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Posts Tagged ‘wiki’

Teaching with online documents

Posted by selinalock on 27 November, 2009

A few weeks ago I asked if anyone could recommend an alternative to using wikis in a teaching session.  A few ideas were suggested including using twitter to get comments from, and interaction among students. An appeal to twitterers also yielded the idea of using

I decided that I would try out etherpad as it allows simultaneous (real-time) online document editing, which would allow me to achieve the same kind of aim as I had with using a wiki. That is to set students tasks using the online document and then get them to make comments on the results of those tasks during the session. The free, public etherpads expire after a week, but I wasn’t expecting the students to go back to the documents after session. I was just after something that could be used as a primer for thinking and talking online about issues surrounding the use of Wikipedia, tips for using search engines, sites they would recommend for their course etc.

Etherpad itself turned out to be a very useful tool with interesting features: I created 10 version of the same document and split the class of approx 68 (I think only about 40 actually showed up) into groups. The software coped very well with the simultaneous editing and there were other useful features such as a chat function at the side of the document, and a time slider feature so you could review all the changes that had been made.

Some of the students thought it was an interesting way to run a session, but I had not banked on the anonymous nature of the software causing issues. Basically, once the students realised it was anonymous because they didn’t have to register to use the documents there was a lot of inappropriate behaviour – posting of inappropriate links, deleting of the whole document while other students were trying to use it, using the chat facility to comment on one another etc.

So, overall I think Etherpad could be used in interesting ways in the classroom, you just have to be careful what ground rules you lay and what groups you use  it with!

Posted in Training, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Alternatives to using a wiki to teach?

Posted by selinalock on 29 October, 2009

I’m looking for some advice or suggestions on alternatives to using a wiki during a session.

Last year I blogged about my experience using a wetpaint wiki with 1st year computer scientists which overall went well as the students liked the option to interact online, rather than interact verbally in the classroom. We found last year and so far with the group this year that they are far happier doing things in front of a computer!

Anyway, there are up to 70 students and I would like them to comment on issues such as the pros and concs of wikipedia during the session. The wetpaint wiki would not allow several people to edit at once so most of the students entries were lost or overwritten last year.

If anyone can recommend an alternative solution?

– wiki software that will let multiple people edit?

– chat room software that can deal with a big group?

– discussion forum software?

– would a blog allow lots of people to comment at once? Or would it fall over?

I only really need the software during the session, as I’m not expecting them to add to it afterwards, so it needs to be free and easy to use/register for. I would have used a Blackboard discussion board but this module isn’t using Blackboard!

Posted in Subject Support, Training, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Using a wiki and peer evaluation with 1st year medics

Posted by sarahw9 on 12 March, 2009

wiki on BlackboardThis is our second year of using a wiki in our session with 1st year medics ‘Finding the Evidence’.  The purpose of this session is to make sure that students understand both where to find and how to use resources that support evidence based medicine.  This exercise also aims to support the students as they embark on their 10,000 word dissertations where they follow a real patient for two years, looking at the the patients’ medical condition, treatment and their social context. 

We set the students a clinical question, for example, they may be asked if a particular drug helps a medical condition or what evidence there is to support a particular type of treatment (I don’t want to give away of our real questions here!).  

Before the training sessions the students are given an assignment which they complete in groups of 3.  In the wiki there is list of resources they have to search.  They have to record their search strategy (keywords and more detail if relevant), and what they find in answer to the clinical question. Then they have to write a conclusion based on all the evidence they have found, and make any observations about differences of opinion they find in the literature. 

The resources they search are: Clinical Knowledge Summaries; Intute; Medline; The Cochrane Library; and the British National Formulary.  This is to familiarise students with guidelines for physicians, prescribing doses, patient information, as well as the literature at the highest level of evidence and the more exploratory (but still peer reviewed) levels of research literature. 

When they arrive at the session the students are given some further background to evidence based medicine and are shown some extra tips on searching these tools.  We hope they actually take it in now they have used them the tools for themselves.  We discuss the ‘answer’ to the clinical question they were asked and give feedback to the students on their assignments.  Then the fun starts as they are asked to look at another wiki and enter comments on each others wikis, noting three things another group did differently to themselves.   I think this is quite eye-opening for them – to see that another group answering the same question using the same resources finds different results and emphasises different aspects of the question.  They should (and virtually all did in fact) find the same basic bottom line answer to the question, but there may be a few subtleties for example different situations where different treatments are applicable or where the evidence is unclear.  We also ask the students to say what they would do differently if they were going to do this exercise again.

We are still compiling our feedback from the sessions, but so far it it mostly good, and amazingly the students say they can see the point of the exercise.  I think in future we need to consider ways to focus the students’ comments more.  Some have put in alot of detail and constructive comments, others are more along the lines of  ‘ours was better than yours’. 

Overall this is a good way to focus students on particular resources.  It is also very specific to a particular question and plugs straight into resources they are going to be using for their dissertations (or they should be using).

Selina has also used a wiki with the computer scientists if you want to compare notes and outcomes.  Interestingly different groups of students have different characteristics as a whole. This type of exercise may be working for medics and computer sciencists, but would it work for others?  Perhaps its time we tried it.

Posted in Subject Support, Training, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

TAN: Web 2.0 & Information Literacy

Posted by selinalock on 15 January, 2009

Several of us from the library attended the Teaching Assessment Network presentation yesterday by Sarah Whittaker and Alan Cann.

The slides with an audio commentary for this session can be found in a previous post.

The session mainly consisted of a face to face and simultaneous twitter discussion about using Web 2.0 technologies in teaching, particularly with regards to information literacy skills.

I don’t have a particular problem twittering while listening/discussing issues face to face. However,  it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea and some people had problems hearing the face verbal discussion due to the tapping of keyboards and/or concentrating on the online discussion due to the amount of tangential “twittering”.

Some of the interesting points I picked up in the room and online were:

  • Web 2.0 tools used included a customised google search engine, wikis, and a pageflakes page for relevant journal links and RSS feeds. All bought together through the Blackboard VLE page for the course.
  • As the students saw each other daily anyway there was very little interaction online.
  • The custom search and the journal pages were very popular with the students.
  • The tutor saw an improvement in the quality of resources used.
  • suggests it’s best to integrate appropriate Web 2.0 info literacy tools within student courses.
  • Academis staff were offered library sessions on RSS and social bookmarking but take up was low – they didn’t come because they didn’t know how it would be useful?
  • The library needs to expand on our Web 2.0 knowledge and the support we offer – need web 2.0 evangelists?
  • More emphasis on evaluation – less on searching?
  • Issues to think about teaching: advanced google searching, specialist image/audio search engines, wikipedia, youtube as reference tool, RSS, blogs/blog searching, citing new types of resources and copyright/creative commons.

Posted in Meetings, RSS, Staff training, Training, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

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.

Posted in Subject Support, Training | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

What Web 2.0 technologies should libraries be teaching?

Posted by selinalock on 30 July, 2008

For the first time this coming academic year I will be teaching an information skills session to 1st year computer scientists. This is likely to be challenging as they tend to think that the library resources are not relevant to their subject and that they know how to search the net.

I’m thinking I might use a wiki which has been primed with exercises for them to complete and feedback on during the session as described in this paper;

So, the next question is what exercises should I use in the wiki? The Department expects the students to mainly use websites and books. Plus a couple of journals that have articles appropriate to 1st years.

I’m thinking that they need to also be discussing different types of online sources such as wikipedia and blogs. So, as part of that do I include social bookmarking and RSS feed readers? It’s only a 2 hour session so I’ll only be able to include so much.

Posted in Subject Support, Training, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »