Wiki for preparation and presentation

Subject: Culture of events. Course: Global Cultures and Media. Study level: Bachelor. Class size: 2x25

Motivation for the activity

To involve the students more in their preparation for lessons and to replace the traditional student presentations with more collectively binding activities.

Central learning outcomes for the course

To build up theoretical and cultural-analytical competencies in relation to contemporary globalisation processes.

Central learning outcomes for the activity

  • to ensure thorough preparation between sessions from the students
  • to create confidence and familiarity in relation to the subject's core concepts
  • to create academically active communities in the study groups
  • to build up a knowledge platform for the subject’s syllabus and themes
  • to train the students’ writing skills in relation to the subject and the exam.

Description of the activity

  1. I use the online service Wikispaces as an actual platform. I provide each of the individual study groups with their own wiki and with access to one another's. When you create the wiki, you must remember to create it as a teaching wiki, because otherwise there will be limitations on the number of participants. You can get to know the technology with the help of videos from Wikispaces. It takes a little time but the platform is very simple.
  2. For the first seven sessions of the course I present working questions about basic theoretical concepts (for example, “Describe the difference between the scarcity society and the risk society according to Ulrich Beck”), or initiate small analytical exercises on cases that are connected to the following session. These exercises must be answered by the study groups before they come to the session (approx. 2 standard pages per session per group).
  3. During the final 20 minutes of each session I ask the students to revise/expand/correct their wiki answers in the light of the day's teaching, after which one or two groups present their work. I always open the group wiki in plenum (using a projector), which clearly motivates the groups to prepare before the session, as all of them face a possible group presentation during each session. This way of utilising the wiki ensures that the answers have a certain authority, that incorrect answers do not remain uncorrected after the session, and it raises everyone's motivation to be attentive during the session because any of the groups may have to present something related to the studied material at the end of the session.

Outcome of the activity

I have used this online tool for two semesters and my experience is that the constant focus on writing considerably strengthens the overall learning process and degree of preparedness compared to the years prior to this initiative.

The students are more obliged towards one another in the groups and develop a routine for the week in their preparation for the lessons. They become familiar with the subject’s concepts more quickly, the degree of preparation is intensified, and all of the students are regularly activated due to the wiki. Moreover, I use the wiki on an on-going basis to gain an overall picture of the students' understanding of the dimensions of the subject.

The students' evaluation of the wiki has resulted in a unequivocally positive response.

Recommendations

  • Use the wiki systematically in lessons so that the students experience a necessity in relation to using it and answering the assignments
  • Avoid the wiki just becoming the students' space, which you never relate to as a lecturer
  • Be disciplined in relation to formulating new tasks for the next session in plenty of time
  • Ask understandable questions (the more specific, the better) and specify how long the answer should be.

Carsten Stage

Associate professor

Resources for the activity

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