Good Example Of Technology Use In The Classroom: Class Wikis Literature Review
The world has experienced massive technology advent in the last few years. Technology has brought about new ways of doing things. One of the forms of technology that has particularly gained a lot of prominence is the internet. The internet has found application across a variety of fields. These include the industrial and the medical sectors. The education is also a sector where internet technology can find a lot of application. In the classroom, technology can be used to augment normal learning.
One of the ways through which technology can be used in a classroom setting to augment learning is through the creation of a classroom wikis. A classroom wiki is a small scale online platform that enables the students of a given class to interact with each other on education matters. A classroom wiki consists of a webpage that can be edited and manipulated by the members of a given classroom.
A wiki means that the students of a given class who are studying a particular concept can share with their counterparts new concepts and information about the particular topic that they are studying. In addition, students can make various postings about different topics and these can then be edited by fellow classmates whenever something is indicated wrongly, is missing or if needs a slight adjustment.
A class wiki when implemented in a certain classroom will also enable the teacher to pass on additional information about a particular topic and engage students in thought provocative forums that are aimed at enabling students to understand class concepts better. In addition, a class wiki can be used by the teacher to give explanations for the coursework as well as assignments. Furthermore, a class wiki can be used as platform for relating concepts to real world applications where students, for instance, post examples of how concepts learned in class are applied in the real world.
The class wiki if implemented will bring about many benefits and will augment the normal learning that is done in classrooms. It will provide an interface where students can interact, share knowledge with others and as a result help others to grow academically. In addition, it provides an avenue for the teacher to interact with students even when they are not physically in contact.
With the high advent of technology in the world, a lot of research has been conducted on how it can be applied in the classroom. There has also been a lot of research on the potential of various forms of technology in terms of augmenting normal classroom learning. Additionally, the likelihood of students accepting different technological applications has been explored. Significant research has particularly been conducted to examine the applicability and usability of wikis. Most of the research indicate that class wikis when effectively implemented have varied benefits to both students and instructors including increased collaboration.
Heng and Marimuthu (2012) have explored the use of wikis in classrooms and the benefits that it can bring to students. According Heng and Marimuthu (2012), wikis promote collaboration, and since collaboration is one of the most essential elements in classroom learning, it is more than applicable in such a setting. Collaboration is part of learning, and the use of a class wiki encourages this vice. In addition, a wiki that has been effectively designed and whose purpose is well defined usually encourages the participation of students both inside as well as well as out of the classrooms.
Wang (2013) is another set of authors who have researched on this form of technology and its application in the classroom. According to Wang (2013), the collaborative and interactive nature of wikis offers an opportunity for language learning beyond the one availed by traditional pedagogy. Wang (2013) conducted a study to examine the effect of wikis in EFL classes. The study aimed to establish the degree to which class wikis can enhance collaboration and as well as promote the acquisition of foreign language.
The findings of this study show that class wikis usually increases the motivation of students to learn the English language. Wikis also enhance the writing confidence of these students and also promotes social constructivist learning initiatives (Wang, 2013). Additionally, students also enjoy taking part in group talk availed through the wiki as they find them challenging and engaging.
The aspect of social constructivist learning and its relation to class wikis has been also explored by Noel (2015). According to Noel, educational and classroom environments that support constructivism are of enormous benefit to the learning of students. They increase information retention and also the motivation for learning by engaging students in comprehension development (Noel, 2015).
E-learning technologies such as social sites are good tools for the creation of constructivist educational environments. Blogs and wikis are particularly very effective for the creation of constructivist learning and can be designed to support various educational activities and concepts.
The effectiveness and impact of blogs on students and learning has also been studied by Cakir (2011). Cakir conducted a study in which he sought to establish some of the factors that affect student engagement with a teacher education program that utilizes class blogs to expand classroom discussions. In this study Cakir (2011), found out that the reasons and motivations for blogs use as well the perception about the challenge presented by blogs affect their engagement with users. Factors such as technical ability or gender have no impact on the engagement of students with the blog. This literature suggests that classroom wikis and blogs should pose challenging forums for students to keep them interested.
