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WIKI: The complexity of online collaborative work


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  • 1. WIKI: The complexity of online collaborative work Vera Paiva Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) National Counsel of Technological and Scientific Development (CNPq) Minas Gerais State Research Foundation (FAPEMIG)
  • 2. A wiki is a Web page that users can modify. (Cummings, 2008: 5)
  • 3. “Collaborative practices are increasingly seen as keys to going beyond what we know and developing the capacity to solve complex problems that are typical of the knowledge society but beyond the capacity of the individual.” (Lund, 2008:36)
  • 4. Wiki writing as a complex system People writing together in a A wiki platform make up a complex adaptive learning system and their joint interactions produce texts of higher qualities than the sum of their individual texts because of the emergence of a “collective intelligence”.
  • 5. Some characteristics of a complex system ynamic daptive pen onlinear elf-organizing ensitive to feedback
  • 6. Dynamic The writing process through dynamic interactions is always in flux. Wiki is “…an environment that to a great extent relies on learner interdependence.” (Lund, 2008: 36)
  • 7. Open The system is far from equilibrium because new content comes and others are deleted. The system keeps adapting.
  • 8. Adaptive “It would probably be wrong to ever see a wiki implementation as "finished", because the contexts in which it is used are always prone to change. People adapt. Wiki adapts.” (Bo and Cunningham, 2001: 392)
  • 9. Non-linear ystems change and the emergent behavior is not proportional do the causes. mall contributions can lead
  • 10. Self-organizing • The system evolves and adapts in different ways and in different paces. • According to the sociocultural theory, “people working jointly are able to co-construct contexts in which expertise emerges as a feature of the group” (Lantolf, 2000:17)
  • 11. Sensitive to feedback • Members learn from each other. • They react to feedback. They change and adapt.
  • 12. “However, the broader, collective assignment requires that learners seek to link individual production to the dynamic and collective potential of the wiki. This involves trusting others to contribute productively and developing sensitivity towards the totality by relating one’s own contribution to those of others, that is, we see the emergence of a collective ZPD.” (Lund, 2008:47)
  • 13. But do students collaborate as expected? Participants: five groups of six undergraduate students enrolled in an online course - Introduction to digital tools for language teaching – in a Brazilian university in 2011. Task: write essays in English about “the integration of technology in the English Language classroom” using any wiki tool. Each student should use a different color for his/her contribution so that the teacher could identify the dynamicity of each group. Duration: 2 weeks Instructions: It was emphasized that they should not only add content, but also edit their classmates’ contributions by correcting mistakes and adding further information, exemplifications and new references. Evaluation: content, quality of collaboration and participation.
  • 14. “When working collaboratively, learners realized that the analysis and critique of their ideas enhanced not only the content but also the overall quality of their essays. Learners became aware that everybody brought to the projects a unique set of skills and that often they could learn more from correcting their partner’s grammar and critiquing their ideas than from their own work. In addition, structure and organization improved because the discussions allowed learners to concentrate on a thesis for their essays and support that thesis in a more organized manner.” (Elola and Oskos, 2010) My expectation
  • 15. • The wiki tools did not attract the expected collaboration. • Although students had two weeks to develop a good text, most of them did not invest enough time to write a real collaborative essay. • Most students limited themselves to their individual contributions without any commitment to the final product. • One student sent her part by email, without revising what others had written. • Content was usually poor. RESULTS
  • 16. • In spite of using a tool that affords interaction and collaboration, most groups just produced patchworks as a result of juxtaposition of individual texts. • Real collaboration by means of editing, corrections, and addition of relevant information was detected in one group only. RESULTS
  • 17. • Expertise did not emerge as a feature of the other groups. • Visual representations of the pages showed a sequence of paragraphs in different colors instead of multi-colored paragraphs which would represent real collaboration. RESULTS
  • 18. Example 1
  • 19. Example 2
  • 20. Example 2 (p. 1 & 2)
  • 21. Example 2 (p.3 & 4)
  • 22. Example 3
  • 23. Example 3 (p.1 & 2)
  • 24. Example 3 (p.2 & 3)
  • 25. “It is essential to state here that while the use of social technology tools can reinforce student learning, they do not always lead to positive learning results (Lindblom-Ylänne & Pihlajamäki, 2003). In any educational setting it is important to evaluate carefully the relationship between the properties of these tools and how they are used to assist learners (Kirschner, 2002).” (Elola & Oskoz, 2010: 64) Conclusions
  • 26. Human complex adaptive systems can exhibit unexpected behaviors and the wiki technology was not enough to change habitual group behaviors or enable the emergence of a collective intelligence. Wiki tools may mislead one into thinking that they facilitate the emergence of wholes which are greater than the sum of the individual productions. Conclusions
  • 27. Some students do not like to work in groups. Some students do not want to have their contributions edited, deleted or corrected. Digital tools alone do not change students’ behavior Mindsets must also change. Conclusions
  • 28. Limitation of the study One limitation of the study was that, after feedback, the students did not write another essay in a wiki platform. Therefore, we could not evaluate if the group, viewed as a complex system, had learned through teacher feedback.
  • 29. Referências Bo, Leuf and Ward Cunningham. The Wiki Way: Collaboration and Sharing on the Internet. London: Addison Wesley, 2001. Cummings, Robert E., and Matt Barton, eds. Wiki Writing: Collaborative Writing in the College Classroom. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan P, 2008. Cummings, Robert E. What Was a Wiki, and Why Do I Care? A Short and Usable History of Wikis. In: Cummings, Robert E., and Matt Barton, eds. Wiki Writing: Collaborative Writing in the College Classroom. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan P, 2008. p.1-16 Cunningham, Ward. Wiki Design Principles. Available at WikiDesignPrinciples. Access 04 May 2012. Elola, Idoia, and Ana Oskoz. Collaborative Writing: Fostering Foreign Language and Writing Conventions Development. Language Learning & Technology. v.14, n. 3. p.51-71. Oct, 2010. Available at . Access 15 May 2012 Lakeman, Will. Content and Commentary: Parallel Structures of Organization and Interaction on Wikis. In: Cummings, Robert E., and Matt Barton, eds. Wiki Writing: Collaborative Writing in the College Classroom. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan P, 2008. p.144-159