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Best practices in using Wikibooks in the classroom

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First steps



  • Explain the backgrounds behind Wikipedia-projects and especially Wikibooks.
  • Take a look on a already very sophisticated Wikibook. Go back in its history. See how it has developed from its early phases on.
  • Learn how to edit Wikibooks; show the really essential things for editing.
  • Make a list of links to pages where more specialized wikipedia-skills students might need are explained.
  • Link to a good page with all wiki-editing information.
  • Very IMPORTANT: Give a good introduction on how to use literature in Wikipedia-projects; how to make quotations; about plagiarism; ...


  • Make a decision about the subject you want to work on.
  • Prepare some topics and discuss them with your students.
  • Collaboratively come up with a common topic to be worked on during the next weeks or months.
  • The topic shouldn't be neither too narrow nor to broad. A group of students should be able to elaborate the topic without redundancies.

Didactical/Methodical framework:

  • Plan your assignment and assessment criteria.
  • Communicate this criteria clearly to your students. Make clear what is expected for a good grade.
  • Communicate to your students how many times per week or month the Wikibook should be checked and edited.

On "your" Wikibook:

  • After the collaboratively found topic is set start a new Wikibook chapter for your project.
  • Work out an outline of your Wikibook (allready within "your" Wikibook).
  • This outline should be as deep as possible and adequate for the moment.
  • If you will have encyclopedia-like articles it does make sense to prepare templates for pages that should have a similar outline.

Writing the textbook


Organize the collaborative work on "your" Wikibook


"Okay, we came up with a topic; now start working on our Wikibook" isn't enough. It is suggested to split the work in some bigger steps and to assign tasks. Possibilities to do so are:

  • Start with reading assignments; so that all students are on a similar level of information.
  • Assign single pages or chapters to groups or individuals.
  • Make sure that people are not only reading and editing their own pages but also the pages of others. Therefore you can come up with a quality assurance system; e.g.:
    • Everyone can be responsible to repeatedly check the articles of five other students; every article should be repeatedly checked by at least two other students.
    • If you assign chapters to groups every group should be responsible to repeatedly check all articles of another group.
    • ...

Repeatedly reflect on your writing-process

  • Quality
    • Are you satisfied with the work done so far?
    • What could be improved?
  • Writing-techniques:
    • Repeatedly show how wikis are edited (see above).
    • From time to time you can show how to work on more challenging tasks; e.g. like adding a photo to a page (incl. copyright-issues).
    • ...

Working with pre-existing textbooks


If you decide to work on an already existing textbook it is recommended to check whether another group is also currently working on it. If this is the case you should come up with some kind of agreement with the other group. Look for an invitation for other groups or the general public. Try to work collaboratively on this project. To do so it might be useful to open up a common communication channel (e.g. a shared discussion board) to coordinate the work between the members of the two (or more) groups.

But also if there isn't another group currently working on the project it is recommended to try to contact some of the earlier authors; e.g. to exchange about further steps planned by the other group.

Using the textbook you've written

  • ...
  • The textbook you've written should be a good learning ressource for the actual and future classes.
  • You can assign quality assurance tasks to future groups.
  • The textbook might be expanded by future groups.
  • ...

See also