Team Teaching

From CellBiology


Wikis are designed for interactive and collaborative work. They are often described in terms of how "students" can work/study co-operatively, but it needs to be remembered that it is also just as easy for "teachers" to work collaboratively using a Wiki. This page will introduce how you can approach online teaching, and provides background information as well as examples, if all you have ever done is show up with a powerpoint show. Please remember, there is nothing wrong with this last form of presentation, but there is no educational interaction (teacher/student, teacher/teacher) and no form of team collaboration or shared resources. Note there are now many other ways of working collaboratively online, this resource will only describe the Wiki method.

Wiki - a website or database developed collaboratively by a community of users, allowing any user to add and edit content.

Everything is Public

The first most important lesson is that "everything is public". There are no hidden or hiding place on a Wiki, you are standing in a public space talking about a topic and that information is recorded for all to see. Student users should generally remain anonymous by only using their student number on a Wiki and not identifying other students by name.

Here are a few beginning do's and don'ts.

Do Don't
  • Use your name if you want to be identified with the content.
  • Use your name carefully on pages or content that multiple users have prepared.
  • Show related researchers and research for that topic.
  • Use the wiki to just show your own work.
  • Show examples of latest research to engage students.
  • Add any unpublished research data or information you intend to publish. This is not a research publication and you may compromise your future use of that data.
  • Upload or link useful or related resources.

Everything is Recorded

All edits additions and deletions are recorded as part of the page history, both by the edited changes and who made this changes. Therefore this information can also be retrieved from the history. This has both advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages Disadvantages
  • The same page can be used or edited by multiple teachers.
  • Different user edits can end up with a "camel" for a "horse" design.
  • Nothing is ever lost, you can undo step by step back to the original page creation.
  • Edits are initially identified in history only by the size not the actual content changes.
  • You can see a comparison of the "before and after" pages side by side.
  • Undoing to an earlier version may "loose" later page changes.

Everything is Editable

All content, including the page menus and appearance can be edited and changed. This gives great flexibility, but if you are trying to get a "consistent" learning experience, you may want to have a standard or basic structure to the content so that students are not continually "relearn" where to find specific content. Good examples would be consistent block links to textbooks and external links. Some teaching Wiki platforms (Moodle, Wikispaces, etc) control how content can be displayed, but even these have options for consistent structure.

Best design is always "KISS", Keep It Simple, Stupid. If the other teachers do not have to learn complicated editing techniques then they can easily edit pages without difficulty.

If you are not happy with the existing lecture structure or content of the material you are co-teaching, simply delete the entire page content and start again with your own material. Remember that nothing is ever lost and the other teacher can also find their "version" if required.

The Final Presentation


Like a word document that you have been editing there will eventually be a "final version" to be presented in class. At this stage it is useful and easy to generate 2 versions of your final presentation from the page "Tools".

  1. Printable version - removes all the unnecessary page clutter. When this simplified version is displayed in the browser, then export or print as PDF, upload this file, and add as a link to your page (you can also print as handouts or put on a "stick" for those increasingly rare "no internet" occasions).
  2. Permanent link - will allow you to return to your own "preferred" version to edit and update. This can also be added as a link to your page as a "lecture archive", making available to both students and teachers previous versions of this content.

Everything is Changing

Look around, how many slide projectors do you see in teaching spaces these days?

  • Powerpoint - If you already have your content prepared as Powerpoint slides, you can still upload and use as your presentation. The associated page can be useful to add links or resources for students.
  • Migrating online - Use your Wiki page as a "powerpoint" use a sub-heading for each of your original slide titles and put the slide text as bullet points under this sub-heading.

Students (and teachers) expect now to be able to access and use their educational content from anywhere and at anytime. Being online you also always have access to your own material and resources.


UNSW also has available a Wikispaces Platform and Moodle that can allow development of a similar collaborative educational experience.

OK, ready to teach online, lets begin with Wikis 101.

Links: Team Teaching | PDF Team Teaching | Wikis 101 | Editing Basics