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Emergence of Wikis in Higher Education (HE)

English: Wiki Wiki bus at the Honolulu Interna...

English: Wiki Wiki bus at the Honolulu International Airport Polski: Autobus Wiki-Wiki na Międzynarodowym Porcie Lotniczym w Honolulu. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wikis in HE were reported in the research literature since the mid to late 1990s (Dillenbourg, 1999; Godwin-Jones, 2003; González-Bueno, 1998; Warschauer, 1998). The initial occurrences of wikis on the Internet and World Wide Web were made available through online services whose purpose was group-based and team-centric collaboration, or what was called at that time computer-mediated collaboration [CMC], (Fabos & Young, 1999; Koschmann, 1996; Krauss & Fussell, 1991). As CMC tools grew in application, the emergence of the formal “wiki” came into existence.

Phillipson (2008) proposed a typology to describe different kinds of wikis within HE:

  • resource wiki,
  • presentation wiki,
  • gateway wiki,
  • simulation wiki, or
  • illuminated wiki.

The resource wiki was flexible and applied to a wide range of courses. The purpose of a resource wiki was a repository to collect a collaborative knowledgebase of information for access that could include a plethora of subjects. Notwithstanding the course goal, a resource wiki furnished a platform for collective constructivism. Learners could piggyback upon peers work in preceding courses as a large corpus of information was collected within a project. Instructors built upon previous work, such as the Wikipedia, soliciting and stimulating the creation of original, new material. On the other hand, a presentation wiki was constructed for the sole purpose of a discussion forum, where peer evaluation might occur by crafting, retrieving, and modifying information. Presentation wikis built knowledge nuggets from the learners’ individual perspectives into large communities of practice for group review and constructive criticism.

Next, Phillipson presented the framework for gateway and simulation wikis. The gateway wiki acted as a data repository for static information that could easily be referenced, once it had been fixed as facts, i.e., “scientific measurements, statistics, calculations, survey results, metrics, and any number of other data sets (p. 26).” In a gateway wiki, the fixed data was the raw material of discussion and analysis. Additionally, a gateway wiki was a platform for logging results of experiments, sharing experiences, proposing well-formulated questions, and making connections between theory and practice. A simulation wiki presents an interactive experience: it is built as a world to explore. A simulation wiki was constructed to convey decision-making outcomes, where indiscriminate, unplanned, and illogical pathways were traversed by the learner. A simulation wiki could force a contrast and comparison of internal decisions vs. real-life models. The subject of a simulation wiki could convey a doppelganger effect in terms of being a proxy for the real world problem. A simulation wiki created a foundation for constructing narrative paths. Therefore, a simulation wiki might be applicable to history projects, event tracking, or creative writing projects.

Finally, Phillipson described the illuminated wiki—a wiki directed toward deciphering or elucidating a problem. In contrasting the illuminated wiki to the gateway wiki, the illuminated wiki mutated the topic under study, tightly incorporating it into the structure and architecture of the wiki. Learners individually and communally marked up text, videos, audios, and images contained on the illuminated wiki, resulting in a corpus that integrated the original material with the discussion and comments generated by the learners. Thus, Phillipson’s proposed framework for identifying the wiki types most suited to specific course and class tasks furnishes researchers and instructors with an a la carte menu to choose an appropriate wiki tool, based upon the learning strategy and anticipated learning outcomes.

In order to segment the information derived from the collected corpus of knowledge, we decided to adopt the same categories that Conole and Alevizou (2010, p. 2) established for a major section of their literature review entitled “Changing learning and learners.” The sub-sections outlined were theories of learning [associated with wiki applications], new forms of learning, patterns of technology use, characteristics of learners, and changing role of teaching and teachers. The authors of this study felt that paralleling Conole and Alevizou’s study of Web 2.0 technology with our study would segment the material into logical elements and provide a basis for cross comparison. Over ninety percent of this chapter’s cases were not addressed specifically in the report by Conole and Alevizou.

In our next blog post, we will speak about the challenge of Theories of Learning Associated with Wiki Applications.

Conole, G., & Alevizou, P. (2010). A literature review of the use of web 2.0 tools in higher education. A report commissioned by the Higher Education Academy. York, UK: Higher Education Academy.

Dillenbourg, P. (1999). What do you mean by collaborative learning? In P. Dillenbourg (Ed.), Collaborative learning: Cognitive and computational approaches (pp. 1-19). Oxford: Pergamon.

Fabos, B., & Young, M. (1999). Telecommunication in the classrooms: Rhetoric versus reality. Review of Educational Research, 69(3), 217-259.

Godwin-Jones, R. (2003). Emerging technologies Blogs and Wikis: Environments for on-line collaboration. Language Learning & Technology, 7(2), 12-16

González-Bueno, M. (1998). The effects of electronic mail on Spanish L2 discourse. Language Learning & Technology, 1(2), 50-65.

Koschmann, T. (Ed.), (1996). CSCL: Theory and practice of an emerging paradigm. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Krauss, R., & Fussell, S. (1991). Constructing shared communicative environments. In L. Resnick, J. Levine, & S. Teasley (Eds.), Perspectives on socially shared cognition (pp. 172-200). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Phillipson, M. (2008). Wikis in the classroom: A taxonomy. In R. Cummings & M. Barton (Eds.), Wiki writing: Collaborative learning in the college classroom (pp. 19-43). Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Warschauer, M. (1998). Interaction, negotiation, and computer-mediated learning. In M. Clay (Ed.), Practical applications of educational technology in language learning. Lyon, France: National Institute of Applied Sciences.


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