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Author Biography: Norhisham Mohamad Nordin, Ph.D, is a researcher on social media technology in education, business, society and politics.

He is a Senior Lecturer in the Computing Department, Sultan Idris Education University ( His special interest is on the use of wikis for collaborative learning in school. He could be contacted using any of the following media: Twitter: @norhisham Facebook: Activity Summary
Wikis can be an effective tools to support classroom-based collaborative learning. This chapter reports on the introduction of active learning with wikis in Malaysian schools teaching the national Information and Communication Technology (ICT) curriculum. Design based research was used to understand the environment, to iteratively design wiki based learning activities, and to evaluate the project. Both teachers and students reported significant benefits from the project which enabled not just learning of subject knowledge but also how to learn collaboratively. The benefits of the project, the design process, and difficulties negotiated throughout the project were used to develop a wiki pedagogy. Class or subject area: Wikis, social software, CSCL Grade level(s): High school (16-17 years old) Specific learning objectives: What learning approaches are appropriate for online collaborative learning using wikis in school? What are the key factors that contribute to effective use of wikis in schools?

Anniversary Book Project


Wiki Pedagogy and Collaborative Learning in Schools

By: Norhisham Nordin Creative Commons License: CC BY-NC-SA Author contact:

Abstract Wikis can be an effective tools to support classroom-based collaborative learning. This chapter reports on the introduction of active learning with wikis in Malaysian schools teaching the national Information and Communication Technology (ICT) curriculum. Design based research was used to understand the environment, to iteratively design wiki based learning activities, and to evaluate the project. Both teachers and students reported significant benefits from the project which enabled not just learning of subject knowledge but also how to learn collaboratively. The benefits of the project, the design process, and difficulties negotiated throughout the project were used to develop a wiki pedagogy. Introduction Wikis are used in schools to develop writing and collaboration skills (Forte and Bruckman, 2006; Fuchs-Kittowsk and Khler, 2005; Godwin-Jones, 2003; Wang and Turner, 2004). More generally, being tools for social interaction, wikis offer opportunities for social learning by engaging students in learning. Yet, as with any educational medium, the act of making a wiki available does not ensure that it is adopted or used in such a way that students benefit. This chapter focuses on what can be done to realise the considerable potential that wikis offer for collaborative learning in schools and reports the results of research on the use of wikis to support collaborative learning in the classroom. The research was conducted in Malaysian high schools. As well as describing a case study of how wikis can be used effectively for collaborative learning in schools, the present authors outline a wiki pedagogy, a pedagogical approach to designing learning activities that use wikis (and, potentially, other social software) for collaborative learning. Social and Active Learning The idea that wikis are valuable tools for learning in schools is based on the notions of socioconstructivist theory which proposes that knowledge is socially produced (Vygotsky, 1978). From a social constructivist point of view, learning is an active process in which people construct knowledge relative to their previous experiences and through interactions in their social environment. As a result, knowledge is socially constructed or co-constructed. The notion of co-construction of knowledge in the formal learning context is important. The social construction of knowledge through learning in schools can thus be viewed as a collaborative process which is guided and mediated by a teacher. Activity theory (or activity-based learning theory) is often used as a practical application of socioconstructivist theory (Jonassen and Ronrer-Murphy, 1999). The focus is on active learning, in which the teachers role is to design, facilitate and monitor student activities. The most common approaches to active learning are inquiry based, problem based, and project based learning: Inquiry-based learning requires students to formulate questions and analyse information and to develop and create solutions through exchange of ideas and discussion (Bishop et al., 2004). With problem-based learning, students learn through addressing and attempting to resolve a problem, typically drawn from the real world (Barrows and Tamblyn, 1980; McPhee, 2002). In project-based learning, students are posed an open-ended problem which they need to solve by formulating questions; designing a project which might include plans or proposals to address the problem and answer the questions; defining, collecting and analysing appropriate information; and creating artefacts such as reports that present their analysis or solution (Blumenfeld et al., 1991).

