Wikis are a terrific – and underutilised – tool for enabling students to work collaboratively on projects.
There are two separate wiki systems available to Otago staff. Otago Wikis is a standalone offering with advanced features, which can be made available to the public. Blackboard wikis (which I will focus on today) is a more basic system that is available within Blackboard.
Wikis are easy for any coordinator to set up within a Blackboard paper, and offer a powerful resource for allowing groups to build up a large document with contributions from many individuals.
If you assign group projects in your course, wikis represent an effective way for your students to collaborate on the manuscript for a presentation or report. An additional benefit of wikis in this context is that the input of individuals is tracked, so it is straightforward to gauge and grade not only the final product of the group as a whole, but also the contributions of given members.
To set up a wiki, select the ‘Wikis’ option in the ‘Course Tools’ menu in your Blackboard paper. Once it is set up and students have built a page, you can investigate the history of that building process using the ‘Participation Summary’ function. These links are highlighted in the screenshot above.
Within the Participation Summary, select a given user to track and (if desired) evaluate the contributions she has made to the overall project. This information can be presented in a helpful ‘Page Comparison’ view, as in the example shown below.
Beyond student group assessments, there are many possibilities for incorporating wikis into your teaching praxis. For example, some lecturers use wikis so their students can contribute to building up an annotated bibliography as the course progresses. Others use wikis as an ongoing lab journal.
More information on setting up and using Blackboard wikis can be found on our Otago Blackboard helpsite for staff.