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Anyone for e-learning? A review of ‘e-teaching’ resources (Introduction & Wiki’s)

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This is going to be a three piece article over the coming weeks investigating and reviewing the e-learning resources that are available for teachers on the good ‘ol interweb at the moment specifically aimed at psychology teachers.

How it will go:

Part 1) The introduction and a look at wiki’s.
Part 2) Forums and Blogs as teaching tools.
Part 3) VLE’s and conclusions.


So, for the first part of the series…

Of those teachers who are not running scared from the whole internet [r]evolution there are many resources which can give a further dimension to their delivery. Students are becoming ever more familiar with the Internet and how to use it to the best effect (not necessarily what we as teachers might think is the best effect however). Shouldn’t we take a hold of this enthusiasm and capitalise on it – make them learn without them realising that they’re learning!

More-and-more so when thinking about learning and knowledge it can be argued that it’s becoming “…[that] knowledge is actively constructed by the learner, not passively received from the environment.” (Dougiamas and Taylor (2003)) so shouldn’t we be providing our students with the best tools from which they can explore the topic and expand their knowledge?

Here I am going to gloss over the big players in Internet resources that could allow you to diversify learning. This is in no way an exhaustive list and I am in no way an expert. Try them out, see what they are capable of, individualise and tailor each one to your style of teaching and what you’re expecting of them. The four big players in the interactive software for collaborative learning are wiki’s, forums, blogs and VLE’s (virtual learning environments). We are going to take a look at what each does and doesn’t do, where you can get access to them, how they could be implemented, and the downfalls of each option.

It’s important to realise when talking about these solutions there is no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ option that provides the solution to what everyone wants or needs. Many sites combine these different softwares, and VLE’s like Moodle and BlackBoard offer wiki’s, forums and blogs within their learning environments.

Wiki’s
A wiki is a collaborative website where many people can work together to create a web page or even an entire website. Wikipedia has to be the most well known wiki – an encyclopaedia online that anyone can edit or add to. Obviously this, the unique selling point of a wiki, could be its downfall should some rogue student come along, but you can always roll back to a previous version should any page get cyber-vandalised.

Using a wiki you could allow your students to produce projects by creating a web page of information, contributing to a page, or actually editing and publishing an entire website for a study, domain of psychology or just your colleges department. With a wiki the opportunities are endless as to how you could implement it into your teaching; it could be a learning exercise or a form of assessment on the finished produce.

Here are a few examples of psychology related wiki’s to browse through. These wiki’s are there to provide information to those using the site, however I feel that in teaching the main use of a wiki would be to allow the students to create, edit and maintain a departmental wiki for ‘fun’ or as a piece of assessed work.

Next time: Forums and Blogs.

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