My teaching philosophy is grounded in active learning, to “create excitement and enhance learning” (cf. Bonwell and Eison 1991; Eison 2010). Following a constructivist approach (specifically Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning), I believe that active (and ongoing) learning can be generated through incorporation of a wiki within the conventional face-to-face course design. This is expected to improve learning outcomes, while also providing students with greater input into course development.


Following Smith (2008: 517): “quality assurance in teaching and learning requires not just the collection of data but also a system that ensures interpretation of, and response to, those data”. Smith (2008: 527; see also Young and Shaw 1999) provides a useful evaluation model (“Four Quadrant”/ 4Q), the guiding principle being use of multiple sources of evidence to demonstrate effectiveness. Quadrants include (1) “self-reflection”; (2) “peer-review”; (3) “student learning” and (4) “student experience” (Smith 2008: 527).  To evaluate the success (or otherwise) of my innovation, I will use SETS results, focused mini-questionnaire (Questionnaire) and will add peer and self-review. Comparing student grades with wiki productivity is considered problematic as students are required to identify themselves in the questionnaire, potentially influencing their responses. This method will not be used. Improvements will occur after a review of qualitative data.


Based on a review of literature and tests completed by generous collaborators, it appears that this learning design is sound. There were a few points raised that need to be assessed in detail.

How to mitigate issues raised by the two assessors:

Points 1 & 2:  While it is possible that I could ensure students interact online (and do not free-load) by making involvement a requirement (i.e. ParticipationRubric) or assessing this item I believe this would move the focus towards a staff (rather than student)-driven forum. This I do not want to do as I believe it would remove active/ problem-based learning elements inherent in design.

I believe it is possible to adopt the “conceptual approach”, setting conditions which make it easier to complete the course (including assessments) through collaborative use of CSCL. Following Kreijns et al. (2003: 339) This will involve “positive interdependence”. In this case, research and PPT design in preparation for the 1st assignment (a group presentation during tutorials) can be evaluated based on a review of Wiki activities. It will be made clear that wikis provide a way of examining “individual accountability”. This can be gauged by student collaborators and not just the lecturer. It will further be stressed that by helping out other students (providing information/ comments), this will assist completion of the final assessment: an essay on the role of key figures in the development of archaeological thought. This aligns with key course outcomes (as covered in a previous post).

Point 3: I agree with reviewers that the function and reason behind wikis must be made very clear. It is necessary to remove social (psychological) barriers connected with the use of blended learning. According to Kreijns et al. (2003: 343)  “Social relationships, group cohesion, and trust define the affective structure in the social space
that in turn reinforces social interaction”. To develop this within an online context is problematic, however, with face-to-face tutorials occurring throughout the course it is anticipated that this will not be a problem. To make sure the use of wikis is clear, the 1st tute (wiki) has been modified as a “community building” exercise whereby a combination of group discussion and wiki use (including social, “off-task communication” will be covered (Kreijns et al. 2003: 343) .


In order to test whether or not these Wikis were likely to provide a useful forum for students, I engaged the assistance of one student (who had taken the History of Archaeology class) and one staff member (with a good understanding of Web 2.0 in tertiary education). There reports are attached here: Reviewer 1 2

Both reviewers were very positive about this initiative, suggesting that this would be a useful addition to the course. There are a few important points raised:

1) How can we make sure students engage? (R1&2)

2) What about free-rider effect? (R1)

3) The purpose & use of Wiki needs to be made clear (R1&2)

These will be examined further in the next post.


Having developed a learning design that incorporated wikis it was then necessary to find a way of embedding this within the existing Moodle system. Discussions with ANU IT suggested that this facility already existed. A single wiki page was created in the “Tutorial” section of the ARCH 2006 site. This provided a forum for students to upload information generated throughout the course (cf. Wiki page ), however, it became clear that a single Wiki would not provide the facilities to reflect course structure (meaning that important themes were likely to be lost).

For this reason a wiki was generated for each week of the course.  This meant students could engage with key concepts raised during each tutorial (Wiki level2). It also allowed the lecturer to upload questions that could be discussed and a folder in which students could a) upload their own posters or other materials that they felt were connected with this part of the course and b) engage in critical discussions prior to and after the tutorial was completed (Wiki level3). This provided a level of structure to the discussion that would otherwise not be possible, while also meaning that information uploaded during and after each tutorial would often relate to the lectures taking place in the same week.

The next level of data within the Wiki included suggested readings for each of the proposed questions and a repository for uploading materials (Wiki level4). Initially it was not possible to upload PDF and PPT files, however this was due to the permission settings (which were then updated).


Following a constructivist framework it may be possible to develop active and ongoing student learning through “constructive doing and reflective discussion in groups” (Silverman 1995: 89). While this can be completed during face-to-face forums it is difficult to maintain momentum outside the classroom. Garrison et al. (2001: 11) suggested that a “community of Inquiry” (COI) could be created by allowing  ‘learners are able to construct and confirm meaning through sustained reflection and discourse in a critical community of inquiry”. As well as occurring during tutorials/ lectures), blended learning methods enable learning to be solidified in the “private world” through continued “discourse” and “reflection” (e.g. Garrison figure). It is suggested that Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL), whereby students are encouraged or required to work together on problem-solving or learning tasks can be a particularly strong method of facilitating long-term learning. A further benefit of this approach is it reinstating the student as custodian of their own ideas/ knowledge and provides “an authoring environment that permits students to express what they learn from the point of view, and in the medium, that emphasizes their own strengths” (Silverman 1995: 89).

Following Bloom (et al. 1956) taxonomy this active learning would be expected to Generate higher order skills such as “evaluation”.  This was recently confirmed by Smith and Burke (2007: 38) who provide a number of convincing case studies of active, online learning as part of archaeology classes.

So what is required?

In order to capture resources arising from the tutes it is necessary to develop an online forum that is a repository for a variety of data sets but also facilitates moderated student discussion. In line with the social constructivist framework it is also important the students can modify their own work and potentially also the work of others.

Two methods that align with these requirements are blogs and wikis (http://iteachu.uaf.edu/grow-skills/choosing-the-best-technology/). Bates and Poole (2003) suggest that decisions depend on consideration of a number of criteria. This includes ease of use, cost, learning, organisational support, speed and interaction with material to create an active learning environment. With this in mind I believe the Wikis would fit my tutorials well. The ANU Wattle system is currently incompatible with blogs. It is late in the semester and so ease and speed implementing a new system is a very real consideration. Also, institutional support exists for Wiki as opposed to the other systems. In terms of teaching and learning I believe that this fits my structuralist approach because (unlike blogs) Wikis allow a negotiation of knowledge (i.e. pages can be edited and updated). A Wiki (as opposed to a blog) would allow students to follow up each tutorial by uploading PDFs, photos, publications, posters and comments about their individual archaeologists. Others would then be able to comment on these presentations and indeed correct any errors that they found during their own research. A Wiki (contra blog) provides a collaborative platform so that students can work on their assessments together. Any misconceptions occurring during this process can be spotted by the coordinator (or students) early improving the final assessment. In short, in keeping with a system developed by the University of Deliware (2008; http://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCMQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww…) this would enable a “living course website”, which allows courses to develop organically through student contributions.

Further considerations

It is clear that any use of online applications would have to be thought out in some detail before being implemented. Firstly, it is necessary to see whether this benefits student learning (or just confuses the situation). A message that has been reiterated in this module is that technology should not drive curriculum (e.g. Khoo et al. 2009; Redmond 2011). It is important to identify whether or not these new methods can fit/ enhance existing learning outcomes. Secondly, it will be necessary to have a very good understanding of the introduced technology which can then be passed on to students in training workshops/ discussions.

I think that it is clear that I would need to look into privacy issues about using social media. I think it is clear that assessment can not be taught using these online systems. It is important that the university has access to these grades and that we are not put in a situation where work is lost. A question about the back up policy for these systems must also be raised. Discussions with member of ANU IT have put my mind at rest. Materials will not be lost should a wiki be used. They advise that before students use this facility they need to understand the ANU policy for use of Web 2.0 : anup_000784 and have been trained about how these forums can be used and why they are important.



I am currently teaching a module on the history of archaeology at Australian National University. Students taking this course are 2nd year undergraduates within the Bachelor of Archaeology Major.  The size of the class is low (28) and this provides an opportunity to create an intimate format to lectures and tutorials. The current delivery of this course is face-to-face with the course coordinator uploading lecture notes, tutorial readings etc on to the Moodle site. There is currently no HTML site that allows students to control of the delivery (or continue discussing) their own ideas. This is directly aligned with two of the courses primary learning objectives:

  1. Evaluate individual contributions towards our current understanding of the past.
  2. Critically assess the relationship between archaeological practice and archaeological thought.

While the theme of each tutorial is chosen by the coordinator, the assessment (small group presentations and individual posters) challenges students to find out information outside the knowledge of the class (including the lecturer) about an individual of their choice. They are also given license to experiment with the format of presentation (e.g. one group adopted a talk-show approach, another individual provided an individual history through photographs using Prezi.com). Discussion is fundamental to this exercise with students (guided by the coordinator) using their readings to contextualise group presentations within a broader context.

I believe that these tutorials are effective in realising the course objectives. They have the advantage of encouraging students to actively engage with subject matter while also enjoying the research process. It is also important that they effectively flip the class room, allowing students to innovate and control (within broad boundaries) the format of tutorials. While it is difficult to substantiate this claim and I have no assessment results to present, the engagement of students during these tutorials is excellent. It has raised the niggling feeling that the discussion and student engagement is somewhat lost because there is no forum before and after the tute for students to upload their PowerPoint presentations/ photographs/ references etc and continue discussion. The information that is uploaded is usually sent to me and put up on Wattle. This has the draw-back of providing a very patchy overview of what was going on during tutorials. It also removes the student from dissemination of their own ideas research. considering I am looking to foster higher order thinking skills (and active learning) such as evaluation (see objective 1 & Bloom taxonomy) it would be useful to improve this situation.


How do I facilitate ongoing student engagement after the tutorial?