Dr. D. Allen of Old Dominion spoke at SITE about Student Developed WikiTextbook for a college course. Basically each student writes a 1,000 word article with five multiple choice questions at the application level and with five sources. The topics are arranged so that three students write about the same topic. Students rate each other’s articles according to three criteria and those with the highest votes are included in the course wikibook. Half of the students’ grades are based on reading the wikibook articles and taking quizzes made up of the students’ questions. In the second semester, they read the best articles from the previous semester and rewrite weak ones.
He raises the question of what is credibility in terms of sources (students did 2 academic sources, 2 popular ones and one of their choice). Also, he raises the issue of student empowerment in a course. Since students have to synthesize the information that is available and since they know the information is for a wider audience (the class), they probably tend to write with a greater focus on applying the information.
The idea of a constantly improving Wikibook for a course intrigues me. I would make some suggestions to his process. Each semester I would like students to improve on the previous semester’s articles. I would have the students evaluate student produced articles against formal text books about the same topics. I would like outside experts such as other professors to evaluate the student’s chapters to insure a high level. Imagine students being mentored by an “outside” expert as they write the chapter.
Could you apply a similar process in your course so that your student create a meaningful textbook (wikibook)? By your creating a structure for this process, students become more engaged in the material, work in a collegial manner, are held to a high standard of learning, and focus on the specific standard areas that you have determined are important. In addition, they like to see their high quality work “published” on the web. If you have created a class wikibook, please share information about it.
© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007