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Wikis as an efficient means of student collaboration in completing coursework

Author Brid Lane
Abstract Much of the power of wikis lies in their ability to stretch knowledge-sharing beyond the classroom. However, the instructor typically remains as an authority figure within the wiki space. In this research, the voice of the educator was silenced with responsibility for organising and running of wikis given to students as part of their assessment work. A wiki should offer time-poor students an efficient online means of collaborating on assessments. This research assesses the extent to which such efficiency can be achieved. Student groups in a part-time undergraduate cloud computing module used cloudbased wikis to collaborate on coursework. The wikis functioned as discussion boards and a means of evolving the required coursework report document. Each of the 10 groups of between two and three members each, organised themselves in terms of how they structured and managed their group wiki. Marks were allocated for regular adding and editing of content, displaying evidence of this content evolving appropriately over time. Each student completed a one-page report detailing their personal experience of using the wiki. While all students successfully completed the coursework, the efficiency with which this was achieved varied. Some students found the wiki to be an excellent means of structuring and progressing their report with the wiki facilitating discussion and managing on-going documentation. Others had operational issues that impeded this success. For example, one group member accidentally over-wrote another member's content without enabling the roll-back feature of the wiki. Few students considered the wiki to be a poor substitute for face-to-face discussion. In conclusion, wikis can be an efficient means for students to collaborate and complete their coursework. However, instructors need to scaffold and teach students how to use the wiki to avoid negative operational issues, suggesting that the active voice of the instructor is needed when preparing students for wiki-based assignment work.
Keywords Wiki, collaboration, coursework
Published In ICEP Proceedings 2013
Date 2013
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