The Perception Of Wiki Use Education Essay

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The original web, the Read Web, was made up of web pages that were static, hand coded and hard to change. It also required substantial knowledge and technical skills to build up a website. Today, the web has been transformed into the "Read-Write Web", known as Web 2.0, which empowers users and visitors with a new stage of customization, communication, participation and collaboration (Solomon & Schrum, 2007). Dowens stated that "the emergence of Web 2.0 is not only a technological revolution but also a social revolution because it changes the nature of web from distributed to participatory" (Dowens, 2009) . Wikis are considered as a potential Web 2.0 technology that "enable user to develop web content collaboratively in an open, public and participatory manner" (Alexander 2006, Jenkins, 2006).

Wiki means "quick" or "informal" in the Hawaiian language. Wikis are popular innovated web sites that allow users to create, publish and share web contents without much programming skill. User can link keywords within a document to existing or new documents, which allows the growth of wiki pages, while editing privileges may also be extended to all users or restricted to selected users to the wiki sites. Moreover, Wikis have been reported as a supporting tool for students' learning and collaboration by employing such tasks as collaborative writing, glossaries, discussion and review, group projects, reflection journals and assessments (Ben-Zvi, 2007). To keep the appropriate content in the wikis, usage guidelines, tracking, and authentication mechanisms are important (Augar et al, 2004). In addition, wikis can support a user friendly, flexible and cost-effective interface for collaboration and student interaction. Some researchers suggested that wikis features were helpful to all students to complete their assignments satisfactorily. While Wikis have the potential to provide structure and support for students as they collaborate, create, and learn from one another, there is still a need for ongoing research on the inclusion of wikis in classrooms (Grant, 2006).

This paper highlights the roles of wikis play in education specifically collaborative learning. Collaborative learning has its root in the idea of constructivism approach in education. Thus, the perception and practice of the critical activities involved in constructive learning and collaborative learning are investigated along with the perception of using Wikis as a facilitating tool.


The objective is to investigate the perception of Wiki use and the benefit of using wiki in Collaborative learning. In this study, the following questions are examined:

1. How students perceive the wiki's usage in learning activities?

2. How wiki support constructive learning skills?

3. How wiki support student's collaborative learning?

4. How may collaboration in wiki facilitate students' content learning in group projects?


While the main purpose of this study is to investigate the perception of wiki use and collaboration in the wiki among postgraduate students, our participants are drawn from students enrolled in Introduction to Archival Informatics (AI) course at Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information in Nanyang Technological University. In this course, the instructor encourages students to use wiki as a medium for their group assignments to develop, share, and edit course assignments.

In addition, the instructor creates another part -"Aleph the Archives Reading Wiki", which is to motivate participation in content of "glossary" and external links by posting and editing original contributions as well as accessing the glossary and external links for better understanding of course subjects. Students are encouraged to post learning reflection and present their own perspectives regarding the lectures.


Our study attempts connect the characteristics of collaborative learning, and constructivism approach with the features and activities provided by wikis. Thus, the following sections will discuss various aspects of how wikis may facilitate students' knowledge construction.

4.1 Wikis in Education

Currently, wikis increasingly play an important role in education; however, "Higher education has only recently begun to investigate the potential educational value of wikis as a means to promote deeper learning and integration of learning experiences from both inside the classroom and out" (Chen et al., 2005). Meanwhile, wikis popularity has started to draw attention to educators, who expect that wikis will promote collaborative finding, shaping, and sharing of knowledge in an educational context (Reinhold, 2006). Wikis have emerged in education field to complete some constructive learning and take effect on educational improvement. An extensive coverage of wiki in learning has been used in educational fields, either in schools or universities. Thus, students can learn and revise each other to build a truly collaborative learning environment.

Facilitate Cooperative Learning: Different from traditional curriculum-driven education, in cooperative learning environment "students work in purposely heterogeneous groups to support the learning of their individuals" (Johnson, R.T & Johnson, D.W, 1994). Students can use a wiki to support individual learning or to contribute to the learning of others. In the context of learning activities, wikis can be used as an ideal tool that promotes cooperation within students in order to accomplish a specific task or an assignment. Wikis were also reported to be useful in seminars and lectures, by which commented and questions can be made on the fly for groups to complete the topic discussion or assignments. That is why wikis can be used as a knowledge creation platform in education field, too. Besides online content-rich wikis, it is common for wiki to be used in group authoring to build and edit papers, and to grow collective notes. It enables group members with different or similar ideas to see and edit based on each other's work collaboratively. Moreover, it is known that wikis can enhance not only asynchronous communication but also promote cooperation rather than competition (De Pedro et al, 2006). As long as each student makes effort to cooperate with each other and enhance face-to face interaction via wiki, they could yield the greatest function on team cooperation.

