Facilitating online learning communities course assessments.
For this assessment I am required to contribute to a wiki.
As stated in my previous post I have created two wikis one on Wikieducator, and one on wikispaces. I also contributed to the discussion in the wiki barn building exercise. This exercise did not really seem to spark the imagination of most of the course participants, I feel that we never really got a good handle on how to use a wiki. It is not as simple to use as a blog and requires some knowledge of computer codes to add content. I never managed to successfully add a picture or video to my wiki despite several attempts to do this. It seemed to me that a small sub group of the course participants developed a separate community, with a greater understanding of wikis, who were able to go on and developing more wiki resources. This seems to be an ongoing project for this group which I am not part of.
Here is the page counter for the midwifery wiki page on wikieducator
And here are the views for 2007 for the rural midwives wikispace
The fact that these pages have been accessed regularly gives me a feeling of responsibility for the content. I am not sure that I feel completely comfortable with this. I would feel more at ease if others had contributed and therefore it would increase the legitimacy of the content I feel.
Having looked at other wikis online I definitely see the potential for delivering course material, providing opportunities for student collaboration and for new learning to occur. The advantage of a wiki over print in my perception is that it is continually being updated and evolving. Once a book or a journal is printed it is set, new evidence may appear within days or weeks but no change can be made. A wiki can change continuously to accomodate the latest evidence and ideas. Students can contribute and change it. This is both and advantage and a disadvantage. It will allow the students to take ownership of this learning tool but it also relinquishes ownership by any one individual, for example the teacher or facilitator. I can see that students could be upset if others change their work. Does the teacher maintain control over the content and how do students identify the legitimacy of the material that is being delivered? These are ongoing debates.There needs to be clear guidelines about by whom, when and how changes can be made. "Tracking work created in wiki spaces can become a logistical nightmare, and course management can spin out of control quickly if pages are allowed to spawn without some set of protocols to regulate or index them"(Lamb, 2004). Lamb continues "Think of an open wiki space as a home that leaves its front door unlocked but doesn’t get robbed because the neighbors are all out on their front steps gossiping, keeping a friendly eye on the street, and never missing a thing. This ethic is at the heart of "SoftSecurity," which relies on the community, rather than technology, to enforce order". I believe the teacher needs to maintain a watchful eye on the progress of the wiki, provide support and some direction if needed and to bring students back to the focus of the wiki if they are straying too far of course.
If wikis are used merely to deliver course material they are little different to other course management tools such as blackboard or moodle. The value in wikis in higher education lies in the ability of students so engage with the material. The role of the teacher in this environment is to set loosely structured activities and goals which require the students to engage and interact with the wiki to develop and create the tools for others who follow (Lamb, 2004). Wikis can be used to collaborate, support the construction of knowledge resources and form part of a virtual community of practice (Boulos, Maramba, Wheeler, 2006). The needs of the learner has to be the prime focus when considering the goals and activities required in a wiki (Salmon, 2008)
Considering the midwifery page I created in wikieducator. At the moment it simply delivers information. It could easily be adapted to be more interactive. For example where there is mention of the partnership model of care a link could be made to another page where the students are invited to explore this topic together. I have prepared a blank page where students can explore together how they might record a clinical situation in their blog.
I have a long way to go in exploring this topic. My school are heading towards more flexible delivery of our programme. I do not envisage that the resources I have developed will be incorporated into this programme but it has given me some food for thought about how I might go about some of the aspects required. I need to maintain a clear focus of meeting the learning needs of the students.
Boulos, M. N. K., Maramba, I., Wheeler, S. (2006) Wikis, blogs and podcasts: a new generation of Web-based tools for virtual collaborative clinical practice and education. BMC Medical Education, 6:41 doi:10.1186/1472-6920-6-41
Lamb, B. (2004) Wide Open Spaces: Wikis ready or not. In EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 39, no. 5 : 36–48.]
Salmon, G. (2008) Designing E learning. University of Leicester. Youtube video. CorpU tv,s channel.