Deeper Instruction in Student-centered Online Classes through Collaborate Wiki in LM to Enhance Critical Thinking

AUTHOR
Chengcheng LI, School of Languages, XJTLU

DATA
28 June 2022

Key Words

Deeper Instruction, Student-centered class, Wiki, Critical Thinking

Author Bio

Chengcheng Li works as a Language instructor at School of Languages for over 10 years. Her major research interest is Critical Thinking and Minds.

What is a Wiki?

The wiki is a web tool which allows users to create content in a webpage. To create a Wiki, you need to use a Wiki hosting site or Wiki platform. There are many free wiki hosting services with different features like the number of users, storage, and different ways to organize pages. Learning Mall (LM), XJTLU online learning and teaching platform, also hosts Wiki site in which we can create Wikis to manage information for classroom purposes.

How does Wiki work?

In Wiki, you create various different HTML pages to organize, categorize, share, publish information in different Wiki hosting sites like Mediawiki, Google Docs, Office and etc., which do not require technical knowledge of coding, like HTML, Java, etc.. These sites are designed intuitively for easy navigation and usage. In LM, the Wiki creating page is also straightforward, although it does not allow many fancy designs of pages, which certainly can be modified in the future version.

The practices of using Wiki for teaching

In general, the Wiki is a site where users create different HTML pages connected through hyperlinks. It is a great way to organize the course content for easy navigation for students, convenient modifications of information without unnecessarily sending emails or messages,  and encouraging students’ contribution and collaboration. I will share some experience for building wikis in LM for enhancing students’ learning experience.

1. Wikis allow easy navigation of information for a module

When all course relevant information is organized in this simple and clear four categories, it allows flexibility for students to plan and navigate their learning without worrying about missing information from tutor emails or a newly added LM activities. Students can click these four Wikis for information whenever they are free.

2. Wikis enhance student-centered learning

In Wiki, content of classroom materials can be beautifully organized into visually appealing HTML pages with multimedia, colors, and illustration which is much more stimulating compared to Word Documents. With all class topics listed neatly in one place, naturally, students would want to try to click on the link to see what is inside, which could greatly help stimulate their curiosity. And if each of the page is designed with careful instructions, students would want to study the content well-before the classes. That would truly help turn the class time into a sharing, exchanging, and interactive space for both teachers and students, which can transform the traditionally information dissemination style of teaching. In addition, each week’s page is organized in the same pattern intentionally to save time and energy from looking for information, instead, to help learners concentrate on digesting information when they expect where to find what kinds of information with certainty.

3. Wikis promote deeper instruction for genuine understanding and critical thinking

One of the advantages of Wiki is allowing teachers to organize and share multimedia content in one place with students. Students could fully and easily grasp key information and deeper instructions before interacting with peers or teachers. The most important job for teachers is not simply piling information in one page but designing a way to organize meaningful, effective, intriguing instructions to direct students to appropriately use of content with a goal or purpose. The instructions must clearly demonstrate what students are expected to do, and how they should do it. For example, for a critical thinking activity, such instruction and resources are given to help students complete the task:

Critical Thinking activity:

If you were a professional communication coach, how would you write a great Crowdfunding Story for 3Doodler?

Instruction:

a. Watch the video "Motivated Sequence" to understand the 5 steps to create a speech that could motivate people to take actions.

Monroe Motivate Sequence--Presentation Skills (Video Link)

b. Write 5 short sections of each of the 5 steps of motivate sequence for 3Doodler.

c. Post your answers to your personal page. 

4. Wikis help enhance independence and collaboration with peers

Wikis provide a platform for students to share information and contribute to group knowledge, which makes them feel connected and builds rapport. In the Wiki for Homework page, clear instructions are given with resources, which saves students time and energy to remember tasks when all information is organized and well-categorized for them to be collaborative and creative.

When students post homework to their own Wiki page, it helps create a great sense of contribution and achievement because everyone can view everyone else’s homework. For weaker students, their imagination can be stretched when they see models, while for the strong, they could freely demonstrate their capacities. For teachers, they can assess students’ performance and adjust lesson plans readily and accordingly. Students can also get feedback from teachers in the same Wiki page. The individual comments enhance customized student-teacher communication and are much more effective than general feedback. Students could also enhance understanding from teachers’ comments to peers’ homework. 

The creation of Wiki in LM

The creation of Wikis is very simple with different buttons for writing and multimedia, which are very intuitive for students. One of the most useful functions is the hyperlink which allows students to include links of other Wiki pages or websites or files. Users can also reorganize information easily by inserting new pages, links, answers, or any other types of information. All the information allows students to view and review without worrying about storing or losing them in their computers.

Conclusion

Wikis can be used to effectively create, organize content for teaching by allowing students to preview information with clear deeper instructions. Wikis could also allow contribution from students for peer reviewing, collaborative tasks, student-teacher interaction and effective feedback. In addition, with clear instruction, easy navigation, multimedia content in organized central place for convenient accessibility, students are well-facilitated for genuine understanding, critical and creative thinking, as well as better participation in class.