At a meeting with Columbia University’s Center for New Media Teaching & Learning (CCNMTL)we talked a lot about wikis. They offer their staff wikis for teaching through an externally hosted service – wikispaces – which is one of several good-looking hosted wiki services currently available (others being pbwiki & wetpaint).

There are 100 wikispaces at Columbia though not all are active. However I did get to see a couple of really good ones, unfortunately they are not available for public viewing as they involve assessment.

On one, an English Lit wiki, students are given a poem or text of some kind which they have to type into the wiki . They then have to select phrases and link them to new pages where they provide an analysis of the phrase. They have to tag the entry with its theme(s) and also a tag that is something like “week1″or “assign2”. The lecturer then uses the built-in RSS feeds to create “Assignment X” submission pages which are populated by feeds of the appropriate tag. The wiki builds into a resource for all students as well as collating the weekly assignments for the lecturer. What was also particularly good is that the lecturer uses the wiki and the students entries in the classroom for the basis of discussion.

A second private wiki called Sacred Gotham works on the same model – students’ individual submissions building into a shared resource. This one involved extensive use of Google Earth which CCNMTL said was generally growing in popularity at Columbia. In Sacred Gotham students were using it to map things like the route of Catholic Parades through the City which were then embedded in the wiki.

Other current projects at Columbia are listed in their project portfolio.