Archive for Research thoughts

Recent findings and reflections on Wikibookians

I finished my paper on Wikibookians, finally. I know I’ve spent too much time on this study. I really love it! I appreciate each participant giving me great insights to understand their world!

Why did I spend so much time on this study? #1 Inexperience in data analysis #2 the result was a little bit different from the original proposal (so I had to shift the focus of it) #3 many things were going on at the same time. This is quite interesting experience. And I appreciate Dr Bonk’s feedback and always giving me opportunities to share. I really enjoyed presenting the study this semester. I got very smart questions. Then I used those questions to guide my plan of AECT presentations. It worked really well!

Close to the end of the semester, I happily finished the paper and hope to submit for a journal publication. Surprisingly, I found one of my participants shared his experiences of writing a Wikibook for his students! And published in 2007 in an electronic journal of his field! I really should be that productive! He has very a good analysis of textbooks in higher edu and a good discussion about pros and cons of Wikibooks. I finished reading it yesterday and I enjoyed it.
Extended reading- The future of textbooks(pdf file)?

Another interesting article (I just recently received the electronic file): Wikibooks in higher education: Empowerment through online distributed collaboration (link)


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Assessment and Web 2.0

assessment11I don’t like assessment in general, because I don’t think students should learn for external rewards and the grades shouldn’t be used for sorting kids. However, this seems the “one of the necessary evils” in education.

When we try to push Web 2.0 for education or for k-12, how should we respond to the issues like assessment? The idea of Web 2.0 is the freedom of contribution. Using Web 2.0 to empower students and giving them more power to express their opinions is such a wonderful thing. However, how to encourage this type of behavior? Would the traditional grading methods work?

Having students construct knowledge online (on wikis) is such a good idea. But are students ready to construct knowledge online and editing others work? Are teachers ready to grade collaborative work like this? Similar to the traditional collaborative projects, things happened beyond screens when students collaborate on wikis. The difference is, for wikis, students and instructors have opportunity to go back and review the contributions. But how do we use the information like this? If some students do more conceptual work or coordination, how would this show up on the screen (in the history)?

Another issue is about community of practice — if in the future, students can work with experts or experienced people outside class through the uses of Web 2.0 for a period of time, they gradually learn people in the community, develop skills and knowledge used in the context, and even be able to identify oneself’s role in the community, how do instructors provide assessment in the complex learning system like this?

The concept of assessment becomes vague. The boundary of assessing individuals becomes vague. However, learning becomes more unique and individualized, which is very close to my hope. The quality of education sometimes require more carefully planning for the instructor. So maybe this is perfect time for teachers (1) to focus on creating an active, fun, authentic learning environment or bradging the practicing with Web 2.0 communities, rather than focusing on grading (2) to make the changes from standardized assessment to individualized assessment – to understand individual interests, differences, needs, and futures.

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