Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Wiki-Mediated Activities in Higher Education: Evidence-Based Analysis of Learning Effectiveness across Three Studies

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Wiki-Mediated Activities in Higher Education: Evidence-Based Analysis of Learning Effectiveness across Three Studies

Article excerpt

Introduction

The Internet and information and communication technologies (ICT) have a profound impact on our societies (Tapscott, 2009). As a result, the mode of learning is changing rapidly in a digital age (Palfrey & Gasser, 2008). During the recent years, there has been considerable interest in using Web 2.0 technologies in education.

Web 2.0 describes web-based technologies which emphasize on user-generated content. The content is created collaboratively with the opportunity to be shared with peers. Web 2.0 technologies constitute a fertile ground for building project-based learning activities (Duffy & Kirkley, 2004) and create real learning communities because students participate actively in the learning process (Pieri & Diamantini, 2014). In addition, engagement in Web 2.0-mediated activities seems to positively influence both active involvement as well as one's motivation, which are recognized as key issues affecting student performance and learning (Benek-Rivera & Matthews, 2004; Cole, Feild, & Harris, 2004; Waycott, Bennett, Kennedy, Dalgarno, & Gray, 2010a; Waycott et al., 2010b). Most participants report positive experiences when they use Web 2.0 technologies (Ching & Hsu, 2011; Edirisingha, Rizzi, Nie, & Rothwell, 2007; Janossy, 2007). Furthermore, studies suggest that usage of specific Web 2.0 technologies can enhance student learning and collaboration (Carter, 2009; Cormode & Krishnamurthy, 2008; Greenhow, Robelia, & Hughes, 2009; Papastergiou, 2009; Selwyn, 2007). On a broader context, a recent meta-study (Means, Toyama, Murphy, Bakia, & Jones, 2009) concludes that students in online learning conditions performed modestly better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.

Despite the positive aspects of Web 2.0 technologies, a number of questions concerning design of appropriate activities and their learning effectiveness remain open (Gray, Thompson, Sheard, Clerehan, & Hamilton 2010; Tselios, Daskalakis, & Papadopoulou, 2011; West & West, 2009). As it happens with other technologies used in education, there is an implicit perception that wikis could be instantaneously useful in the educational process without tackling the challenges related to their efficient integration in the educational context. For instance, Ching and Hsu (2011) found that the activity goal needs to be shared in order to promote collaboration. Moreover, Ullrich et al. (2008) concluded that students using micro-blogging encouraged one another to participate and unconstrained active participation resulted in distractions.

Among the Web 2.0 technologies, wikis seem to offer the most dynamic collaboration possibilities (West & West, 2009). A wiki typically offers the ability to freely edit a website, providing features to add, modify, and delete pages as well as to integrate hypermedia (Leuf & Cunningham, 2001). The adopted interaction model is similar to that of a rich text editor with features of collaboration awareness, such as recent changes, actions carried out per participant, and edit-locking functionality (Tselios, Avouris, & Komis, 2008). This open nature of the wiki technology creates significant opportunities for learning (Mindel & Verma, 2006; Raman, Ryan, & Olfam, 2005; Wheeler & Wheeler, 2009). However, it may also be a major obstacle if the context and objectives of the activity are not well defined and/or not effectively communicated to the participants (Jones, 2007; Parker & Chao, 2007).

A wiki, by its very nature, facilitates quick content and organization deployment, which in turn increases the possibility of introducing inaccurate or incredible information or quoting unsubstantiated opinions. However, a wiki also enables all participants to edit and improve the provided content. This process of study, identification, and correction of content through reflection provides the opportunity for educational approaches compatible with sociocultural views of learning (Cress & Kimmerle, 2008). …

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