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Appears in:
Pages: 5512-5521
Publication year: 2009
ISBN: 978-84-612-9801-3
ISSN: 2340-1117

Conference name: 1st International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2009
Location: Barcelona ,Spain

WHETHER WIKIS WORK: STUDENT AND TUTOR EXPERIENCES IN USING THE WIKI AS A NON-LINEAR FORM OF ASSESSMENT

C. Esser

University of Winchester (UNITED KINGDOM)
Wikis have had a firm place among the discussions of Web 2.0 applications in e-learning over the last few years. The focus of these discussions has begun to shift in this period from the exploration of exciting new toys to their place in the transformation of pedagogy itself. I agree with Beetham and Sharpe who ‘contend that these technologies represent a paradigm shift with specific and multiple impacts on the nature of knowledge in society, and therefore on the nature of learning.’ (1) In other words, e-learning tools offer more than just new ways of achieving traditional learning outcomes: they allow us to complement these learning outcomes with new (or transformed) methods for knowledge structuring and learning processes.

Wikis are largely associated with two prioritised learning aspects: collaborative learning and formative learning. This is not surprising if we consider that the WikiWikiWeb was originally created as a collaborative tool among colleagues. Wikis used in Higher Education therefore raise the employability of our students while they also offer the possibility to pool student knowledge and enhance the learning process itself as a collaborative experience. While we see and welcome the advantages of the wiki as collaborative tool, we believe that another - less foregrounded – aspect of the wiki is of equal importance: its non-linear structure.

Wikis are groups of web pages written in a simplified mark-up language. They make the non-linear nature of hypertext accessible to those with no html skills, and even to those with little expertise in computers in general. Hypertextuality itself allows the students to leave the fixed structure of the traditionally linear essay behind and to explore the relationships between a wider context of information. Such an approach encourages a different form of reflection, as it moves away from an orientation towards the argument to one towards the inherent paths and the reader who might wish to follow any of these.

As one of two studies into the use of Moodle as platform for e-assessment in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Winchester, our ‘Whether Wikis Work’ project followed students of two modules with student wikis as non-linear form of assessment. Moodle’s student wikis are individual wikis which are shared solely between the tutor(s) and one student. By excluding the more common element of student collaboration, these assessments allowed us to gain a clearer insight into the students’ personal experiences with the non-linear structure. Leaving the safety of a linear structure behind was a scary experience for most students, and not all enjoyed the process. The majority stated, however, that they learnt from the process and saw a relevant place for the format in their university curriculum. A further focus for the project remained the formative nature of the wiki, and our results are very positive in this respect. We were also interested in how non-linear work as this affected issues of dislexia and employability. A further point of interest for us was the tutor experience, since the two researchers on the study were also module leaders on the respective modules. Our results from the study now feed into the development of teaching packages for other tutors interested in the use of wikis.

(1)Helen Beetham and Rhona Sharpe. Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age: Designing and delivering e-learning (Routledge, 2007), p. 4.
@InProceedings{ESSER2009WHE,
author = {Esser, C.},
title = {WHETHER WIKIS WORK: STUDENT AND TUTOR EXPERIENCES IN USING THE WIKI AS A NON-LINEAR FORM OF ASSESSMENT},
series = {1st International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN09 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-612-9801-3},
issn = {2340-1117},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona ,Spain},
month = {6-8 July, 2009},
year = {2009},
pages = {5512-5521}}
TY - CONF
AU - C. Esser
TI - WHETHER WIKIS WORK: STUDENT AND TUTOR EXPERIENCES IN USING THE WIKI AS A NON-LINEAR FORM OF ASSESSMENT
SN - 978-84-612-9801-3/2340-1117
PY - 2009
Y1 - 6-8 July, 2009
CI - Barcelona ,Spain
JO - 1st International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN09 Proceedings
SP - 5512
EP - 5521
ER -
C. Esser (2009) WHETHER WIKIS WORK: STUDENT AND TUTOR EXPERIENCES IN USING THE WIKI AS A NON-LINEAR FORM OF ASSESSMENT, EDULEARN09 Proceedings, pp. 5512-5521.
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