While wikis provide an interesting and accessible tool for collaborative work with students, there can be an easy shift back to regular teacher-driven methods in their use as it is difficult and challenging to continue to facilitate collaboration throughout a wiki project.
That is, as we already know, the technology itself does not develop the skill, nor is it the teacher; the technology is only a tool, and teachers must remain committed to the collaborative process if students are to fully engage and develop the skills necessary to work collaboratively with their peers. It is worthwhile, therefore, both from my own experience and from observation, to identify several specific strategies every teacher can employ to increase engagement from their students.
There are always challenges in the actual use of technology in instruction, not only in practical terms with familiarity with the technology itself, but more importantly, in a pedagogical sense as the benefits to teaching and learning are examined more thoroughly. How can the instructional uses of a wiki be maximized to ensure this higher level of engagement with students? Wake Forest University has said the following about the benefits to using wikis in instructional settings: [A wiki ...] Promotes evaluating, synthesizing, elaborating, analyzing, problem solving, decision making, knowledge base construction, argumentation/justification, and learning communities.
Yeomans, and Wheeler (2008) suggested: wikis enable students to collaboratively generate, mix, edit and synthesize subject-specific knowledge within a shared and openly accessible digital space.
3 Challenges to Wiki Use in Education
Creating meaningful assignments: Motivation Well designed assignments are clearly based on the learning outcomes of a course and also present meaningful purposes for students in their completion. Gaps in design and purpose are not only demonstrated through lack of (obvious) participation by students but also lack of viewable connection to the overall purpose and meaning of a course.
2. Grade Value for Constructed Input: Affirmation Affirming students through grading values that adequately reflect the process is not new to education; however, in the area of new technology use, it is essential. The effective use of Web2 tools requires students to be active throughout the process and that work should be reflected in the final grade for an assignment.
3.Collective Knowledge Use Learning. Actual learning takes place when what is understood is applied in some meaningful context of use. The power of using the wiki for collective learning is that it builds on a collective collaboration of knowledge construction and also visibly and logically captures the progress of thought and application for the participants and observers.
In an attempt to overcome these 3 challenges as we are working to :
Creating meaningful assignments: Motivation by showing students that there is a connection between all ICTclasses (the ones they are taking, have taken and still will be taking) by making this a collaborative, cross grade level and ICT level project where more advanced students create help and tutorials for lower level and younger students. by reminding them of their responsibility to participate by demonstrating how the wiki will be a new tool and resource for them to learn with, trough and from.
Grade Value for Constructed Input: Affirmation by keeping track of students’ contributions to the wiki, such as: Adding existing information (from other resources) creating new information connecting contributions of others creating multimedia examples and tutorials contributing ideas and out-of-box thinking to make wiki a better learning tool visual design organizing information in meaningful ways Reflecting on the effectiveness of the wiki
Collective Knowledge Use Learning. by allowing students to realize, that it is not only about individual knowledge, but the knowledge the group is able to put together and connect. by reminding students that the wiki will be what THEY make of it. There are no pre-set examples to copy nor models to follow. by continue to remind students that the quality of the wiki is a process and will depend on the collective participation of all contributors. by acknowledging that the wiki is not a unit or chapter to go through, but an ongoing process and will continue throughout the school year.