Using wikis for collaborative learning

As part of the “Educating the Net Generation” Terry Judd has written some his co-researchers an interesting paper on the usage of wikis for students and their impact on collaborative learning. The study does not yield the same results as other social studies have shown, where wikis indeed facilitate collaborative learning (both in corporate and public domain). The paper that they have written is very empirical and does not really shown profoundly the underlying question why these students demonstrate this particular behaviour, nevertheless it is interesting reading. Two extracts from the paper, which an be downloaded here.

Being mindful of such issues when designing our wiki activites, there was an expectation on our part that students would engage in cooperative and collaborative behaviour, supported variously by the design of the task, the involvement of teaching staff and the functionality of the wiki itself. It seemed, at least initially, as if our
expectations were being met, as real time indicators of students’ use of the wiki appeared to indicate a relatively high level of coordinated and sustained activity within the wiki during both the preliminary and main writing tasks.
However, a more detailed and objective analysis of students’ contributions once the task was completed revealed a very different picture, evidenced by highly skewed patterns of edits with respect to both the timing and proportion of contributions.

and later on

It can be seen, therefore, that the patterns of students’ contribution to the collaborative writing task based on the amount and timing of their contributions, and the degree and content of their comments on the wiki, indicate that cooperation and collaboration among most students were low.

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