A Wiki is an activity you can use to create a series of expanding web documents or pages. A Wiki starts with one page. The author or authors are able to create new pages by adding a new link to the front page.
A Wiki can be collaborative (with everyone in your LEO unit being able to add and edit pages), or individual (everyone in the LEO unit has their own Wiki which only they can edit).
One of the best known examples of a fully functioning Wiki is Wikipedia. Wikipedia functions like a collaboratively-authored encyclopaedia. Pages are added and edited by a dedicated group of Wikipedia editors, who make thousands of changes per hour. Quality control on Wikipedia is decentralised, meaning that rather that content does not get edited by one central team. Rather the content on Wikipedia is undergoing constant revision and change.
Wikis are a good example of a Web 2.0 technology. Put simply, Web 2.0 refers to websites and platforms which emphasise open networked participation, collaboration, and user-generated content. The collective, open structure of Wiki is inherently challenging to the knowledge-power nexus of traditional academia. Rather than transmitting knowledge to your students via a Book resource for example, you could encourage your students to contribute to the construction of knowledge within a shared space. Using a Wiki to create a 'social object' is an example of a constructionist teaching method.
You can use a Wiki for the purposes of both group and individual assessment, and as both a summative and formative type of assessment.
If using a Wiki for the purposes of assessment, consideration needs to be given to the structure and purpose of your task, and how the marking workflow will be managed.
Assigning your students the task of adding, editing, and contributing to a collaborative Wiki can provide a useful insight into their understanding of your unit. The Wiki activity within LEO has the capacity to track the edits made to a page, so even though a Wiki can be a collaborative space, you are able to mark the contributions of individual students. Both individual Wikis and collaborative Wikis can be used for the purposes of summative assessment.
You can also assign your students individual Wikis to complete as a form of formative assessment. However it could be argued that assigning your student's an individual Wiki to complete is counter to the open and collaborative spirit of the Wiki activity.
Designing a Wiki assessment
When designing a Wiki assessment you should:
- Use an open ended task in which multiple perspectives and problems can be solved, researched and discussed in a number of ways
- Structure the task and align it with the unit and course learning outcomes
- Explicitly model and support good netiquette, and develop class wiki etiquette
- Establish the learning space as a neutral territory. Wikis are point-of-view-neutral, being collaborative spaces containing many points of view
- Arrange wiki groups around themes or topics, nominating, or allowing the group to nominate, individual students for different roles
- Model and support the learning in the wiki. Don't assume students know either the technology or your expectations of their collaborative writing
- Give clear guidelines for collaboration, posting and rewriting
- Provide time and structured early tasks involving feedback as students develop skills
- Develop clear rubrics and standards for student peer assessment
- Monitor the students' efforts and contributions to ensure quality and understanding
- Limit group numbers to around five students. Larger groups hamper problem solving processes, and can result in students experiencing cognitive overload or feeling that they lose their voice.
(from: Learning and Teaching at UNSW. (2014). Assessing with Wikis. [online] Retrieved from: https://teaching.unsw.edu.au/assessing-wikis [Accessed 15 Jun. 2016].)
The Wiki is not integrated into the Gradebook in LEO, so if you add a Wiki to your unit, it won't display as an item in the Gradebook. However you can manually add your Wiki as an item to your Gradebook if you wish to share your grades with your students this way.
The key feature of the Wiki activity is the way it can foster collaboration and networked ways of thinking between the students in your LEU unit. A Wiki has an easy to use interface, and depending on the settings you select will allow your your students to read, comment, edit, and collaborate on encyclopaedia type entries, which link to each other, and can expand out in unexpected and unanticipated ways.
The benefits of using a Wiki in your LEO unit include:
- The collaborative, Web 2.0 capability of the Wiki environment can help you to establish a learning community within your unit. This can be especially useful for large cohorts, or multi-campus classes where your students are unlikely to meet face-to-face
- Wikis can function as both Summative and Formative assessment
- The act of writing in a collaborative, open space such as a Wiki can also help your students hone their writing and editing skills
- Adding and editing content to a Wiki promotes collaboration and networked ways of thinking
- Wikis are an authentic online environment where students can develop digital design skills
- Giving students ownership over the content creation within the Wiki space can foster engagement with the content.
The first ever Wiki was a site called WikiWikiWeb, which was launched in 1995 by Ward Cunningham. The name 'Wiki' is the Hawaiian word for "quick". According to Cunninghan, the name came from an employee at the Honolulu airport who told him to catch the 'Wiki Wiki Shuttle' between airport terminals. Cunningham is quoted as saying "I chose wiki-wiki as an alliterative substitute for 'quick' and thereby avoided naming this stuff quick-web" (Wikipedia).
Faculty of Education and Social Work, The University of Sydney. (2016). Constructivism - Learning and Teaching. [online] Retrieved from: http://sydney.edu.au/education_social_work/learning_teaching/ict/theory/constructivism.shtml [Accessed 15 Jun. 2016].
Learning and Teaching at UNSW. (2014). Assessing with Wikis. [online] Retrieved from: https://teaching.unsw.edu.au/assessing-wikis [Accessed 15 Jun. 2016].
The Arts1091 Wikispace is a Wiki which has been contributed to by Media students from the University of New South Wales. This space contains content produced by students both for the purposes of assessment, and as part of ongoing participation in media discussions. While as of 2013 this space is no longer being updated, it still provides an insight into what a Wiki looks like and how it functions. Of particular interest are the threads of discussion under some of the entries.
Carroll, J. A., Diaz, A., Meiklejohn, J., Newcomb, M., & Adkins, B. (2013). Collaboration and competition on a wiki: The praxis of online social learning to improve academic writing and research in under-graduate students. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 29(4), 513-525. Retrieved from: https://espace.cdu.edu.au/eserv/cdu:40594/Diaz_40594.pdf [Accessed 15 June 2016]
Cubric, M. (2007). Using wikis for summative and formative assessment. Procs of REAP'07: Assessment Design for Learner Responsibility. Retrieved from: http://uhra.herts.ac.uk/bitstream/handle/2299/7717/904298.pdf?sequence=1 [Accessed 15 June 2016]
Raitman, Ruth, Augar, Naomi and Zhou, Wanlei (2005) Employing wikis for online collaboration in the e-learning environment: case study, in Third International Conference on Information Technology and Applications : 4 -7 July 2005, Sydney, Australia: proceedings, IEEE Computer Society, Los Alamitos, Calif., pp. 142 - 146.