The Centre for Leadership in Learning is pleased to announce the availability of academic wiki service. This service is the result of a pilot program started in 2006 which involved a number of instructors from both undergraduate- and graduate-level courses. With the pilot project complete, the service is now open to all instructors on campus.
The wiki, popularized by 'Wikipedia', is web-based software that can be used collaboratively to create websites. While a typical website stays the same until updated by the author, a wiki can be edited by groups of users. Each user can very quickly and easily make contributions to the overall work. Ana Tomljenovic, a teaching assistant in the Cellular Biochemistry course notes, "The wiki allowed all group members to be actively involved in building their own pages, with the added advantage that changes were automatically saved and previous versions could be recovered if needed."
Starting with ‘WikiNatomy’ in September 2006 the initial trial has expanded to include over a dozen courses from faculties and departments across campus including Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, Kinesiology, Health Sciences, Nursing, Midwifery, Economics, and Engineering. Over 400 students from both undergraduate- and graduate-level programs have been involved.
The reaction to the use of wikis in the participating courses has been positive.
“Students find this really cool – they control it, and they can construct the learning they are creating in any way that they like”, says Barb Bloemhof who taught multiple economics courses utilizing wikis, adding “It's really simple to learn, and the imagination is the only limit on what it is good for from their perspective.”
Michelle MacDonald from the Biochemistry program reported that many of her students chose to use the wiki over a more conventional term paper, saying “With a choice between presenting their work using the wiki or using a standard term-paper format, 27 out of 30 student groups adopted the wiki.”
And when asked if a wiki might be used in future courses, Bruce Wainman from the Anatomy program writes, “Whenever we need to host an easily-editable, easily-hosted webpage we would use a wiki.”
The wiki project also includes MAC ID integration to make it easier for students to gain secure access to their course wikis.