Example Rationale

This wiki is designed to support the MSc MM and Elearning students.  The students on the MSc come from a wide range of backgrounds including primary, secondary, FE and HE.  They work in a variety of roles including learning technologists, teachers, lecturers librarians etc.  The wiki is a way to encourage them to share their knowledge of the sector they work in. 

The topic of the wiki covers the practice of multi media and elearning.  This is fast growing area, where no one can be expected to know all the software tools.  Hence this wiki is designed so that students can contribute their knowledge about the tools that they are familiar with. 

Theoretical considerations;

The use of wiki draws on Collis and Mooneen’s (2006) Contributing Student Model because students are encouraged to contribute from their knowledge and experience to this wiki resource.  This values their knowledge and helps to make it explicitly to the rest of the group.  In addition the aim of the wiki is to develop a Community of Practice (Wenger 2007 cited in Smith 2009) in which students develop their identity as knowledgeable and confident practitioners with a range of skills.  The wiki is an example of what Wenger calls a boundary object, an artefact which can be used to   The course requires students to draw from a range of skills and knowledge bases including pedagogic understandings, technical knowledge and skills as well as academic and research skills and the wiki helps to make these range of skills explicit. 

 Limitations

There are a number of issues that use of the wiki present.  Firstly the nature of a wiki is that it can easily be edited.  Thus the wiki isn’t fixed and students can find it disorientating to navigate.  Secondly the use of the wiki isn’t assessed and thus the incentive to contribute is diminished.  Finally, the students are busy professionals who have many demands on their time, thus contributing the a knowledge building community which is likely to be a new way for them to operate as a professional is often a task which they are not motivated to undertake.  Indeed some have argued that a community of practice can not be developed over a short time span of an academic course, but requires longer to develop (Wenger 2007). 

Although the wikis encourage students to contribute, often students want a reliable stable set of resources to work from and thus the wiki may not be liked by some students because it isn’t stable. In addition students may be reluctant to contribute or make contributions which don’t fit the way the wiki is set up and structured, thus the tutor needs to monitor the resource carefully to ensure it remains useful.  This can be time consuming.

References

Collis, B.A. and Mooneen J.C. (2006) The contributing students: Learners as co-developers of learning resources for reuse in Web environments. In D. Hung and M.S. Khine (eds), Engaged learning with emerging technologies Springer Dordrecht, Nederland.

Wenger, E. ( 2007) ‘Communities of practice. A brief introduction’. Communities of practice [http://www.ewenger.com/theory/. Accessed January 14, 2009]. Cited in Smith, M. K. (2003, 2009) ‘Communities of practice’, the encyclopedia of informal education, www.infed.org/biblio/communities_of_practice.htm online accessed 6/10/09

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