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X. de Pedro. New method using Wikis and forums to assess individual contributions.
Abstract: This paper shows a new method for using Wikis, forums, and other web-based productivity tools in blended learning strategies to promote the acquisition of competences in Higher education while enhancing experiential learning of students in social collaborative knowledge building scenarios. This methodology also facilitated the grading of student individual contributions in cooperative work, helping to detect any shortcomings that may prevent student active involvement in their learning process, allowing to conduct not only product evaluation but also process evaluation. Based upon previous successful experiences, the free, on-line software platform, TikiWiki CMS/Groupware, was selected to achieve this methodology. Students had to think about “What's the 'type of contribution' that I'm going to make right now?” before submitting new contributions in forums, comments, or document editions (either text or spreadsheet based). Each student's contribution type and size (in bytes) was stored in a log on the website, and could be queried, filtered, and exported for further analyses. The method was tested on an Environmental Sciences course, and its strengths and weaknesses are discussed in the paper. The method description includes a suggested process to convert student contributions (type and size) into numerical grades. However, the main potential of this method is not just final assessment for student accreditation, but serving data for tutorships with students along the process of the learning activities, in order to detect and revert whatever handicaps that prevented some students improving their contributions to the group work or cooperative learning “in time” (much prior to assignment submission to teacher). This preliminary study resulted in a three-times greater time investment by teachers. Further data needs to be collected to better estimate the true costs of this new method.