Wikis as Tools for Collaborative Learning When conducted with the support of information and communication technology (ICT), active social learning is known as computer-supported collaborative learning, or CSCL (Lipponen, 2002). Wikis can be used as tools for CSCL in which students produce a wiki (an artefact) that reflects the students co-constructed or shared knowledge (Augar at al., 2004; Richardson, 2006; Schwartz et al., 2004; Wagner, 2004). Using wikis, students learn to develop and use many different collaborative skills through negotiating with others to reach agreement on relevance, meaning, and accuracy and, usually, to write collaboratively and prepare coherent and understandable content for others to read (Fuchs-Kittowsk and Khler, 2005; Godwin-Jones, 2003; Wang and Turner, 2004). As Richardson (2006, p. 65) succinctly says, In essence, students begin to teach each other. Although most research on use of wikis for CSCL has been conducted in higher education, some general lessons can be drawn. The research has focused primarily on aspects of the technology that support collaborative learning by students, as well as some aspects of preparedness, the social learning environment, and issues associated with the assessment of student work (Mohamad Nordin and Klobas, 2010). The research described here aimed to draw together understanding of activity theory, CSCL, and the implementation of wiki projects, particularly those in education, to develop a model and set of guidelines for of teaching and learning with wikis a wiki pedagogy. METHODOLOGY Methodology The research was guided by two questions: 1. What learning approaches are appropriate for online collaborative learning using wikis in school? 2. What are the key factors that contribute to effective use of wikis in schools? Design based research (Brown, 1992; Collins, 1992; Design-Based Research Collective, 2003) was used to guide needs analysis, iterative design and formative evaluation of activities for learning with wikis, and evaluation of the activities and outcomes for teachers and students in order to identify key factors associated with effective use of wikis in schools. Participants Eleven Malaysian schools participated in the research. The schools varied in terms of government support for ICT infrastructure (six of them were nominated smart schools, in which ICT is an integral part of the school system, under the governments Multimedia Super Corridor project), and geographical location (including both rural and urban schools). A total of 169 students (74 male and 95 female) and their 11 teachers were involved. The students were 16 year-olds taking the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) course in English. The Learning Activities The final design consisted of four different collaborative learning activities: a pre-course Ice Breaking Session (IBS) that introduced students to group work, wikis, the wiki they would be using, the learning activities, the tasks they would be asked to perform, and the methods and tools available for these tasks, and in many cases, set students up with their first email address; an inquiry-based learning activity (Wiki 1) in which students gathered materials and collated information in a wiki about an aspect of ICT and Society of their choice. For this activity only,

students worked in groups as they gathered and discussed materials, but each student produced their own wiki to permit individual assessment; a problem-based learning activity (Wiki 2) which posed a problem associated with application of multimedia to ICT and Malaysian society and asked students to prepare a group wiki that recorded their understanding of the problem and potential solutions; a project-based learning activity (Wiki 3) in which students were required to research a form of multimedia chosen by the group and produce a group wiki that described a topic chosen by the students from the ICT and Society module.

