Overview (5 minutes)

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The goal of education in the 21st century is not simply the mastery of content knowledge nor the use of new technologies: It is the mastery of the learning process. As educators and coaches we know that we must plan our instruction around a wide variety of unique and individual learners, strategically and flexibly creating what will, not only empower us in our work, but give those we support opportunities for success.

Wikispaces has become a favorite tool for educators to manage resource, drive collaboration, and scaffold instruction. Yet, how can we take what we know of the learning process and TPACK and incorporate it into our interface creation and design to create stronger content creators, collaborators, critics, synthesizers, and global contributors? This session will focus on putting all these pieces together.


Participants will reinforce their understanding of Universal Design for Learning and practice using versatile Wikispace tools to create dynamic navigation, embed widgets, and create/manipulate existing interfaces to create a user-friendly and purposeful online space.


At the end of this session, you will have the understanding of how to:
  • Use "User-friendly" interface design using Wikispace tools
  • Plan for and Implement a well constructed and organized Wikispace
  • Create a safe and secure environment for work and materials
  • Design and or Revise a wiki ideal for group collaboration and resource curation

This session is modeled and created so you can copy, modify, and use this instruction with those you support, as well as your team.

I. "User-Friendly" and WIkispaces (5 min)

us·er-friend·ly: easy to use, operate, understand, etc.

Coined in the 80s as the rise of computer programing and interfaces for the masses were becoming more common, the term "user-friendly" referes to how easy a man-made object is to use, like a website. More often then not, however, we recognize when something is NOT "user-friendly"because we get frustrated and/or don't understand how to use and/or find what we need when we are on a site or using a learning module/LMS.

As we learn to use web tools and begin to create content online to manage our work, resources, materials, and or foster collaboration with our team, coaches, or the educators we support, it is important to set ourselves up for success and begin with the best interface possible to relieve ourselves of the headaches that can come with site building and management. The goal is to plan and implement an interface that we can easily use, share and manage over time. We want our Technology Knowledge to adequately support our Pedagogical Knowledge and Content Knowledge.

external image chat.jpgWhat are common frustrations you encounter using interfaces in your work and or personal use?

What elements do you like in using interfaces?

Why WIkispaces (5 min)

There are many site builders like Wikispaces out on the web, but this learning management platform has been making gains with educators over the past few years. Wikispaces offers the following capabilities:

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  • Easy Editing and text manipulation
  • Support for Discussion and Collaboration
  • Ability to create private and public interfaces
  • Allows for embedible Web 2.0 Tool content

For Example...

When WIkispaces came on the Friday Institute's Digital Learning Collaborative's radar, we saw the potential in what it had to offer, but there was a learning curve....
At this moment, you are viewing a Wikispace that is designed to scaffold your day at the TPACK Extravaganza; However, it has taken the Digital Learning Collaborative Team time to create a design and interface that is both easy and user-friendly and implements the framework for Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

Let's take a look at a sampling of the Digital Learning Collaborative's Wikispaces overtime and discuss how they have grown and changed to what you see before you now.
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The WIkispaces of the DLC's Past

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external image light_bulb.pngPlanning for Wikispace Creation (10 min)

Keep Design Principles in Mind

User-friendly Design does not happen unintentionally. Creating strong design is based around a clear system:
  • Plan

  • Evaluate

  • Create

  • Investigate

Notice the image to the right and how the arrows interconnect each phase of this Design Process:
All are dependent on the other and ongoing in the design process.

Website Design Principles:000

Questions to consider:


Defined Goals
  • What information are you trying to convey?
  • How do you want your user to navigate your website?
Easy Navigation
  • Is your Wikispace easy to navigate? Navigation should be obvious and self-explanatory.
  • Where is your information? Most internet users scan instead of read all the content provided.
  • Is content organized and presented in a manner that is easy to maneuver?
Clear Organization
  • How are you representing different sections of information and/or representing important information?
  • What draw user's attention, use color, images, movement or any other kind of text design to focus user attention on important material or major topics.
Visual Simplicity
  • Is your webpage too busy?
  • How much new information are you presenting on a signal screen?
  • What are your eyes naturally drawn to when you first look at the page?
Sustained Design
  • Do colors across page, and across websites flow or contrast?
  • Do all websites within Wikispace follow the same basic template for design?
  • Do Headers for different sections match in text design?

Sometimes it is easier to learn from Mistakes that Being told what to do: The Worst Mistakes You Can Make

external image Science_Education_Icon.pngII. ACTIVITY: Designing your Space (40 min)

For this independent exercise, you have two options:You can begin a new Wikispace page designed to support the work that you do and/or practice using the features of Wikispaces, OR you can assess an existing Wikispace you may already have and revise as needed. You may/may not get through the four steps outlined in this activity, and that is OK. This activity is modeling for you this planning process.

