Wikis Work for Online Tech Ed Courses

10/1/2006 By: Pam Page Carpenter and Edward Roberts

What’s a Wiki?

Wikis are collaborative web sites that allow multiple authors to create and edit information on that site. The most recognized Wiki is Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia allowing anyone to post and edit information. (Riddell, 2006) The technology, the invention of Ward Cunningham in 1994, allows both novice and expert user to participate as active members of a community.

Wikis may also foster Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) which is collaboration with technology to enhance the learning experience. Lipponen (2002) asserts that CSCL assists in the facilitation of peer interaction and shared knowledge among learners. (Augar, Raitman, and Zhou, 2004) Augar et al. claim that Wikis are an appropriate tool to promote collaboration in the online environment. They used Wikis as a tool for facilitating social interaction through an online icebreaker exercise at Deakin University in Victoria, Australia.

Ten students were placed into Wiki groups along with an online facilitator. The icebreaker Wiki contained information about the group’s online facilitator to introduce the instructor, to model appropriate use of the Wiki, and to establish social presence, a critical element of fostering positive online engagement to avoid a sense of isolation. The icebreaker contained several questions to assist students in finding and responding to other students with similarities. Students were able to connect with the facilitator and other students through the icebreaker event by posting responses, replies to questions, biographies, and personal photographs.

Wikis have multiple purposes, from expediting information to the masses, as reliable sources and information on the Pandemic Bird Flu, (Masie, 2006) to students working collaboratively to create knowledge in a particular domain that may be shared with other students in a particular academic discipline. Several institutions, including Georgia Tech, have been using Wikis for a number of years to promote knowledge sharing and collaboration.

There is perhaps another way that Wikis may be used to foster collaboration and that is service learning.

E-service Learning

Strait & Sauer (2004) discovered a critical need to address online education for teacher education students. The shortage of teachers in the United States and the barriers to rural and urban students who cannot attend a traditional campus-based teacher education program led to Bemidji State University’s Distributed Learning in Teacher Education (DLiTE) program. Service learning, termed as e-service, has been integrated into the teacher education courses at the beginning of the second semester. Students engage in reflection about their e-service through discussion boards, group projects, and journals. While the students found the e-service component a valuable experience, the community partners welcomed their help and assistance.

Online students become involved and knowledgeable of their own community needs while developing beneficial skills in an online learning environment. (Strait et al. 2004) When asked to recall the highlight of academic careers, students will remember a project which involved their time, energy, and passion. (Stevens et al. 1992) When e-service is implemented into a program, students may well recall the learning and service process of the experience. While the DLiTE program did not use Wikis, there are a number of ways that Wikis may be considered when incorporating service learning into an online course.

Wikis, Online Learning, and e-service

Students can be grouped in Wikis according to a particular kind of community service so that those with common service projects can share ideas, relate the theories, concepts, and methodologies to the e-service, and assist one another in brainstorming and problem solving. Wikis would provide that essential collaborative space for students to interact and create a sense of community, avoiding the sometimes impersonal feel of online education. Wikis would provide a place for reflection with text, graphics, and images that allow for more interaction and visual cues versus only text-based discussion. Future students in the program could benefit from former students’ e-service experiences and expand upon the existing reflections and knowledge by adding their own contributions to the Wiki.

Wikis were introduced in a graduate Technology Education course in the spring of 2006 to explore possibilities of how Wikis may be used in Technology Education courses.

Wiki survey among graduate students

Every two years the Technology Education program at North Carolina State University offers “Creative Problem Solving,” a graduate course, taught by Dr. Richard Peterson, in the masters and doctoral program. The course delivered a presentation on the use of Wikis incorporating e-learning and service learning in Technology Education programs in higher education. After the presentation, graduate students, divided into groups consisting of three students, had to solve an ill-defined problem related to Technology Education.

To generate possible solutions, groups worked on their problems using seedWiki.com. The individual students then had to complete a survey reflecting upon their experience using a Wiki and possible implications of Wikis being used for Technology Education courses.

Participants

Twelve participants (seven males and five females) took the Wiki survey. The majority of the respondents (59%) indicated that a master’s was their highest degree; 33% indicated bachelor’s, and 8% did not respond to the question. Some 42% reported that they were currently teaching with 80% of the respondents teaching at the university level and 20% teaching in a K-12 educational institution. (Table 1)

Table 1
Participant characteristics

Category

 

Percentage
n=12

Gender

Female
Male

33%
67%

Highest degree

Bachelor’s degree
Masters’s degree
No Response

33%
59%
8%

Currently Teaching

Yes
No

42%
58%

Teaching Environment of Current Teachers

K-12
University

20%
80%

Wiki use

The majority of respondents (50%) have used Wikis in the past, but 42% had not had previous experience using Wikis. 66% of the respondents had never used Wikis in the classroom; 17% had used Wikis as a teaching tool in the classroom, and 17% did not respond. (Table 2)

Table 2
Summary of Participant Wiki Experience

Participant Wiki Experience Percentage

 

Percentage
n=12

Previous experience with Wikis

Yes
No
No response

50%
42%
8%

Experience with Wikis as teaching tools

Yes
No
No response

66%
17%
17%

The respondents (51%) indicated that they were competent with using online instructional technologies; 33% were not sure if they felt competent using a Wiki for classroom instruction; 25% did not feel comfortable using a Wiki in the classroom, and 17% felt competent using a Wiki for classroom instruction.