Facilitate online education: Some experts pointed out that online interaction among students in higher education were investigated. Interactions among students make positive contributions to students' learning (Laurillard, 1993; Moore, 1993; Ramsden, 1992). Wikis was of great useful tool for facilitating online learning groups by supporting the dissemination of information, enabling the exchange of ideas, facilitating group interaction and development of document sets that reflected the shared knowledge of the learning group (Augar et al, 2004).There are many educational wiki websites emerging recently at all levels of education. For example, this is an educational wiki website to make teachers, students and parents to participate in discussion and learning in order to obtain more information. (Smith.C, 2008) pointed out that "a major characteristic of the wiki atmosphere is the opportunity for students to express themselves". Wikis online education allows users to create their own contents with various perspectives and makes use of links to external resources in this website. For instance, users can add videos or graphs to share and communicate with each other, which is greatly to attract more users to participate in wiki in order to help them know it more strategies of online communication. In this sense, Wikis facilitate online education by mobilizing all the positive factors to involve students, teachers as well as parents, by sharing responsibility in the different activities.

Facilitate Innovative teaching- It is well-known that the unique and creative teaching approaches are vital in the process of teaching. (Duffy & Bruns, 2006) list the possible educational uses of wikis: "Teachers can use wikis as a knowledge base, enabling them to share reflections and thoughts regarding teaching practices, and allowing for versioning and documentation." Currently, wiki used for teaching is of great support for teaching to move from a lecture style of teaching to a more active learning approach. It was reported that wikis have been utilized among instructors to build reference lists and outlines, brainstorm instructional strategies, and capture suggestions quickly and collaboratively (Lamb, 2004). He pointed out that teachers also could make good use of wiki as a knowledge platform, such as setting more modules, sharing reflections, or teaching practices, which enable them innovate their teaching models as well as enrich their teaching methods.

In addition, while the students are freely to contribute to a widely accessible open and freely wiki environment, there are not too much restrictions, teachers can take advantage of application of wiki to control and monitor students content in order to prevent changes from others or improperly expression. What's more, the feedback of Instructor to the post is an important factor to motivate more students to participate in wiki. We believe that application of wikis play a major role in supporting and sustaining instructional innovation and curricular change.

4.2. Constructivist Learning

Originally, wikis emerged as social tools but recently have become learning tools in higher education as for constructivist learning with collaborative features (Notari, 2006).

Constructivism holds that "learners actively construct knowledge by interpreting new knowledge base on their prior knowledge (Kuiper & Volman, 2008)." Parker and Chao (2007) defined that constructivism means "constructing knowledge as well as meaning rather than given". Constructivism itself is not just a particular pedagogy but rather describes how learning happens. Constructivist learning provides students with opportunity to participate in authentic activities which are required to interact with their environment and create their own understanding (Jonassen, Carr, & Yueh, 1998). Constructivist teaching makes students to involve in not only constructing knowledge but also in critically thinking, reflecting, and using the knowledge (Tynjal, 1998). In constructivist classroom, students have opportunity to learn through social, collaborative activities that allow them to make connections between their existing experiences and new experiences, to share ideas, negotiate problems and discuss solutions (Willis, Stephens, &Matthew, 1996).

In recent years, wikis has became the interested tools in education because wiki's features and activities approach from a variety of perspectives to constructivist online learning environments including reflective learning, collaborative learning. "Reflective learning enables students to reflect upon their learning and to understand their own learning process" (Parker & Chao, 2007). As wikis allow students to participate in collaboratively building resources, this reflection could be done collaboratively that will enable them to quickly develop their understanding on learning objects. In addition, the features of wiki such as low technical barriers, rich and flexible functionality make available the opportunity to offer collaborative learning and constructive learning more extensively in education.

Like other social networking software, wikis offer new ways for students to interact with their classmates and the wider world (Bryant, 2006). The functionality of wikis capable to promote knowledge sharing and collaborative knowledge construction with an educational environments (Fuchs-Kitowk & Kohler, 2002; Raman et al. 2005).One of the main advantages of wikis is that they allow both interaction and simultaneous working on the joint outcomes. Another advantage is that there are no boundaries between the author and the user of contents.

However, many studies viewed that wiki interaction in a very narrow way. For example, (Bold, 2006) point out that the use of CoWeb tools like wikis does not improve discussion more than threaded discussions like blackboard. In addition, a cause study was conducted to investigate the use of wiki as an effective tool for knowledge sharing and creation in an academic environment (Reman et al., 2005). They used TikiWiki, an open source product, as a knowledge management tool. The researchers expected to use wiki as a tool to create and extract knowledge relevant to the class, for example, summary of recommended readings, however, they found that there was very limited of the wiki to facilitate in collaborative knowledge creating and sharing. Moreover, Engstrom & Jewett (2005) studied whether wiki facilitated on a large school project; they found that even though it was good at posting information on wiki, but not so good at sharing information and exchanging ideas.

