Steven Davis has been deploying collaborative Wikis via Moodle for his postgraduate course in Human Resources Management (CVEN9706) for Civil Engineering over a number of years giving him the chance to refine their use considerably. He uses the “OU Wiki” activity which is a standard feature in UNSW Moodle. By using a simple, custom template for the Wiki, he can roll out a collaborative activity for the students who must work together to respond to different questions. It is the responsibility of the students to organise what Wiki they wish to respond to and when by using a simple timetable on each Wiki page. Each Wiki is appointed an “Editor” by the teacher who must have the final say on the content they submit and is marked on their editing ability. The students' performance in the Wiki, both their contributions and editing, are worth a total of 40% of the overall grade for the course. Steven feels that this solution has been great in particular for remote students because the cohort work together to build a community of learning.
Each course requires minimal admin at the beginning stages to enable deployment of the Wiki in each week. The first time it’s run will require you to use the “Add activity” drop-down menu and select the OU Wiki option. From there you will enter in a series of settings and design the basis of your first Wiki page. A good idea is to make the first one your “template” which you would like to base all your other wikis around.
Steven uses a consistent template to efficiently roll out the Wikis to each week. The template consists of some consistent headings as well as a timetable at the bottom of the page which facilitates the students in organising their “bookings” for editing the Wiki. Students use the timetable to enter their name and the date they wish to edit the Wiki page – this “reserves” the page for them for 24 hours. This in itself is part of the exercise – students must learn to work together to organise the delivery of their work.
Once the Wiki pages are created for each week, it’s a simple case of adding in the question supplied on each page and ensuring that all Wikis have been assigned an “Editor” - all students will be assigned one Wiki each to edit. The Editor’s name is recorded at the top of each Wiki. All Wikis are allowed a maximum of 500 words – it is the Editor’s role to distill all the content provided by the cohort into something concise, and they are marked on what content they chose to keep or remove, as well as their presentation of the content (formatting for example is important). All students are given the same equal amount of time to contribute to the Wiki pages and to edit them.
Once a Wiki has been “completed” (the due date has elapsed), Steven can open the Wiki page and mark the content using a simple offline rubric within a spreadsheet which provides for a grade (ranging from 0 – 5) as well as a space for qualitative feedback. The Wiki feature has the ability for teachers to enter a “comparison view” which allows them to compare the edits made by different students, so that they can all be graded and provided feedback based on their individual contributions. This is important as it also shows the teacher exactly what the assigned Editor chose to remove and how they changed the presentation of the content. All entries are also time-stamped.
- Provides a summative assessment that also accurately depicts what work is like in a professional setting;
- Fosters a “community of learning” amongst the student cohort, especially helping remote students to feel a part of it;
- Complete feature of Moodle – doesn't require plugins or anything external;
- Using templates means setup takes no longer than an hour;
- More engaging and dynamic activity for students rather than using basic discussion boards.
- The comparison view is sometimes unclear, and it may not be obvious what certain colours or formatting means in this view;
- Hard for this solution to scale – the largest cohort used was 60 students and that required a reasonable amount of time to manage;
- Marking is manual, done offline via a spreadsheet, and overall a little time consuming;
- Offline marking also means grades need to be manually transposed into central systems.
It’s as simple as choosing an area in your Moodle course to add the Wiki activity, then using then using the “Add activity” drop-down menu and select the “OU Wiki” option. You will be asked to enter a range of different settings and the base content you wish to include in the Wiki page.
This video can walk you through the process.
The first Wiki you create could become your “template” for the rest of your Wiki pages. Once you create your first Wiki, click into the activity, then select “Wiki index” in the top right corner, followed by “Download as wiki template file.” Now the next time you go to create a Wiki, you can upload this file via the settings to automatically populate it with the template content.
Sometimes students who have been assigned the Editor for a Wiki near the end of the course may not receive many responses from other students, in which case reassure them that they can be reassigned if this is the case;
Make sure you use the “OU Wiki” and not the normal “Wiki” activity – the OU version has a number of upgrades including the comprehensive comparison view and ability to create templates;
It’s usually easier to provide all the content on one page within each Wiki – separating things into multiple pages meant students sometimes didn’t see vital information. So information like the Editor’s name, the instructions, the question and the booking timetable is all in one place;
It's easiest if you have the page or area already created and ready for students to enter their responses, or explicitly instruct them to do this – don't assume they’ll create this themselves.
Please contact Steven Davis (email@example.com) should you want access to a sandpit Moodle course with example Wikis.