Introductory workshop report, synthesized report

Last modified by Jennifer Ziegler on 2012/06/13 15:33

This is a compilation and synthesis of partner's reports from focus groups / introductory courses / introductory workshops.

Introduction

Seven teams have reported from seven introductory workshops: CESGA (Spain), HEIG-VD/YORG (Switzerland), UB (Spain), die Berater (Austria), EA (Greece) and Wikimedia SE (Sweden). UB did two separate workshops.

Some organisers used the introductory workshop as a pilot, inviting trainers without earlier wiki experience to try out a workshop format and/or check out the interest for such courses, while others used it to lay the foundation for future workshops, inviting only trainers with heavy wiki experience to draw from.

The terms "focus group", "introductory course" and "introductory workshop" have all been used to describe these events. In this report we use the word workshop, as that is the only term that actually suits all five events.

The introductory workshops were supposed to lay the foundation for a needs analysis report. Additional goals were defined along the road, resulting in the following main objectives:

  • To identify needs and obstacles when working with wikis in education 
  • To introduce key persons and/or target users to WikiSkills
  • To add to our collection of wikibased learning scenarios

Participants

Trainers in all settings had at least some experience of ICT in education.

69 people participated in the workshops.

Below is an attempt to sum up what kind of institutions were represented at the workshops. The mapping to the target groups might not be perfect. Also, differing school systems may make the level division a bit fuzzy. We have no data available from CESGA.

The letters C, G, E, and L should be read Comenius, Grundtvig, Erasmus, and Leonardo respectively. There is some overlapping between categories, so the numbers will sum up differently.

  • Communal/regional/national institutions, resource centras, departments, etc (CG) – 1
  • Communal/regional/national institutions, resource centras, departments, etc (unknown) – 4
  • Primary school (C) – 6
  • Secondary School (C) – 7
  • High School (C) – 3
  • High School, vocational (CL) – 1
  • Folk high school (ELG) – 3
  • University (E) – 1
  • University or high school, not specified (EL) – 12
  • Other (N/A) – 1
  • Unknown (unknown) – 26

By target group

  • Leonardo – 16
  • Comenius – 18
  • Erasmus – 6
  • Grundtvig – 4

By level

  • Primary/secondary/high school – 17
  • University/folk high school – 16

By professional role

  • Teacher/trainer – 42
  • Coordinator/administrator – 3
  • Consultant/trainer of trainers – 3
  • Director/manager – 2
  • Technician – 1

Organization

The workshops have ranged from informal talks to busy workshops, but they have all followed roughly the same pattern:

  1. Introduction to the project
  2. Introduction to the concept wiki
  3. Exercises or discussions around wikibased learning scenarios
  4. Exercises or discussions to define needs and interests
  5. Conclusion and finishing

The outcome of 3., a collection of well though out wiki based learning scenarios, is currently collected at the project wiki wikiskills.cesga.es, and might be used to create a more structured repository. Some participants in the workshops have asked for such a repository, and especially one that is less comprehensive and more tightly edited than educationalwikis.wikispaces.com and other existing repositories.The outcome of 4., a set of wishlists, needs, and interests, is the basis for most of this report. 

Commons findings and recommendations

  • A (moderated) repository of best practises is one of the most commons requests. The Wikibased learning scenarios put up at wikiskills.cesga.es could perhaps be used to build such a repository. Some people were aware of the many similar repositories that already exists (e.g. http://educationalwikis.wikispaces.com/), but still wanted something on a national level and/or more tightly moderated.
  • Resistance to change amongst teachers and managers is mentioned in quite a few places, and related to that the fact that teachers are being overloaded already, and need to be given time and resources to be able to incorporate new tools. It might be a good idea to  make a drive at policy makers and the management of educational institutions during WP5 (dissemination).
  • There are plenty of projects and initiatives similar to WikiSkills going on already. It would probably benefit each group to make their own inventory of such projects and spend some time reaching out to them.
  • Wikis in general are not considered user friendly enough. Can WikiSkills play a role here?
  • Students lacking computer literacy seen as a barrier for ICT in education by some, seen as a argument for using ICT by others (presuming that educational institutions have a role in bridging digital divides).
  • Teachers having less ICT skills than students, sometimes a concern, sometimes seen as an opportunity.

