Social Studies and Wikis


What is a Wiki

A wiki is a website that anyone can edit easily using a regular web browser. The first wiki was developed in 1995 by Ward Cunningham, who named his project after the Hawaiian word "wiki-wiki," meaning "quick." A wiki a single page containing information and links by one author, or multi-page web site with various content.


"Wikis in Plain English" video from CommonCraft


Why use a Wiki

Wikis are an exceptionally useful and flexible tools. They can serve the overall purpose of getting students more involved in curriculum. They are also digital and that has a greater appeal to the digital natives we now teach over some of the more traditional tools and methods. Most importantly, wikis are ideally suited for encouraging participation, collaboration, and interaction.


How Can I Use a Wiki

  • A mock-debate between candidates, in wiki form (composed entirely based on research students have done on the candidate positions).
  • A collaborative project with students in another location or all over the world:The Flat World Project (explanation of topics).
  • A collection of propaganda examples during a propaganda unit.
  • Detailed and illustrated descriptions of governmental processes: how a bill becomes a law.
  • A “fan club” for your favorite president(s) or famous female(s).
  • A virtual tour (explanantion from Wikipedia) of local history sites and landmarks.
  • A local history wiki, documenting historical buildings, events, and people within your community. Include interviews with those who can tell about events from the World War II era or the day the mill burned down, etc. Allow adult community members to add their input by signing up for “membership” in the wiki. This project could continue on for years and actually be a service to the community. Perhaps the area historical society would provide some assistance, if you can get them to think beyond the closed stacks of their protected collections!
  • A document-the-veterans wiki for those in your community who served in the military. Interview them and photograph them, including both their accounts and your students’ documentation and personal reflections on the interviews.
  • A travel brochure wiki: use wikis to “advertise” for different literary, historical, or cultural locations and time periods: Dickens’ London, fourteenth century in Italy in Verona and Mantua ( Romeo and Juliet), The Oklahoma Territory, The Yukon during the Gold Rush, Ex-patriot Paris in the Twenties, etc.


Examples of Wikis

  1. Go West - Woodward Third Grade Social Studies Wiki.
  2. World Cultures - Woodward 7th Grade Social Studies Wiki.
  3. US History - Woodward 8th Grade History Class.
  4. US History Class - High School History Class in Chicago
  5. Animal Farm - Woodward 8th Grade Reading Class.
  6. Horizon Project - A collaborative wiki classroom project.


Where are Wikis Being Used

  1. US Intelligence Agencies and wikis to communicate and collect information more effectively.
  2. The United Nations uses a wikito help decision making processes. (MSNBC)
  3. Australian Government Caught Editing Wikipedia (The Age)


Create a Wiki


Wiki Tools