Wiki-supported collaborative learning
The aim of this chapter is to increase the understanding of how wikis can be used effectively to support collaborative learning in the context of higher education, and in particular, 1) To identify the relevant theories and how they relate to the findings from practice 2) To provide a review of the current literature in this area, using Dillenbourg’s (1999) dimensions of collaborative learning as a framework for analysis and discussion. 3) Based on the findings from the literature, to contextualise the effects that this type of collaboration has on students’ learning and the development of non-cognitive skills, as well as to identify the factors that can either enhance or hinder learning in this context. 4) To derive a conceptual model of wiki-supported collaborative learning, in order to aid further understanding of the specific learning processes and interactions that are taking place in this context. The approach used in this chapter is based on qualitative analysis of secondary data, found in the literature published since 2001, the year of publication of Leuf and Cunningham’s (2001) seminal work “The Wiki Way: Quick Collaboration On The Web”, which opened a whole new way of sharing and collaborating on the Web and gave rise to the entire Web 2.0 movement. Since 2001, wikis have emerged as a “textbook tool” (Richardson, 2006) for collaborative learning and are being used at all educational levels, across different subject areas, cultures and languages, and have been included in all major virtual learning environments (e.g. Blackboard, Moodle, Wimba, etc). The primary drivers for incorporating collaborative learning, including that supported by wikis, in the higher education curriculum are the research findings that emphasize the positive effect of collaboration on learning as well as the needs of employers, who are becoming increasingly interested in graduates with good team-working skills. With few exceptions, the current body of knowledge in the area of wiki-supported collaborative learning focuses on the ways that wikis can be used in the educational context and related evaluations of students’ and teachers’ experience. The significance of this work lies in situating the effects of wiki-supported collaborative learning practices within the whole “collaborative learning space” (Dillenbourg, 1999), that is defined by scale, type of learning, degree of collaboration etc. The main implication is that wiki-supported collaborative learning offers great potential for “significant learning” 0 in the context of higher education, but in order for that potential to be realized, the factors affecting students’ learning in this type of environment need to be understood, measured and controlled in a way that maximises the quality of students’ learning experience. The chapter is aimed at both, practitioners and researchers, providing them with a review of the current practice and recommendations for curriculum development; and links to the relevant theories and areas for further research respectively. The chapter could also be an interesting read for technology providers as it highlights some of the desirable technical enhancements for wikis used in the educational context.