Posts Tagged ‘OU’

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)


Case 12 – Simulation gaming in Business

This is the description of the case 12 for activity 2 in course H807

Background and context

Get up and ran by School of Business of Glamargan University, this project demonstrate a complete development from scratch for a e-learning tool and product. To permit the students to play and learn through non linear case studies, this School already well experienced in blended learning, has developed a tool to create virtual worlds of interactive case studies .The goal was to create an experience that would be highly visual and game-like and avoid the pitfalls of the “interactive spreadsheets” found in many simulations fur business courses. The course is held to be used by second-year students for 2 hours. The students are divided into 4 groups of 25-40 attendees, coached by a member of academic teaching staff.

This School of Business has already a strong command in e-learning and blended learning, and work in collaboration with different high qualified resources (academic staff for the pedagogy, e-learning designer for the scenarios and a multi-media developer / graphic designer).

Project description

The whole project represents an investment of 9 months equivalent people and involves different specialist. The final project is just a part of the whole. In fact the Business School has decided to develop his own authoring tool on which the interactive case studies will be created later. The project has followed the “good standing rules” in project management, contributing to construct an adaptable and tailored tool, reusable for other purposes for other case studies outside the Business School’s scope.

A virtual world creation tool emerged after months of work and has been the foundation for the business non linear case studies development.

The case study has been tested by lambda students before been delivered to formal student during the compulsory module in “Enterprise Planning”.

There was not summative assessment for their work but an evaluation process was developed to capture student feedback through quantitative and qualitative methods following their completion of the blended learning experience.

Tools in use

Virtual World tool development (TileWorld)

The development of the ground tool was made with modern and up-to-date technology as Flash and ActionScript (graphic design and avatar’s comportment development), XML (data for the case studies content, semantic description of virtual object, description of objects and avatars’ comportment) and PHP/MySQL to store, retrieve and manage user data.


The project is integrated into already used VLM Blackboard.

Tangible benefits

Following qualitative and quantitative in-depth feedback, students appeared to broadly support the use of the game, suggesting that it was at least as valuable to learning as tutorials and lectures. Furthermore the game was the preferred method expressed by most students for absorbing a case study (75% agreeing or strongly agreeing 10.71% not sure).

After exposure to the game students expressed that they would like further opportunities like this in other modules (78.57% agreeing or strongly agreeing 12.5% not sure).

Academic staff were very enthusiastic for the e-learning tool, both within the delivery team, where staff were both impressed with the tool and grateful for the way in which it was embedded into traditional teaching methods, and more generally across the Business School where some staff requested the use of the tool in other modules and courses.

The game platform was deliberately designed to be reusable, and two further game/case studies have been developed; one as a training simulation for a nursing course (based around a virtual hospital), the other as an induction game for all new students at the university (based around a faithfully produced virtual model of the entire campus). Other environmental possibilities are limitless; a shopping mall; a haunted castle; a sports field; a motor race course. While current versions include human-like avatars on the same scale, other more creative uses could be developed; ships at sea, insects in a field, vehicles in a city.

Disadvantages and drawbacks

The final tool could not be modified without the support of the multimedia development team, however as new iterations of the tool platform are developed, it is intended that an academic staff interface should be developed to provide easier modifications for a wider variety of uses.

The time/cost spent in the development of the ground tool is important and must be earned back in a couple of years of usage.

The students report they would have more interaction with the game and a richer information source and game environment, that of course would have increased the ratio cost/hour of usage out of the budget.

Conditions of success

  • The Business school has already a strong command in managing e-learning and blending learning project and development
  • The project has been lead by the standard of good project management
  • User and case studies developers and staff have been involved in the project from early stage
  • Collaboration with specialist at every stage of the development
  • Time and budget to develop a tailored application
  • The tool (TileWorld) designed to be reusable in other c

Categories: H807, OU Tags: , , , , ,

Case 11 – Phased online summative assessment in undergraduate accounting

This is the description of the case 11 for activity 2 in course H807

Background and Context

The Business School of Glamorgan’s University ascertains that with the actual system of assessment, the students do not work during the whole term until the assessment period. It results that the pass rates are low and fall off year after year. The University wants to find a way to force the students to work regularly but also to help them to fill their lacks by a system of constant evaluation that should permit to measure student development and identify where additional support is needed. It should also provide feedback on the students’ progress permitting a self-reflective approach of learning.

To stop this ineluctable fall in the pass rates, the decision is taken to change the method of evaluation and to adopt online tools to support the new strategy.

Project description

The new method introduced by the University consists of fractionating the evaluation in several phased online summative assessments. At the commencement of the accounting module the students receive the lecture program with the dates of their online summative assessments and the topic areas to be tested.

A bank of questions (400) was created, separated into topic groupings and comprised multiple-choice, multiple-response, true/false, yes/no and text match questions. Five online assessments were written with computer random chosen questions. Every exam was then tested to ensure the coherence and the equality of difficulty among all.

Each question has a feedback to help the student who would have false answered. A report with feedback and score was given to each student after their exam. The exams took place at different moment during the week due to the number of students and the lack of IT facilities (3 groups of 20 students). To avoid forbidden access to the tests they were password protected with a different password for each session.

Tools in use

The University has chosen to use Question Mark’s Perception product (QMP) a web-based assessment tool which facilitate the creation, the delivery, tracking and management of online assessments, quizzes and surveys.

The tool can be easy integrated into BlackBoard, the LMS used by the Univesity of Glamorgan.

