Archive for the ‘H808_Unit3_2009’ Category

Using wiki with students as a notebook for ICT learning

Executive summary

In this report I will explain what is a wiki and how I use it in my ICT course with my students as a participative notebook. I will point out the different outcomes and drawbacks I have noticed after two years of practice. Finally I will provide some recommendations for using wikis with students and give some further readings.


Although the web service Wikipedia is well known by most Internet users, the concept behind wiki remain obscure for most of them. A wiki is a piece of software usually accessible on the web in which users can create, edit and improve text as in a word processor.
Text authors embed links, multi-media such as images, sound or video. Wikis are called social tool because they let other users to interact with published media and edit in the same time or at different time. Documents can then be created within a group of users. Authors or wiki managers can attribute roles to each actor and limit the right to edit or create to certain or all readers/users.
An history is preserved and shows all the editing together with the name of those who made them. From this, it is always possible to rollback and return to a previous version of the wiki documents or to decide to purge the history and then freeze the document in its latest stage.

Current practice

With my first year Gymnasium students (secondary school, students in age 16-17) I give an IT course. This course is given half class (about 16 students) every two weeks. One of the most problems is students’ memorisation of taught concepts between two session. Sometimes, taking account of the holiday and imponderables more than one month can separate two lessons.
Until 2007, I requested students to take notes of what we studied during a lesson. Especially when working on Excel with some complex formula or concepts. More than
once, notes were lost and not taken by students and then assessment always shows poor results.
Since 2008, after each didactic sequence, students are asked to write a small report on a wiki for memory. They also have to write step-by-step instructions to show they have understood how to proceed with tasks and to remember the process in the future. These notes are shared among the groups and each member can come on one other’s wiki and edit it if he finds that corrections have to be done.
The result of this is already a better rate of pass at the final assessment. I have observed that students go by themselves to find information in their wiki’s notes whenever they need to recall some procedure in Excel or in Word. They are more critics on the notes they take and on the notes others have taken.
In the future I would like to observe whether the reflexive task requested after each learning sequences gives students more confidence or doesn’t change long term retention.


To extend or adapt use of wikis in teaching, we must be aware that a wiki is not a tool our students have already use. A phase of learning a about the tools is essential, and exercises using wikipedia, for example, could be positive.
Installation of wiki is relatively complicated. But a simple wiki with basic functions is available in Moodle as activity. This activity module supports groups and grouping to crate group, private, or class wikis.
Without tasks that demand collaboration a wiki is useless. And wikis are to develop interactive and dynamic, multimedia, hyperlinked documents. For any other use of text processing, wikis have to be replaced by fora or blogs which are more common to practitioners.


The main issue is in the nature of wikis which is not very well understood by users. Wiki is a tools belonging to the Web 2.0 family. It encompasses collaborative, multimedia and hypertext facilities. It resembles to a word processor but has to be use differently.
Page layout editing is most of the time less straightforward than in a word processor, in a blog or in a forum. Editing wikis has some limitations that are minors if other functionalities (group, link, multimedia) are used. .

Further reading

Duffy, Peter D. and Bruns, Axel (2006) The Use of Blogs, Wikis and RSS in Education: A Conversation of Possibilities. In: Online Learning and Teaching Conference 2006, 26 Sep. 2006, Brisbane. Available from (accessed on 11 January (2010)
Educause (2005), 7 things you should know about… wikis, Educause, Available online (accessed on 10 January 20010)
Mader (2006), Using Wiki in Education, Steward Mader ed.
Richardson, W. (2009) Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for
Classrooms Corwin Press; Wikipedia (2010), (accessed 11 January 2010)


H808-Core Activity 8-11: Creating a podcast

Here is the transcript of my podcast created for Activity 8-11 in the H808 course by the Open University. If time is money, podcasts are expensive.

———— Transcript ————

Hello I am Dominique-Alain JAN, a student in the H808 Open University course called “The elearning professional”.
For the purpose of activity 8-11, I am delivering this podcast about: “elearning professionals and podcasting”.

First, I will just reflect on my own experience of creating this, my first podcast ever. Then I will talk a bit about podcasting as an activity for elearning professionals.

To begin with, I made some recording trials with Quicktime Pro and Audacity but I was rapidly disappointed by the poor quality of my output and I was puzzled by the complexity of editing the work. My first strategy was to re-record my text again and again, every time I made a mistake in reading, trying to improve the speech.

Later I tried another strategy: never stopping the recording and editing the work to correct, delete or copy paste the different parts to create the final podcast. This task was full of learning, but took me ages and the final product was not any better according to my personal standards.

I then decided to go a bit further into podcasting by finding information about how professionals were doing it. I found some information on the Apple Web site about using their GarageBand software solution for creating and delivering podcasts on Macintosh. I also subscribed to for a course on “Creating podcasts with GarageBand 3.0” which is an outdated version, but concepts in the course are still valid.

I chose to create this podcast with GarageBand and used some of the program’s key features which allow you to include “slides”, “jingles” and “URLs” in the podcast.

So if you are listening to this on iTunes or an iPhone or iPod, you should get more information than just my “funny french accent” talking to you.

Now I come to the point about where, why or when podcasts could be useful. Listening to my previous attempts and to different podcasts over the web, I think that an mp3 file of a few minutes is not very useful and sometimes boring. Except maybe if those are recordings of broadcast radio programmes or interviews, where the context makes us ready to just listen to them.

For education I believe that videocasts or podcasts with embedded media are more useful and will generate more interest and engagement from our students.

This raises the problem of how could we create such material. Looking at a course about screencasting, lighting, microphones, mix-tables and all such professional equipment seem to be indispensable to deliver quality material to students and learner.

As an elearning professional, could we afford that? Even if we could, do we have sufficient talent to do it? Is our voice, our expression or delivery good enough to be listened to for minutes at a time?

Maybe, maybe not. I personally don’t have talent for that, furthermore not in English.

I think that the true talent of an elearning professional is to know about technology, to know about what is feasible and what is not. What does it cost in terms of time, money, people to create engaging learning material.

To create them there are professionals in every art: our skill is to make them work all together.

Thank you for your attention.

Categories: H808_Unit3_2009