The emergence of Web 2.0 technologies with its emphasis on social networking has presented an opportunity for academic institutions to take advantage of new tools to support educational courses. One of these tools is a Wiki. This chapter discusses the merits and challenges of using a Wiki to support the activities of students during group projects. It shows the importance of student collaboration in online courses by fostering deeper learning, producing higher quality team products, and preparing students for today’s collaborative workplace. The chapter focuses on the best practices of faculty from setting up the Wiki at the onset through the final phase of evaluating the group product and the individual contribution of individual team members. It also discusses a number of ways in which Wiki-supported collaborative activities can be introduced into online courses and the criteria for selecting particular Wiki products for an institution.
Since its inception, online education has been a solitary endeavor for students working on course assignments. Their link to classmates distributed around the country and the world has often been limited to discussion forums, a useful but somewhat awkward device for working collaboratively. Online discussion forums by themselves seem a poor substitute for in-residence students working interactively across a table constructing a team response to a group assignment on flip-chart paper. The distinction between collaboration in the classroom and collaboration online has been narrowing with the recent advent of social networking software. The purpose of this chapter is to show how one of these social networking software applications – a wiki – can be introduced into an online course in order to better support collaboration among geographically dispersed students. More specifically, its objective is to enable faculty and administrators to understand how student collaboration can facilitate deep learning into an online course and to decide if and how a wiki can support collaboration among distributed students.