I think the answer to Peter's question should be 'both'. I see scope
for entry-level students, and also room for more scholarly
My little project brings a class of 30+ students to Wikieducator.
They range from first year third-level students to third year working
in mixed-age teams with three or four members per team. All of their
writing assignments for the course are in Wikieducator.
Reflection: I require an online reflection on their classroom
experience. This combines practical advice like 'don't let the
students have the crayons before needed' and also more thoughtful
reflection. Wayne suggested that the students might also reflect on
the wiki experience and more than half of them did:
Reasons to come back: For WE to convert students to active users, the
material that students contribute must be of long-term value to them.
While we academics consider that the materials in our disciplines will
be of long-term use to students, the reality is that not all material
will resonate with all students. On the one hand I don't require my
Community Ecology students to write content for WE because I recognize
that some of them will be medical professionals, others will be
environmental consultants, and perhaps one or two from a class of 20
will become educators or community ecologists. On the other hand
students in my Biology in Elementary Schools course are preparing to
be primary school teachers. If they work hard to develop a lesson
plan, try it out, reflect on it, and put it in WE, my perhaps naive
hope is that they'll be back to WE to use that information.
I think it is valuable to have students engage in a broader community
and to contribute. I think it benefits the community, but more
importantly I think it benefits the students directly. Anything that
encourages students to more highly value their work than simply a
means of earning a grade is helps move their aspirations to a higher
level. Simply by saying 'this is a useful contribution', and 'others
will gain by your efforts', we are enforcing the idea that a student
is not just a student, but also are a valid contributed to their
Costs: Not all students are A students. Some contributions will be
less than stellar. However, WE is a collaborative medium. None of
should be shy about tweaking a page once the WIP tag has been
removed. My hope is that when teachers use a lesson plan and find a
new angle, they will share that information with the rest of us.
Peter and other contributors, thanks for starting a most interesting