Tangible benefits

For the students
The tangible benefits are twofold : the new method of assessment permits an noticeable improvement in the pass rate. The students feel themselves more framed and supported by having regularly to work and to pass exams. The direct feedback after each exam is also something pointed out as a very good thing.

For the staff
Once the all the creation work done with QMP, the working process to organise new and different assessments is costless. The principle of phased online summative assessment has proven its strength, it will be introduced and adapted for other modules across the University.

Disavantages and Drawbacks

None. A part the initial work to enter the huge number of question, but because the system is durable, the rapport initial costs / time of usage is low.

Conditions of success

  • The project is supported by the CELT (Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching)
  • The project costs (mainly to buy QMP) were supported by the faculty and CELT

Case 10 – Online economics texts

This is the description of the case 10 for activity 2 in course H807

Background and context

Managed by School of Business and Economics at University of Exeter, the project has as principal goal to reduce the increasing costs due to a change in the module structure of economics programmes. This School is facing up to an increase of international students together with the introduction of a business module for students outside the School of Business and Economics. The class sizes increased from 12 to around 25 students and number of lectures range from 40-200.

The author also complains that the students do not prepare themselves for the class; do not read the material nor do the exercises

The College has already switched 25% of its lessons on WebCT, but he is looking for an other more time saver solution to face economics and financial problems due to the rapid changing of the module structure.

Project description

Each lecture has been linked with an associated exercise available on-line. The student are forced to access the lecture twice: before and after they have completed the exercise.

The students have been explained the new approach at the start of their module and a help desk is here at a weekly basis to answer questions. The staff have also been trained with the new material before the module started.

The project consists on an access to documentation (case studies, videos, texts, exercises,…) offered by chosen publishers including Wiley and Pearsons.

The College can follow the progression of each student by the logs provided by the publishers.

Tools in use

Nothing has been produced by the College itself. The College has made the choice to adapt his syllabus to the publishers’ (Pearsons, Wiley). Those publishers are offering on the web a collection of e-learning facilities the College just bought the right to use.

Because of copyrights the students have to pay to access the text and the on-line activities.

Tangible benefits

For the students

It seems that the retention rates on the modules are very high. The author stands that “the pass rates/average marks on economics modules are equivalent to the module that were previously in place. The business module was new, however the marks demonstrated a good spread an high average level of achievement”.

If the module is new, with what could we compare ?

It is also said that “[in the future] we will also show [the students] the anonymised data from the previous cohort that relates the proportion of e-assessments completed to the final exam mark, although we will also make it clear the the conclusions are not robust”. In fact the College is far from serious to try, in a way, to persuade the students of the legitimacy of the action and telling them the conclusions are not solid, in the other way.

One of the real benefit is the access to documentation even if the students have work commitments or have to spend time away from the university.

In fact the benefits are definitely tangible…

…For the staff and the College
The investment is small and the ROI is important in term of gain of space (saving on the number of classes), and gain of time. Real savings in staff have been identified with eight tutorials/week replaced by two help classes.

Disadvantages and drawbacks

  • The costs of the texts to the students
  • The interactive discussion that could take place in the class is lost (it was already with the increased number of students per class)
  • Dependancy to commercial publishers
  • There is still a huge amount of students that don’t access the material

Conditions of ‘success ?’

In my point of view it is just an administrative and cost cutting success but a poor achievement for the student beings. At the present time it is difficult to prove an effectively improvement in the learning for the students. The College is not dupe and concludes by “[we manage] the belief that this was cost-driver measure rather than one drive by concern for the student learning”.

To make sure that the project may continue the School want to coerce the students in considering “making completion of 80% of [on-line] assessments in order to attain 10% of the module mark”. How to be certain about the person that log to the service ?

Categories: H807, OU Tags: , , , , ,

Case 8 – Virtual patient cases developed by students using Labyrinth

This is the description of the case 8 for activity 2 in course H807

Background and context

Managed by College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine of Edinburgh University, the activity target the creation of virtual patients case studies by final year student. The activity has been running twice and should be carried over each year.

Project description

During one week, in a workshop of five weeks, the students are first brought up to usage of Labyrinth, an authoring tool developed in-house by the Learning Technology Section of the college. In group of three, the students have access 7/7 to the platform to create new branching pathway virtual patients in the theme of tropical animal medicine.

At the end of the week, the scenarios are quality assured through a tutor assessment process for use by the student community as learning resources.

Tools in use

Labyrinth : a medical case studies authoring tool
VUE : a freeware concept mapping application
UG Veterinary VLE : in-house e-learning and learning resource repository.

Tangible benefits

Student satisfaction
evaluated informally, verbally but recorded on minidisk. The students are forced to think like professionals rather than students. The activity requires from students the consolidation of existing knowledge, the learning of new knowledge, the applying of knowledge to a virtual representation, and the conceptualisation of real world scenario.

Staff satisfaction
evaluated informally. The staff improved its ability to deliver e-learning resources and has spared in terms of costs and time. Although the staff ware reachable by email, no sensible increase of work has be reported. After this experience, the staff is enthusiast for e-learning.

Disadvantages and drawbacks

Labyrinth is a complicate product which is difficult to manage all the subtleties in so short time as one week. At the beginning the students ware reluctant to draft their scenario with VUE before the implementation into Labyrinth.

Conditions of success

The choice of the main tool : Labyrinth which has been

  • developed in-house
  • licensed free
  • promoted throughout the College
  • presented widely at conference
  • already generated high level of interest
  • integrated with the existing VLE

Having organised the project as an activity of a special three weeks student elective in a specific subject.

Categories: H807, OU Tags: , , , , ,