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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Podcast of Class Discussion of Wikipage Effectiveness in Learning and Grades



Today I recorded a classroom discussion of the students' likes and dislikes of using wikis in the classroom. Most striking was the claim two of the students had about their averages. Here are the major points, but I hope you'll take a listen to this 4-5 minute discussion to hear it for yourself. (Forgive the cheap microphone!)
  • Students like wikispaces and collaborating with others.
  • Students like collaboration on things like homework and exam preparation.
  • They were uncomfortable at first with being given a word and being asked to explore and post but now they like it.
  • They feel like they learn better using such tools
  • They saw an improvement in all of their classes. (Several cited a significant jump in grades due to collaboration and review material being readily available at home.)
  • They love their study hall wiki where they collaborate on their assignments. This is the most useful item.
  • The frustrating things about wikis were learning that the last one to save a wiki could write over the other changes. They said they had to learn to work in teams and divide up the work so that they wouldn't spend time having to copy deleted material out of the history.
  • They didn't like the major exam project on the wiki (however, that was probably due to the difficulty of the project more than the wiki -- that is because their teacher expects a lot from them! What student likes exams!)
  • Offline they said they prefered the wiki exam project and thought it measured their knowledge more effectively than a regular test. Sorry I didn't catch that discussion on tape.
This again shows the importance of technology being used as a part of all classes not just "computer." The way that we did this in my classroom was a three step process:
  1. Introduce wiki pages through an exploration of a topic (Web 2.0 topics were ours.) I gave each group of students a word and had them explore and create a wiki.
  2. Students created a class presentation about their topic and demonstrated sites related to their topic (i.e. students learning about RSS had to create an account with an RSS reader, use it and discuss it). After the presentation, other students had to post a comment. (This was to make sure the students knew how.
  3. For the second assignment, I split the students into teams and had them create wikispaces about another subject in preparation of a project or test that is coming up within the next two weeks. They came up with the topic and wrote a list on the board so that only one team had a project (I didn't want duplication and I wanted every subject represented.)
  4. On the student wikilinks page, students had to create a link to their wiki on the topic. (This class actually did it from their study hall page in a very useful format.)
  5. Teams received a grade on the quality of their wiki as well as the usefulness as rated by other members of the class. Teachers of the subject were also invited to review the wiki and give me feedback directly.
Out of all of the technologies of Web 2.0 that we tested, the wikis so far are the class "fave." I look forward to seeing other classroom experiences with wikis and learning from your best practices. Please post or e-mail me!


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