Featured Wiki: Collaborative Research @ University College Dublin

This is a guest post written by Niall Watts of the University College Dublin. Niall describes a great use of Wikispaces by Dr. Niamh Flanagan of the UCD School of Applied Social Science. He describes how Wikispaces was flexible enough to provide students a simple structure to organize their research, share and analyze surveys, and then present their findings.

Dr. Niamh Flanagan of the UCD School of Applied Social Science wanted students in the first and second years of their Masters in Social Science (Social Work) to work together on the Student-2-Student Dialogue Project. The aim of this project was to investigate learning opportunities while on fieldwork placement. The first year students designed a survey for the second year students to complete on their experiences of field work. The first year students were divided into 10 research teams of about 5 members to analyze and discuss the survey findings. Each team was responsible for researching one topic. Topics included guidance and learning on placement, student preparedness for field work placements and practice supervision while on placement among others. The second year students were to comment on the findings of the first year students. It was hoped that the research would help to prepare the first year students for their own fieldwork placements.


Blackboard could not be used for the project, as it involved students from two years who were not all registered in the same module. Media Services identified Wikispaces as a suitable platform for such a collaborative project. Wikispaces allows a lecturer to organize students into project teams where they can collaboratively write documents. Permissions can be set so that teams can read but not write on each other’s team pages and reviewers (in this case the second year students) can read and comment on all the team pages. Wikispaces has a simple editor which allows the addition of pictures, tables, links and other media elements. It is free for use in education.

Niamh Flanagan considers the project to be a success and would repeat it. All the first year teams created a team page or pages with a detailed analysis of their findings. Most were illustrated with graphics and tables. The only downside was the small number of comments by second year students perhaps due to other study commitments. Niamh Flanagan spent no more than a day or two familiarizing herself with Wikispaces. Niall Watts from Media Services, UCD IT Services, supported the project, including a brief demonstration of Wikispaces to the students which helped them to get started. No major technical hitches were encountered during the project.

For further information on this project, please contact Niamh Flanagan or Niall Watts.

Original link: http://www.ucdblogs.org/ucdblogs/collaborative-online-project-years/

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