Creating your Wikispace

Wikispace, where "wiki" is actually a Hawaiian word for quick, is a WYSIWYG - What you see is what you get...a term used for the editing interface of many Web 2.0 sites. When you initially create your Wikispace page, there are some important decisions that need to be indicated to meet your security and audience needs.

If you have a Wikispace account, please sign in.
Wikispace for Educators

Note: DPI has a paid for Wikispaces accounts for your work and needs: this is indicated by the .net in the URL. Public and common accounts end in .com. Contact Neill Kimery if you would like a DPI paid for wikispace page.

As you continue, it is recommended that you Bookmark this page for future reference. It is also suggested that you open either your Penzu journal, text document, or Google Document to capture your thoughts as you plan/assess your Wikispace.

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Infusing Universal Design for Learning

UDL has a prime focus on using computers in the curriculum because, unlike traditional learning materials such as books, computers are uniquely flexible. However, just because someone can access a piece of content online doesn’t automatically mean s/he can understand or make sense of it. Mere access to the content is inadequate unless that access is mediated with instructional and user interface design supports appropriate for the specific audience you are creating for.

More on UDL

external image stock-photo-blue-interface-plastic-orb-button-with-number-one-icon-3403628.jpgReady: PLAN!!!!!!!

The planning process is the most crucial. Whether you plan on paper using storyboard, via a text document to capture thoughts and ideas, or use graphic organizers to brainstorm, every site you create online must begin with a plan long before you touch the computer.

Begin with the basics:
1. Define the goals for the Wikispace website.
2. Consider what you want others to learn.
3. Create a Hierarchy of information topics to point users to what they need to know and/or need to find.

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With a plan outlined for your Wikispace's purpose and navigation, it is time to evaluate that plan. Plans always change, nothing is set in stone.
Questions you must consider before you begin.

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Whether you are creating a new Wikispace or evaluating one you already have in existence, consider browsing the Tutorials to Guide You section above.

Video Tutorials To Guide You:

Basic Tutorials 0000000000000000000000000000000

Advanced Tutorials 00000000000000000000000

Project Management Tutorials 000000000000000000000000

Creating your Wikispace and Basic Editing
Personalize Your WIkispace
Adding Pictures and Files
Media and Widgets
Wiki Permissions
Wikispace Navigation
Creating Educational Wikispaces
Page Permissions
Managing Pages and Files
FIle Permissions
Adding Videos
Invite Members to your WIki
Create a Project for your Wiki Members
Creating Team Navigation for Projects
Team Permissions: Projects

external image stock-photo-blue-interface-plastic-orb-button-with-number-four-icon-3403630.jpgCross the Finish Line: INVESTIGATE

Now it is time to self assess. Have you created a Wikispace site that is designed around how your user THINKS and LEARNS? Have you incorporated what you know of UDL?
Assess your Design work based on UDL principles

IV. Reflection/Share (10 minutes)

We often can get too caught up in our own work, so reviewing your Wikispace in a peer setting is ideal. The more people you have navigate and use your Wikispace, the greater opportunities you will have to refine and strengthen your work based on feedback and critical review.

With someone close to you, pair up and share the site that you have created using Wikispaces, or the existing Wikispace site you are revising.
Discuss the following:
  • How did you structure your navigation? What elements of your navigation were most important to highlight for users?

  • How have you structured content to be more user-friendly? This may include navigation, images, media, visual simplicity, etc..

  • When you Investigated your creation/revision, what elements of UDL did you include, and which did you struggle to incorporate?

V. Conclusion

Wikispaces provides a space on the Web where you can share work and ideas, pictures and links, videos and media — and anything else you can think of. However, it must be with critical planning and purposeful implementation that a space like this should be created for and by educators. Implementing the basics in user-friendly design and the Universal Design for Learning that is so crucial in instructional planning, we can better create sites that can be managed overtime and assist the work and the people we support.


CAST (2011). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.0. Wakefield, MA: Author.
"About UDL." Home | National Center On Universal Design for Learning. N.p., 27 July 2012. Web. 6 Aug. 2012. <http://www.udlcenter.org/>.

Additional Resources:

What is a WIkispace Video, WIkis In Plain English
Wikispace for Educators
UDL Center.org
More Wikispaces Video Tutorials from Wikispaces YouTube Channel
Accessibility and Usability creating tables in wikispaces for screen readers

Google Apps for Education Summit near you
Video Tutorials courtesy of WIkispaces.com

Image Copyright:

Header image courtesy of Creative Commons
UDL graphics courtesy of CAST (2011)
Design Cycle image courtesy of Creative Commons
Wikispaces Graphic property of Wikispaces