I was invited to chip into a module induction session this morning where students were going to be using a wiki to create a shared resource of key terms and concepts used in the module and to support their seminar presentations. Simple ideas like this can be a great way of engaging students in self directed formative work, help students prepare and follow up on face to face sessions through online spaces and leave students with a rich, valuable resource that they can all draw on for subsequent summative assessments.
In addition to the simplicity of the activity and clear articulation of how this will benefit student learning on the module, another key factor in making ideas like this work is ensuring that all students are comfortable with using the technology. With this in mind I ran a very short activity where students were asked to create a very simple wiki page and practice the key skills that they will use in the self directed task such as adding images, links, files and embedding media. While all students seemed to cope well with the technical aspects of the tasks, this type of initial direction can help to reinforce the value of the task and remove any “fear factor” associated with using a new technology, no matter how simple. This is supported by research and anecdotal reports that while we might think students are all completely familiar with every online technology that we want to throw at them, we should NOT just assume that they are all “digital natives” and take the time to introduce and familiarise students with new tools when they are presented.
I’ll be keen to see how the module turns out – in the meantime, please see attached for a “crib sheet” I prepared for the session, outlining how to do all the key wiki related tasks.