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Random Thoughts on Instructional Design

Seamless Integration of Wikis into the Learning Environment: Part 8 of 12

Planning for the Integration of Wikis 

There are a number of issues that need to be considered before integrating wikis into courses:

Motivating students to participate – Merely providing a wiki for students to use is unlikely to result in their active engagement with it as readers and/or authors. There are several complimentary ways to encourage their participation:

  1. Assign specific authoring/editing responsibilities to individual students or small groups of students.
  2. Use the students' interactions with the wiki participation as part of the summative assessment of the course.
  3. Integrate the wiki closely into the rest of the course. For example:
    • refer to or use the wiki in face-to-face teaching sessions.
    • provide key information via the wiki (details of assignments, marking schemes, revision notes).
  4. Have student write a reflection on the process or have team members assess group participation.

Providing structure and direction but also allow the students ownership – A blank wiki offers no predefined structure or application, hence its flexibility. This means that the manner in which your wiki is to be structured and used needs to be clearly defined in advance. However as James (2004) warns, exerting too much control over the wiki will act as a disincentive to student participation and engagement. Lamb (2004) advises:

In a wiki, the instructor may set the stage or initiate interactions, but the medium works most effectively when students can assert meaningful autonomy over the process. It’s not that authority can’t be imposed on a wiki, but doing so undermines the effectiveness of the tool.

Requirements of monitoring and assessing the wiki – Using a wiki in teaching requires a significant time commitment from the faculty involved. Once a course  wiki activity is up and running, the edits being made should be regularly monitored by faculty or peer moderators for the following reasons:

  • Edits made by students could degenerate into an Edit War. Such a situation should be quickly identified and then a mutually satisfactory solution to be developed and presented.
  • Individual student participation can be tracked and appropriate feedback given during the activity rather than just at its conclusion (e.g. un-constructive and non-participants can be encouraged to change their approach).

Note: interventions by instructors on the wiki content itself should be kept to a minimum to avoid the ownership issues.

Next week – Using Wikis in the Curriculum

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This entry was posted on April 21, 2008 by in Blackboard 8, Instructional Technology.

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