What are Wikis?
Introduction
The introduction of group work within a classroom is one way to support instruction within the learning environment (Snyder, 2006). When students work together, students who have a deep understanding of the concept being presented can teach the concept in an alternative way to the students who need additional support. Group work provides a channel for content dialogue to occur between peers and between teacher and students (Wetzel, 2009). Trust and social interaction are essential for collaboration to occur in both our personal lives as well as in the learning environment (Wagner, 2004). In order to facilitate communication and information exchange, trust is the key to the development of mutual understanding. Social interaction with group members positively influences the quality of knowledge creation.
A crucial part of learning is that learners should reflect on their knowledge and make it concrete (Snyder, 2006). Effective technology resources are flexible and support the changing needs of the learners as well as encourage learning to occur in diverse forms. According to Wikipedia, a wiki is a tool comprised of web pages that can be altered by collective users simultaneously using the Internet. Wikis not only provide an avenue through which information is made available for all participants, but these same participants have the opportunity to alter and/or expand on that information. Distance may separate the ability for groups to interact face-to-face, but wikis provides a venue for members to collaborate, communicate, and exchange ideas (Wagner, 2004).

Impact on Education
Considering the strenuous lives of students and teachers, a wiki is a valuable tool for tracking and completing individual or group projects. It allows users to track their research and ideas from anywhere they have Internet access (“Parker & Chao, 2007). A wiki makes it easy for students to draft, edit, and finalize assignments. A student can be assigned a wiki page to develop a research paper, and information can be gathered and recorded right on the wiki page. Wikis provide a medium to display this information which allows the teacher and group members to view their brainstorming notes (Wetzel, 2009). Teachers can notify students if they need redirection or to provide helpful tips. Peers can view what their classmates have presented and use this to build useful ideas.
According to Wikipedia, wikis give users the ability to draft a paper, save it and the save history tool keeps track of before and after edits by the user. Each time a student revises a page, that revision replaces the older version. Students can compare versions of their work and edits can be reversed if needed. This option gives the educator and classmates’ opportunities to see the progression of the student’s work over a period of time. Teachers can continue to communicate and make comments to help the students edit their work before they submit their final draft (“Benefits”, 1). Other students in the class can offer feedback to their peers to help them through the editing process. Wikis provide students with a ready to use site that is easy to navigate. This gives students additional time working to work on the content they want to include in their site, rather than spending a lot of quality time learning how to utilize the resource (Wetzel, 2009).

Issues and Implications
A wiki can be referred to as a combination of a Web sites and a Word document (Wagner, 2004). It can be read with no access privileges necessary, but its real advantage lies in the fact that groups can collaboratively work on the content of the site using the Internet. This provides a centralized place to collectively prepare their final product. Individuals are able to begin incorporating knowledge content and rely on other group members to add or revise the content (Wetzel, 2009). The wiki provides a working environment that allows an even playing field by recognizing all opinions or voices to be heard by others in the group (Parker & Chao, 2007). This function has created a connection among the group to build and edit the document. In turn this should strengthen the relationship within the groups by highlighting similar ideas and collaboratively add to each other’s ideas.
One popular wiki that most people have encountered is Wikipedia which is used as an online encyclopedia that is filled with information. Wikipedia covers a wide variety of concepts, but its validity has been disputed (Wagner, 2004). According to Wikipedia, publishers have to ensure that their data is valid and many argue that because anyone can add information, it is not a reliable source. Yet, others dispute that because it can be edited and updated at any time, this is a strong reason that Wikipedia is a trustworthy source. Most project coordinators of wiki sites set strict guidelines before information is allowed to be published or incorporated (Parker & Chao, 2007).

The Future
Wikis can be a simple content management tool for educators. They can create web pages and lessons for everyday use in the classroom (“Benefits”, 1). They can provide a learning environment where student learn how to use technology for academic purposes. Wikis can teach students how to collaborate and work respectively together during a group project (Wagner, 2004). Wikis have been used in many different ways in education. Wikis can be used for online classes, collaborative group projects, and for variety of subjects (Parker & Chao, 2007). Wikis are utilized in education from k-12 and beyond.
I think the future for wikis will be bright. As more and more schools and work places move in the direction of collaborative learning, wikis will continue to grow in popularity. Most people find wikis to be easy to use because of its ability to accommodate large groups of people at once by viewing or editing information. People can collaboratively work on wikis without being in the same room. As more organizations begin to adopt the use of wikis, students who utilize this as a learning experience will be well prepared to use this in their careers.

Works Cited
“Benefits of Using Wikis in the Classroom”. 2011. Web. March 19, 2011. http://idesweb.bc.edu/ides/website/teaching_tools/wikis/benefits
Kevin R. Parker & Joseph T. Chao. (2007), “Wiki as a Teaching Tool”, Interdisciplinary Journal of Knowledge and Learning Objects Volume 3, 2007.

Snyder, Sandra 2009, “Cooperative Learning Groups in the Middle School Mathematics Classroom”, July 2006. Web. March 19, 2011. http://scimath.unl.edu/MIM/files/research/SnyderS.pdf

Wagner, Christian 2004, “Wiki: A technology for conversational knowledge
Management and group collaboration”, Communications of the AIS, vol. 13,
article 19, pp. 265-289.
Wetzel, David R. “5 Strategies for Using Wikis in the Classroom”. June 10, 2009. Web. March 19, 2011. http://www.suite101.com/content/5-strategies-for-using-wikis-in-the-classroom-a124331

“Wikis”. Web. March 19, 2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki