This UNSW resource compares different tools and their functions to help you decide whether and which to use. There is also guidance on using wikis and blogs in KEATS (Moodle).
How does it align with the module learning outcomes? Does it assess skills and knowledge that are key to the discipline?
Consider whether this type of writing can allows students to meet the learning outcomes. This might not be the case in all modules. It fits very well in courses which have a strong blended learning element and is particularly useful as assessment for fully online courses.
However, building more communication explicitly into disciplinary modules which are traditionally more individualistic can help to increase employability through use of Web 2.0 technology, support non-traditional students by widening the assessment portfolio and facilitate writing skills through greater awareness of audience.
Will it be formative or summative? If summative, how will I give opportunities for practice? When will it occur in the term/module? What will the weighting be?
Wikis and blogs can be used formatively or summatively. In a similar way to portfolios, a great benefit of using collaborative writing tools is that you could stagger the task so students have opportunities to complete formative tasks which then build to a holistic summative assessment, integrating feedback and continuous assessment.
Consider the weighting carefully. If you want to make the assessment formative, but feel the students might not engage, consider giving the completion of tasks and contributions a low- weighting (graded as merit/pass/fail) towards its completion (Cubric, 2007).
How will I mark it? What criteria will I use? How will I give feedback?
It is important to determine whether you will assess product or outcomes or both. It is also important to make clear to students that assessment of contribution is not about the quantity but the quality of posts and contributions.
Appropriate criteria to determine this should be devised. Although most students are likely to have had some experience with wikis or blogs, it is important to make clear what is defined as ‘good’ contributions, with clear rubrics and criteria, particularly if summative assessment. You could negotiate criteria with students beforehand to increase engagement and then their expectations to official criteria).
Instant feedback and iterative continuous learning can be built into the course so assessment and feedback as inextricably linked processes.
How can I address potential challenges?
Do I need to make any modifications for accessibility/inclusivity? Can I build these into the design?
Jaques and Salmon (2007) emphasise the idea of community- building and management of online interactions and computer- mediated group work in order to ensure all participants feel included and safe. More diffident students can respond well to blogs and wikis as they allow interaction in a safer space.
Think carefully about how to select groups and how to clearly specify tasks to ensure that all students understand the rationale behind the task. Consider how to manage group conflict if it arises (see team and group work).
Students will need to understand how the technology works for tasks such as blogging and film-making. This cannot always be assumed.
Consider whether to make blogs and wikis public or private. There are pros of pubic communication (including increasing motivation and authenticity) but also issues of GDPR, and approval may be needed from the college.
Do I need to make any modifications for large cohort sizes? Will it be time consuming to set up or mark? Is there anything I can do to modify it to address this?
Using blogs and wikis for large groups can be problematic because of the time taken to assess individual contributions. You could assess the total contributions at the end of the course rather than throughout, but this greatly reduces the benefits of being able to see regular contribution and guide students throughout the course.
Alternatively, set the blog/wiki as a group task and take steps to mitigate social loafing as suggested in the team and group work section of this resource.
Will it be difficult to set up?
However, the management of collaborative writing groups takes some thought and time. Lim et al (2010) state that outside of education, web 2.0 technologies allow for informal learning and formation of groups.However, where clear objectives and learning outcomes are defined as within a university assessment, the management of learning and group formation usually needs to be more carefully managed.
Hazari et al (2009) pose several questions to consider before using collaborative writing as assessment:
- How to select groups (by last name, randomly, self-selection, by learning styles, etc)?
- How to manage teams with different backgrounds or cultures?
- How to foster teamwork?
- Whether and how to assign students their roles in the group e.g. editor, contributor, drafter, media technologist…?
How can I introduce it to students?
Students might have anxiety about a new form of assessment and be concerned about how it will be marked, and how and when feedback will be given.
When introducing the assignment, talk through with students the purpose and how it relates to the learning outcomes. The ethos of collaboration is unlikely to be fostered if the blog or wiki is only individually assessed.