Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Wikispaces classroom – simple, social, student engagement

Many teachers approach social media tentatively when it is presented as a classroom resource. The prospect of students contacting you on your personal profile, the lack of control and moderation of messages and issues of online (cyber) bullying are reason enough. But while we ourselves share these concerns and have posted articles helping teachers to use social media safely in the classroom, our attention was drawn to altogether different social media networking space that some of you may already be using to great effect.

Launched in 2005, the social writing workspace Wikispaces Classroom is an online platform developed solely for the education sector that is gaining more and more support from teaching professionals throughout the world, with more than 14 million individual users.

Why use Wikispaces Classroom?

Wikispaces Classroom has been developed on three primary principles:

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Raise student engagement
  3. Support teachers to improve performance and outcomes

Wikispaces was founded and set up to enable people to work together: to add, edit and review essential information. Yet while the global encyclopedia site has been referenced endless times and used successfully in many learning contexts, the Wikispaces team acknowledged that the original design wasn’t optimised for use in the classroom and so set about developing a bespoke alternative.




What is Wikispaces Classroom?

Wikispaces Classroom makes it easy to create an online workspace for you and your students. Within this private area students can communicate and collaborate on a range of independent and group-based projects.

The social platform has focused on the need to track, record and report on performance and combines rich assessment tools that measure students’ engagement and contributions with the flexibility of accessing their portal on any internet-enabled device.

Getting the most from it

The online workspace essentially replicates the familiar newsfeed feature associated with most mainstream social networking sites but adds the core feature of privacy. Teachers have access to instant messaging, to communicate in real-time, while students are given the ability to engage with their peers and contribute to discussion at their own pace, without sacrificing their privacy. By these means, a user relationship develops that caters for differing levels of confidence and participation, building enthusiasm for when students enter the physical classroom.

How can it be used?

Wikispaces Classroom allows you to organise your students and prepare them for digitalised learning by creating a single online workspace through which students access and respond to activities, projects, discussions and individual conversations.

The resource has been promoted as a tool that eases the day-to-day challenges that teachers face by enabling them to centralise all of their online materials, preferences, recommendations, links, etc so students are always clear on where they should go for support and guidance.

What can you do on Wikispaces Classroom?

  • Design a safe, private class network
  • Develop your own class newsfeed
  • Monitor and moderate social interactions, discussions and file sharing
  • Collaborate and edit each other’s work/pages
  • Cherry-pick URLs, documents, RSS feeds, etc from around the web
  • Comment on individual points and critique full documents    Report
  • Watch your students’ discussions in real-time
  • Track, record and feedback on individual student contributions and group work
  • Create individual assignments or set group projects
  • Add your own start and end dates
  • Publish works instantly and get feedback from students, parents and others in your community
  • Watch your students’ discussions in real-time  
  • Track, record and feedback on individual student contributions and group work

This review may seem less objective than others we’ve posted, but the reason for this is that we’ve looked at endless varieties of school networking tools, VLEs and LMS and for us, Wikispaces Classroom is a simple, free resource. It can help teachers move towards a more digitalised classroom without the hassle, complexity and cost associated with these types of platforms.


LearnersCloud is an easy-to-integrate e-learning system that helps GCSE students get to grips with all of the key topics and concepts, at their own pace.

Covering GCSE Maths, English, Chemistry, Physics and Biology, students can learn, revise and test themselves on their PC, tablet and smart phone device anywhere and at any time.

Our GCSE tutorials are quality assured and proven to accelerate learning for students of all abilities, and offer an ideal resource for GCSE revision