Using wikis for online group projects: Student and tutor perspectives
Online group projects (OGPs) can be very stressful and students often cite them as one of their . It's not so much that your instructor wants to torture you—in fact, as a graduate student, I’ve learned there are great benefits to participating in group projects online. Don’t dread your next group project. Instead, look to OGPs as fertile training grounds to build critical leadership skills you’ll use in the workplace later.
Taylor, V. (2005). Online group projects: Preparing the instructors to prepare the students. In T. S. Roberts (Ed.), Computer-supported collaborative learning in higher education (pp. 19-50). Hershey, PA: Idea Group Inc.
This concept consistently proves itself in classrooms and workplaces all over the country as groups of students collaborate to accomplish a task or come up with the next big idea. However, the benefits of group work aren't limited to faster completion and the convenience of more hands on the wheel. Online group projects also benefit the individual immensely by exposing them to unique perspectives and teaching them to rely on others to achieve a common goal.This concept consistently proves itself in classrooms and workplaces all over the country as groups of students collaborate to accomplish a task or come up with the next big idea. However, the benefits of group work aren't limited to faster completion and the convenience of more hands on the wheel. Online group projects also benefit the individual immensely by exposing them to unique perspectives and teaching them to rely on others to achieve a common goal.This paper presents a study of the use of wikis to support online group projects in two courses at the UK Open University. The research aimed to investigate the effectiveness of a wiki in supporting (i) student collaboration and (ii) tutors’ marking of the students’ collaborative work. The paper uses the main factors previously identified by the technology acceptance model (TAM) as a starting point to examine and discuss the experiences of these two very different user groups: students and tutors. Data was gathered from students via a survey and from tutors via a range of methods. The findings suggest that, when used in tandem with an online forum, the wiki was a valuable tool for groups of students developing a shared resource. As previous studies using the TAM have shown, usefulness and ease of use were both important to students’ acceptance of the wiki. However, the use of a wiki in this context was less well-received by tutors, because it led to an increase in their workload in assessing the quality of students’ collaborative processes. It was possible to reduce the tutor workload by introducing a greater degree of structure in the students’ tasks. We conclude that when introducing collaborative technologies to support assessed group projects, the perceptions and needs of both students and tutors should be carefully considered.But even so, what I observed was that it took a week or so for groups to fully ramp up. That is, to get to the point of everyone having met and introduced themselves, exchanged contact information, and to start developing a plan of action. All of which would have happened in 15 minutes in the classroom. So lesson #1: coordination online takes longer. No big surprise there, really. But that extra time needs to be baked into the planning for online group projects.It's not uncommon for students to gripe when confronted with the prospect of group work. Research shows, however, that online group projects or in-person collaborative learning stands a better chance of success when certain boundaries are set. For example, students and teachers benefit when group work is carefully thought-out and explained to students ahead of time. Simply put- the more details, the better. It's also crucial for students to ask questions and take the initiative to clear up any misunderstandings ahead of time.The Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) research group will investigate interactions of peer collaboration and instructional interventions for learning in online learning environments. Research topics include but not limited to online group projects, peer tutoring, group awareness, social loafing, online discussion, etc. CSCL research group will conduct qualitative as well as quantitative studies to reveal students’ peer interactions and find their impact on learning outcome and satisfaction. They will also design and develop group awareness tools to facilitate an effective group process and positive group climate. Students will review articles related to the research topics and develop research plans collaboratively.