How I Use It
In several classes, I've asked students to collaborate on a group project using Wikispaces, a platform that works well for complex assignments with a number of different parts. It enables students to work together even if they aren't physically in the same place. I like that it allows students to collaborate on a piece of writing and/or in a deep learning experience.
For the most part, my students find Wikispaces easy to use once they get past their initial anxiety about 1) doing a group project 2) creating an online resource. Although Wikispaces doesn't allow for very sophisticated design, it serves as a basic site to create and eventually showcase collaborative work. One assignment I created incorporated Wikispaces as a medium to present learning in the area of information literacy. Students brainstormed about a topic, created a research plan, included annotated references for 10 useful and another 5 not so useful sources, wrote a research summary, and reflected on their information literacy skills. Wikispaces allowed them to work together on this project in a way that made them responsible for keeping up with their commitments.
Although I don't think Wikispaces is a perfect tool, it does serve the purpose of allowing for collaboration, creation, and presentation of learning. The history function allows students (and the teacher) to see what each person has contributed and most of the functions are straightforward.
As always, though, the teacher needs to model how to use Wikispaces and break down the process in achievable chunks. When questions arose, I spend class time reviewing how to use the site and sometimes figuring out how to do something more complicated that students wanted to do. Collaboration seems to be a challenge for many students, but Wikispaces allows for asynchronous work that is flexible enough to fit the schedules and learning styles of each group member.