Designing a Wiki-Based Course for Enhancing the Practice of Writing Skills in the 21st Century: Moving from Theoretical Grounding into Practical Knowledge

Designing a Wiki-Based Course for Enhancing the Practice of Writing Skills in the 21st Century: Moving from Theoretical Grounding into Practical Knowledge

Ahmed Abdulateef Al Khateeb (King Faisal University, Saudi Arabia)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0562-4.ch016
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Abstract

This chapter describes an intervention of a wiki-based course to enhance the practice of academic writing through the process approach. This course was experimented on a freshmen year class of medical students learning English for specific purposes at a university in Saudi Arabia. This chapter draws on the relevant theories and their relationship to the practice of wikis in learning academic writing. Wikis have been introduced into the teaching of writing to afford collaborative assistance and social support. Accordingly, the chapter demonstrates the structure of the course and details the systematic organization between the in-class teaching and on-wiki practice. The intervention of a wiki-based writing course gives emphasis on the background of the tasks assigned. It points out the essential characteristics of the structure of wiki interface that would enable learners to accomplish the process-oriented wiki-mediated collaborative writing (PWMCW) tasks. This new practice reveals the evaluation of this course with its writing tasks, based on the learners' perspectives.
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Theoretical Framework

The course drew on theories concerning wiki-mediated collaborative writing, and the process approach (i.e. the PWMCW), in order to apply them to classroom and online learning. Such theories support the development of the practices adopted and the incorporation of peer collaboration into the learning process. In other words, the design of this course has been consolidated with theoretical knowledge and these principles:

  • Firstly, drawing on social constructivism, the PWMCW (Process-oriented Wiki-Mediated Collaborative Writing) was seen as a joint enterprise between the teacher, learners and their peers in creating new meaning (e.g. Swain, Brooks & Tocalli-Beller, 2002).

  • Secondly, the concept of Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) by Vygotsky, which is the area between the actual development of learners and their level of potential development, was at the heart of this course design as the learners were encouraged to get engaged and expand their thinking, understanding and performance with the help of “experts” (e.g. Lund, 2008).

  • Thirdly, in terms of collaborative learning (CL), learners were encouraged to participate in explicit collaborative tasks, mutual communication and knowledge sharing (e.g. Davoli, Monari & Eklundh, 2009).

  • Fourthly, the practice of computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) was initiated so that the learners could share knowledge asynchronously (e.g. Lehtinen, 2003; Bradley, et al., 2010).

  • Finally, motivation in language learning was seen as key so that the opportunity for language learning success was increased (Dörnyei, 1998).

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