Using Wikis in Literacy to Engage Students in Text Studies

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Shireen Richardson 201512523 Masters of Education Unit EEL702. Using Wikis in Literacy to Engage Students in Text Studies. Participants will learn:. What a wiki is Reasons for using a wiki in literacy Ways in which wikis can engage students - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


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Using Wikis in Literacy to Engage Students in Text Studies

Shireen Richardson 201512523Masters of EducationUnit EEL702This session has been designed as an introduction to wikis. Whilst the main focus is on how a wiki can be used in literacy to engage students in text studies, it is hoped that you will also consider other possibilities. Such possibilities could include using wikis in other facets of English and also in other subject areas.1Participants will learn:What a wiki isReasons for using a wiki in literacyWays in which wikis can engage studentsHow to set up and use a wiki for student engagement in text studyApplications for wikis in text studiesHow to overcome barriers (real or perceived)How to assess student wikisGoals for this session2What is a Wiki?A web page that can be easily edited

One of many freely available Web 2.0 tools

It can be contributed to by its creator and any number of approved members

Wikipedia is an example of a wiki!

The way a wiki works makes it ideal for the collaborative sharing of knowledge and ideas.

Web 2.0 = refers to web applications that allow interactive sharing and collaboration. Examples include social-networking sites, blogs, wikis, video-sharing sites, hosted services and web applications (Wikipedia,, accessed 05/09/2010)

When people initially hear the word wiki, they often think of Wikipedia. Wikipedia is in fact a huge wiki or web space that can be collaboratively edited and updated.

3This clip (by Le Fever 2007) provides a really simple visual explanation of wikis.

(Depending on the level of understanding of session participants, this clip can be played or skipped.)4Features of a WikiEditable by more than one personControl of design, page structure, layout, text, visualsCan easily incorporate a range of multimedia, text, hyperlinks, audio and visual mediaAsynchronousA range of privacy settingsUser/editor history is available for each pageDiscussion forums are available for each page'wiki users can edit from within any browser - specialised knowledge of a web-composing not necessary' (Lundin 2008)The fact that wikis can be edited by more than one person makes them ideal for collaborative sharing of knowledge and ideas Students are able to make many choices (contributing to greater engagement)Students are making use of multimedia and multimodal presentation of textAsynchronous means not at the same time, not at set intervals. Students can contribute to wikis at any time, although, cannot successfully edit the same page as another user concurrently.Privacy settings can be controlled by the teacher in accordance with school policiesTeachers can monitor what each student has contributedTeachers can monitor contribution to discussion forums; can provide feedback to student groups in the discussion; can help students learn appropriate online etiquetteEase of use and access

5I have found the best feature of the wiki to be its nature as a collaborative creative space, and particularly, a space where students can work together primarily as co-authors by collecting pieces of a project into a coherent whole.

(Harding 2007, p. 135)

Harding (2007, p.135) identified the best feature of a wiki as being student collaboration.6Available WikisWikispaces

For an extensive comparative list of over a hundred available wikis, visit:

There are many wikis available. These are just a few of the more commonly used wikis (in education).

The bottom link is a tool that compares the available features of over a hundred wikis.7Why Use Wikis in Literacy?Providing students with skills for the 21st century

