Education over the past decade has taken a strong emphasis on cultivating 21st Century skills, more commonly known as “The Four C’s” (communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking). With ongoing advancements in technology and access to information and the challenge of preparing students for future jobs and careers that may not even exist yet, educators have been shifting their instructional styles to more closely align with these skills. One such adaptation that embodies the crux of all of the Four C’s is the use of blogs and wikis in the classroom.
A blog, as defined by Merriam-Webster.com, is “a website that contains online personal reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks, videos, and photographs provided by the writer.” Essentially, a blog is an online diary or journal which can be shared with others. Similar to a blog, a wiki is “a web-based tool on which users collaboratively add/delete/modify content directly from the web browser” (https://educationaltechnology.net/wikis-in-education/). Effectively, a wiki is an online shared notebook or resource library where users are able to upload content.
At their most fundamental level, both blogs and wikis allow for writers to communicate and share information with a broad audience of readers online. Blogs can be an especially useful resource for teachers to help ensure that students are practicing their reading, writing and comprehension skills, and also engaging in collaborative learning and critical reflection. They also foster creativity in students as they allow for personalization with different designs and styles. Lastly, blogs and wikis can foster students’ critical thinking skills. By having students respond to others’ posts and sharing videos and other online resources, students are able to extend their learning beyond the traditional classroom.
Over the past month, we’ve reached out to area educators for their perspectives, insights, and experiences using blogs and wikis in the classroom. Kimberly Kraft, a math educator at Fargo South High School, shared with us that she started using blogger in their classroom this year to give students more opportunities to reflect on their learning. With no cost to the product and an ease of setup with the help from her building’s Instructional Technology Coach this simple tool has provided her with the ability to try something new.
“The blog is set up so it is just between the student and I. The students have written about topics they understand and ones they do not before a quiz or test. They also discuss how they can learn or study for the upcoming assessment which provides me insight on ways I can help them learn the materials along with things they can do,” said Kraft.
She also stated that students have been able to use the blog to reflect on the “I can” statements for each unit. Although the blog is still new to her class and she isn’t able to know the true impact, she hopes that it will help her students to reflect on their learning and believes that this type of behavior could be very beneficial for them when they enter college.
For what purposes can I use a blog/wiki in my classroom?
One of the advantages of using online tools to engage students, such as blogs and wikis, to engage students is that they are very versatile. Depending on the needs of your lessons and your students’ knowledge and skills, blogs and wikis can be as basic or in-depth for your students to engage in collaborative learning. The following table contains lists of different uses for blogs and wikis in the classroom:
Where can I see examples of these in action?
To see a hands-on example of how a blog is used within a 6th-grade literacy classroom, watch this Teaching Channel video: “Taking a Leap into Blogging.” (12 minutes)
Otherwise, for examples of different blog layouts check out this article from Teacher Challenges: “Step 1: Set Up Your Class Blog.” (Click “Examples of Class Blogs” in the right-hand menu.)
For examples of wikis, head to Educational Wikis and check out their “Examples of Educational Wikis.”
What are some tips for using blogs/wikis in my classroom?
- Establish clear goals, guidelines, and expectations for use
- Teach students about digital citizenship
- Check for school policies on social media and/or posting of student content online
- Ask for parent permission for students to participate (grant parents access if applicable)
- Model and monitor commenting to posts
- Teach students about plagiarism and citing of sources
- Check out other blogs/wikis to provide inspiration and additional content
- “How to Use Blogs in the Classroom” (eLearning Industry)
- “Blogging Resources for Classroom Teachers” (Center for Teaching Quality)
- #edublogs on Twitter
- “How to Use Wiki in the Classroom” (eLearning Industry)
- “What’s a Wiki?” (Technology Integration for Teachers)
SHARE your Story with Us!
This article is part of a larger article series focused on Digital Skills for 21st Century teachers discovered through an Infographic from EducatorsTechnology.com. Below is the schedule of digital skills that will be addressed each month (see image below for specific resources). If you, or someone you know, is using technology effectively to engage in any of these skills, we want to connect with you and share your story! Email me at Chris.Thompson@k12.nd.us with the subject line “Digital Skills” and I will reach out and discuss how we can incorporate your learnings, best practices, tips and/or tricks into a future article!
- October: Use blogs and wikis to create participatory spaces for students
- November: Create digital quizzes
- December: Record and edit audio clips & Create interactive content
- January: Curate, organize, and share digital resources
- February: Create engaging presentations
- March: Create infographics and posters
- April: Create digital portfolios
- May: Create Professional Learning Networks, connect, discover new content, and grow professionally.
[i] According to EducatorsTechnology.com