WikiPlaces: The Essence of Your Favorite Places


Do any classes in your building study a country or a city? Study your own community or neighborhood? Does your school have a photography class that needs a focus? If so, they may be interested in a free, online project titled WikiPlaces: The Essence of Your Favorite Places.

This ongoing project is open to all ages. Participants are asked to help us see the essence of a place by creating an alphabet book page for that place. For each letter, tell us a word and include a photo of that object. This may be a simple type of alphabet book with just the word and its image (e.g. M is for Mosque) or it may include information about the object (e.g. H is for Hornbill. Hornbills live in the tropical rains forests of S.E. Asia. They are important members of the rain forest ecosystem because of the role they play in seed dispersal.)

Participants are not required to address all 26 letters for their place. In fact, leaving some letters blank invites others to add to your pages. Pages are easily edited and revised.

Another way to take part is to have students create a single entry about a place this have lived, visited or studied. Rather than having one class page, your students may each have their own page.

The project is built on the WetPaint wiki platform. WetPaint was chosen because of its EasyEdit interface, its elegant page look, and its ease of working with images. No wiki programming is required. After clicking on a page's edit button, you are given a toolbar which allows you to add links, add video and photos, and make formatting changes.

Registration at WetPaint is required. Registration is free and does not lead to spam. Teachers may register a class as one user; multiple people may be logged in under the same username.

How to Take Part
  1. Go to http://wikiplaces.WetPaint.com.
  2. Explore the site, especially the home page, the Getting Started page and a page in progess, such as Egypt or a completed project such as Lenoir County, North Carolina which was created by a class. If you are new to using a wiki, you may want to look at the WetPaint help page.
  3. Choose a place. It could be a country, a region, a city, a neighborhood, a building or even a room.
  4. Brainstorm what features, elements, objects make that place unique -- or what makes it special to you.
  5. Gather images. You could take photos, use a drawing program to draw your own JPEG pictures, or find photos via Creative Commons in Flickr. If you are using someone else's images, make certain you have permission to do so. Make sure you have their URL so that you can link back to the original- that's showing good net manners.
  6. Go to http://wikiplaces.WetPaint.com and register. Registration is free and doesn't lead to spam. Teachers can create a class account-- multiple people can be logged in at one time on the same account. (Note: We are requiring registration to cut down on spam and malicious edits.)
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  • Important: We have discovered that even if your class has many accounts, only one person can edit a given page at a time. If you want to have many children working on the same place page, consider having two pages. One could cover the letters A-M and the other letters N-Z. Then we can just link the two pages together. Or, come up with some other creative way to do it. Maybe your class will work in groups and each group will make their own page. Do whatever works best for you.
  1. Login and start adding to wikiplaces. If there is already a page in progress for your place, add to it. Don't worry that you are editing someone else's page. That's how wikis work. Or, if you'd rather, create another page for that place.
    If there isn't already a page, add one. You might want to copy and paste this template text onto your page to get your page going quickly.
  2. Celebrate by inviting friends and family to view and leave comments on the pages you created.

What You Need
  • digital images (from a digital camera, scanned, created in a drawing program, from an online site such as Flickr)
  • a way to reduce your images to no larger than 400 by 500 pixels. File size should be no larger than 500 k.
  • Internet access
  • a resonably current web browser:
    • Firefox 1.0.7 and higher for PCs and Macs
    • Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 for the PC
    • Flock
    • Some functions of WetPaint are supported on Safari, others are not. We're working hard on complete Safari support.

A Word on Internet Safety
Taking part in this project should not compromise your students security in any way. Students do not sign their wiki entries. People who view the page history can see who has made edits to that page. However, they only see the user name. Since participants are not identified by name or by image, no special parental permission should be required for taking part in this project.

Contact: If you have questions, contact Susan Sedro via her gmail account. She is ssedro. Be sure to place "Wikiplaces" in the subject line.

Please feel free to share this information with colleagues.