Summary of “Evaluating the Use of a Wiki for Collaborative Learning”

Here’s my first attempt at summarizing an article! Please contact me on the discussion board if you have any questions!

In Evaluating the Use of a Wiki for Collaborative Learning, published in Innovations in Education and Teaching International (Vol. 47, No.4, Nov. 2010), researchers Feng Su and Chris Beaumont reported their findings from a study they conducted at Liverpool Hope University in Liverpool, United Kingdom. Through a study of university students (37 male, 10 female), they found that, in general, wikis are useful tools for fostering collaborative discussion, interactive learning and promoting “confidence in formative self and peer assessment by facilitating rapid feedback” (Beaumont & Su, 2010, p.417) and in promoting constructivist educational principles (417). Wikis provide a platform for multiple authors to edit and contribute to a single page. Because of this, Beaumont & Su found wikis to be more effective than similar collaborative tools (such as blogs) in creating content-specific websites and in providing easily accessible feedback to authors directly within the content (as opposed to potentially getting lost within a comment thread) (417). While many students in the study initially expressed concern that the public nature of wikis could lead to vandalism and plagiarism, the researchers found that because the wikis were open to all students and teachers (called “tutors” in the study), wikis in fact promoted academic integrity and fostered a sense of ownership and pride in students’ work (426). Finally, the study also noted that in order to be effective, educators need to take into account the needs of students with learning disabilities or other difficulties when using wikis (428).

 

I found this article to be very helpful in getting an idea of the benefits of using a wiki to foster collaborative learning. While this study focused on university students, rather than high school or middle school students, I still found it to have relevant information about what wikis are and how students and teachers can use them. I especially found the discussion of plagiarism and vandalism interesting, and how students were more likely to have a sense of ownership over their own work when it was presented in a public forum. Based on my discussions with my mentor, who has used many wikis in various ways in her classroom, wikis can be a great way to reach learners who may have difficulty speaking up in class. Essentially, wikis can be used as another form of “discussion,” just one that takes place the shape of a web site with multiple authors. In general, I am looking forward to learning more about this tool and how to best use it in both my graduate lesson plan and future classroom.

 

Reference

Beaumont, C. & Feng Su. Evaluating the use of a wiki for collaborative learning. Education and Teaching International. 47 (4), 417-431.

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3 Comments

Filed under Assessment

3 responses to “Summary of “Evaluating the Use of a Wiki for Collaborative Learning”

  1. laceyhruby

    Very interesting summary. I also love the idea of using wikis within classrooms. Some students do not feel comfortable speaking in front of a group, and wikis give them the chance to provide their comments for a particular discussion. Sometimes it’s easier for students to write down their thoughts, rather than speak them. I have never thought about the plagiarism issue with wikis, but I think they could be a great tool to utilize within the classroom as an alternate approach to discussion on various topics.

  2. Thank you for the summary of this article. Since I live in PBWorks it is very relevant to me. In PBWorks they have an embedded plagiarism checker, so you can just click a button and see what was lifted from elsewhere. Super handy for students and the teacher!

  3. jessilangert

    I think that we have the benefit of being able to think about we say more when we can write it down. And the Wikis give us the chance to do that (as does our virtual classrooms!). That I think is one of the biggest benefits of being able to use the web for teaching. It’s a more free-flowing discussion forum that allows for students who normally wouldn’t participate to speak and be heard. So long as the rules of conduct are followed in the virtual classroom as well as the physical classroom, I think things like Wikis should definitely be used often!!

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