USING WIKIS TO PROMOTE PUPILS' COLLABORATIVE WRITING AND REFLECTION ABOUT THEIR SCHOOL WORK IN SCIENCE CLASSES
Wikis are one of the most important collaborative tools, included in the group of social software that can be used in the classroom to promote pupils’ learning within a collaborative environment. Wikis are characterized by some of the fundamental elements of a successful learning community including a virtual presence, a variety of interactions, easy participation, valuable content, connections to a broader subject field, personal and community identity and interaction, democratic participation, and evolution over time. Wikis can serve as a knowledge platform for a community of learning where members of the community can share their knowledge with the group, interesting pieces of information, work together, discuss issues, etc.. The design of learning experiences that explore wikis facilities to promote collaboration among the members, sharing and challenging new and old ideas and approaches, can conduct to significant learning results. Considering that writing is one of the most powerful tools for encouraging self reflection and building understanding in all subject areas, involving pupils on writing activities is as relevant for language teachers, as for science teachers. Students may write observations, pose questions while they investigate about a science theme, and then reflect on their explorations. Thus student writing is another window into science learning and an effective tool for continuous assessment. Integrating science activities and wikis to promote pupils writing, allows the construction of new learning environments were writing can assume easily a new collaborative component. Wikis facilities are important in adding flexibility to writing, sharing responsibilities and expertise. Reflection about the work produced by pupils can contribute to self assessment and continuous assessment, leading to the improvement of the final product developed. Pupils can access easily to their own or their colleagues work and identify the main limitations of the work developed and find out new ways to improve it. The aims of this presentation are: (1) to describe a wiki based learning experience developed and implemented to promote pupils collaborative writing and reflection in physics and chemistry lessons; (2) to present pupils’ perspectives concerning their own learning during this experience. A wiki based learning experience was developed and pupils were involved in several activities according the following description: (a) pupils were asked to develop a collaborative text, as a whole class group, presenting the main ideas about the work developed by a group of scientists, along two weeks. This work was developed as homework, according some guidelines established by the teacher. (2) To promote reflection about the work developed, the teacher prepared a set of questions related to the objectives of the activity, and presented it in the wiki forum, as a game. (3) While playing this game pupils have opportunity to identify lack of relevant information, misleading information or/and unclear writing on the text produced; (4) Pupils were asked to synthesize in the wiki forum, the main aspects needed to consider to improve the work developed and (5) to present a new reformulated version of their work; (6) pupils were asked to reflect about their own learning through the participation in this experience. The pupils’ reflections about their learning during this experience will be reported.