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Category Archives: wiki

Blackboard wikis and student group assessments

Wikis are a terrific – and underutilised – tool for enabling students to work collaboratively on projects.

There are two separate wiki systems available to Otago staff.  Otago Wikis is a standalone offering with advanced features, which can be made available to the public.  Blackboard wikis (which I will focus on today) is a more basic system that is available within Blackboard.

Wikis are easy for any coordinator to set up within a Blackboard paper, and offer a powerful resource for allowing groups to build up a large document with contributions from many individuals.

If you assign group projects in your course, wikis represent an effective way for your students to collaborate on the manuscript for a presentation or report.  An additional benefit of wikis in this context is that the input of individuals is tracked, so it is straightforward to gauge and grade not only the final product of the group as a whole, but also the contributions of given members.


To set up a wiki, select the ‘Wikis’ option in the ‘Course Tools’ menu in your Blackboard paper.  Once it is set up and students have built a page, you can investigate the history of that building process using the ‘Participation Summary’ function.  These links are highlighted in the screenshot above.

Within the Participation Summary, select a given user to track and (if desired) evaluate the contributions she has made to the overall project.  This information can be presented in a helpful ‘Page Comparison’ view, as in the example shown below.


Beyond student group assessments, there are many possibilities for incorporating wikis into your teaching praxis.  For example, some lecturers use wikis so their students can contribute to building up an annotated bibliography as the course progresses.  Others use wikis as an ongoing lab journal.

More information on setting up and using Blackboard wikis can be found on our Otago Blackboard helpsite for staff.

Wikis on Campus

Did you know that the University of Otago runs a wiki service?

If you aren’t familiar with wiki’s, you should visit Wikipedia – arguably the most famous example. It’s an online encyclopedia with over 10 million articles, written and edited by members of the public. The real strength of a wiki is that it can be easily edited (without specialist web-design or HTML skills) online, without the need for any software other than a web browser. It is ideally suited to any sort of collaborative work – like research groups, committees, or student group projects.
An example of a wiki, showing the editing interface.

An example of a wiki, showing the editing interface.

Any staff member may request a wiki on the University of Otago’s wiki server.  Currently, it’s used for a number of different purposes, such as:

  • Research Projects
  • Technical and Operational knowledge bases
  • Student-created academic knowledge bases
  • Collaborative pages for departments or committees
Wiki’s can be either public or private; and they can be editable by everyone, or only editable by members.  The University of Otago Wiki Service (which uses the same wiki software as Wikipedia – “Mediawiki”) allows you to choose which options suit your particular needs.  For example, you could create a completely private wiki where you would need to log in to view or edit pages, or a publicly viewable wiki which you would need to log in just to edit pages. You can add anyone as an editor – both students and staff members.  Once your wiki has been created, you can immediately start working on the content, by creating pages, adding and editing text, and adding images and file attachments.
A few examples of wiki sites on campus:
For more information about getting your own wiki, visit the University of Otago Wiki site.