Evaluating the use of wikis in student group work within Blackboard VLE
EVALUATING THE USE OF WIKIS
IN STUDENT GROUP WORK
WITHIN BLACKBOARD VLE
Dr Nadia Amin, Clive Vassell
and Stanka Winch
Harrow Business School
HEA ICS Conference 2008, Liverpool
• To provide a technologically innovative approach to
group coursework delivery and assessment
• To increase integration and usage of the
university’s existing Blackboard VLE to deliver and
assess module content
• To evaluate the effectiveness and use of wikis as a
group work tool in comparison to traditional
teaching and assessment methods
• Growing popularity of web 2.0 and social
networking sites, blogs, wikis and tagging
• Wiki is a new generation of collaborative tool
enabling people to work simultaneously on the
same documents in a timely manner.
• Turban defines wiki as a “website that enables
visitors to add, remove, edit and change
content without the need for registration”.
Wikis within Blackboard VLE
The wiki used was Teams LX™ add-on learning object integrated
Three modules with 30 students in total were selected :
• 2EBU501 EBusiness Fundamentals
• 2BUS501 Managing Business Resources
• 2BCO7H4 Managing Ecommerce
A wiki was created for each group of students, with editing rights set
up for each group, where members were allowed to change the wiki
All students had read-only access to other groups’ wikis.
Lecturers monitored the wikis’ usage over one semester
Quantitative and qualitative analysis was applied to verify
• Students Survey : all students were asked to complete
questionnaire at the end of the project
• Monitoring of wiki usage statistics, which showed
individual student participation
• Focus group meeting between students and tutors
• Reflective statements were sought from one student group
Have you used wikis before?
To what extent do you agree that the wiki was useful?
To what extent do you agree that the wiki was easy to use?
To what extent to you agree that access to the wiki was convenient and
To what extent do you agree that the supporting material on the use of the
wiki was useful?
To what extent do you agree that he use of the wiki assisted with the
To what extent do you agree that the use of the wiki facilitated group
To what extent do you agree that the use of the wiki was a useful learning
To what extent do you agree that the wiki was a useful communication tool?
Would you like to see the use of wikis extended to other modules?
A p n i A S m ayo t esu e t ’ s r e
p e dx . u m r
t d ns uv y
Survey Results Summary
Over 70% of students reported that they had never participated in wiki activity
prior to this pilot project.
Student sentiment about the use of the wiki was clearly positive:
When asked if wikis were useful and easy to use, over 75% replied ‘Agree/Strongly Agree’ and
Over 60% of students agreed that the use of the wiki helped in their coursework assignment
Students felt that the wiki facilitates group collaboration, a view held by over
65% of the students.
Students spoke almost unanimously of the ‘convenience factor’ that the wiki
generated by enabling students to work in an asynchronous way from different
locations, e.g. homes, university, etc.
Most students seemed to feel that there was room for improvement, for e.g.
inconsistencies in text/picture formatting, the lack of a spell checker, etc.
75% of students reported that they would like to see more use made of wikis
on other modules
Wiki Usage tool
Participation for Group A
Participation for Group B
User Total Page Saves Total Lines
User Total Page Saves Total Lines Modified
1 30% (112/377) 41% (809/1991)
2 22% (82/377) 28% (563/1991)
3 31% (116/377) 24% (487/1991)
4 18% (67/377) 7% (132/1991)
83% (360/433) 89% (1532/1714)
8% (36/433) 7% (116/1714)
4% (17/433) 2% (35/1714)
5% (20/433) 2% (31/1714)
Students Reflective Statements
“The convenience of being able to work from home and not having to physically
meet up as a group”.
“..Being able to communicate with your group members, and leaving comments
whilst doing your work. So every time someone else logged on they could see the
comments and take the work from there. Another one was it [was] easy to
access and easy to update anytime you wanted. It was easy to use and you didn’t
need to have many skills to use the wiki.”
“My personal experience of using the wiki was excellent”.
“The use of wikis will help groups to see who is performing well and which
individual is not participating and maybe looking for a ‘free ride’ in the
“...I was surprised to learn how this could be both an exciting and beneficial
method of doing coursework and group work in particular”.
“I think that the use of wikis within groups benefits both the group members
and the tutors alike”.
Focus Group Comments
Students found the use of the wiki valuable and interesting and were pleasantly
surprised by the benefits it offered
It was really convenient for group members to communicate with each and leave
messages through the “comments” facility provided by the wiki.
Students felt that while the wiki reduces the need (and frequency of) group
meetings, it does not eliminate the need for face-to-face meetings. Group
meetings and personal contacts are still needed especially at the onset of the
Students also commented that wiki participation statistics do not necessarily
reflect the actual contribution that an individual makes to the group work.
Nevertheless, it was felt that it can be used to identify free-riders.
From a technical point of view wikis were seen as being easy to use, although
some formatting problems were reported.
• The project has helped to achieve the following key
– Improved collaborative interaction between students in a group setting;
– Increased module content awareness, participation and performance
by the students;
– Improved ability of staff to assess individual student contribution to
– Improved student team working skills that are essential in the
– Improved assessment evaluation and feedback from course staff.
• The university needs to ensure that the wiki software
works reliably and that the software is kept up-to-date.
• We wish to thank the Higher Education
Academy, Information and Computer
Science subject network for supporting this
project under the General Development
all students at Harrow Business School
who participated in this project