Web 2.0 collaboration tool to support student research in hydrology – an opinion
A growing body of evidence suggests that it is unwise to make the a-priori assumption that university students are ready and eager to embrace modern online technologies employed to enhance the educational experience. We present our opinion on employing Wiki, a popular Web 2.0 technology, in small student groups, based on a case-study of using it customized to work as a personal learning environment (PLE
1) (Fiedler and Väljataga, 2011) for supporting thesis research in hydrology. Since inception in 2006, the system presented has proven to facilitate knowledge construction and peer-communication within and across groups of students of different academic years and to stimulate learning. Being an open ended and egalitarian system, it was a minimal burden to maintain, as all students became content authors and shared responsibility. A number of unintended uses of the system were also observed, like using it as a backup medium and mobile storage. We attribute the success and sustainability of the proposed Web 2.0-based approach to the fact that the efforts were not limited to the application of the technology, but comprised the creation of a supporting environment with educational activities organized around it. We propose that Wiki-based PLEs are much more suitable than traditional learning management systems for supporting non-classroom education activities like thesis research in hydrology.
1Here we use the term PLE to refer to the conceptual framework to make the process of knowledge construction a personalized experience – rather than to refer to the technology (in this case Wiki) used to attempt implementing such a system.