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