Theories of Learning (Associated with Wiki Applications)
Barton (2008, p. 186) proposed to answer the question “What are key pedagogical benefits of wikis?” in a philosophical treatise. His conclusions, which suggested a starting point for this section, were:
- Wikis demonstrate, in a clear and obvious fashion, how knowledge is a function of communities engaged in ongoing discourse.
- [Wikis also] demonstrate and build upon the interconnectness of knowledge and illustrate plainly that no discourse exists in isolation from other discourse.
- …wikis make the fundamental importance of rhetoric clear to students.
Ironically, Barton, using an undergraduate course in Computers and English as a case, described the challenges of deploying a knowledge-based tool in the classroom in support of knowledge creation, representation, sharing, and diffusion. Barton proposed that his learners needed to incorporate service learning and civic action within their wiki activism. He felt learners needed to inculcate the concept of “giving back to their community” in order to become shapers of the public space.
Wikis … offer a democratic alternative to the mass society… Wikis are truly mass-produced, many-to-many writing spaces whose very design prevents the corporate control structure so prevalent in the ‘culture industry.’ They allow the people to participate directly in making meaning.” (p. 192)
Visions of the world, society, and self appear to undergo transformation through the text and images projected by the different publics. Wikis, in Barton’s opinion could become an ideological tool for changing society beyond the classroom.
Inquiry into the issues of applying wikis in the HE classroom is widespread, crossing many disciplines and subjects. Vie and deWinter (2008, p. 111) proposed a number of pedagogical reflection questions on the issues of ownership and collaboration within classroom wikis:
- [What is] the way in which traditional authorship is upset by wikis?
- How can wikis be used to explore fostering the challenge of collaboration?
- How can wikis encourage students to move beyond traditional notions of ownership and academic writing and into more collaborative, public discursive activities?
Cubic (2007) highlighted the value of a framework for supporting the use of wikis with a learning and teaching process framework. The theoretical foundation for her study encompassed constructivist learning theories of Vygotsky (1978), Gravett and Peterson (2002), and Novak and Patterson (1998). Cubic described 13 lessons learned from the two case studies. Cubic concluded, “…students’ engagement with wiki-based learning activities is directly proportional to the quality and frequency of tutor’s feedback and the clarity of the underlying learning and teaching process” (p. 11). The learning and teaching process frameworks consisted of:
- Feedback-driven learning and teaching framework;
- On-line learning and teaching framework;
- Feed-forward JITT (Just-In-Time Teaching) process; and
- Facilitation and collaborative learning process.
The underlying andragogy described by Dalsgaard (2006) asserted that social software tools, such as wikis, support a social constructivist approach to e-learning. Learners incorporate collaborative tools in order to engage in social networking activities. Consequently, learners direct their personal problem-solving process within the context of a social environment. Social constructivism emphasizes the importance that the learner must be actively engaged in the learning process. Counter-prevailing viewpoints that are professor-centric suggest that the teacher is responsible and accountable for delivering knowledge, requiring only passive learning from the learner. In this study, the motivation for engaging communities in the application and use of wikis is scoped to the educational sector alone. Often, the findings within work and practice-based environments do not stand up to the test of validity and reproducibility of empirical experiments. Content, communication, and collaboration comprise three critical dimensions to evaluate the value of learning within the social context of a wiki.
Barton, M. (2008). Is there a wiki in this class? Wikibooks and the future of Higher Education. In R. Cummings & M. Barton (Eds.), Wiki writing: Collaborative learning in the college classroom (pp. 175-193). Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. Retrieved from http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=dcbooks;idno=5871848.0001.001;rgn=div1;view=text;cc=dcbooks;xc=1;g=dculture;node=5871848.0001.001%3A6
Cubic, M. (2007). Wiki-based framework for blended learning. In Proceedings of the 2007 International Symposium on Wikis (WikiSym ’07). New York, NY: ACM. Retrieved from http://www.wikisym.org/ws2007/_publish/Cubric_WikiSym2007_BlendedLearningFramework.pdf
Dalsgaard C. (2006). Social software: E‐learning beyond learning management systems. European Journal of Open, Distance and Elearning, Volume II. Retrieved on January 10, 2012 from: http://www.eurodl.org/index.php?article=228.
Gravett, S. & Petersen, N. (2002). Structuring dialogue with students via learning tasks. Innovative Higher Education, 26(4), 281-291.
Novak, J. & Patterson E. (1998). Just-In-Time teaching: Active learner pedagogy with WWW. In J. Gil-Mendieta & M. H. Hanza (Eds.), Proceedings of the IASTED International Conference on Computers and Advanced Technology in Education (CATE ’98). May 27 -30, Cancun, Mexico. Anaheim, CA: IASTED/ACTA Press. (pp. 130-133).
Vie, S., & deWinter, J. (2008). Disrupting intellectual property: Collaboration and resistance in wikis. In R. Cummings & M. Barton (Eds.), Wiki writing: Collaborative learning in the college classroom (pp. 109-122). Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. Retrieved from http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=dcbooks;idno=5871848.0001.001;rgn=div1;view=text;cc=dcbooks;xc=1;g=dculture;node=5871848.0001.001%3A5
Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.