Wiki for beginners
Sandra, Librarian for the Faculty of Engineering and Surveying, uses wikis to enhance information literacy.
Sandra's tool of choice for technology-enhanced learning is the wiki which is a webpage that can be edited by anyone who has access to it. In this case, it will be engineering students.
For this information literacy activity, the students work in groups, each group having its own page within the wiki. The group is given a scenario concerning information needs, and a matrix guides students to formulating and using the right search terms. Each team has a paired team and they analyse each other's work on completion, allowing for a social learning activity.
First year engineering students on the course ENG1101. In the first semester 2007 there were approximately 500 students enrolled and in the second semester 160.
Learning goals and objectives
The learning goals are to encourage students to analyse their information needs & design search strategies that find information efficiently. It also provides an opportunity for a collaborative social learning experience.
Who did/does what?
Sandra doesn't consider herself an especially technologically capable person but is nonetheless something of a trailblazer in using wikis in this way. She has worked with Lyn Brodie, the course examiner, and in particular, the technical support from Greg Pendlebury (Library Systems team) has been invaluable.
Sandra spent a good deal of time thinking about which technology would meet the learning requirements of her students. She used Collis and Moonen's four Es, (Ease of use, Effectiveness, Engagement and Environment) to help with her decision-making process.
Although the wiki achieved what it was supposed to do, Sandra found that the students who took this course in the first semester were confused about how to use it, and made basic errors such as confusing passwords and authentication codes. Lyn and Sandra put this down to the information overload that students tend to suffer from in the first few weeks of university. In the second semester, Lyn started the activity a few weeks later and they found that the students were much more able to cope.
Next year, Sandra hopes to have the wiki aspect thoroughly embedded into the a course assessment piece.
Problems and advice for others
Sandra's advice for others interested in using technology-enhanced learning tools is to think carefully about the pedagogy first in order to choose the right tool and develop a good working relationship with a Technical Advisor or Electronic Services Officer.
In addition, she says it's best not to assume that the ostensibly ‘digital native' generation will necessarily have the expected skills.
Sandra was inspired by the Elluminate training sessions run by Birgit Loch, Shirley Reushle and Peter Evans. She particularly appreciated the inclusive nature of these, and would like to see more beginners' sessions for other technologies, presented in a similarly accessible way.