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Wikis and Peanut Butter...two great tastes go great together.

A teacher's software review by Marla Yoshida

The basic idea of a wiki is to have a website where many people can collaborate, work on documents, and add or change information. It can also be simply an easy way to make a website even when you don’t expect collaboration from others. Pbwiki is very easy to set up and use. Here are some things that I’ve used it for:

A collection of resources—articles, links to teaching organizations, etc.—for junior high school teachers in Japan. Another has goodies for the Teaching Pronunciation class.

A place to collect documents and information for teachers in the Conversation & Culture program. The Teacher’s Handbook, sample syllabi, Teacher’s Guides for elective classes, drop forms, a UCI map, and other useful stuff can be downloaded there. This wiki has saved me a huge amount of time that I would have spent copying and distributing paper copies of these things.

A family wiki. When I was in Japan for three months last year, I set up a wiki where my children could leave message and we could all post pictures. I’m sure we could do these things in a more sophisticated way with some other website, but the wiki kept everything in one place and seemed cozy and personal. I also added Google Gadgets that showed the time in Japan and the US, and a little currency converter so I could check currency exchange rates, and links to websites and articles that I thought I might need.

A collaborative website where students can work together on a document or project. Each person can sign in, edit the work, and save it. Many people can add to one project.

Cool things about pbwiki:
• It’s really easy to start and edit a pbwiki. Hey, if I can do it, you can do it.

• Recently pbwiki has vastly increased the amount of storage space you can get with their free wiki—from 10 MB to 2 GB!

• There are several templates that you can choose from to give your wiki a nice, professional-looking appearance.

• You can add plug-ins and Google Gadgets to do lots of cool stuff.

• There are actual human beings working for them. Once I emailed them with some questions and a very nice person emailed back several times until my problem was solved.

If anybody is interested in trying this, let me know. I’d be happy to help you get started. Marla Yoshida (