Evaluating Student Work in WikiSpaces - Redux

We recently wrote an article about evaluating student work in a wiki environment, in which we noted some of the challenges that wikis can pose because of their inherent weak structures and hierarchies.

Apply Some Structure: You Needn't Use Tags

In order to help give course wikis some structure we have suggested (in workshops and the article referenced above) that instructors employ tags, including requiring students to tag pages with their UNIs so that each student's work is collected on the related UNI-tag page. However, this technique relied on each student remembering to tag each page. It turns out that there is a more reliable way to do this -- a way that does not require each student to tag pages with a UNI.

If you want to see all of the pages edited by an individual user, you my use the "wiki statistics" page (click "manage wiki", "wiki statistics", click the "members" tab, and then click the adjacent number in the "edits" column). This reveals a list of changes and an RSS feed of those changes for each individual user:

Apply Some Structure: Templates, Widgets, and Other Tricks

Templates are a way for you to prescribe a format for each new page that is created in your wiki. You can find a list of templates for your course in "manage wiki", "templates". In our previous article we touted the use of templates as a way to keep a wiki page organized, but we neglected to mention that you may insert tags or widgets directly into templates. For example, you could update your default template throughout the semester so that new pages automatically have the tag "week1" or "week2", etc. This means that each new page that a student creates will automatically be properly tagged and "turned in" via the appropriate feed for that week.

Templates also accept widgets. When used in conjunction with Wikispaces' wikitext variables, widgets can supercharge your wiki organization process. For example, you can insert the following code into the default template for each new page.

Created by: [[user:{$creator}]], last edited by: [[user:{$revisioneditor}]] on {$revisiondate}<br />
[[include component="backlinks" page="{$page}" limit="10" ]]

The first segment (through the <br /> code) adds information about who created the page and who edited it most recently (and when). The second segment provides a list of ten pages that link to this page. These data allow the instructor to get an idea of who's involved in working on the page and the context in which the page sits.

There are dozens of other ways to organize your wiki's content. As always, we encourage faculty to consult with an educational technologist in all-things-wiki.