Wikis supporting authentic, collaborative activities: lessons in usability

Thomas, Pete and King, David and Minocha, Shailey and Taylor, Josie (2008) Wikis supporting authentic, collaborative activities: lessons in usability. In: ALT-C 2008 Rethinking the digital divide, 9 - 11 September 2008, Leeds, UK.

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The Open University delivers distance learning to its students. Traditionally, its students work independently of each other. Looking to enhance their students learning, two postgraduate courses have introduced authentic, collaborative activities. This is easier to achieve now because of the availability of wikis: a lightweight, web-based collaborative authoring environment. This paper examines the effect of the wikis’ functionality on the students’ use of the tool, and the consequences for the students’ engagement with the activities and learning opportunities. This is a relatively large scale study involving 56 wikis produced by over 250 students. The data was drawn from the two courses using a variety of methods. A qualitative inductive analysis was used to look for emergent themes. These were validated by cross referencing, to match recorded comments with wiki content. We found that the limited functionality of wikis influenced how students engaged with the collaborative activities. While all groups were able to collaboratively author the documents required for assessment, they were not always produced in the way intended by the course teams. This meant the expected benefits of collaborative learning were not always realised. This paper will be of interest to academics aspiring to employ wikis on their courses and to practitioners who wish to realise the potential of wikis in facilitating information sharing and fostering collaboration within teams.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: T Technology > T Technology (General)
L Education > L Education (General)
Divisions: ALT-C Conference > ALT-C 2008
Depositing User: Miss M Jones
Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2009 14:42
Last Modified: 04 Apr 2011 09:07

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