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How to Use a Wiki in Education: ‘Wiki based Effective Constructive Learning’

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Learning effectiveness depends on a large range of parameters. Learners’ activity has an important impact on long-term learning and comprehension of difficult concepts [1]. Collaboration is also an important parameter for learning efficiency. Collaboration does not work per se [2]; an appropriate Script is a capital factor for succeeding. We will describe our engagement in scripting advises based on the use of a Wiki. The creation of a hypertext is an integrative part of our collaborative script. A Wiki is a powerful tool for constructivist learning environments because it facilitates collaboration. The workshop aims to describe approaches to improve collaborative learning. We will give advice how to conduct a learning session with a Wiki and an appropriate script
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How to Use a Wiki in Education:
‘Wiki based Effective Constructive Learning’
Michele Notari
Lecturer
University of Applied Sciences
Pädagogische Hochschule Bern
Muesmattstrasse 29 CH-3012 Bern
+4131 309 24 56
michele.notari@phbern
ABSTRACT

Learning effectiveness depends on a large range of parameters.
attributes to the used Wiki engine: E.g. the distribution of the
Learners’ activity has an important impact on long-term learning
different tasks to accomplish has to permit the participants to
and comprehension of difficult concepts [1]. Collaboration is
publish content to the Wiki. Also the mode of interaction has to
also an important parameter for learning efficiency. Collaboration
be represented within the Wiki; that means that participants
does not work per se [2]; an appropriate Script is a capital factor
comment inputs of other members, correct mistakes, build links
for succeeding. We will describe our engagement in scripting

advises based on the use of a Wiki. The creation of a hypertext
2. Putting into Action of a learning unit
is an integrative part of our collaborative script. A Wiki is a
powerful tool for constructivist learning environments

with a Wiki and an appropriated script
because it facilitates collaboration. The workshop aims to
Getting there is half the fun [4].
describe approaches to improve collaborative learning. We will
The first steps to set up such a course are similar to those of a
give advice how to conduct a learning session with a Wiki and an
script for a conventional course. The main goals must be
appropriate script.
formulated. The goals must be identified, not necessary the
detailed learning subjects but the major goals. Pedagogical
Categories and Subject Descriptors
transposition of the subject is not important. A major difficulty is
K.3.1 [Computer Uses in Education]: Collaborative learning.
to formulate a ‘real life case’ or problem in relation to the
D.2.2 [Design Tools and Techniques]: User interfaces.
education goal and the learners’ needs and level. If learners get
However, while there are numerous studies of collaborative
involved for the first time with a collaborative hypertext, a brief
General Terms:
introduction to the use of the Wiki is necessary. We used to plan
Performance, Human Factors
an exercise, where each learner had to make a short personal
Keywords
presentation of himself and of another member of the learning
: Wiki for Learning, Collaboration, Learning
community. The different presentations had to be commented and
Strategies, Script, Classroom Moderation, Strategies for Effective
linked together. Commenting presentations is important to getting
Scripts, Definition of a Script
used to formulate personal opinions about inputs of other
1. Definition of a collaboration Script
members and to show up different ways of collaboration. The
A collaboration script in educational science is the description of
introduction took about an hour time. Next the description of the
a pedagogical scenario with several distinct phases. Some scripts
methodological approach has to take place. The main goal,
are defined in an iterative way, but from the student’s point of
working methods, communication channels, the way collaboration
view, they are run as a linear sequence. Each phase of the script
takes place and the timetable have to be formulated. In some
specifies how students should collaborate and solve a given
courses we carried out, we choose to put all this information in
problem. This requires five attributes:
the Wiki. In other courses, we decided to explain it to all
1. the task that students have to perform,
participants. It might be useful to combine both approaches. One
2. the composition of the group,
difficulty we often encountered was the difficulty of the learners
3. the way that the task is distributed within and among
to get involved in the work of other participants of the learning
groups,
community. It is particularly appropriate to develop a
4. the mode of interaction and
‘communication and comment culture’ right from the
5. the timing of the phases.
beginning. Learners have to comment on and correct the work
Dillenbourg [3]
produced by other members of the learning community. Each
participant must agree with the contribution of the other learners .
Formulating a collaborative script includes the adaptation of the
The pedagogical justification of this ‘comment culture’ is that

other learners helps construct personal knowledge and enhances

meta-cognitive capacities.

