What's The Real Educational Value Of Wikis
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Educational Value Of Wikis: Why Academics Resort To This Online Learning Tool?

Every teacher I know strives to use research-based pedagogical techniques with every tool we use, but there are so many different online tools and apps to choose from, that we don't know where to start. We ask our colleagues, we follow blogs, we email our tech guru all the time. My purpose is to help teachers improve how they may use online learning tools effectively, no matter how they found out about it.

One online learning tool that impacted student participation, academic achievement and satisfaction with secondary students was wikis.

What Is It?

A wiki is a website that allows users to collaboratively add new information into or edit existing information. The key features of a wiki are collaborative productions, process logs, and pages under construction. By doing so, they function as a social learning environment, that, through student contribution and collaboration, promotes learning which is more effective than the sum of individual work [1]. There are several wiki tools available from different vendors, such as Curriki, MediaWiki, and PBWorks. Wikis can employ RPT in these Bloom’s taxonomy stages: understanding with simple page construction; applying through editing; analyzing when reporting or monitoring; and creating by designing, planning, or making a wiki page [2].

How Do They Help?

Wikis not only help build a sense of community, but also support collaborative learning through sharing, group work, and peer interactions. Hewege and Perera’s study analyzed 30 student-generated wikis, by Net-Gen students in an international marketing course, to uncover the pedagogical implications of wiki integration. The results showed: productive and enriched collaborative learning among the students, accommodation of different opinions in one space, adequate space to express one’s opinions, opportunities to weigh pros and cons of an argument, develop own opinions and shape independent thinking, critical assessment of relevant issues, spontaneous student leaders, advanced level of learning and thinking, heightened enthusiasm to participate, enhanced individual assignments, and the construction of new knowledge through reflective thinking and writing [3].

Wikis also naturally accommodate different approaches to learning while putting the student at the center of learning. This empowers students while enhancing social interaction and communication, all of which may result in deeper knowledge retention. Hazari et al. performed an exploratory study to investigate the value and factors of wikis with learner outcomes in a web-based environment [4]. They used the specific tool, Wikispaces, for student assignments and then presented an online survey to gain feedback from 70 respondents, ages 18 and older. The open-ended comments included:

  • The most innovative way of doing group assignments
  • Provides opportunities for leadership
  • Good collaborative features
  • Individual’s thought process can be seen in the discussion area
  • Introduces variety and exposes students to different instructional strategy

Wikis can also enhance information retention and learning as it promotes active learning techniques, such as cooperative and collaborative learning. Furthermore, a sense of authorship, cooperation, increased confidence, and positive class dynamics have been found to be significant benefits of wikis [3]. Hadjerrouit pointed out that wikis "foster collaborative learning and writing, knowledge sharing, group discussion, and active participation among students" [1]. Wikis serve as a platform for students to share information, work together, and construct new knowledge in line with the constructivist, social, and collaborative learning paradigm.

Thoughts

Wikis are on my to-do list of mastery for myself and my students. What do you think? Are you ready to give wikis a try?

References:

  1. Hadjerrouit, S. (2012). Investigating technical and pedagogical usability issues of collaborative learning with wikis. Informatics in Education, 11(1), 45-64.
  2. Churches, A. (2009). Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy
  3. Hewege, C. R., & Perera, L. C. R. (2013). Pedagogical significance of wikis: Towards gaining effective learning outcomes. Journal of International Education in Business, 6(1), 51-70.
  4. Hazari, S., North, A., & Moreland, D. (2009). Investigating pedagogical value of wiki technology. Journal of Information Systems Education, 20(2), 187-198.
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