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Wikis in Higher Education (and at UD)

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What Is A Wiki?

At its simplest expression, a wiki is a web page that anybody can edit. The spirit behind the original wiki idea is that any user of the World Wide Web could now read and write at the same time using their web browser, therefore simplifying the web editing process.

Full Report

Other Files of Interest

Wiki usage at the University of Delaware

One part of the report was to gather different usages of wikis within the University of Delaware community.

Faculty Member Department Summary
Ralph Begleiter Communication During the fall 2007 semester, Professor Begleiter proposed that his honor students to use a wiki for a class project. Although the idea seemed nice, he struggled with the individual grading of his students, finding the process time-consuming. He also noticed that students did not write collaboratively, but mostly wrote own their thing using a word processor and copy-pasted the finished product in the wiki. Even though he had a mitigated experience with a wiki, he thinks that it is important that the students understand what a wiki is and how it relates to how most people work out of the academia: in groups.
Persephone Braham
Foreign Language & Literatures Persephone Braham, Assistant Professor, explains how the wiki tool in Sakai has become central to the way she teaches her "Latin American Cultures" course. During the Fall semester of 2008, her students have created a comprehensive and collaborative notebook of current issues in Latin America.
Richard Gordon Computer & Information Sciences Richard Gordon used a wiki for the first time in his class during the fall semester of 2007. Making students realize what a wiki is (a pool of collective knowledge), and how different it is from academic, peer-reviewed knowledge, was a part of his Computers, Ethics, and Society course. The first thing he asked his students to do was to start playing with the wiki in an unsigned area where they were asked to rate movies and pizzerias from the area. He was impressed by the creativity that his students demonstrated using the tool. He made students build an online glossary of terms used in his course, and students have built, on their own, a sort of handbook.
Meghan McInnis-Dominguez Foreign Language & Literatures During the fall 2007 semester, Professor McInnis-Dominguez used a wiki to support in-class presentation in a foreign language. The wiki provided a space for teammates to prepare their presentation material and a comment gathering point for commenting on other students work. She noticed that the presentations are better now that students are using a wiki. She provided a template wiki page to each team to guide them in their research and presentation. Students in her class developed their own fully contextualized textbook in the wiki.
Chris Penna English Since 2006, Professor Penna used wikis in three different courses (Composition, Survey Literature and Business Writing). In addition to face to face, two of these courses were also offered online to distance learners. The wiki provided a space for teammates to write their project collaboratively. He noticed that the use of a wiki gets students to be more self-aware of the writing processes (vision and revision). Students in his classes developed their own handbook in the wiki, which is open to public eyes, but reserved to his students to edit it. His students are proud of the fact that what they wrote in the wiki pops up on Google.
Lou Rossi Mathematical Sciences Professor Rossi is now considered a veteran of wiki usage at University of Delaware. He used wikis in his Calculus undergraduate course and his Applied Mathematics graduate course. Using a wiki helps students spend time on solving problems outside of the classroom in a motivating collaborative environment. Publishing in a wiki gets students aware of the fact that they are writing for an audience, which usually results in using common mathematical language and formulas instead of plain English. He describes his class as a tribe, where skillful individuals are leaders and slackers are easily detected. He warns faculty members of the pitfalls of trying to grade students on a wiki.
Carl Schmidt Animal and Food Sciences Professor Carl Schmidt teaches a course called Bioinformatics, which is a cross-disciplinary course on using computer applications in life sciences. The use of wikis is very important for his students because they will have to work in distributed teams throughout their professional life, especially in genome research. Every assignment was made public. The only things that remained private were grades and feedback from the professor. He found the wiki to be a very easy to use environment to monitor students, answer questions, and provide feedback. He is enthusiastic about the fact that he learned from is students how to present the information in a clear way, something that will be useful in his research.
Mark Serva Accounting and Management Information Systems Professor Serva used wikis for his Emerging Technologies class, where students had a case study on Marriott Corporation, and for his Technology Management class, where it has been mostly used to support in-class debates. In order to center the information coming from Marriott executives (and avoid having all students overloading their email box and voicemail), the wiki became a question and answer space for the class project. He warns professors about the grading process, which can become difficult because of multiple factors, including working physically or using chat on the side, and overachievers, who can kill the discussion by writing a definitive answer from the get-go. Overall, he believes wikis are very efficient and have a low barrier to entry for anybody.