A Tale of Two Wikis: Open & Closed Learning Management Systems

A Tale of Two Wikis: Open & Closed Learning Management Systems

This past trimester I continued to use Wikispaces and Google Sites as the primary online classroom learning space for my classes here in the Education Department. I wanted to take a second to explain how I’ve set up the two, and the rationale for each decision. This thought process is important as we ask educators to determine how they publish online information. We need to effectively and thoughtfully decide what is public and what is private.

Educational Psychology

The first of the two classes that I would like to share the information for is the wiki I’ve been using for ED 604, our Educational Psychology course. The wiki for this class is open to the public. Each semester when students take the class, instead of using Blackboard as a learning management system (LMS), I enroll them in the wiki. The students are given full privileges to read, edit, and revise wiki content. At the end of the semester I remove all students from the wiki and enroll the next batch.

The rationale for making the wiki public is two-fold. The first reason is that these students are all new to the program, and usually new to a career in education. I make the argument that as educators they need to understand how to create and curate an online brand as a teacher. The second reason I want these materials open and available is that I want students to be able to edit and revise the materials for the course, but I also want them to have access to these materials long after the class has finished. Students are required to pass the PLT as part of their graduate requirements. The materials they add to the wiki will help them study for the exam and prepare for other classes.

Some of the elements of the wiki and the course that are designed specifically to allow the students to build a common base of knowledge include the “ed psychlopedia” and the annotated bibliography. In these two resources, students collaboratively build and share a glossary of terms needed for class, and citations needed as they work on their papers. There are numerous other elements of the page that students build and share resources, but these two seem to be the most valuable to the students. You can review the open wiki for ED 604 here.

Reading and Writing Across the Curriculum

The second wiki that I would like to share is the one we’ve been using for ED 627, Reading and Writing Across the Curriculum. This wiki is built once again in Wikispaces. I started the wiki at the beginning of the semester and gave all students full editing privileges. I included many of the same elements on this wiki that I included in the one for ED 604. There is an annotated bibliography collaboratively constructed by students. There are also resources available for students to research online, cite sources, and work using Google apps.

This wiki is private however. I made this wiki private as it contains the work product of students that are sharing the use of reading, writing, and technology strategies with each other for the first time. Students complete assignments for the course, but instead of submitting them to just the course instructor, I have the students post their work to the wiki. They present their work to the class from the wiki, and also direct their colleagues to the wiki to be able to use their work later on in their own classes. The wiki will remain online…and private for as long as I can possibly hold on to it. To review the wiki for ED 627, please click here. You’ll need to enter the account name and password “edguest” to gain access.


The two wikis that were described in this blog post both use wikispaces as a LMS, but different greatly on the use of public as opposed to private access to the content of the wiki. The rationale for this decision is all based on my expected student learning objectives for the course. There are of course many other discussions and instructional routines I have included in the course to prepare students to safely post their work online. After using these free online tools as the LMS for the course, as opposed to Blackboard I do have to say that it appears to be beneficial for students as they work together on course objectives.

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