To involve the students more in their preparation for lessons and to replace the traditional student presentations with more collectively binding activities.
I use the online service Wikispaces (the platform is no longer available). I provide each of the individual study groups with their own wiki and with access to one another's.
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).
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.
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.