Throughout the course the idea of collaborative working was developed - both from the theory side and also from the practical side. The idea of the hyper-text essay was introduced in week 4 and this led to thinking about taking the idea of collaboration further whereby the final product was in itself a resource that could be shared (and indeed could be taken forward by others). A weblog could be used for this but this tool felt very much more like an individual doing the work and allowing others to comment, rather than all contributing fairly. Wikis have been used as a collaboration tool within the CO community of the University (e.g. used as a documentation area during the development of the University Managed Desktop Project https://adelie.ucs.ed.ac.uk/dstwiki/) but not in teaching as far as we are aware. Therefore we thought it would be useful to study this area in more depth for the assignment and in particular to:-
- assess the suitability of wiki technology in teaching
- use the medium as the tool to do this.
Some early ideas
Six quick comments (from Marielle's email - I thought these were good starters and something to get thought going):
- I really liked the paper of I forgot who (we had to read in week 3 or 4) on the collaborative hypertext exercise. I really believe that students have a lot to bring to academia. In the present format, they submit an essay, that essay is marked, then stored in some file system. The knowledge they have acquired is lost. I am teaching (among other things) at master levels. I have students writing me excellent essays. That's a pity others cannot benefit of their knowledge and analyses.
- With my master students, I know propose a double submission format, this gives me the opportunity to go and check up that there is not important problem before they submit the final one (they do not receive any mark for the first submission, only comments, but all my students decided to submit it). A wiki may help me check them up more regularly (though I am not sure I want to do that, because that's time consuming). A wiki may help them benefit better from each other work (go and read the other person work, comment it, suggests improvements).
- You can use the wiki to encourage reflective learning. You post a paper on the web, you ask students to comment on the weaknesses. You can use it to teach essay skills too. You publish a quite poor essay, you challenge the students to improve it. You have them do it collaboratively (I guess, that's then content management more than wiki) and justify any change they make by referring to a marking sheet you have given them (or criterion you have specified).
- In medicine, I had been tutor for a 4th year tutorial group. They have the students design a small website on a specific topic of their own choosing. Still, in the current format, they operate by giving each student one page to edit... which means that there is a lot of difference in style and consistency through the website. Better cooperative work could be achieved with a wiki.
- One of the first use of the wiki, was for encyclopedia... again, an encyclopedia could be created that would be refined, year after year by students, updated with new references, eventually reorganized as a function of new findings. (In fact, I was thinking that would be an excellent idea for academics to create such a resource).
- I have a project of putting lexical databases on the web. Tutorials will be attached. I saw wiki as a good way to structure these tutorials... for the same reasons... so that everybody can easily benefit from the "hints" and "tricks" known by other users.