Students were allocated time to work on the activities in groups in their school computer laboratory in one of the two classroom sessions for the ICT course held each work. They were also free to work on their wikis outside class time, if they wanted, although this was not a requirement. While all students in all schools completed the pre-course IBS, one school dropped out of the study after the IBS because the teacher was called away to in-service training. Teachers in the other schools chose to incorporate different activities in their course. Most teachers adopted Wiki 1 and 87% of the students in the study completed this activity. Most of the teachers in the normal schools (but none from the smart schools) adopted Wiki 2 (62% of the students), while two smart schools and one normal school completed Wiki 3 (25% of the students). Evaluation of Approaches to Learning with Wikis and Identification of Key Factors Data were gathered directly from students and teachers, and the wikis created by the students were evaluated both for content and for evidence of collaborative learning. Ten teachers (five each from normal and smart schools) were interviewed individually. They were asked specifically to comment on each activity, in general terms and in terms of how well they believed students learnt from the activity, as well as to suggest key factors for effective implementation of learning with wikis in schools. Students completed an online questionnaire and participated in group interviews after completion of the activities chosen by their teachers. The questionnaire contained 24 items which asked the students to rate the quality of their experience of using wikis for collaborative learning in terms of the nature of group work, learning with wikis, the nature of the activities, and access to technology infrastructure. There were also separate open-ended questions about the students response to each activity. The remarks made by the teachers were thematically coded. Student interview remarks and responses to the open-ended questions in the questionnaire were also coded thematically. While the main themes were similar to those that emerged from the teacher interviews, the different point of view of the students enhanced understanding of issues raised by the teachers. The students evaluations of their experiences were also summarised in seven themes derived from factor analysis of the questionnaire items; these themes reflected those that emerged from the qualitative analyses. Findings Student Response to Learning with Wikis The seven themes that emerged from the student questionnaire can be divided into pre-requisites for learning with wikis and experience of learning with wikis. Table 1 (adapted from Mohamad Nordin and Klobas, 2010) highlights differences between students ratings of their experience of learning with wikis by differences in their background. The mean score provides an indication of overall response

on each them (1 is the lowest score while 5 is the highest). Table 1. Students response to wikis Differences by activity and student background (adapted from Mohamad Nordin and Klobas, 2010)

The three pre-requisites for learning with wikis concerned access to ICT infrastructure, pre-course activities, and participation in collaborative (as distinct from individual) construction of a wiki. The overall mean scores show students felt they had only moderate access to adequate ICT infrastructure for the work (2.95 on the 5 point scale), and the activity columns show that students who rated their access to ICT infrastructure as poor were less likely than those in schools with better ICT infrastructure to complete any of the activities, regardless of whether the student was from a normal or a smart school. The pre-course activities in which students learnt about using wikis were valued by all students, even more so among students in normal schools which do not have as strong a focus on ICT as the smart schools. Relatively few students participated in co-construction (editing of each others work) in completing the wiki activities because not all students had the opportunity to participate in Wiki 2 and Wiki 3, the activities in which students were required to produce a group wiki . The students perceived that they learnt collaboratively with wikis, as can be seen from the scores for the experience of learning with wikis themes. Appreciation was highest among students in the normal schools, where more students produced group wikis (activities Wiki 2 and Wiki 3). Furthermore, the more time students spent on the wiki activities, the more they agreed that using wikis enhances knowledge building community. In addition, female students felt more strongly than males that using wikis enhances knowledge building community (Mohamad Nordin and Klobas, 2010). Students perceptions of learning with wikis were similar for all three learning approaches incorporated in the wiki activities, with the exception that those students who completed Wiki 2, which incorporated a real world problem, valued learning about real-life problems more highly than those who had not had this opportunity. The students answers to open-ended and interview questions provided more detail. As described by Mohamad Nordin and Klobas (2010): They felt that the wiki activities helped them to understand the ICT syllabus better and to learn specific content that they would not otherwise have discovered. They felt that they were able to gain more knowledge through sharing: Get some idea, get the

best idea from other people, put it inside wiki; What I didnt know, my friends can teach me, explain it to me. They reported a sense of community in their groups as well as learning to work as a group and complete a project together: Wiki allows us to share information... when doing the ... project, we can help each other. They enjoyed using the Internet for learning and reading what others produced, and several appreciated the ability it offers for working together outside the classroom. They enjoyed the process of student-centred learning as distinct from teacher-directed learning: to do wiki is better because I dont have to listen to the teacher who talks boring stuff. They also appreciated the recognition of being able to publish their own work in a way that others could read it.

