This is not your teacher’s university course

I am looking at question 4 of the possible questions on the midterm on the wiki and it doesnt seem to give enough information to find the answer…could you help point me in the right direction my study group and I are having a tough time.

There is nothing unusual about this quotation from a student’s email except its ordinariness.

Around a year ago, I thought I had academic uses of wikis figured out. I had a model that worked; that was the model that I presented at the 2006 Educause Learning Initiative annual conference. The model involved using the wiki as a place to post student papers for others to review and comment on.

Yesterday, I realized that over the last year I’ve discovered two other models for using a wiki as a major piece of a course (Of course, there are lots of little ways one can use a wiki.) In the first year seminar, the wiki became the place to put syllabus-related stuff that is organic, that may be revised over the course of the semester. This would include everything after the “boiler plate” on the syllabus: topics we choose for study, links to readings, specific assignments.

Most recently, in my intermediate theory course, we’ve used the wiki as a space for student work to support the process of learning. If you choose one of the chapter pages, you can see how this works. The students post a summary of the chapter which is collaboratively edited, as well as notes of each class session.

I noticed that students are taking ownership of this wiki, much like they did in my first seminar wiki experience. Notice, the links on the homepage to student created pages: Announcements — A little cute, but that shows ownership. How are they all related? — A more pedagogically interesting page attempting to explore how the various chapters are connected. Students created this (along with the next item) as part of their study for the midterm exam. Possible Test Q&As — Student Developed Tentative Exam Questions. I suggested that if students developed a good list of say 20 possible questions, I could choose the actual two exam questions from their list. I didn’t say anything about using the wiki, but that’s what they did.

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One Response to This is not your teacher’s university course

  1. Jim says:

    The summary chapters example is a really great model. I love the idea of students leaving a collaborative legacy of their own collective relationship to the book, class work, topics, etc. At Northern Voice I got to hear John Willinsky from the University of British Columbia talk about using wikis in his classes. He teaches Education and he uses the wiki as a space, much like you are here, where his students work together to create lesson plans that they can comment upon, discuss and eventually share. In fact, he designates two students at the beginning of the semester to organize and frame the class wiki, making it entirely theirs. Point being, as they start teaching they have access to a wide range of lessons plans via the wiki, making it a persistent resource with untold value for a new educator. I think you would really like Willinsky’s stuff, here is a podcast (via Brian Lamb) of a lecture of his (it even has excerpts if you can’t commit to an hour) that is downright brilliant. Anyway, great stuff -I look forward to more ideas for it has been getting a lot of interesting press lately -see here and here for more.

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