EDIT: Actually we get a controlled experiment. One of the two wikis that was set up Friday has just disappeared. I am not reinvesting time in such a poorly set up feature and will use the Google doc for that class.
Orange is the sarcasm font today. I’ll also type sarcasm before my sarcasm. Those who know me well would probably recommend that I type not sarcasm in front of the other parts.
I needed to plan activities for my students to do when I travel to AMATYC in a couple weeks. I thought creating a review for an upcoming test as a collaboration might be useful and worthwhile. I created a set of instructions, a rubric for grading contributions, and decided I would try the wiki feature in our learning management system, Moodle.
Creating the Wiki and its first page are as easy as anything in Moodle. In a section just add an activity, choose Wiki, choose (probably) a collaborative wiki. Sarcasm: Adding a page is as simple as including the name of the new page in double brackets in an existing page, saving the current page, clicking on the new link, starting the new page, returning to the old page, editing that page to remove the link if you do not want it.
The wiki does build a table of contents using the headings of each section of a page. You can then edit just a section instead of a full page. Sarcasm: An added feature to keep you alert is that different saves sometimes put the sections in different places even if you do not add, or delete headers.
The math mark up here is one advantage over other shared document services. It appears easier to use than say the Google math editor. This is why I decided to keep using this instead of going to a Google document. Sarcasm: Students also get to sometimes see the mark up in the wiki and learn about it because on subsequent saves with no nearby changes the wiki will go from displaying the mark up code to the proper equation typesetting and back.
You navigate between pages with the Map feature above any page. I listed that as the top line of each of the three pages I set up, because that did not seem intuitive.
I have other concerns that I will learn about while I travel.
- Will the Wiki lock other users when one person edits? If not will it create conflicting copies, attempt to merge, or just replace everything with whoever saved last?
- How easy is it to revert to an earlier version when (inevitably) someone makes a major mistake editing?
- Will the students access this at times spread out enough that most of the questions above are moot, or will I have 27 conflicting versions 30 minutes before the deadline? Would groups working on separate blogs help, or remove the critical mass we need?
- Partial Sarcasm: Why am I giving students work to ignore when I travel?
My likely advice after I return will be to use something like a Google Doc if you want students to collaborate. But, maybe I will have something to share if this works.