Teachers observations The teachers confirmed the value of the wiki activities for learning in schools. As reported by Mohamad Nordin and Klobas (2010): Some teachers noted the value of the specific functionality of wikis, in particular that they enable students to read and immediately edit their own and others work. They observed students learning collaboratively: Sometimes, they are not clear of what they have to do... When in a group, they can discuss among the group... Maybe things are not clear, their friends can explain it to them. Their friends who are not clear on the other parts, [now] understand it. So, they can help each other to understand; In group work, each student searches for information and shares the information. From here they get more knowledge than learning individually. They commented on the importance of getting the group size right (between 3 and 5 students seemed ideal); Even though they were prompted in their interviews to distinguish between the three different learning approaches used in the different activities, the teachers treated all three as a one common collaborative learning approach: If we use a multiple approach, we can cover all the students [learning styles]. Toward a Wiki Pedagogy This study demonstrates that wikis can be used successfully as CSCL tools for active learning in schools, and not just in higher education or in disciplines concerned primarily with learning about writing. The students assessment of their wiki experience shows that they feel that using wikis enhances learning, and extends learning outside of the classroom. Teachers saw the wiki as a platform for students to learn, as individuals, and through social learning in groups. Wikis can be used effectively in all three approaches to active learning that were included in this study. All of the activities supported collaborative learning. Neither teachers nor students were able to say which learning approach might be the best. The quality of assessed student work was similarly good in all three activities. Thus, the present authors conclude that the three studied approaches to collaborative learning inquiry based learning, problem based learning and project based learning are all suitable to be used in a wiki learning environment. A number of aspects of the learning context emerged as key factors for effective use of wikis in schools. They are listed in Table 2.

Table 2. Key contextual success factors for wikis in schools (adapted from Mohamad Nordin and Klobas, 2010) IT Literate Trained in wiki functionality and culture Student Proficient in the language of instruction (e.g., English) Groups of btween 3 to 5 Openness to CSCL and the Internet Encourage collaborative culture among students Teacher Ready to shift role from instructional to moderator Prepared to devote time to learning activities that use wikis Recognition of the value of the subject in which wiki learning activities are used School Support for teachers who adopt this approach Provision of suitable assistance for CSCL, e.g., a lab assistant High speed broadband Fully functional laboratory with up-to-date computers, operating system and Infrastructure browser No blanket censorship of Web sites relevant to learning about the subject or production of wikis with embedded multimedia Thus, in addition to confirming the literature about the key factors that contribute to effective use of wiki in education, this study has extended our understanding of the key factors to demonstrate how context, pedagogy and design work together to enable students to learn collaboratively and share knowledge as they learn with wiki in school. This issue has not yet been emphasized enough in the wiki literature. The relationship between these key factors is illustrated in Figure 2. The wiki at the centre of the figure is an enabling technology, while the quadrants refer to the elements of design for use of wikis for learning the technical and administrative infrastructure (key elements Figure 2. Elements of a wiki pedagogy (adapted from Klobas, 2009). of the context), the syllabus and learning objectives, the teacher, and last but not least, the students. The outer section of the figure underlines that all of these elements are drawn together through a design, for a course and for specific learning activities, and that the design needs to be produced through a conscious process of situation and needs analysis, iterative co-design of activities and the wiki space, formative evaluation and revision as necessary, and summative evaluation at the end of each implementation. Conclusion Wikis are effective tools for collaborative learning in schools. Activities can be prepared to support

active learning through inquiry based learning, problem based learning and project based learning. The wiki pedagogy outlined in this paper provides an initial framework for understanding use of wikis in schools. A design-based approach can be used to design learning activities that effectively take account of the specific students, the specific teachers, the specific syllabus, and the specific technical and administrative environment in which a wiki is adopted as a tool to support collaborative learning. As more schools adopt social software for learning, this list of actions can be modified, perhaps with both additions and deletions. Acknowledgement This paper is updated and revised from Mohamad Nordin, N. and Klobas, J. (2010). Wikis as collaborative learning tools for knowledge sharing: Shifting the education landscape. In Z. W. Abas, I. Jung and J. Luca (Eds.), Proceedings of Global Learn Asia Pacific 2010, Penang, Malaysia, May 1720 2010 (pp. 331-340). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Available online at

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