Kear, Karen; Woodthorpe, John; Robertson, Sandy and Hutchison, Mike
From forums to wikis: perspectives on tools for collaboration.
The Internet and Higher Education, 13(4)
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Web 2.0 communication tools have considerable promise for supporting collaborative learning. But there is a need for research examining learners' and teachers' experiences of the newer communication tools, such as wikis, in comparison with well-established tools, such as discussion forums. This paper reports on an initiative where distance learners used an in-house wiki for online tutorials which had previously taken place via forums. The perspectives of students and tutors on this experience were gathered via an online questionnaire to students and unstructured online feedback from tutors. Some students and tutors felt that the wiki was better than a forum for collaborating on shared documents. However, at that stage in the wiki's development it was found to be more difficult to use than a forum, and slower. Some tutors found the wiki to be too slow to use effectively. These findings highlight the importance of good usability in collaborative software. The research also revealed that some students were uncomfortable with the prospect of editing each others' work in the wiki. They had concerns related to ownership of contributions. This finding relates to the concept of ‘sociability’ in relation to online communication. The research therefore identifies both usability and sociability as key requirements for Web 2.0 communication tools.
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