Greater depth and breadth of learning in English

Extending students existing ICT experience

Increased self esteem

Skills for the 21st centuryUsing ICT in literacy is viewed by a number of educational researchers as essential for 21st century education, to prepare students for the digital age (for example, Kalantzis, Cope & Cloonan 2010; Kitson, Fletcher & Kearney 2007; Luke & Elkins 1998; Meiers 2009; Neal 2005; Spires et al. 2008; The New London Group 2000) and to cater to the needs of digital natives (Prensky 2001).Greater depth and breadth of learningWikis are multimodal the more modes that are accessed, the more learning occurs. (Benson 2008)Students are exploring new literacies and gaining visual literacy skills (Luce-Kapler 2007)A more sophisticated analysis and understanding of text occurs through collaboration (Gibbons 2010; Harding 2007)Students are reading, interpreting and writing/creating webpages (therefore it enhances students abilities in reading and writing!)Students are communicating with others via asynchronous discussion pages (enables students to carefully consider responses unlike in live classroom discussions. This often encourages or provides quieter students with the opportunity to respond!)Students are engaging with the textExtending students existing ICT experienceStudents comfort with online social networking makes the wiki a perfect forum for students to coauthor works and to respond to each others writing. (Gibbons 2010)Students are accustomed to technology at home and expect to use it at school they would like to use more technology in their learningGibbons experimented in using a wiki for writing tasks he had one class complete their paper in the traditional mode while his other class completed theirs entirely using a wiki. What he found was that On the wiki, students fell into their comfort zone and were more willing to share and contribute than the students who did not use the wiki (the control class) were. (Gibbons 2010, p. 36) By comfort zone Gibbons is referring to the comfort level students feel when working with social networking software and tools. Gibbons also observed that the standard of work was significantly higher in the wiki group than in the control group. In addition, as students realised their work was to have a greater audience, they were more motivated in aiming to write for this audience in other words, their writing had greater authentic purpose.Increased self esteem-occurs when using ICT and multimedia in general and results in confidence and willingness to take risks, leading to a progression of increased experimentation, increased involvement, meeting new challenges, improved performance, resulting in increased and more lasting learning. (Faux 2005)

8Why Use Wikis in Literacy?Scaffolding learning

Varying levels of teacher control

Freedom of expression, representation, negotiation and choice

Collaboration can be easily monitored

ScaffoldingUsing an ICT multimedia environment allows for: scaffolding of student learning; a decrease (fading) or increase in level of scaffolding; student control of level of scaffolding (Faux 2005)Varying levels of teacher control A teacher can participate as guide, collaborator, site administrator, editor and can control all aspects of the wiki as they wish. (Morgan & Smith 2008)Freedom of expression, representation, negotiation and choice Identified by Bower, Woo, Roberts & Watters (2006) as providing students with more choice and opportunity to negotiate than some other forms of collaborative toolsWikis lack of structure to begin with highlights the choices students make (Lundin 2008)Students are working together as co-authors (Harding 2007)A boost in student creativity was observed (Mak & Coniam 2008). I also observed this in my wiki experiment.Collaboration can be easily monitoredTeachers are able to monitor the levels of collaboration and individual student input (Bower et al. 2006; Harding 2007) (compare this with face-to-face discussion and group work that can be difficult to monitor and assess as it takes place in the classroom)

9Why Use Wikis in Literacy? Easy to use for both teachers and students

Audience of peers for advice and criticism (Lundin 2008, Tarasiuk 2010)

Increased student engagement

Easy to use for both teachers and students...require little specialised knowledge and no specialised software to manipulate multimedia Elements (Lundin 2008)Because they are so easy to use, the technology recedes into the background, allowing anyone to become a publisher. (Educause 2005)Audience of peers for advice and criticism (Lundin 2008, Tarasiuk 2010) Authentic purpose/audience.Increased student engagementMore on this point in a moment.

10Wikis and EngagementWhat is engagement?

Take a moment to discuss your definition with the person next to you.Follow this with a brief group discussion of what engagement is.11Wikis and EngagementEngagement relates to making connections with the activity, connecting with other students, experiencing fun and excitement; as a result, deep learning occurs.

Engagement occurs with variety, student choice and constantly changing or increasing challenges.

(My definition of engagement on this slide)

12Wikis and EngagementStudent engagement is a rendezvous between learning and the digital tools and techniques that excite students. (Educause 2009)

This definition as it applies to technology is most useful!

