Using wikis for online collaboration – simply view, edit and save

June 17th, 2010 by Monika Jankowska-Pacyna

A wiki is essentially an online database for creating, browsing, and searching through information in one centralized location. It eliminates the need to resend documents/files from one person to another.
Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites, to power community websites, to record personal notes, and to share ideas. You may also see wikis used in corporate intranets and in knowledge management systems.

Explore the Wikis in Plain English video to learn more about wikis and review 7 things you should know about Wikis to gain insights into how they can be used with students and among colleagues.


  • can be private or public
  • offer web page features – images, links, plus control of content
  • allow users to edit any pages or to create new pages
  • allow for easy linking between different pages, files, and external sites
  • involve users in an ongoing process of creation and collaboration that constantly changes the website landscape
  • track changes (allowing users to revert to older versions and see who made changes)
  • provide revision history
  • allow users to create pages with indexes and a table of contents
  • have a “backlink” feature, displaying all pages that link to a given page (only some wikis have this feature)
  • offers search features

Wikis are typically powered by wiki software. PBworks or Wetpaint are types of wiki software. AlphaPlus and many other literacy organizations use PBworks wiki.

PBworks allows users to work as a team to create documents, manage projects, and share files on an easy-to-use, online platform. It offers various service packages, but many organizations choose to use the Basic free educational option. Adding a page is as simple as clicking on the Create a page link, and editing a page simply requires users to go from View mode to Edit mode (button is located right next to View mode), make the changes and click Save.

Explore the PBworks User Manual to learn more about the PBworks and its features.

AlphaPlus is using free PBworks wikis to share documentation, prepare project workplans and reports, keep track of memberships, share ideas and documentation, and create our monthly eNews. Within a year, we have created over 100 pages on our wiki, and we continue to use it on a daily basis. AlphaPlus’ wikis are private, restricted to those who are invited to have specific access to the wikis. But we also allow guests to access our wikis. ENews, our monthly newsletter, is edited through the use of the wiki. We create the content and then share the link to the content page with our editor, who logs in and edits the content. The editor’s changes are tracked in the page history, allowing us to see what changes were made. We also share our wiki access with our website designer, who has access to the workplan checklist and can quickly see what needs to be done, checking off what’s completed when the work is done.

Wikis significantly reduce the amount of emails we exchange and allow us to quickly and easily access files, information and resources directly online from any location, whether we are in the office, at home, or at a conference or meeting.

Many other literacy organizations create wikis to collaborate with colleagues and share information and resources. Click here to find out how Literacy Link South Central is using wikis in their network.


Wiki – is a Hawaiian word for “fast”
Wiki has been backronymed by some to “What I Know Is”
Wiki page – a single page in a wiki website
The Wiki – the entire collection of pages, usually interconnected by hyperlinks and other pages
Wiki farm – a company that offers server(s) space to host wiki software services

Wiki examples

There are many private wikis in the field that we can’t provide access to, but below are examples of public wikis you can access and explore:

Popular wiki software
Some wikis are hosted by a provider; others need to be installed:


If you have questions about wikis, would like help in setting up a wiki, or have a wiki you wo
uld like to share with others, let us know at