In this section we looked at some of the problems people using wikis had seen:-
- easy to use, but requires somebody with technical skills to install it
- relies on the good-will of the contributers not to "flame" and have an environment where people can constructively critise without offense
- wiki spam is an increasing problem - this acts like a "worm" sourcing out open wiki sites and vandalising the site (e.g. with porn). The only way around this is to restrict editing rights - this goes against the original philosophy of wiki use!
- within the US there are some legal issues concerning use in teaching (FEDRA - this provides policy on student records and does include the disclosure (or non-disclosure) of student work). This has implications in collaborative work and can require students to sign waiver forms to participate
- like all tools there is a learning curve to learn how to use; this must be factored in and maybe simple exercises included early on
- there are a range of different technologies used to develop wikis and this makes it difficult to exchange wikis - from teaching this could be problematic in migrating wikis in the future to another type (lose the "old" material)
- wikis can not do everything and other tools will probably be required as well
- teachers have to change role - become a facilitator
- creditability of the work is an issue - potentially anyone can provide information but how to ensure this is accurate and correct?
- look and feel is fairly basic compared with most websites - this must be balanced against the easy and speed to use
- to work successfully the wiki has to be setup with a specific topic; provision of a wiki as an open-ended non-focussed tool fails
- as with all collaborative work there is the issue of providing individual marks to students working collaboratively
- Intellectual Property rights has not really been much discussed..
- we found lack of spell checker fun!
Note: True to the wiki spirit, this is work in progress. The links provided point to working notes, that we did not have the time to structure properly. Anybody is welcome to collaborate to our effort and help organize or rewrite them in a more appropriate format.).
Possible blockages when using wikis in teaching
Wiki is not a magical solution. Collaboration works only when culture and context supports it. One of the first one to come up to mind is probably studentsâ€™ lack of collaboration. However, Gudzial et al. (paper coweb) point out that it's certainly not the case that it's just the particular students. They report that during one term, they actually had students in common between a successful use in English and a section of Calculus where no one was using the Wiki/CoWeb!
While student reticence to collaborate may be a factor here, different factors, linked to the pedagogical approaches, the institution policies, the culture of a field, the content of cources, the students or the staffâ€™s attitudes can all have a significant impact.
We describe how each one of these factors may eventually compromise the success of a Wiki experience, followed with recommendations on how the actions to take to to avoid these possible blockages and give the best chances of success when using Wikis for teaching.
- Full notes: PedagogicalPractices
- Learning goals are tricky to define (Difficult to meet the requirement of a specification of learning outcomes, difficult to define firm goals for the students to aim for)
- There are no guaranteed learning outcomes, only a process of learning.
- Learning Outcomes cannot be controlled
- You cannot give power to your students? They must take it.
- Users are free to do whatever they want
- Itâ€™s a tool that can be disruptive used in the wrong context
- It's only one tool among others, it doesn't fit all purposes
- Itâ€™s a tool that can encourage collaborative knowledge construction, not one that will automatically lead to it
- Cost-effective in terms of money, but not necessarily in terms of time
- Have a pedagogical practice that exploits Wiki features. If not, then you should consider another tool.
Content of courses
- Full notes: ContentOfCourses
- Lack of structure
- No clearly defined content
- Problem of the Credibility of the information as anyone can change anything.
- Not adapted to courses that call for single-Answer problems.
- Not adapted to problems that find a rapid solution.
- The use of the web technology can encourage the students to play with the technology rather than engage in deep thinking.
- Wikis are tools that can encourage collaborative knowledge construction, not one that will automatically lead to it. Some preparation and scalfolding is required.
- Full notes: AssessmentProblem
- Difficult evaluation of individual achievement
- Learning Outcomes that are tricky to evaluate
- Difficult evaluation at a personal level
- Do not sacrifice your learning goals for easier assessment. What can be easily evaluated is not material that encourages deep reflection
- As this is a group exercise, assess progress at the level of the group.
- Consider group mark for the product, accompanied with peer weighting of the marks.
- Consider an evaluation of the developmental process (improvement) rather than assessment of retention of particular content.
- Consider student self-evaluation
- Full notes: StudentAttitude
- The course takes a lot of time outside of class time.
- Lack of confidence, sense of learned helplessness.
- Students can feel disoriented in the absence of firm goals to aim for.
- Concerns that others will take advantage of them, or hurt them (what one participant called "cutting
- Lurking attitude
- Studentsâ€™ resistance to correct somebody else's writing
- No notion of authorship to support students' needs to identify individually with their own work
off the legs" of another)?
- Cross-Class Projects.
- Students view the class or the field as intensely competitive
- Full notes: StaffAttitude
- Requires a change of teacher's role (Inefficient when there is resistance to Models of Collaboration)
- Limited IT skill (inadequate role models)
- Lack of training into how to teach using new technology.
- Lack of time to explore new options.
- Full notes: LegalIssues
- The intellectual property impossibility
- Full notes: TechnicalPitfalls
- Easy to use, but requires somebody with technical skills for installing it.
- Vulnerability: vandalism can easily take place.
- Any server failure would be highly disruptive.
- Lack of standards
- Due to specific formatting option, the content cannot easily be migrated to other editing tools.
- Look and feel is not really engaging
- No access to the text editing features available in a word processor software (no spell checker, thesaurus, equation editory, etc.)