Wikis are a direct result of the Web 2.0 revolution; that is, web pages that can be changed or edited by anyone. The monster example, of course, is Wikipedia, which is a public encyclopedia that can be edited and added to by anyone in the world. I still run into people I would consider tech-savvy that don't understand Wikipedia is not a standard encyclopedia, like Britannica, etc. People can write anything and present it as the truth. (Wikipedia is monitored, and obvious falsities or inappropriate statements are often deleted, but more ambiguous statements often remain.) For this reason, Wikipedia must never be used directly as a source. Its real value is that properly cited pages can provide numerous links to legitimate sources. Wikipedia also shows the traits of a good wiki. Visual elements are used very often, including pictures, video and audio files. And those who wish to edit the pages find a simple, user-friendly interface.
It is possible that my browser was causing this, but it is worth remembering that teachers should make sure the students can properly access the wiki with a choice of browsers. I also found this wiki that is made for history teachers. It is very interesting to me as a history teacher, but I still think it's too busy. Movement on a page is cool, but in very small doses, in my opinion. I have seen boring wikis too, but if I had to err on one side or the other, I think I would prefer not enough graphic elements, rather than too many.
Looking at this wiki that deals with literacy tools, the overall feel is so clean and subdued that I find it very appealing. One concern would be with the sheer number of links on the page. The table of contents is quite long as well. Still, the intended audience is educators seeking resources, so in that aspect the site delivers in spades. Every link I clicked on was current; and that is important to remember when constructing a wiki or blog. Many times links go dead, or change. Site administrators must make sure their links are still active. This wiki was created with Wikispaces, which happens to be the tool I use to experiment with creating wikis. I am hardly and expert, and I was certainly intimidated at first, but I found the creation process to be fun and productive.
This is something I want to communicate to other educators: Creating wikis is not tortuous, and the results can be tremendous. The greatest positive in my opinion is the collaborative aspect of wikis, the ability for students to post their work to a page that all can view, comment on, and even add to if they wish. For groups of students, or entire classes, this is invaluable. And the work is saved forever. Next year's class can build on what this year's class does. Or teachers can compare last year's accomplishments with this year's. Teachers can also evaluate their own progress. How did the students respond this year compared to last year? And parents can monitor the entire process, if desired. It's a great way for teachers to keep a record of the work being completed. And once students learn how to use the wiki, teachers can basically step aside and let the kids go at it! (Not completely of course!)
I'm sure creating and maintaining a wiki page is a daunting task to many teachers. One reason -- maybe the biggest reason -- I am seeking the MET degree is to help teachers get over their fears and learn how to use wonderful tools like wikis.