Along with Podcast and Blog applications, Wikis are considered a prominent Web 2.0 technology. From its inception in 1995 by Ward Cunningham, wikis technologies have been intended to facilitate a quick and easy development of a web document. Before wiki technologies were available, web users were only able to read content from web pages but did not have the capability to author pages collaboratively, unless they owned their personal web site. Wikis provided the capability for any web user to create and update web pages.
The first web application to take full advantage of wiki features was Wikipedia, which started in 2001. Wikipedia is thus the most well known wiki application (Konieczny, 2007). Contrary to other web-based encyclopedias, the success of Wikipedia is that anyone can become a contributor, speeding up in this way the process to add new entries to the encyclopedia in practically any language. The inherent features of wikis facilitate collaborative writing so multiple users can be working/editing a Wikipedia entry simultaneously.
Wikibooks are an additional application conducive to using wiki technologies. In Wikibooks, multiple people work together in writing and editing an online book. As in any other wiki technology, it is possible to track the history of revisions and additions done to each section of the Wikibook.
Having students adding a new entry in Wikipedia or writing a chapter for an existing Wikibook can become an empowering activity because students will know that their work is actually contributing to the world’s knowledge, while at the same time, they’re learning to work collaboratively. However, in order to guarantee the quality and accuracy of the postings, instructors might want to play to role of editors.
Reference:Konieczny, P. (2007, January). Wikis and Wikipedia as a teaching tool. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Education, 4(1), 15-34. Retrieved on June 25, 2010, from http://itdl.org/Journal/Jan_07/article02.htm