Use of wikis with 1st year students of French
School of Marketing, Tourism and Languages
I set up 8 wikis (with Wikispaces) in Spring 2010 for collaborative exchanges between students of French at Edinburgh Napier University (Level B1 of the Common European Framework, mainly 1st year, post A-Level/Higher students) and students of English at the Université de Haute Alsace in Mulhouse. Both sides included a number of international students. The aims were to encourage students to practise writing in the language of their counterparts and explore each other’s cultural practices revolving around the student experience (timetabling issues, cost of living, listening/viewing/reading likes and dislikes). They were also asked to select a picture of Scotland / France which, in their view, represented the country where they lived and studied. In Scotland, students were not assessed for these activities (as I viewed this as a pilot study) but some of these took place in tutorial time. In France, on the other hand, wiki activities were embedded in the assessment regime, which accounted for a higher level of activity on that side. Wiki technology provides affordances which align on the latest thoughts on learning and teaching as they provide a collaborative, constructive learning process, have the potential to make students feel engaged and empowered, and can make provision for analytical, reflective and creative activities (for learning theories see Johnstone 2010). It is, however, important to have all activities constructively aligned with the learning objectives.
Questionnaires were issued to the Scottish students, and French students had to write a report evaluating their experience. On both sides, students were generally positive about the technology and the possibilities for interactions, exchange of information and for corrective feedback by their peers. Concern was expressed on the French side about the lack of responsiveness of some students. This was expected as the activities were not assessed in Scotland. However, the overall feeling was that the wiki activities were well worthwhile and that they also provided valuable technological skills. Additionally, both teaching teams had a positive outlook on this project and are willing to take it forward.
The general pedagogical set-up will be retained. I will be using the repository of information provided by this year’s cohort as the basis for tasks and training in the Autumn. The following modifications will be brought in: New topics: enquiry-based learning (based on intercultural questions) Provision of a technical handbook (troubleshoots) Integration in assessment on both sides (i.e. more constructive alignment) The possibility of using Elluminate Live to engage both sides in a live debate will be explored.
Cole, M. (2009) Using wiki technology to support student engagement: lessons from the trenches. Computers & Education 52: 141-146. (NB: this reports on a negative experience but stresses the need for alignment with the teaching objectives and integrative assessment) Johnston, B. (2010): The First Year at University: Teaching students in transition. Maidenhead: Open University Press. Lund, A. (2008) Wikis : a collective approach to language production. ReCALL 20(1): 35-54.
Please see 3 screen captures in appendix.
This case study won the first university Learning, Teaching and Assessment (LTA) best practice award in the category, 'Best Use of Technology' (January 2011). This award was presented at the staff conference, Learning, teaching and assessment at Edinburgh Napier University: celebrating our practice, by Vice Principal Professor John Duffield.
01 April 2010