4.3. Collaborative Learning

Nowadays, cooperative and collaborative learning play an important role in higher education environment. Collaborative learning becomes an important factor in academic achievement, personal development and student satisfaction (Barkley et al, 2005). According to (Johnson et al, 1998), there are five fundamental elements that are necessary to be successful collaborative learning. These are reviewed to guide our investigation on Wikis' impact on the process of learning.

Positive Interdependence: Positive interdependence exists when group members shares a common goal, (Johnson, Johnson, & Smith, 1998). The success of an individual is affected to the success of group. Positive interdependence includes sharing resources, role and task which are overlapping each other's (Johnson & Johnson, 1996). Wiki technology is able to support this aspect of collaborative learning by making it possible for individual to participate towards the accomplishment of common goals.

Promotive Interaction: Promotive interaction exists when group members work together as an individual. The meaning is that students can support, encourage, and facilitate each others to achieve their goals when they are doing the school works. Moreover, wiki enables to support the visibility of everyone's contribution. Students can compare their work with the work of others. In this way, they can correct their mistake, and consolidate new ideas from better group. The feedback of instructor can make more motivation to contribute on their work.

Individual and Group Accountability: Individual and group accountability is required when the performance of individual member and overall performance of the group are assessed. It exists when the results are given back to individual and the group to compare against the standard of performance and when an individual takes responsibility his/her fair share of work that are assessed individually (Johnson & Johnson, 1996). Furthermore, wiki can facilitate the group assessment, and make more transparent the quantity and quality of each group member's contribution. This would be possible to check some common problem of group work such as some students attempt to dominate group work, others attempt to get away from group work.

Interpersonal and Small Group Skills: In cooperative learning, interpersonal and small group skills are required so that the group members can work effectively with each other and function as a team. The greater the teamwork skills, including communicating, supporting and resolving conflicts with each other, the higher the quality and quantity of learning will be achieved (Johnson, Johnson, & Smith, 1998). The advantage of wiki technology is making easier communication within the group.

Group Processing: Group processing required when group members discuss how they are achieving their goals and maintaining effective working relationships within the members, (Johnson & Johnson, 1996). Group processing is important for maintaining good working relationship and providing feedback for each another (Johnson, Johnson, & Smith, 1998). In this aspect, wiki enable to provide prompt response and feedback for each others. And wiki provides students self-monitoring facility by keeping track of revision history, and who and when make changes.

This complete history of wiki utilizes in group projects to encourage a more equal participation from all team members, and it allows instructors to judge both the quantity and quality of contributions by different team members (Elgort et al., 2008). In this way, instructors become a facilitator in collaborative environment. Concerning the domination of some students on their group work, the asynchronous nature of wiki contribution and ability to edit each other's work may allow the quiet student a significant contribution to the assessed outcomes. This asynchronous written mode of contribution also encourages non English speaking background students to take more active role in the project (Elgort et al., 2003). The effective participation of student in collaborative knowledge creation and sharing is an important learning outcome for higher education courses (Elgort et al., 2008).

Several researchers examined students' perception and benefit of wikis use in collaborative learning. (Deters, Cuthrell & stapleton, 2010) studied the student perception of wiki use in online instruction and potential uses of wiki in collage level classroom. They found that no matter what students had initial hesitation a learning a new technology, overall experience regarding the wikis use was positive, and students also accepted wikis as a great collaboration tool (Deters, Cuthrell & stapleton, 2010). Moreover, (Augar et al & Naish , 2006) stated that use of wikis was as an icebreaker for online group work. Then, they also found out that wikis technology could support to enhance social interaction among students online. Thus, the role Wikis play in social interaction should not be overlooked.

However, it has been report that students did not perceive wikis as supporting collaboration. It was noticed that students had modest perception of the wikis supporting their learning and engagement and supporting the development of high-quality assignment product (Hughes & Narayan, 2009). In the paper of (Judd, Kennedy & Cropper, 2010), they suggested that wikis was not inherently collaborative tools and that additional components are required to promote participation and collaboration among students (Judd, Kennedy & Cropper, 2010).

In this context, collaborative learning includes two or more people communicating each others to construct knowledge by contributing information and resources on the university-based wiki.


The main purpose of this paper is to understand students' perception of wiki in the process of collaborative learning .Wikis are popular and useful for students' collaborative learning in carrying out projects or assignments; however, its strength and weakness in various activities and learning process have not been clear. Our study will conduct for the purpose of exploring student's perception regarding the usability and effectiveness of wikis use, and it will also examine the benefit of collaboration in wikis for student content learning, by observing the wiki use in group project among postgraduate students.

The empirical study conducts a survey method to examine the perception of wiki use and collaboration in the Wiki. Besides the demographic information, there are four sections of the questionnaire containing questions regarding wiki usages in learning activities, constructive learning skills, elements of collaborative learning, and learning outcomes. Data will be gathered and analyzed to produce the empirical supports to validate or invalidate the hypothesis. Data collected from the questionnaire is analyzed quantitatively by using 'descriptive statistics'. Percentage and Degree techniques are used to compute the survey results.