(a) In the first stage, students acquire knowledge in specialization groups. Each individual takes part in a specialization group, which studies one philosophical perspective via literature reading and discussion in a forum.
(b) In the second stage, all students in the class collaboratively create a Wiki table from contributions of individuals and groups: Individuals return to their home-groups as experts in one perspective and they are responsible to teach this perspective to other members of their group (Jigsaw). Each individual is responsible for one cell and each group fills the contents of one row in the Wiki table. Each row synthesizes one aspect of one of the philosophical perspectives. As a result, a whole class knowledge table (see figure) is obtained.
(c) In the third stage, students are invited to edit and refine contributions of their peers in the Wiki table. The Wiki table created in this feature serves as a resource for further learning.
The Rationale Behind the Feature (Specific Design Principle):
Teaching others is not an easy task for many students. The structuring provided by the table scaffolds this task. Added values of having this table as a Wiki are: a) contents are visible and accessible to others who play the role of instructors b) anxiety of being instructors can be reduced by the capability of others to edit the expert knowledge.
Context of Use:
This feature is part of a course in educational philosophy for undergraduate students. The objective of this course is to help students construct an educational philosophy that would guide them as educators or as educational researchers. All course meetings are conducted face-to-face. The course website guides students through group-activities, some conducted at class-meetings and some designed to take place in between meetings. Course activities are built around three dimensions: (1) A theoretical dimension, in which learners study relevant literature and discuss ideas in the area of educational philosophy (2) a school inquiry dimension, in which learners analyze and assess one school they select from a given list of “interesting schools” (3) the ideal school dimension, in which learners apply knowledge gained through the other dimensions by designing and presenting a conceptual model of a school that represents their own educational perspectives.
In order to examine the effect of this feature on student understanding of the three philosophical perspectives, we analyzed the quality of the collaborative Wiki tables created by students. The quality of the collaborative tables was assessed by comparing the information in each of the table cells to a reference table created by the instructors.
The analysis indicated that the information constructed collaboratively in five enactments of the course (N=149) was very similar to the reference table, leading to a mean value 95% (SD = 1.2%) for the five tables. This finding indicates that the process of learning a philosophical perspective in a specialization group, then having to teach this knowledge to peers in the home group, and having the responsibility of creating knowledge for the whole class in the collaborative Wiki table, supported student understanding of the contents.
Another outcome that indicates that the collaborative table was a productive support for student learning was received from a survey. A question about the collaborative Wiki table, which was added to the survey at the 6th enactment of the course, indicated that students (N=25) valued the use of this feature as one which contributed very much to their learning (4.0 in a scale of 1 to 5). Interestingly, although this feature is comprised of literature reading and online discussion of literature, these aspects, when examined individually, were rated lower (literature reading 3.8; online discussion of literature 3.5).
Levin-Peled R., Kali, Y & Dori, Y.J. (in press). Promoting Collaborative Learning in Higher Education: Design Principles for Hybrid Courses. Proceedings of the Computer Support for Collaborative Learning (CSCL) International Conference, 2007, New Jersey, USA, July 16-21, 2007. Y.J. Dori, R. Levin-Peled, and Y. Kali (2006). Learning and Assessment in IT-based Environments: Design Principles for Hybrid Courses in Higher Education. Proc. E-Learn – World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Health Care and Higher Education. Honolulu, HI, USA, Oct. 13-17, pp. 1933-1939.