Wiki-based Gene Reports in Medical Genetics 421


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Presentation by Wyeth W. Wasserman, PhD
Senior Scientist, CMMT, CFRI, UBC
Professor, Department of Medical Genetics, UBC

at Thinking Session III: Open Platforms for Open Education during EDUCamp 2010: Sustainability Education last March 18, 2010.

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Wiki-based Gene Reports in Medical Genetics 421

  1. 1. Wiki-based Gene Reports in Medical Genetics 421 Wyeth Wasserman Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics Child and Family Research Institute Department of Medical Genetics
  2. 2. Medical Genetics 421 • ~35 advanced undergraduate students – Most destined for graduate school in life sciences or medical school • High demand for long awaited return of course led to student population with history of high performance – Essentially an honours class – Students are uniformly aware of Wikipedia, but few (3-4 on average) have previously contributed/modified an entry
  3. 3. Course Format • Lecture-based • Classical – sit, listen and ask questions • 75% of lectures by “guest” specialists • Marks • 50% non-comprehensive exams (2) • 25% paper summaries (10) » 1 page summaries of primary scientific literature • 18% cancer gene report developed in MediaWiki » Extra credit for top reports if posted to Wikipedia • 7% for team-based gene network MediaWiki report (combines the “related” genes)
  4. 4. MediaWiki Training • Critical to introduce the MediaWiki software to the students – Sample for key formats given • – Dedicated 30 minute tutorial early in the term • Walk the students through creation of a page •
  5. 5. Medg421 Wikipedia Gene Reports • Course wiki • • Example of Wikipedia Posting (extra credit) • Deleted in Liver Cancer 1 (DLC1) – Image from the Cancer Genome Anatomy Project.
  6. 6. Observations • Students expressed surprising enthusiasm for the project • Many students put in far greater effort than required for a good mark • Led to word count limits in recent year • Provided continuity with the wide range of cancer processes addressed in class • The relationship of „their gene‟ to the theme of the week kept the students engaged • In the initial year, students only did individual project; better experience when combining their efforts led to gene network extension
  7. 7. Observations (2) • Difficult to grade • Limit length • Content vs utility (keep students focused on useful information) • History logs reviewed to assess team project contributions (a better system would be nice) • Exposes lack of understanding • Hard to grade (~30 minutes each). Team projects for larger classes would be best.
  8. 8. Lessons Learned • Word Limits! • Keeps students focused • Revisions necessary to cover required information in allowed space • Plagiarism tutorial • Some students seemed to think that the wiki-format was open license to copy text without attribution • More explicit requirements • Incorporating more hyperlinks • Create a summary figure • Limit selection of topics (genes) • Group projects require sets of related genes
  9. 9. What‟s Next ? • Collaborative wiki projects with cancer biology classes at other institutions • Open-textbook and instructional materials developed in global partnership • Popular text books, but not frequently updated • Under consideration: student multi-media reports to introduce cancer concepts