Collaborative Writing (wikis and blogs)

What is it? 

Wikis and blogs are sites where students without particular web skills can create and modify collections of pages. Blogs are useful for chronological posts, whereas wikis are more like websites. Both are potentially collaborative and can facilitate community-building within a course; they can also be individual activities. Both can include embedded media and allow pages and posts to be organised through tagging. Both can retain a version history, including the editors, allowing assessors to examine contributions closely.

Moodle allow for wikis and blogs to be set up in KEATS, and beyond King’s there is a range of freely available platforms.

Although Wikipedia is one of the world’s most visited websites, for collaborative document editing SharePoint may be easier to set up and run.

Why would I use it? 

  • Collaborative writing is based on a social constructivist model of learning, in which students problem-solve in collaboration with each other and with teacher guidance. This facilitates cooperation and team-learning. It can help students to understand the nature of collaborative democratic knowledge production in twenty-first century academia (McLoughlin & Lee, 2007).
  • It mirrors real-world contexts that students will find themselves in the world of research and of work (Richardson, 2006).
  • Most students will be familiar with social media such as blogs and collaborative documents, even if they have not used them. Their prevalence promises to make the task more authentic, bringing engagement and motivation in turn.
  • It can support diversity and inclusion through catering to different learning preferences, those who cannot access campus regularly and facilitates the expression of ideas for those who might struggle with academic discourse.
  • If made public, blogs in particular can be a way of engaging with local community and fostering understandings of local environments.

Known issues:

  • Not all students are familiar with wiki and blog technologies and may need support, both with the genre and the technology.
  • They can be off-putting for teachers who are not familiar with the technology, although appropriate support and training can be obtained from the department TEL officers or CTEL.
  • Students can become frustrated by the lack of or poor quality of other students’ contributions to tasks (Cronin, 2009). Some students may be reluctant to edit their peer’s’ work, or too zealous! See Team and group work for some possible ways of mitigating these phenomena.

How has it been used?

Some common ways of using web 2.0 for collaborative writing are:

  • Students upload their work for peer-evaluation. Wikis enable comments on the text and many people can collaborate on one piece of work. This is more effective than using a discussion forum.
  • Students work together on projects. The wiki or blog serves as documentation of the work.
  • Collaborative annotated bibliographies on wikis where students add summaries and critiques about course-related readings
  • Creating e-portfolios of student work
  • A course blog in which the instructor blogs the content and asks students to comment on posts before or after class.
  • Create group blogs to assign students or have students create their own wiki to students will be able to ideas from class and share resources with one another.
  • Require each student to set-up and maintain his or her own blog.  This can be a great way to facilitate student journaling, with journal entries either kept private, shared with just the instructor, or shared more widely.
  • Have individuals or groups set up a wiki or blog on a particular topic, field trip or project for an external audience.      KCL’sPablo De Orellana from War Studies started this initiative with this 3rd year History of Nations BA students, which has become a public entity run by students for academics, students and all members of the public:   IDENTITYHUNTERS.ORG


Here are three case studies:

See Case studies on this site for an example of using blogs in KCL IOPPN Department of Psychology.

How can I use wikis and blogs?