Copyright is held by the author/owner(s).
WikiSym’06, August 21–23, 2006, Odense, Denmark.
ACM 1-59593-413-8/06/0008.

131

2.1
Start and maintain student’s activities
contextual mistakes remain in the hypertext it may cause
A further parameter to measure the success of the adopted script
subsequent errors.
is the activity of the participants. In the script, different ways of
A further element to mention in the script is how to link concepts
activating learners must be formulated; first of all there is the
(inputs of participants). When participants know the concepts of
launch activity. For the learners, it has to be a motivating, easy
others they should be asked to look for similarities within
and quickly achievable task to accomplish. It might be formulated
such that, learners have a choice between different tasks or can
should be negotiated among learners. Negotiation has an
even decide to formulate a new related task. In our courses it
important pedagogical background. Negotiating or discussing
turned out to be important that students can produce a certain
with other learners requires each participant to formulate their
amount of input within a short time. Starting with a too difficult
task proved to be non productive for the rest of the course.
personal opinions. Negotiation leads to the construction of
Students showed low motivation to collaborate and to share
another, more precise concept of the treated subject (self
experiences. Quality regulation of the inputs is not so important
explanation effect [6]).
at the beginning.
After linking existing concepts, a further element can take place
After a certain amount of input is produced and a rough structure
to reinforce interaction among learners: Distilling relevant
of the hypertext is created, learners have to be invited to read
information and regrouping concepts is quite a difficult activity.
other inputs and to comment on them. This activity will be
Accurate guidance may be needed from the teacher or an example
repeated several times all along the course.
should be described in the hypertext Not every scenario offers
Other activities must be prepared; the point in time they will take
good opportunities to include such an activity.
place depends on the evolution of the hypertext. A list of possible
After one Scenario cycle has been performed there are many
activities will be described in the following section.
possibilities to continue the learning process. The cycles can be
repeated once, or several times. It is important in the second or
2.2
Script cycles
third cycle to call on participants to improve the quality of their
We use the term ‘scripting elements’ as an activity emerging from
inputs. Not every participant will accomplish his cycle at the
a scripting attribute. Some of these elements are used several
same time. Moderation has to be individual.
times during the course. A scripting cycle as shown in figure 1
describes possible sequences of different activities. It is not
3. REFERENCES
necessary that the sequence of activities follows this order. Nor is
[1] WILSON, B. & LOWRY, M. (2001), Constructivist
it a given that a moderation or script element has to trigger some
Learning on the Web, in Burge,L. (Ed.),Learning
follow up activities. The teacher or leader of the course should be
Technologies: Reflective and Strategic Thinking. San
prepared to give an input or propose a specific activity at the
Francisco: Jossey-Bass, New Directions for Adult and
given time.
Continuing Education
[2] Dillenbourg P. (1999) What do you mean by collaborative
Activities and
learning?. In P. Dillenbourg (Ed)
Collaborative-learning: Cognitive and Computational
Approaches. (pp.1-19). Oxford: Elsevier:
http://tecfa.unige.ch/tecfa/publicat/dil-papers-
Compare and
Regroup
complete entries
2/Dil.7.1.14.pdf
existing
Create a
concepts
[3] Dillenbourg, P. (2002). Over-scripting CSCL: The risks of
critical mass of
blending collaborative learning with instructional design. In
entries in the
P. A. Kirschner (Ed). Three worlds of CSCL. Can we
hypertext
support CSCL (pp. 61-91). Heerlen, Open Universiteit

Nederland.
Figure 1. Activity cycle [5]
[4] Konfuzius (551 -479 a. chr). Can be translated as: ‘ I have
directed my will toward the Dao (way)’. Translated from
The element ‘Compare and complete entries’ takes place for the
German: http://www.sonntagshorn.de/HHB09.htm
first time after the learners have produced a critical mass of input
[5] Notari M. P. (2003) in: ‘Advances in Technology-Based
into the Wiki. Comparing, commenting and completation of
Education: Toward a Knowledge-Based society’; Volume II;
other inputs is important not only to know, what other members
ISBN 84-96212-11-4
of the learning community produce but it also has a self
evaluation effect. If all other contributions reach a better quality
[6] Wilkin B. (1997) in M. Anderson Ed.), Reasoning and
than the learners’ own work they are motivated to increase the
diagrammatic representations II (pp.136 – 143). Menlo Park,
quality of their work. Sometimes in our courses it was necessary
CA: AAAI Press
for the teacher to read and correct the produced texts. If some

132

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