33% reported that Wikis may be a good tool for both teaching and learning; 25% were unsure, and 17% disagreed that Wikis would be a good teaching and learning tool.

9% strongly agreed that Wikis would be effective collaborative problem solving; 36% agreed, and 55% were not sure that Wikis would provide an effective collaborative problem solving experience.

8% of the respondents strongly agreed that Wikis would provide a good learning experience for technology education students; 42% agreed, and 42% reported that they were unsure. The majority (25% strongly agreed and 25% agreed) that Wikis facilitate group learning. (Table 3)

Table 3
Summary of Participants’ perspective of Wikis

Survey Results Table

Question

Strongly Agree

Agree

Not Sure

Disagree

Strongly Disagree

Not Answered

(#8) I am competent with online instructional technologies.

51%

33%

8%

8%

51%

0%

(#9) I am competent using a Wiki for instruction.

25%

17%

33%

8%

25%

0%

(#10) Wikis are good tool for teaching and learning.

8%

33%

25%

17%

17%

0%

(#11) Wikis are effective for collaborative problem solving.

9%

36%

55%

0%

0%

0%

(#12) Wikis could provide a useful learning tool for technology education students.

8%

42%

42%

0%

0%

8%

(#13) Wikis facilitate group learning.

25%

25%

25%

17%

0%

8%

(#14) Wikis foster experiential learning

8%

42%

25%

8%

0%

17%

(#15) Wikis are easy to use.

0%

20%

50%

10%

10%

10%

(#16) Wikis are useful in online learning environments.

8%

25%

42%

17%

0%

8%

Summary

Lamb (2004), states that Wikis support writing skills. Another consideration, particularly in Technology Education programs, is that Wikis may foster “network literacy” (p. 45). According to Walker, a hypertext theorist, network literacy is the ability to write in a distributed and collaborative environment and support learning and teaching with emergent technologies. (Lamb, 2004)

An increase in the demand for online courses and programs, combined with service learning, this combination may attract new students to the Technology Education field while providing critical learning experiences for the students and the needed benefits the communities receive during students’ e-service to their own local communities.

Email: Pam Page Carpenter

Email: Edward Roberts

References

Allen, I.E. & Seaman, J. (2004). Entering the Mainstream:The quality and extent of online education in the United States, 2003 and 2004.
Retrieved 11/10/04.

Augar, N., Raitman, R. and Zhou, W. (2004). Teaching and learning online with Wikis.Proceedings from Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education. Retrieved 2/14/06.

Bonnett, R. (2006). Out of the classroom and into the community: Service Learning reinforces classroom instruction. The Technology Teacher.V65, No.5. (February 2006).

Carmichael, D. E. (2001). An educational evaluation of WebCT: A case study using the conversational framework. Paper presented at the ED-MEDIA 2001 World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia & Telecommunications, Tampere , Finland

Dieberger, A. and Guzdial, M. (2002). CoWeb: Experiences with collaborative web spaces. Retrieved 3/15/06.

Dobbs, R. L., & Allen, W. C. (2004). Designing an assessment model for implementing a quality online degree program. Paper presented at the 2004 Academy of Human Resource Development International Research Conference , Austin , TX .Feldman, M. (2002). LMS breakdown. T & D, 56 (10), 66-70.

Flowers, J. (2001). Online learning needs in technology education.
Journal of Technology Education. V13,1. Fall 2001. Retrieved 3/20/06

Lamb, B. (2004). Wide open spaces: Wikis, ready or not. EDUCAUSE. V39,5
(September/October 2004): 36-48. Retrieved 2/28/06

McMaster, M. (2002). Online learning from scratch. Sales and Marketing

Masie, E. (2006). Eliot Masie’s LearningWiki. Retrieved 2/20/06.

Palloff, R.M. & Pratt, K. (2005). Collaborating Online:Learning together in a virtual community. Jossey-Bass Publishing: San Francisco.

Riddell, R. (2006). Wikis test students' research skills 'Information literacy' is key in dealing with online sources. eSchool News. Retrieved 2/24/06

Roblyer M.D. & Ekhaml, L. (Summer 2000). How interactive are your distance courses? A rubric for assessing interaction in distance learning. Online Journal of Distance Learning Adminstration, Volume 3, Number 2. Retrieved March 2, 2006

Smith, B. (1998, November 1998). Higher education and enterprise learning management systems. Converge Magazine . Retrieved October 27, 2005

Stevens, P. and Richards, A. (1992). Changing schools through experiential Education. ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools Charleston WV. Retrieved 2/28/06

Strait, J. and Sauer, T. (2004). Constructing experiential learning for online courses:The birth of e-serivce. Educause Quarterly, 1.

Wentling, T. L., & Johnson, S. D. (1999). The Design and Development of an Academy Evaluation System for Online Instruction.Paper presented at the of Human Resource Development, Washington, D.C.

Sponsored
Alert to All Users of the Disqus commenting system:
Because of a recent global security issue, the Disqus website recommends that all users change their Disqus passwords.
Here's a URL about the issue: http://engineering.disqus.com/2014/04/10/heartbleed.html
comments powered by Disqus

SUBSCRIBE

current issue

Game changer or vaporware?

CONNECT WITH US