In examining the attitudes of students regarding wikis and the likelihood of this form of technology being readily adopted by students, Benckendorff (2013) found some interesting findings. First of all, it emerges that many students perceive wikis as convenient, flexible as a fair pedagogical technique that can be used for collaborative learning. In addition, many students fully understand and also exploit the reflective and collaborative nature of wikis. However, one negative finding from this research is that some students do not spend much time on tasks put on the wiki and, therefore, do not gain much. This inadvertently affects the overall nature and quality of collaboration.
Negative aspects of class wikis have also been established by Kear et al. (2010). Kear et al. conducted a study using distance learners where they used in-house wiki to go through and complete online tutorials that had been previously conducted through forums. The feedback and perspectives of tutors and students in this new endeavor was then assessed using questionnaires for the students and unstructured online feedback reports for the tutors. Although some students and some tutors thought that a wiki was a better platform for online tutorials and collaborations rather than formal forums, some found them to be quite hard to use as well as slower. In addition, it emerged that some students are often uncomfortable about editing the work of others in the online wiki. Additionally, some students expressed concerned about the ownership of the different contributions to the wiki. This research shows that there indeed some negative aspects of wikis or some concerns that should perhaps be addressed before they are put into full practice.
According to Halic et al. (2010), class wikis or blogs bring a lot of benefits to students in the class. These include increasing a community sense, collaboration, and reflection. Halic conducted a study in which undergraduate students taking a nutritional course were required to take part in class wiki discussions throughout a semester as a way of promotion reflective learning. At the end of the study, a total of 67 students were assessed for what they had learned in this exercise. Halic et al. (2010) found that computer expertise, as well as a sense of community, were the main predictors of perceived learning. Many of these students reported that taking part in the class blog or wiki significantly enhanced their learning and in fact prompted them to think about the content of the course out of the class, something that they previously did not do. These findings concur with the argument made previously about blogs and their ability to make students reflect on what they have learned in the classroom.
One particular belief about wikis that has existed for some time is that they are only usable for a short period, for a singular term. However, wikis can extend their usability beyond a singular term. According to Bradley (2014), wikis are currently one of the most valuable educational tools for collaborative learning and collaborative projects. Bradley, however, contends that there is one aspect or area of wikis that has not been exploited fully in their educational application.
According to Bradley (2014), this is the ability to put multiple courses on wikis and for extended periods that are longer than just a singular term. This according to Bradley (2014), brings about course continuity and in the process benefits both instructors and students by extending or prolonging the life of collaborative works. Bradley further contends that this can go on to become a subject area resource that benefits an education organization, the entire education discipline, and the public. Instructors can also use class wikis to maintain and put up a portfolio that, for example, documents the work of students.
In conclusion, it is clear that there is a lot of literature on the use of wikis in the classrooms. Many studies acknowledge that technological application has found its way in many classrooms and class wikis is one of the ways through which this technology is applied in the classroom. Most of the studies and indeed most of the literature seems to suggest that class wikis and blogs have a lot of benefits to students as well as instructors. The main benefits of class wikis, as shown from the literature review, is that they promote student collaboration. In addition, it has been shown that class wikis prompt students to think about what they have learned in classrooms and relate it to real life concepts. Moreover, class wikis promote a sense of community among students. Class Wikis have also been shown to boost social constructivist learning.
Benckendorff, P. (2009). Evaluating wikis as an assessment tool for developing collaboration and knowledge management skills. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management, 16(1), 102-112.
Bradley, Evan D. (2008). Using persistent wikis as a pedagogical resource. In The Plugged-In Professor: Tips and Techniques for Teaching with Social Media.
Cakir, H. (2013). Use of blogs in pre-service teacher education to improve student engagement. Computers & Education, 68, 244-252.
Halic, O., Lee, D., Paulus, T., & Spence, M. (2010). To blog or not to blog: Student perceptions of blog effectiveness for learning in a college-level course. The Internet and higher education, 13(4), 206-213.
Heng, L. T., & Marimuthu, R. (2012). Let's Wiki in Class. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 67, 269-274.
Kear, K., Woodthorpe, J., Robertson, S., & Hutchison, M. (2010). From forums to wikis: Perspectives on tools for collaboration. The Internet and Higher Education, 13(4), 218-225.
Noel, L. (2015). Using Blogs to Create a Constructivist Learning Environment. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 174, 617-621.
Wang, Y. C. (2014). Using wikis to facilitate interaction and collaboration among EFL learners: A social constructivist approach to language teaching. System, 42, 383-390.
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