Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Wikis and Collaborative Learning

A wiki is a website or blog space that is collaboratively edited and maintained by a group of people (Maloy et al., 2011). Wikis allow for groups both small and large to coordinate their efforts to complete the set task. The blog will explore some of the main reasons why Teachers should use Wikis as a collaborative learning tool in the classroom.
Collaborative learning is a form of peer-mediated learning, which involves students working together in small groups to accomplish shared goals. In regular group cooperative learning activities, teachers are required to consider influencing factors such as group size, composition of ability and gender and ways to enhance group discussion (Pagliano & Gillies, 2012). Effective groups are suggested to have 3 or 4 members to ensure that all students are actively involved not able to slip through the cracks (Pagliano & Gillies, 2012). It is also preferred that teacher arranges groups of mixed ability and genders as they will more likely promote productive discussions among students. If the teacher was to implement Wikis into the classroom, these influences would need to be considered. But then again with the opportunity to involve large groups of students, it is anticipated that there will be a range of genders and learning abilities to compliment each other.

Students require a range of social skills to facilitate cooperation in a collaborative learning situation. Such as learning how to work well with one another, understanding other people’s perspectives, being able to positively receive and give feedback to group members (Pagliano & Gillies, 2012). Some students that would normally be too shy to express their own opinion and play an active role in a collaborative learning situation will probably be able to express their ideas more freely and confidently through a Wiki.

Class activities and assignments take on new meaning when students realize that their work is going to be seen by more people than just the teacher (Maloy et al., 2011). Students are found to be more motivated to contribute to Wikis not only because of their familiarity with the Internet (Teehan, 2010). But also because it gives them a chance to publish, collaborate on, and share information they deem as valuable. Teehan (2010) states that wikis introduce students to a new level of exposure, and students see the creation of a wiki as a real-world, noteworthy, and grown-up endeavor.  Subsequently, students put more effort into not only the grammar and spelling, but also ensuring they display originality, and higher-level thinking skills in the investigation and organization of the content (Teehan, 2010).

An issue that all teachers must consider when introducing students to online programs is that they are guaranteed a safe and secure environment, protected from online predators and unsuitable materials (Teehan, 2010). Teehan (2010) suggests that teachers must explain to parents how and why their child will use a collaborative wiki to ensure its success. Safety will not be an issue with Wikis because you can choose to make student wikis private, “only allowing access to parents, peer and teachers authorized to collaborate with students” (Teehan, 2010).

As Teehan (2010) states that there will always be a “bottom line” when it comes to education. It will require a fair amount of additional work on the teacher behalf but it is all worth it knowing you will provide opportunities for a great collaborative learning experience.
Learn more about using Wikispaces Classroom


Maloy, R., Verock-O'Loughlin, R., Edwards, S., & Woolf, B. (2011). Communicating and Networking with Websites, blogs and more. In Transferring learning with new technologies (pp. 206-239). New Jersey: Pearson.

Pagliano, P., & Gillies, R. M. (2012). Inclusive Teaching Practices. In A. Ashman, & J. Elkins, Education for Inclusion and Diversity (pp. 244-248). NSW: Pearson.

Teehan, K. (2010). Wikis : The Educator's Power Tool. Calfornia: ABC-CLIO.


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