I have just finished another project using my wiki space: group lab reports for grade 12 chemistry.
What an amazing success! I absolutely loved how easy this was to manage, how much information about page editing my wiki service, pbwiki, provides me, and how the students enjoyed it a lot more than they thought they would.
In an earlier post to my blog, I complained about how my students reacted to being told that they would be making their group lab reports online on the course wiki space rather than on paper. Today, the due date of the group report, well over half of the students told me that they liked preparing their group lab report much more this way rather than on paper. I wasn’t surprised that some would come to that conclusion, but I was very surprised at how many of them did!
However, what most pleased me about this process was how easy it was for me to setup, monitor and maintain, as well as the richness of the information I could get about the students’ editing process. (I was going to put some screen shots that my wiki space provided, but I don’t want to reveal my student names in this blog, so you’ll have to take my word for what I’m about to say.) It made it so easy to track the contributions of every student of the group and provide some accountability for individual marks determined from the group lab mark.
1) I set up each lab group in their own folder in the wiki space, giving them editor permissions. Only they could see and edit what was in their folder. They couldn’t see the other groups’ work, nor could others see theirs. This took me only about 15 minutes for 100 students.
2) As the students log in and edit their group lab report document, my wiki service tracks exactly what was done, on what date and at what time. I can easily compare the document from one edit to another, so that I can clearly see what each student contributed or changed. All this, with just a few clicks of the mouse! I can check on their progress at ANY TIME! It’s easy to see which groups may be procrastinating, allowing for gentle encouragement from the teacher!
3) I could turn off the editing rights of all 100 students at the due date in about 4 minutes! Since the students knew exactly when I would do this, it was a great incentive to get the job done on time. However, the same students are also working on a group research report that has a due date in about two months. Since those files are being held in different folders, their editing rights to those documents remain unchanged. I have complete control over who can edit what, and when! It’s so easy to have multiple projects going on at the same time.
4) I can mark the documents online from any internet computer, anytime!
My course wiki space has just become a permanent resource in my arsenal. If you have even contemplated the use of a wiki to help your students collaborate, my advice is DO IT NOW! It’s so easy and powerful!