Circle M
Muhlenberg College Instructional Design Newsletter


New Instructional Design Web Page

Access the new Instructional Design web page for additional instructional design information, blogging resources, and more.


Blackboard Hint

You can use the course menu (the left panel of your course home page) to provide organization and quick access to items that students use frequently.

1. To add a link on the course menu to a content area, new page, course tool, or external site, click the + icon at the top of the course menu. 

2. Select the appropriate item from the drop down menu.

3. Name your link.

4. If appropriate, select the type or add information as prompted.

5. If you would like the link to be available to others in the course, check the box associated with Available to Users.

6. Click Submit.

7. When you click your new link, you will be provided with options to add content or set properties.

To remove the link, click the down arrow associated with the new link on the course menu and select Delete.

To Learn More

For ideas and best practices for using wikis in your teaching, contact Alexandra Herb at 484.664.4057 or

For technical assistance or Blackboard technical support, contact the Faculty Support Help desk at 484.664.3566 or


Wikis in Blackboard

How is a Wiki Different from a Discussion Board?

A wiki is usually a single, collective project space in which editing by group members is major element. A discussion board includes many threads of conversation. In a discussion board, there is usually no specific integrated outcome and no editing of previously posted items is available.

How is a Wiki Different from an Assignment?

Wikis allow for group collaboration.  The instructor can determine individual contributions. Contributors can upload files and display images. In order to save changes, a contributor must archive the previous version.

With an Assignment, the instructor receives the final product of a group assignment.  To review prior versions he/she must solicit drafts from students and may not be able to easily determine individual contributions.


  • When grading, use the History or Versions tabs to see group members contributions to the wiki.
  • You may consider asking group members to assess the contributions of others in the group.

Click here for instructions

to set up your own Blackboard wiki.




Interactive Features of Blackboard: Wikis

A previous issue of this newsletter described how Blackboard blogs could be used to enhance student engagement and critical thinking. Like blogs, wikis are an interactive feature available through Blackboard.  Wikis are websites with 'open-editing' capability that allow users to add, remove, and change content.  In the Hawaiian language, wiki means quick or informal and refers to the flexibility of the tool. One of the most commonly used wikis is Wikipedia—an online, editable encyclopedia.

Wikis lend themselves to collaboration. Wikis allow multiple users to dynamically yet asynchronously edit and restructure content. Through versions, readers may track the evolution of these changes. Wikis allow members of a class or part of a class to collaborate on a document. Wiki assignments can be revised multiple times by anyone in a class or group. As a result, the distinctions between author, audience, and evaluator are blurred, allowing students and teachers to approach their work in new ways.

According to the 2005 Educause publication, 7 Things You Should Know About Wikis, because they change and grow over time, wikis can address a variety of pedagogical needs such as increasing student involvement and enhancing group activities.


Wikis are available in both in Blackboard and Moodle platforms.

Free wikis can also be set up though the following sites:


Uses for Wikis

Wikis can be used for:

  • Collaborative artifact creation
  • Review activities
  • Construction of a case library
  • FAQs
  • Project spaces
  • Glossaries
  • Consensus documents


On Campus

Here at Muhlenberg, faculty members use wikis to enhance instruction.  Professor Sharon Albert has found the use of wikis to be a helpful teaching tool. She provides each student in her freshman seminar with a wiki.  Students use the wiki as a portfolio space for the course where they can upload images and assignments.  Later in the semester, students review and comment on one-another's work.  It is helpful for the students to see versions of peers' work as it changes and develops during the semester.

Dr. Albert's students also use wikis for group projects.  Wikis allow for asynchronous collaboration and provide students with a space to work together, share ideas, and edit writing.  Student in Prof. Albert's courses can use the space for group discussion as they plan a project as well as for bibliographic notes, outlines, etc.

Wikis are also part of Prof. Albert's in-class work space where she may pose questions such as, "What is religion?"  She and her students may document responses and relevant ideas in class.  These wiki notes may be used later for reference or elaboration.

Dr. Albert notes several benefits of using wikis.  She finds that wikis allow students control over their work.  Groups who use wikis well can interact asynchronously. Through collaboration and peer review, students see peers' work  as models for their own.