Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Collaborative learning

The post grads in the maths, computing and technology (MCT) faculty are having a series of lunch time seminars or lectures on human-centred interfaces. This week, a third year student, David King, presented his findings these far on collaborative learning in a wiki environment. He's going to present his results at the Alt-C conference next week. ALT-C is an association for teaching and learning.

He'd studied two cohorts of OU students whose courses required collaborative work on an on-line report. One course was in requirements engineering and one in public administration, so one lot you might expect to be techie, and the other lot, not.

What interested me was the need to introduce a wiki to students because they hadn't used one before. So the course provided some reading and a collaborative icebreaker, like introducing themselves on the wiki, saying what they expected from the course and then editing each others input. Through out the course, this last was difficult. One reason was that it seemed rude to edit someone else's writing, and another was because there was assessment of the work, so it seemed wrong to interfere with what someone was going to get assessed on. Another problem was students' understanding of an on-line document. What they produced got too big to read on line without scrolling, or took ages to load. They needed to rethink what they were producing, and use links for example. (I wish course teams would remember this when they email out the TMAs and tutor notes, formatted for printing, but they inconsistently expect tutors to read them on the screen).

Lessons that David found included the need for constraints, like the use of templates, and for more guidance. You'll have to ask him for details - see his web page.

No comments: