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Wiki-based Collaborative Learning | EDUCAUSE CONNECT

Wiki-based Collaborative Learning

Dr. Irfan Naufal Umar Deputy Director, Centre for Instructional Technology and MultimediaUniversity of Science - Malaysia (USM.)Irfan@usm.my--------Waheeb Abdullah alsharabi,PhD. StudentUniversity of Science - Malaysia (USM.)waheebme@yahoo.com

Wiki-based Collaborative LearningThe Effect of Wiki on students performance

       Nowadays, Internet is providing an extremely useful medium for collaboration and knowledge aggregation. Wiki at first sight, looks something strange and not in our minds at all, the concept that "any one can edit “is still something not sure of. Nevertheless, wikis have now become attractive and the recent phenomenon Wikipedia, the most powerful wiki presently known, provides a proof- of- concept for the “anyone can edit” system. It is not that wiki is still not in our minds or that wiki is really strange. It is that we are unaccustomed to collaborative work. Knowledge work is inherently collaborative. Wikis are a great way to learn to collaborate.  Collaborative and cooperative learning should be encouraged to facilitate constructivist learning (Hooper & Hannafin, 1991;Johnson & Johnson, 1996; Palloff & Pratt, 1999). In wikis anyone can play. “This sounds like a recipe for low signal (noise) as Wikis get hit by the great unwashed as often as any other site — but to make an impact on Wiki, you need to generate real content. Anything else will be removed. So anyone can play, but only good players last.” (Cunningham, W., 2004).

     There is ongoing debate about whether it is the use of a particular delivery technology or the design of the instruction that improves learning (Clark, 2001; Kozma, 2001). Learners should construct their own knowledge rather than accepting that given by the instructor. Knowledge construction is facilitated by good interactive online instruction, since the students have to take the initiative to learn and to interact with other students and the instructor, and because the learning agenda is controlled by the student (Murphy & Cifuentes, 2001). And according to Bonk and Reynolds (1997), to promote higher order thinking on the Web, online learning must create challenging activities that enable learners to link new information to old, acquire meaningful knowledge, and use their meta-cognitive abilities; hence, it is the instructional strategy and not the technology that influences the quality of learning. Wikis are challenging traditional notions of authority and the criteria of academic legitimation (Barton, M., 2004; Lamb, 2004). According to Barton (2004), "legitimation in the wiki world is not solved by censorship," and wiki " does not find its authority in the credentials of authors; indeed, the entries quickly become autonomous from individual authors and take on their own existence. They are always developing as new collections of individuals aim to refine or destroy them; but each edit only pushes upwards. Gradually the entries connect with one another and thus bring together communities of wiki authors."

“Allowing everyday users to create and edit any page in a Web site is exciting in that it encourages democratic use of the Web and promotes content composition by non-technical users” (Leuf et al, 2001).

In the words of Holmes et al (2001), "What we argue for is a Communal constructivism where students and teachers are not simply engaged in developing their own information but actively involved in creating knowledge that will benefit other students. In this model students will not simply pass through a course like water through a sieve but instead leave their own imprint in the development of the course, their school or university, and ideally the discipline." Like many on-line environments, wikis create the possibility for international “Collaborative Collectors” and interdisciplinary “social webs” that enhance social life through knowledge of and mutual participation in new types of cultural and leisure activities (Mark, 2001 cited in Muirhead, 2004).             As this research is conducted in the Middle East region specifically in the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula the importance of wiki arises to the fact that learning is confined to single-sex where the segregated educational system is part of the beliefs and culture of the region. The fact that students have the ability to change anything instructor do on the wiki and create anything they want from a single post to a web publishing would really inspire them to take charge of the wiki and indirectly, the course.

Wikis have been used successfully in education (Collaborative Software Lab, 2000; Guzdial, 1999). Research has shown that teachers and students can get very creative and develop innovative and useful activities for learning (Synteta, 2002). For some, wikis become objects to think with (James, 2004b), for others, wikis can help build an understanding of a community’s shared knowledge.


Barton, M. (2004). Embrace the wiki way! [Electronic version]. May, 21, 2004 -14:34. Retrieved February 11, 2007 from http://www.mattbarton.net/tikiwiki/tiki-print_article.php?articleId=4 Available in HTML.

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apprenticeship. In B. H. Khan (Ed.), Web-based instruction (pp.167-178). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.

Clark, R. E. (2001). A summary of disagreements with the “mere vehicles” argument. In R. E. Clark (Ed.), Learning from media:Arguments, analysis, and evidence (pp. 125-136). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing Inc.


Collaborative software lab. Projects measuring the learning and cost-effectiveness of the CoWeb. Integrative learning in the engineering curriculum. [Electronic version]. Retrieved January 15, 2007 from http://coweb.cc.gatech.edu/csl/29. Available in HTML.

Guzdial, M. (1999). What is a Wiki? [Electronic version]. Retrieved December 28, 2006 from http://tecfa.unige.ch/guides/tie/html/wikis/wikis-2.html Available in HTML.

Holmes, B., Tangney, B., Fitzgibbon, A., Savage, T, & Mehan, S. (2001). Communal constructivism: Students constructing learning for as well as with others. [Electronic version]. Retrieved  February 15, 2007 from https://www.cs.tcd.ie/publications/tech-reports/reports.01/TCD-CS-2001-04.pdf .Available in PDF.

Hooper, S., & Hannafin, M. J. (1991). The effects of group composition on achievement, interaction, and learning efficiency during computer-based cooperative instruction. Educational Technology Research and Development, 39(3), 27-40.

James, H. (2004a). My Brilliant Failure: Wikis in Classrooms. [Electronic version]. In Kairosnews, May 25, 2006 - 14:13. Retrieved December 15, 2006 from http://kairosnews.org/node/3794  Available in HTML.

James, H. (2004b). Aiming for communal constructivism in a wiki environment. [Electronic version]. In Kairosnews, May 27, 2004 - 22:07. Retrieved December 10, 2006 from http://kairosnews.org/node/3809. Available in HTML.

Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (1996). Cooperation and the use of technology. In D. H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research for educational communications and technology (pp. 170-198).New York: Simon & Schuster Macmillan.

Kozma, R. B. (2001). Counterpoint theory of “learning with media.” In R. E. Clark (Ed.), Learning from media: Arguments, analysis, and evidence (pp. 137-178). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing Inc.

Lamb, B. (2004). Open Spaces: Wikis, Ready or Not. [Electronic version]. EDUCAUSE Review, 39(5), September/October 2004, 36-48. Retrieved December 25, 2006 from http://www.educause.edu/pub/er/erm04/erm0452.asp?bhcp=1 Available in HTML.

Muirhead, B. (2004). Research insights into interactivity. [Electronic version]. Retrieved February 17, 2007 from http://www.itdl.org/Journal/mar_04/article05.htm Available in HTML.

Murphy, K. L., & Cifuentes, L. (2001). Using Web tools, collaborating, and learning online. Distance Education, 22(2), 285-305.

Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (1999). Building learning communities in cyberspace. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Synteta, V. (2002). Wikis — just a quick introduction. [Electronic version]. Retrieved December 4, 2006 from http://tecfa.unige.ch/guides/tie/pdf/files/wikis.pdf Available in PDF.

Why Wiki works [Electronic version]. Retrieved September 20, 2006 from http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?WhyWikiWorks. Available in HTML.

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