Comprehensive list of needs

Technology

  • User friendly interfaces. Wikis the trainers have encountered are not user friendly enough.
  • Better looking wiki skins. Young students refuse to work with tools that are not attractive.
  • Usability skins. Readability on e.g. English Wikipedia is far to low due to the amount of links, footnotes, etc, on top of the already difficult language used. 
  • Extension packages for teachers setting up wikis, for the most commoly used platforms.
  • Technical support (templates, etc.) when building a new wiki.
  • Comparison of different platforms in order to be able to choose the most appropiate one for specific settings.
  • Computer and internet access in classrooms lackings in some places.

Awareness

  • Need for awarness among management, teachers
  • Support from the management needs to be real, i.e. teachers need to be given the time for implementing new tools
  • There are employment contracts that might conflict with using open licenses.

Training

  • Learn how to master the wiki software and platforms through tutorials
  • Teaching methodologies that wikis can support; it is important to make carefully the decision of choosing a wiki-based teaching approach, by being aware of what is / is not possible to do with a wiki.
  • In-depth study of different practical examples of wiki-based scenarios, and the the way they were applied in the classroom step-by-step.
  • Continuous guidance, support and assessment
  • Classroom management training. Teachers would like to learn how to organize roles among students, how to define the role of the teacher, how to teach students about wikis, how to use the history functionality, how to evaluate students, etc.
  • Learn how to deal with intellectual property issues of texts and graphical resources.
  • Learn how to teach students to work with wikis under safe, ethical and responsible behaviours.

Community

  • Have the possibility to think and debate about the relevant ways to use wikis
  • Learn about the possibilities of participating in already exiting projects (eg Eduwiki, Viquiescoles, Viquilletre, Eduwikilab, etc.)
  • Receive help to learn how to work in a team among different teachers and schools in an effective manner
  • Meeting places afk.
  • Gameficiation, tools to reward those who help build in the commons

Wiki-based learning scenarios

The wiki-based learning scenarios, both those imagined but participants during workshop exercises, and those used as examples by organizers, can be divided into three categories, where 1. and 2. are by far the most common:

  1. Using public, existing wikis in education
  2. Setting up local wikis in education
  3. Using wikis for communication among trainers (typically sharing curriculums)

"Public wikis" does often, but not always, mean Wikipedia or other Wikimedia wikis. These are used for research, to teach source criticism and media literacy, to practice language skills, to study netiquette and online communities as such, and much more. Challenges include dealing with strong online communities, and copyright and licensing issues.Local wikis can be private or public. They sometimes have a limited lifetime, being closed down and no longer used as a wiki at the end of the semester, and are sometimes inherited from one generation of students to another. In many cases they are used for tasks (writing and feedback, etc) that could also have been accomplished with other tools, such as a blog. Popular platforms are MediaWiki for local installations, and Wikispaces for wiki farms. Challenges include overcoming resistance to working collaboratively, and lack of technical knowledge and/or user friendly wiki software.

It can be argued that the wiki technology is subordinated the communities (in 1.) or workflow (in 2.), and that using a local wiki for writing exercise have more do with using a local Wordpress installation for the same purpose, than with teaching source criticism through Wikipedia. In that case future workshops might be better of focusing on either one of the two: Working in online communities (Wikipedia and the like), or how to set up your own wiki site.

Conclusion

As premises were so different, it might be hard to draw common conclusions, but the section "common findings" above nevertheless try to highlight the things that surfaced across the groups.

The lists of needs from the groups also look quite different depending on participants and region. This might suggest that we need different approaches for different countries in the WikiSkills project. (All reports are linked to in appendix II below.)

"Wikis in education" is a broad topic, and the needs look different depending on if we talk about e.g. how to guide students through the Wikipedia community, or how to use a local collaborative platform as an educational tool. It might be wise to focus at one topic at a time, avoiding to make wikis in general the subject of our trainings.

Appendix I: Results of evaluation forms

These are the overall mean values:

Topics 4.3

Overall organization 4.4

Facilitator 4.4 (not reported by UB)

Presentations 4.1

Relevence of topics 4.4

Useful contacts 3.6

Duration 3.6 (3 being optimal, 1 too short and 5 to long. Workshops lasted 2 -- 3 hours. )

There might have been some differences in the wording of the forms in different languages.The biggest variance was in "useful contacts" (3.3 - 4.4), possibly due to different focus of the sessions, and big variations in the number of participants.

Appendix II: See also

Tags: WP2[X]
Created by Leonard Wallentin on 2012/05/25 15:44

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