The folks at Wikispaces have been very busy lately. Among a number of different updates are two that I’d like to point out to teachers: Editable Websites and iPad integration.
As I’ve trained a number of teachers in our District in the use of wikis, one of the criticisms I’ve heard is, “There’s a lot going on in this site.” While I truly appreciate the collaborative power of the wiki, I can understand why the casual user might sometimes characterize wikis as looking a bit busy. Traditional wikis offer a number of options, from editing or commenting on a page to joining the wiki and tracking changes, etc., that might get in the way of the end-user experience for random Web surfers.
With the addition of the “Editable Website” wiki type, Wikispaces has helped diffuse this concern by adding a way to hide much of the extras that make wikis so powerful and collaborative so that those who visit sites just to gather information see a cleaner, less distracting site. While I’m sure this took a lot of complex coding “on the back end,” Wikispaces programmers have made this a very simple Click-to-Hide-or-Reveal process. Only creators and members of the wiki will see the button, however.
The convert your standard Wikispaces wiki to an Editable Website, simply log in, click Manage Wiki, and select Wiki Info. Scroll down to Wiki Type, click the circle next to Editable Wiki and Save.
This would be a great way for educators or schools to create simple yet very effective Websites for classes and the community. Wikispaces still offers free wikis to educators, and the Wikispaces Private Label is a great way to provide an unlimited number of private wiki/web sites to students, teachers, schools, and districts for a very reasonable annual fee.
Few can deny they fact that Apple’s iPad is a great device for gathering and “consuming” content of various types. However, iPad has been widely criticized for quite some time as having limited capabilities to allow students and teachers to create Internet content separate from a more traditional desktop or laptop computer. Wikispaces has also addressed this concern by releasing access to their wiki creation, editing, and collaboration features for mobile devices like iPads. (I’ve even tried it on my Android phone’s default browser, and it seems to be working just fine.) Most of the wiki’s features are still available to editors, they’ve just been moved around to different places. To be honest, I’ve only looked at a few of the options so far, but things seem to be working very well – much like the traditional desktop version I’m used to. And, since it works inside a Web browser, you don’t even have to install an app! Sweet!