What is it?
A wiki is a collaborative web page creation tool for students to develop a shared web object. A wiki tool provides page histories so that individual contributions can be tracked, and previous versions revisited. Some wiki tools at the University of Bath; Confluence, Moodle Wiki, MS Teams Wiki (a very basic tool).
How might I use it?
Wikis are used as web space for collaboratively created content, and therefore lend themselves to group work in varying contexts.
- Project collaboration where students can record a plan, identify resources and actions, and map progress.
- Research projects where students can record ideas and related literature as well as tests and results.
- Literature review where students collate responses to a reading to aid further discussion.
- Collaborative writing projects where students work together to refine a piece of writing e.g. improving a weakly written report or essay.
- Editing existing wikis to add to a knowledge base, e.g. reviewing and amending a Wikipedia article.
- Creating a collection of resources to aid understanding of course concepts e.g. for future revision.
How do staff and students use it effectively?
- A wiki page can be created by teaching staff, with pointers or template structures to get students started.
- Staff can explain that a wiki retains a page history - so students know their contributions can be viewed (and judged if necessary).
- Students can be encouraged to discuss the content with their peers, offering feedback or clarification during the creation of the wiki. Emphasis should be placed on students bringing their collective understanding together and not just producing a collection of content where each student has written a discrete piece.
- Respect for the contribution of others can be discussed and reasoning skills can be developed.
- Simple projects (e.g. the creation of a simple wiki page) can be trialled before attempting larger collaborative projects.
- Clear instructions are required so that students understand what is expected of the final wiki outcome.
What are the pros & cons?
- Students can work on the wiki in their own time. This can be an asynchronous activity where students can take time to consider their work before contributing.
- Version history creates a timeline of changes to the web pages, so students can go back if mistakes occur.
- Peer feedback can be given during wiki creation, working with others to justify the final content created.
- Creating content leads students to think critically about what to include.
- How information is written, organised and connected needs consideration. This can improve writing skills.
- Staff can monitor contributions to facilitate more effective group work.
- Staff can monitor contributions to assess students.
- Wikis rely on an 'edit - write - save' or 'edit - write - link - save' process that is simple to learn.
- Students need to have consistent internet access to work on a wiki.
- Frustration with peers can occur if contributions don't look equal.
- Access to the content, once the course of study is complete, may be limited depending on the tool chosen.
Using Wikis for Seminar Preparation
Dr Julie Salaber of the School of Management at the University of Bath discusses how she uses wikis for seminar preparation in her teaching.
Using Wikis for Online Collaboration
In a project at his previous institution, Fabrizio Gallai from the Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies at the University of Bath used wikis as a tool for online, cross-year, collaboration between students.
Wikis as platform for student collaboration in Economics
Read about this case reported by Advance HE where wikis are used by students for a wiki-based assessment in Labour Economics where "the wiki was used to facilitate a group-based assessment which contributed one third of the final module mark". (Clark, 2010).
50 Ways to Use Wikis for a More Collaborative and Interactive Classroom from Vanderbilt University.
Huang, K., 2019. Design and investigation of cooperative, scaffolded wiki learning activities in an online graduate-level course. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education [Online], 16(1), p.11. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1186/s41239-019-0141-6.
Clark, K., 2010. Case study: Wikis as a platform for student collaboration in Economics. [Online] Available from https://www.advance-he.ac.uk/knowledge-hub/wikis-platform-student-collaboration-economics
Salaber J., 2014. Facilitating student engagement and collaboration in a large postgraduate course using wiki-based activities. International Journal of Management Education, 12. doi:10.1016/j.ijme.2014.03.006
Vanderbuilt University Center for Teaching, 2019. Wikis [Online] Available from: https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/wikis/