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Abstract

An academic course presents an opportunity for all participants to collaborate for improving their knowledge. This collective improvement of knowledge is typically documented via material provided by the instructor and notes and assignments prepared by students. Over the course of a semester, these materials provide not only the collective knowledge in that course, but also provide a chronological history of how the knowledge base evolved. The focus of this study is wiki collaboration in teaching & learning contexts. A wiki is a medium in which a group of individuals can work together asynchronously on an idea and easily capture the essence in a reusable format. Technically, a wiki is a collection of hyperlinked Web pages that are assembled with wiki software. With wikis, the line between reader and contributor is intentionally blurred. Further, wiki use reflects the view of an instructor as one who facilitates information sharing among learners rather than simply transmitting knowledge from themselves to their students. Our initial motivation to explore the usefulness of wikis for teaching and learning was driven by the fact that wikis provide a medium in which several individuals could asynchronously work together on an idea and easily capture the essence in a reusable format. We found that: (1) Wikis can be can be used for a variety of tasks ranging from signup sheet for students to self organize, to undertaking business analyses, to analyzing policy positions; (2) Instructor support and facilitation is key; and (3) Ease-of-use issues are present but do not preclude success.

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