Friday, October 26, 2007

Using wikis in the classroom - a brief update

My project using wikis in the classroom with my students seems to have taken off particularly well with my undergraduates. My aim was to use a wiki in class time, so that students could record summaries of their group work at the point of discussion. The idea behind this was that we could then project each of the pages up on to the screen so that the classroom discussion was permanently recorded and could be viewed by all students. To my amazement, the undergraduates have really taken to this to a much greater extent than I ever had hoped. We use the laptops every week, with one laptop per small group (up to five students).
After class, students have gone away and edited their work, adding URLs, images, rewriting their analysis which is creating an extensive portfolio of their learning. I am blown away, truth be told. I didn't really think it would work. It is so useful for me, because I can see how much they understand and support them with their writing skills to a much greater extent than I ever have been before. It seems to make them more focused in their discussions, and they are so motivated that they meet up in their small groups during the week to work on the wiki too. They tell me they really find it helpful to record their work like this, as otherwise half the lesson gets taken up with each group reporting back.
Not to say that all of this is glitch free. The first week I tried to use this with the MA students, pbwiki was full of bugs (which they fixed right away) but it made the lesson a nightmare. And I have a black hole in one area of the teaching room where the wifi cuts out, so if the students move the laptop across the table they lose the internet connection. But it is totally worth it for what I and the students are gaining from it.



Blogger The Reverend Schmitt., FCD. said...

The camera caught my good side!

I think it's a bit of a pity the wikis couldn't be worked into the marking structure for the language and gender module, although they're still a really useful way of creating collaborative works we can all access easily later on. They're an absolutely superb tool.


9:30 AM  
Blogger Ruth Page said...


I completely agree that the wikis should be graded! I really want to get that aspect of things 'right' so I'm working on a way of being able to formulate separate forms of assessment for group contributions v. individuals. But I am glad you like the wiki work - I do too!


1:39 AM  

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