Tools for Learning: Wetpaint


Author:, inc.
710 Second Avenue
Suite 1100
Seattle, WA 98104
Telephone: 206.859.6300
Facsimile: 206.859.6301


Recommended Audience:

What it does:
While many higher education institutions have branded wiki platforms for coursework, it is sometimes challenging for local implementations of popular tool platforms like wikis to keep up with the functionality of commercial tools. With the advent of the social web, we discovered more and more tools offering free and fee versions. Wetpaint is a popular and sophisticated, easy to use wiki platform that offers a free version supported by embedded advertising alongside a commercial version without the ads. When used for educational purposes, defined as with a teacher and students working together, teacher can apply to have advertising suppressed on their sites. (Update: As of August 2009, this is no longer available.)

Wetpaint is not your ordinary wiki. In addition to easy and fully-functional editing that looks almost identical to popular word processors, it also makes it amazingly simple to embed popular media and flash objects ranging from Flickr images (or uploaded photos) to Youtube videos to embedded objects/widgets/gadgets from less well known media sites. You can even easily embed a Google Calendar. Beyond the ease of generating, organizing and editing a variety of content types, Wetpaint has integrated all the basic functions of social networking sites to enhance the collaboration space of the wiki. Users of the wiki can friend other wiki members, have private conversations, open threaded public discussions, and more.

Tech Requirements:
Mac or PC with internet connection faster than dialup; web browser should be Firefox with Flash installed (preferred).

Privacy / Security:
Wetpaint wikis can be configured with a variety of security and privacy levels, from a personal archive site with a single editor, invitation only viewing or collaborating, private project team working space, public-view wikis edited by a small group of writers, public wikis joinable by anyone with editing limited to writers and moderators, and more. The range of security settings available make this a valuable and productive working environment.

Terms of Service:

Support / Troubleshooting:
Wetpaint has a Getting Started section, an excellent help and troubleshooting section, along with a blog for announcements, feedback pages, and forums for community support and discussion. They have easily identifiable community managers in the forums, as in real people with names and faces who actually answer questions, email, and solve problems. Beyond the above, for those who are real coding geeks, there is a developers section with information about how to customize Wetpaint.

Strengths for Education:
Wetpaint has a strong commitment to education, and they put their money where their mouth is. They provide strong resources for educators and the educational community, and have a strong educational infrastructure as well as the no-ads version, educational discounts, and staff devoted to supporting educators. Here are some of the resources they offer.
Wikis In Education
Wetpaint Education Ambassador
How can wikis be used in the classroom?
Education Templates

The big one for most people is that Wetpaint is not browser independent. The big one for most of the faculty I’ve talked iwth is that they want to log in as UM people through our local authenication gateway. As far as I know, there is no easy way to do that. Security depends on setting up a separate Wetpaint account and the permissions connected to those, and there is no surefire verification by institution. That may be possible and just I don’t know about it. On the other hand, for a collaboration with persons outside of our university, Wetpaint may be easier to administer.

Ideas/Example for Educational Use:

E-portfolios & Reflection Spaces
– Example: mine, unfinished)
– Example: Carolyn McIntosh (midwifery educator)
– Example: Association for Authentic, Experiential and Evidence-Based Learning

Collaborate with another class in a different country.
– Example: School Health Effectiveness
– Example: Shanghai American School – Asian History
– Example: China-UK-Chicago

Have students plan a seminar on a topic, and set up a wiki to organize and promote your event.
– Example: E-Portfolio Day
– Example: Forbidden Fruit Conference
– Example: Third Students Conference of Linguistics in India (SCONLI-3)

Create a private discussion and collaboration space for health care students and patients

Collect resources and discussions on controversial topics.

Create an example patient education site with content carefully selected from social media sites. Justify your selections.

Draft an outline of a writing project or short book.
– Example: Medical Education

Private or public small group project space.

Class pages.

Examples from the Wetpaint Golden Paintcan Awards:
Tension Myositis Syndrome Wiki


One response to “Tools for Learning: Wetpaint

  1. I was asked elsewhere how Wetpaint compares to Google Sites and if I’ve used Google Sites. I wanted to attach that reply to this post, so here!

    I haven’t used Google Sites really, but I have watched my colleagues use it. I look around every now and then, to check out how folks are using it. It seems to be used a lot more for marketing and commercial purposes. The sites people are making there are usually not as engaging as those I am finding in Wetpaint.

    Google isn’t working as hard as Wetpaint at building a community of users. I did find a couple good examples of Google Sites that are education, use media, and use the interface well. So it is possible to do a nice site in Google Sites, it just seems to be not happening as much. I’m not sure if that is because Google Sites is harder to use or if it is because of the community or something else. The two sites I found that impressed me are:

    Building a PLN:

    Darwin Bicentennial:


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