I’ve been wanting to see what a wiki is all about so I modified an old assignment. My students had to research the life of Maya Angelou in small groups. Once upon a time they made power points showing their results. Power point is a great tool, but I wanted to experiement with something the wiki idea. I made 3 wikis and broke my 65 students into 3 groups spanning across my 3 hours so kids were groups not by hour. I thought that was neat – collaborative groups between 3 hours. The kids never got up and moved by each other and in most cases they were working with someone in another hour anyway. Cool, right? I thought it was. They were a little bowled over at first. Each group had approximately 10 questions. They had to claim their questions and answer them. After they answered them, they then had to format their wiki page in a user-friendly format. Then 3 days later students completed a crossword puzzles where the answers came from any of the 3 wikis.
What I’d do Different:
- Make more questions and redo some of them. Some groups had 5 and were too easy. I really wanted questions that required more listening/thought process.
- I noticed the questions I made more critical and indepth didn’t get answered. Some kids didn’t take the time to put on the headphones and watch the video or read the whole article. I really needed to stress that and push for a more quiet classroom.
- They clearly needed to be taught about good web design/format beforehand. I just expected them to use their judgment. It’s not that their design was gaudy or obnoxious. It just wasn’t there – it was boring and hard to use. They mixed text in with the questions and links; In some cases they answered questions on their group home page, but you couldn’t tell who took responsibility for them. I required a larger font than the standard, but most left their standard. The lack of usability showed when they went to answer the crossword puzzle I made a few days later. It wasn’t supposed to be hard, but since their wikis were sloppy it was.