Student engagement is a rendezvous between learning and the digital tools and techniques that excite students. (Educause 2009)

13Wikis and Engagement Research Findings:Increased student engagement (Harding 2007, Luce-Kapler 2007, Morgan & Smith 2008, Wetzel 2008)

Increased student involvement, understanding and results (Gibbons 2010)

Students working in own time (Gibbons 2010, Tarasiuk 2010))

Students enjoyed working with wikis (Mak & Coniam 2008)

There is relatively little research that focuses solely on how wikis increase student engagement. However, engagement has been mentioned in a general sense in a number of studies relating to other aspects of using wikis. (For example, Tarasiuk 2010, Tharp 2010, Wetzel 2008) And points listed on this slide.

Students are more engaged with online writing process, collaboration and discussion (Harding 2007; Luce-Kapler 2007; Morgan & Smith 2008)Gibbons experimented with using wikis for writing tasks, creative writing, webquest responses and also text responses. In all uses, he found students were more actively involved in the tasks, produced higher results and a greater level of understanding. They were all involved!I noticed that students were making changes in the evenings as well as during class. (Gibbons 2010, pp. 36-7) This is significant as it backs up my findings!Students expressed the opinion that they really enjoyed working with the wikis (Mak & Coniam 2008). To add to this, my students beg me every lesson to work more with wikis.The fun or wow factor helps to engage students (as witnessed in my classes)14Wikis and Engagement Research Findings:Students found the wiki project fun and engaging, they enjoyed the books they read...I knew the students enjoyed the wiki after the project was over because many of them continued using it for other writing assignments. And just recently, I received an email from one of the students I no longer have in class asking for the name of our wiki website because she wanted to use the format again for a project in another class. (Tharp 2010)

This example referred to a wiki project being used for a secondary level class novel study.

My experience in using a wiki with my Year 7 students reflects this statement. Students begged me to be allowed to work on their wikis; students worked on them voluntarily at home; students have been beginning to use or consider using wikis as a presentation or collaboration tool for other topics and subjects.


Chinese Cinderella ProjectThis is the project I have been undertaking with my students in English. (will have the opportunity to explore in more detail later on computers the link has been included in your handout)16How I Set Up and Used a Wiki for the Chinese Cinderella Project1. Signed up for a wikispaces account

2. Set up accounts for student wiki groups

3. Set up the Chinese Cinderella task wiki:

4. Introduced students to wikis

3. This wiki served as a model for students in terms of layout and some of the technological features that were available in wikis (it will be visited later in the presentation)4. I used the data projector or an interactive whiteboard - gave students a general overview and just enough information to get them started17How I Set Up and Used a Wiki for the Chinese Cinderella Project5. Progressively introduced tools and skills

6. Established mini deadlines along the way

7. Set expectations and deadlines regarding the use of the discussion forum

5. Again, using the data projector or an interactive whiteboard6. This was to ensure tasks were not going to be left until the last minute (this is important in order to make full use of the collaborative experience)7. I set expectations and deadlines for students regarding the need to use the discussion forum for each page to comment on each others' work, to discuss items as they arose and also to encourage each other 18Useful links for How To...

The first site offers a range of tours to help with all aspects of using and creating wikis.The second site by wikispaces offers a range of 'help' topics for you and your students to access. The third link will take you to the wiki I have created on Using Wikis in Literacy to Engage Students in Text Studies. Here you will find all aspects of todays presentation.These links have been included in your handout.

19Examples of Text Study ApplicationsBook Club

Literature Circles

Whole Class Text Study

Character Wiki

A number of ideas can be used with wikis across different classes, cross campus or inter-schoolAside from text study, wikis can be used in English in a range of other ways:For example, Penguin Books and De Monfort University launched a wiki-novel project that was edited by some 1500 writers (Harding 2007).Writing wikis (to collaboratively write and publish pieces in a range of genres)Grammar wikis (to store student-made and/or found grammar quizzes and games)Vocabulary wikis (for vocabulary games and activities)Issues discussions (students can discuss issues with each other via a wiki)20Case Study: Year 7 GirlsChinese Cinderella (click below)

(Please note diagram is hyperlinked) This links to the wiki that I set up as the model for my students. It utilises a number of wiki skills and contains a range of tasks for students to complete. Whenever I was demonstrating to students how to use wikis, I was able to use th...


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