by fixing typos or tweaking others' paragraphs, but it's also possible that this is unwanted. It is also likely that students will sometimes be editing at the same time. Generally, there isn't a conflict when multiple students are working on the same WikiProject at the same time, EXCEPT if students are editing the same exact content block at the same exact time. If two or more students are editing the same content block at the same time, inherent conflicts will arise and work may be lost. Creating guidelines about who should edit which content when is important for the success of the collaboration.
All students have equal delete rights, regardless of who created the content. If "delete etiquette" hasn't been established ahead of time, it's possible for users to delete others' work, which can lead to painful setbacks. (Note: It is sometimes possible for PowerSchool Learning to retrieve deleted content blocks or pages, but it's far better to establish a group system to which everyone adheres.) Often, how a WikiProject is organized will inform the collaboration process, including appropriate delete situations.
If you are a teacher and have used WikiProjects in your classroom let us know what you did, what Best Practices you use and how it went! We would love more feedback about how WikiProjects are being used in the classroom!