Using Wikis for Teaching Martin A Walker SUNY Potsdam
Overview Introduction Wikis as resources Using a wiki as a platform for collaborative learning Conclusion
What is a wiki?“A collaborative website which can be directly edited by anyone with access to it.” (Wiktionary, March 20, 2007)From the Hawaiian word “wiki wiki” meaning “quick.”
Wiki “flavors” Mediawiki – Used for Wikipedia. Install it on a local server. Harder to use, but potentially very powerful PBwiki – Can create your own free wiki, pay for more features Simple but less sophisticated Wikispaces Also simple but more basic Operated by Google
Wikipedia, and dBpedia,, and LearnChemistry wikiWIKIS AS RESOURCES
Wikipedia The biggest collection of human knowledge ever created Although it has a radically different method for content creation, studies show that it is as good, or better than, traditional encyclopedias We can’t avoid it – but why should we want to! Let’s teach our students to use it properly!
WikiTrust Downloadable as an extension to Firefox, this adds a tab above the article:
Wikipedia as a resource Wikipedia can provide a valuable service to students: Context A portal to the literature Quick definitions, facts Source of images Quality is now much better, and can be roughly checked – but Wikipedia is still not 100% reliable GLAM – Many museums (e.g., Smithsonian) now have a “Wikipedian in residence” uploading materials Expect to see more books, flash drives etc with Wikipedia content
Related resources Wikimedia Commons – pictures, videos dBpedia – A searchable database that allows complex queries: “Find all baseball players born in NY State between 1918 and 1925.”
RSC LearnChemistry An example of a more specialized site – but other wikis exist for many other subjects Student-friendly information on over 2000 chemical substances Around 120 experiments aimed at UK high schools A selection of quizzes at many levels Tutorials and guides on specific topics
Lessons from LearnChemistry wiki Wikis can do much more than text: Pictures, video links, Powerpoints, PDFs, etc Mashups containing content from other sites Quizzes – even open-ended quizzes, with the right extensions! Forms to make it easier to write new content “Bots” allow automation of standard edits Collaborative projects (in next section)
USING A WIKI AS A PLATFORMFOR COLLABORATIVELEARNING
An in-house wiki for“The Sustainable World” An online course taught on a MediaWiki platform set up on the college server. All course materials embedded in the wiki (e.g., schedules, Powerpoint lessons) or linked from it (e.g., assigned readings, additional resources). Blackboard was used only for grades & a final exam Regular synchronous discussions held using an IM- style chat Students participate in a role-play where they share Powerpoints in real time Students also share their term papers via the wiki
RSC LearnChemistry projects Organic chemistry students were given a three- week research project to make anisyl alcohol from anisaldehyde: Research the literature as a group, share results in real time and choose a “best method” Run the chosen method in lab Isolate product and analyze results Results were recorded in the LearnChemistry wiki, as well as in the course Moodle site The wiki was particularly useful for sharing data during the literature research session
Literature search results uploaded bystudent “scribes”
Poster projects shared via the Web Advanced organic chemistry students write up a synthesis both as a poster and as a web page.
Collaborative experiments Students in different lab sessions carry out a series of related experiments, then results are uploaded by a TA This allows students to contribute to a bigger overall goal. When they “see the big picture”, this adds meaning to their results Data are open and available for use by scientists Students write up a full-length lab report which includes a discussion of the entire class’s data We hope that other colleges may be willing to share their results on the same wiki
Benefits of wiki-based projects Students can: Learn about collaboration, and how to behave appropriately in a group project Learn how to follow rules, which can be very strict in the case of Wikipedia Learn about the academic process Information literacy Peer review It’s hard work! Contribute to the world’s academic resources See their work published on the Web for all to see. With Wikipedia the reach is amazing -(70,000 hits/year for the Clastic rock article)
Conclusion Wikis provide some valuable educational resources on the internet, especially for user- generated content Wikis can also provide a unique platform for coursework, especially useful for: Group collaboration, especially on writing Sharing information rapidly within a group, or even perhaps between groups Allowing students to share their work with the world
Acknowledgements Michael C. Rygel (Geology, SUNY Potsdam) Wikipedia projects in the classroom Thanks to my coworkers at RSC: Lorna Thomson, Duncan McMillan, RSC Education Dr. Aileen Day, RSC ChemSpider Dr. Antony Williams, RSC ChemSpider Also thanks to Dr. Richard Kidd, RSC Publications Dr. James Iley, RSC Education Many Wikipedians including Users Beetstra, Physchim62, Smokefoot Dr. Luca de Alfaro and the WikiTrust team
Copyright information All of my own content in this presentation is released under a Creative Commons BY-SA-3.0 license Copyright information for images is usually attributed on the slide itself Content from Wikipedia and RSC LearnChemistry is reused via a Creative Commons BY-SA-3.0 license. For authors, please visit the original page and select the “history” tab. Other pictures not attributed should only be my own personal pictures, also CC-BY-SA3.