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Collaborative knowledge construction using wikis Abstract

The use of social software in higher education is currently in the spotlight, with it's proponents arguing for the many advantages it brings to the teaching and learning process. Wikis in particular have been highlighted for their potential role in the social construction of knowledge, allowing small groups of learners to engage with each other and with content in a very dynamic way. However, little is known about the true impact of the use of social software in our South African context, and particular in physiotherapy education. This survey was undertaken among a group of South African students in a university physiotherapy department in the Western Cape in 2009. A cross-sectional, mixed method approach was used to evaluate the students' attitudes and experiences towards using a wiki to collaboratively complete an assignment. The survey highlighted some of the advantages, disadvantages and challenges of the use of wikis for collaborative groupwork. While wikis may enable students to learn in new and exciting ways, we must be certain to build upon proven educational frameworks. In addition, if teaching practice is to incorporate the use of social software, much effort is needed to ensure that students are well prepared and supported throughout the process. In conclusion, the introduction of cutting edge tools into the traditional curriculum may enhance pedagogy, but it must be tempered with care and deliberation in it's implementation. Author: Michael Rowe