Jounal 1 PIDP 3240 The use of Wiki’s in Teaching
I am an instructor with the BScN program at VCC College, I mostly instruct in the clinical setting but even in the practical setting there is always a need for students to be able to quickly access information on pt. medical history (Hx), diagnoses (Dx), medications (Tx), treatments and diagnostic tests. We also require that the students are completing weekly in-depth research on their clients’ Hx, Tx, Dx etc and have this information available while on the unit.
Wiki’s are an on-line environment that can be used to house such information for easy access, after all Wiki is a Hawaiian word that means ‘quick’ or ‘hurry’ (Kardong-Egren, Oermann, Ha, Tennnant, Snelson, Hallmark, Rogers & Hurd, 2009). Kardong-Egren et all, indicate in their 2009 article on the use of Wiki’s in nursing education, that with a wiki students can share information and experiences with others allowing them to collaborate online with one another, work together as a group, and critique each other’s work (2009). To this end the curriculum committee decided for this semester that we would trial the use of the Wiki’s that are available on Moodle for the students’ to compile their weekly research on each of their client’s.
The idea of using the Wikis is to help create a data bank from which the students and faculty can quickly access information on a given pt. at anytime from anywhere with internet access. The design is two-fold including areas for each of the patient specific information templates to be uploaded from the students’ computers as well as a permanent list in each section that can be added to providing an ongoing library of common medications, tests, treatments and diagnoses that the student’s have encountered while on the unit.
We are 10 weeks into a clinical rotation of 12 weeks and the validity and use of the Wiki’s has been interesting to say the least.
In previous semesters often students would explain that they did all of their research in a handwritten format, which I actually have no issues with, but that they couldn’t upload their handwritten documents to their computers. The students would often complain that they felt they were expected to do the same research twice, once in handwritten format then again in typed; even though I explained the process of either scanning using a printer/scanner or taking a picture with their phone and using a scanning app to convert it to a PDF.
I have also found in previous semesters that I would end up bogging my computer down with multiple files with the same name; for some reason, even though I explain to the students that they need to title their saved documents with their names before sending, I would still end up with seven documents labeled ‘Pt. Research’ and have to weed through and re-name each file to reflect the actual student’s name. Of course this was if the student’s actually sent me their files in the first place, often I would have to track down each student’s research reminding them weekly that they needed to submit these documents for viewing.
So I myself was quite keen on the idea of using the Wiki’s to house the student’s research and information that they had gathered in an easily accessible area that could be viewed from anywhere and at anytime with internet access. I saw the Wikis as a way for information to be collected and housed in a central and accessible location. I was pleased that I would be able to go and view the student’s work from anywhere at any time without bogging my own computer down with files. This has unfortunately not been the case.
The Wiki system within the Moodle website is not exactly everything I had hoped it would be. For example the actual online components are great scaffolding for the students to add to, but the formatting gets all jumbled up as soon as they try to add information into the sections. So each student has stopped using the on-line tables and they are just uploading documents (some word, some PDF, some pictures) onto their Wikis. When I go to access these documents I cannot view them on-line and am forced to download them to my computer, negating the purpose of the system altogether. This is further complicated by the fact that some students use Mac computers and must save their documents in a format that I can open on my PC, this does not always happen.
The idea of having the documents in an easy to access, on-line and interactive environment that allows for students to access one another’s work is not happening in this current application of the Wiki’s. Instructors have access to all of the Wikis, but students can only access their own. The final flaw in this new Wiki approach, is that the students cannot carry their Moodle Wiki’s forward to their next semester; the Wikis are married to the Moodle course and once the student’s have completed the course they no longer have access to the Moodle course or the Wikis housed within.
When we first came into this clinical rotation the instructors were only provided a quick overview of the Wikis and most had little prior experience using Wikis. I was fortunate enough to have previously worked using a Wiki and had some familiarity with this format. The Moodle system’s Wiki’s are different than the ones I have worked with before, I find that I am proficient in using them but that the structure is quite limited and not user friendly, which I believe has affected the students and faculties use of the Wikis. I have heard that many students and instructors as well, have struggled with uploading documents, or editing the online Wiki documents, so instead some of the instructors have abandoned the use of the Wikis altogether; I think that this is unfortunate and that with a little tweaking the Wikis could be re-formatted to work in the manner in which they were intended.
I am still quite keen on the use of Wikis but I am uncertain about how the Moodle system works and if changes can be made to the system itself in order to make the Wikis more user friendly, interactive and portable.
I look forward to speaking with the other instructors and the administration about the use of Wikis this clinical rotation and determine as a group some ways to make the Wikis more useful to the faculty and the students alike.
Kardong-Edgren, S., Oermann, M., Ha, Y., Tennant, M., Snelson, C., Hallmark, E., Hurd, D. (2009). Using a Wiki in Nursing Education and Research. International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship. Retrieved July 28, 2015, from CINAHL.