"How to" Guideline series is coordinated by Helen Mongan-Rallis of the Education Department at the University of Minnesota Duluth. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions to improve these guidelines please me at e-mail hrallis@d.umn.edu.

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Creating and Using a Wiki with Wikispaces

by Helen Mongan-Rallis. Last updated: October 17, 2008

Wikispaces is a free wiki service. I have been using it since May 2006 for a variety of purposes and am very happy with the results. It is a very easy to use wiki, both from the creation end and for users. It also comes with a discussion board, which enables users to engage in discussion about the contents of the wiki. Also, there don't appear to be any strings attached -- you won't get junk mail from wikispaces as a result of creating this, and there is no cost (the site is paid for by unobtrusive ads that appear next to your wiki).

Note: If you are using a Mac, do not use Safari to create and edit your wiki --> rather use Firefox. If you don't have a recent version of Firefox, you can download one (this is a free download). Windows users can use any up to date browser.

Steps for creating a wiki using Wikispaces:

  1. Go to the Wikispaces home page.
  2. Fill out the form that appears on this page. In the space for creating a name for your space, I recommend you create an initial page that is the same as your username (because then it's easy to remember!). For example, if your wikispace username is jdoe --> then name your space jdoe (enter jdoe the space name box). This means that your first wiki name will be jdoe.wikispaces.com
  3. Write down your username name, your password, and your space name in a place where you won't lose it (e.g. you can email it to yourself -- and then save the email!)
  4. Click the "join" button

    screen shot of wiki sign up page

  5. Immediately your wiki is created and is ready to use. Initially there is a bunch of stuff on your wiki, including directions on how to get started, information about your space (and about how to change who can edit pages), and a link to the help documents. It's a good idea for you to explore these options before you go any further.
  6. Once you are ready to add your own content to your wiki, click on the "edit this page" tab. This opens an editing window that looks much like a word processor.
  7. Highlight and then delete the words, "Type in the content of your new page here." Then type your own heading for your page. Since it's the page heading, it's a good idea to select "Heading 1" from the drop down menu that is set at the default "normal."
  8. Hit return/enter, and add text to the next line -- and keep going, using the tool bar to format your page contents (see more detail below under editing your wiki).
  9. Once you are done, click on the "Save" button and your page is uploaded.

Changing wiki settings

Click on the "settings" tab. In the window that appears:

  1. Enter your name or the name you want to be know by when you are using your wiki (if you want to -- but you do not need to).
  2. Select your time zone from the drop down menu
  3. I recommend that you select "yes" next to the "Email responses" item. This is useful because you will be notified any time anyone edits your wiki, so that you know to go and take a look. This way, if you don't receive any emails, then you don't need to keep visiting your wiki just to see if anyone has edited it!
  4. You can also select "yes" to be notified any time there are changes to your other favorite wiki pages.
  5. Unless you want Wikispaces to email you (I recommend not!), select "no" next to email site news.
  6. You can also change your password on this setting page.
  7. For now, don't worry about blog integration.
  8. Click the "save" button.
  9. To return to you wikispace, click on link to your space on the left of your wiki, under the heading, "My spaces."

Managing your space

To manage the "behind the scenes" aspects of your wiki, click on the "manage space" link (next to a picture of a wheel) on the left of your wiki. This takes you to a page with links that enable you to do a number of different things, the key ones described here:

Make changes to who can edit your wiki

When you wiki is created, it defaults to the protected setting that allows only people who have a Wikispace account to edit your page. When anyone who is not a member tried to edit your page, they will be notified that you first have to approve them as a member. This way, any time anyone edits your wiki, you will know who they are (or at least their wiki identity). In order to have your wiki be editable only by a select (private) group, as well as to have your page be advertising free, you need to upgrade from a free account. For most users this isn't necessary, but you may want to consider this if you want to use your wiki for business that you do not want the public to see (e.g. K-12 teachers may want to use this option, and pay $5 a month).

If you want to change the default settings to allow anyone to edit your wiki:

  1. Click on the "members and permissions" link.
  2. Under the column "Public" click on the green "select" button.
  3. If at a later date you wish to change your page back to the protected setting, then you can switch back by again checking this green button.
  4. Click on the "manage space" link to the left of your page to continue managing your space.

There is no need to change any of the other defaults on your wiki. However, once you become more comfortable with the basic features, you can return to the "Manage your space" page to change other features. When you are ready to learn more, go to the Wikispaces Help page.

Uploading a Word document or other type of files (such as audio files) to your wiki:

  1. Click on "edit this page"
  2. Click on the icon on the toolbar to embed widget (it's the one with the picture of the TV)
  3. To add an image, click on the icon on the toolbar to add an image (it's the one with the picture of the tree)
  4. Click on the wiki "save" button to save your edits. The file that you uploaded should appear as a link.

To make a new wiki page

  1. All you need to do to make a new wiki page once you have created your initial one is to click on the "new page" link on the left of your wiki
  2. In the box that appears, enter the name of your new wiki, and then click "create."
  3. Write down and also bookmark the URL of your new wiki
  4. Begin editing!

Once you have a few wikis, you may forget their names and URLs. To find them, click on your login name right at the top of your wiki page. This gives a list of links to your pages (and shows dates of your recent edits). Link to your pages from here.

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