Student Created WikiBook in the Online Classroom



The difficulty of choosing the best textbook for your course is always challenging. The challenge can be limited textbooks on your topic to an abundance of textbooks on your topic. From my experience, students will always like a different text from your chosen textbook. Online education has evolved from the student passively reading posted instructor authored course material to a highly interactive environment. Collaborative learning in a constructivist environment is our present online educational experience. The instructor now facilitates the learning process. Students learn by doing, so the concept of students writing their own textbook for the course is one way to facilitate learning. Motivated by inspiring the article “New Levels of Student Participatory Learning: A WikiText for the Introductory Course in Education” by Patrick M. O’Shea, et al., the WikiText assignment became a course assignment. “Nearly 55% of students either agreed or strongly agreed that their higher-level learning skills (such as the ability to apply, evaluate, analyze, and synthesize information) were developed more through the WikiText process than through their interactions with traditional textbooks (O’Shea 2006).”

The Requirements

Establishing the guidelines for the assignment is crucial, as there needed to be an initial writing followed by a discussion. Assigning each student one key topic covered in the course. Each student needed to create a WikiText between 750-1100 words on their topic. The students were able to upload images into their text. Upon completion of the key topics, each student reflects and comments on two other key topics, adding relevant information to the topic.
The Forum

WikiBooks is a public forum for online publishing of text- books. The forum is open content and free. WikiBooks is structured so a class can participate as group on the writing of their textbook. Each user should register with their own user name allowing logging of their contributions in the history. During construction, the content is still in the public view, allowing others to edit the content. This instructor has chosen not to use the WikiBooks forum at this time. There is a WikiText option within the learning management system that will allow each student a page. The content remains on the learning management system, not public view, but available to the students. The content can evolve quickly as technology in the medical field advances; updates are published very quickly to the wiki-textbook.
The students are entering the sixth week of their quarter completing the initial writing on the key topics. The information presented is clear, consist and organized. There is analysis and clinical application of the information. Additionally the contributions to their classmate’s key topics have added relevant supporting information and validation by citing of references. The responses to key topics are still in progress.
Social Community

Collaborating on writing the course textbook helps build on the principles of social community. There is a common goal established for the course participants, in which they engage and challenge each other. Working as a group, the students learn to trust and support each other through the course. Kaplan’s model for a collaborative learning environment is necessary for a course with the WikiText textbook writing assignment. The collaborative effort from instructor and students, is a significant factor in the success of this project.

According to Anderson (2007), wikis and blogs are utilized in numerous ways to foster this paradigm shift to collaborative online learning. In this authors project, the collaborative learning and respect developed by the learners is reflected in the online communications.  The initial response to the wiki-textbook is very positive. The material is relevant, to the point without having to decipher which material is relevant.

Anderson, P. (2007). What is Web 2.0? Ideas, technologies and implications for education. JISC Technology and Standards Watch. Retrieved  from
Chandra, V., & Chalmers, C. (2010). Blogs, wikis and podcasts–collaborative knowledge building tools in a design and technology course. Journal Of Learning Design, 3(2),.
O’Shea.P. (2007). New Levels of Student Participatory Learning: A WikiText for the Introductory Course in Education, Journal of Interactive Online Learning.

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