UoL Library Blog

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Reflections on using a wiki to teach

Posted by selinalock on 11 November, 2008

As previously mentioned I decided that I would use a wiki to teach a 1st year computer science session on evaluating resources, which is part of their CO1007 module on Study and Professional skills.

I decided that, as the students identify strongly with the modules they are studying, I would call the wiki CO1007: Evaluating Resources.

You can have a look at the wiki, including the student contributions. There were 42 students present for the session.

What went well:

  • The students seemed much more at ease in a computer lab than they had in a previous session held in a lecture theatre.
  • Most of the students dived straight into the wiki exercises after only a few minutes introduction from me. A handful needed some help to get started.
  • When walking around the lab i could see that the majority of the students were on relevant pages for most of the session. (With only a few excursions to Facebook etc!).
  • Verbal feedback in class suggested that delicious was popular.
  • More feedback and interactivity online than we had seen verbally in lecture theatre session.

What didn’t go so well:

  • The wetpaint wiki did not work how I expected when several people were editing at once – instead of entries being merged, some entries were lost and others were overwritten.
  • This led to student frustration and a drop off in participation as the session progressed, as the students saw no point in trying to add comments if they were just going to disappear!
  • The session was originally scheduled for two hours (4-6pm on a thursday), but the students got bored and started to leave after one hour.
  • The search engine task went a bit pear-shaped, as I realised partway through the session that my link for google scholar was incorrect (edited link during session) and that scirus was down for maintenance.


  • Session seemed to go well. I think it appealed to these students more than a traditional information literacy session would have.
  • Need to investigate alternative wiki software and test with a group beforehand.
  • Need to include a task on how to improve your search skills (see feedback below).

I have also included the student feedback below, collected using paper feedback forms.

a.  Overall, I rate this session











Strongly Agree



Strongly Disagree

b. The skills covered were relevant to my studies  





c.  I now feel more confident using the resources covered





d. This session occurred at the right time in

my course







Too long

Just right

Too short

e.  The session was





STOP (What could be left out of the session?)

Wiki doesn’t work for large groups.

Editing the wiki.

Nothing much.

The wiki wasn’t very reliable.

Make the 4-6 class earlier.

Nothing much needs to be changed.

Not sure, not everything actually worked properly.

Feedback forms.

Feedback forms.

The editing of the wetpaint wiki.


CONTINUE (What should be left in the session?)

IT Rooms are good.

Info on resources.


More info on delicious, need to actually try stuff before telling other people to do it.

I thought everything in the session was relevant to my studies.

I like the session as it is.

Pretty much everything, might be useful.

Lab sessions.


Website provided (google scholar, delicious etc)

The search engine task & the demo video’s.

Demo videos, search engine task, Wikipedia task.


START (What should have been covered in the session that wasn’t?  Ideas for new sessions also appreciated.)


Clear in more depth about this and how.

Be more specific about the resources page.

Alternative links.

Free relevant resources.

Plagiarism for dummies. Auto Essay generator (source: Wikipedia).

Free food. Auto essay generation tips (ner joke). Foxmarks is nice alternative to delicious.

How to search for information using scholar, google etc (i.e. using various search terms.)

Exploring the university search engine and finding material relevant to your course.

4 Responses to “Reflections on using a wiki to teach”

  1. gazjjohnson said

    Know what you mean about the Wetpaint over write thingy, when I’ve used it both for SmallWorldz and SW’s Web 2.0 session I had a few merge/overwrite issues myself. Is this endemic of the software or just an occassional glitch, as the rest of the time I’m very fond of it as a product!

    And I’ve a evaluating resources video in pre-planning at the moment, which you can always use another time 🙂

  2. ajcann said

    I’m sure there are better wikis than wetpaint out there. Please tell me what they are 🙂

  3. sarahw9 said

    Our peanut butter wikis didn’t allow two people to edit a page at a time, so I thought Wetpaint was better. We had ours in groups and had a wiki per group in the end – a bit much.

    Thats very good feedback – varied and interesting comments rather than the usual two words if anything, so you must have got them engaged.

    I agree more of this type of training is needed.

  4. stujohnson said

    Good stuff. I’d like to use this kind of approach more too. Just need to decide what it’s most appropriate for. Has anyone discovered a better wiki yet?

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