Using The Wiki in the Language Classroom to Enhance Learning

Ms Goh Li-Ern from River Valley High School used wiki in a "Teaching for Understanding" framework for her language lessons.

Her take of wiki is encapsulated in the following equation:

It really shows how wikis could do so much more if used appropriately and effectively.

Her wiki lessons take place fortnightly in the computer labs and students all have an account with Wikispaces. Visit her wiki to be inspired.

Learning points include:
  1. Language use was not standard but the use in this case was more for ideation and discussion. There will be a sacrifice made in terms of accuracy for fluency.
  2. Careful thought must be put in to manage students' work on wiki. Clear nomenclature (e.g. 4C10 Comments on Gender) for students' pages should be given so that monitoring could be done more effectively.
  3. Students' works by default form their digital portfolios.

One interesting Web 2.0 tool she shared was EtherPad which is really real-time-collaborative-word-processing. Try it out!

Perceptions of Primary 4 Students Using Wiki for Collaborative Project Work

Poi Ching Primary School embarked on Action Research (AR) to investigate students' perceptions on the use of wiki during project work in Social Studies to impact use of ICT, sharing of ideas in group and contribution and distribution of work in group work. This sharing session took the audience through the 2 AR cycles they went through, the first using a survey and the second an interview.

The school chose Moodle as the wiki platform with a log-in function to "teach students responsibility and accountability".

The results as explained by the presenters showed varying results. More students indicated a positive perception of using ICT after using wiki but stated they did not get to voice The data however did not help to explain if students have had a more positive perception towards individual accountability and distribution of work in group work.

Some learning points from the session include:
  1. Wiki was used more for showing students' products rather than as part of the process for discussion.
  2. Teachers lacked the expertise to fully utilise the wiki.


School: Anderson Secondary School
Speaker: Mr Kam Yong Chuan (甘永川)
Duration: 20 minutes
Participants: 7/20

Objective: to leverage on blogging as a tool to engage students (Higher Chinese Language of 23 in an experimental class) in knowledge sharing, reflection and debate.

Pedagogy: Cooperative Learning
  • Students are given cooperative learning activities that require them to relay research findings, ideas, or suggestions.

Portal: An educational blog site named

  • Features of Portal:
(1) FOC for 20 accounts (of 1mb space)
(2) Chargeable at US$8.90 per month for each account
(3) Facilitator (teacher) is able to moderate every new entry posted by student before it is published.
(4) It contains powerful tools to enable scaffolded learning or mentoring to occur.

Recommendation & Consideration:
  1. Could further explore the possibilities of deploying this educational blog as it is specially designed for educators. With appropriate teacher intervention at various stages, the teacher is able to scale up and guide the degree of complexity of the discussion.
  2. Need to further deliberate on the expenses required if we are to equip EACH student of 200 in Sec 1 (2010) with an account.


Use of ICT as a Cognitive Apprenticeship Model to Enhance the Teaching of Biology

Ms Lum Wai Mei, Maris Stella High School (Secondary) shared with us all on the use of Cognitive Apprenticeship Model to teach the abstract concept of osmosis. Students tend to find the understanding of osmosis concept difficult to visualise and comprehend. Ms Lum shared that instead of the common use of powerpoint slides to explain the meaning of osmosis followed by the common experimental investigations carried out in practical lessons, she started teaching students on the concept of osmosis using modelling. She used online resources from MOE's Edumall to demonstrate the movement of water molecules across a semi-permeable membrane and the effect of the water molecules movement after solute like salt is added to the water. She posted a couple of questions to scaffold students' thinking on how water molecules movement is affected by the solute and what is free water potential. She continued with the scaffolding of the lesson with practical sessions there after to encourage students to explore more on osmosis.

Really, the cognitive apprenticeship model is a model of learning based on the situated cognition theory. There are six stages of cognitive apprenticeship. Modelling, Coaching, Scaffolding, Articulation, Reflection and Exploration.

She shared her students' feedback showed positive response to the approach she used in her lessons.

The Design of a Qualitative Assessment Task Science Learning Programe

This presentation was shared by Mr Chia Kok Pin from Maris Stella High School (Secondary). He shared with all on qualitative approach to online Science assessment over the quantitative online Science assessment.

I like the sharing especially on the various modes of assessment possible in Science lessons, their advantages and the suggested assessment strategies that teachers can employ. Understanding of Science can be checked amongst students through online discussions and this enables teachers to discover any possible misconceptions students may develop through the course of learning a particular Science topic. Mr Chia KP shared with us on how online tasks can be set for individual or groups to review and explore.

Another assessment mode shared is on collaborative assignment that can be set for students in Science lessons. This made use of case study that challenged students with authentic tasks that requires them to use online resources to work collaboratively to share resources and findings and hence from there make informed decisions to solve the given tasks.

Very often, email is used for communication. In Science, email can also be used for receiving and tracking essays, assignments and reports. Assessed work can be returned with annotations and grades.

Mr Chia KP also shared on the criteria in designing and development of a qualitative assessment task (Kendle and Northcote, 2000). The guidelines include:
(1) Open-ended tasks should be set. They should include controversial issues for eliciting inquiry among students.
(2) Outcome and purpose of task should be clearly communicated to students.
(3) Task should be authentic and modeled on real life application.
(4) Emphasis on process over product.
(5) Task should include collaboration and communication skills and form a component of the final assessment mark.
(6) A varying degree of choice in online task should be provided.
(7) Task should be limited to unit or course objective.
(8) Use of feedback mechanism should also be included in the task design.
(9) Encourage appropriate and discriminatory use of online resources.
(10) Examine and present a variety of solutionsif applicable and opposing viewpoints.

In the presentation, an example of a Science topic on Pendulum is demonstrated. Video clips of pendulum swinging at varying lengths of strings were shown and students were required to take measurement of the time for each period. Students were given 3 questions that required them to discuss their answers online and the Science teacher will check on a regular basis students' input and the teacher will provide feedback on students' input.

Suggested area for improvement: Proposed to the presenter to use challenge-based approach to encourage students to formulate authentic problems based on a given topic and they can further research on their task to stimulate creativity and innovative learning in the process.

Presentation - Using Blogs to Enable Independent Learning

Presented by Susan Soh, Rodger Spelmer & Joyce Lim of Hwa Chong Institution (High School Section)

In the 30 min presentation, what I gathered...

  • This is the first year when Blogging is incorporated into the Sec 1 Lang-Arts programme (LAP) in a structured manner. It is compulsory for all and comes in the form of student-initiated Project (Part of their Project Work).
  • Blogging helps in facilitating Differentiated Instruction (DI), taken into consideration students' learning styles.
  • One important point: The role of teachers progresses from "Teachers" to "Facilitators" - this role is gradual and progressive to allow time for students' adaptation and eventually being able to take charge of the learning. The presenters shared about having Prompts to guide students on the writing (as scaffolds). In fact, students are told be teachers that those are prompts and are encouraged (on-going) to attempt the task without relying on the prompt. This transition is something that we often miss out during implementation - teachers would assign the task without providing scaffolds. Often, the switch from teacher to facilitator role is drastic and students are expected to be independent in no time.
  • A new idea: Electronic Bookshelf where students list down the books they read. How we could implement: Start a Class Library blog where students could share their reading in the form of Book Review. The dept could structure it thematically in a monthly basis or based on genre, etc. In no time, our Electronic Bookshelf will be so much richer! We could easily set a target of 1 book per fortnight and they would also pick up a book reviewed by their peers to read so that they could comment in their classmate's post (possibly offering a different perspective).
  • Role Modeling is another important aspect mentioned, where teachers' involvement (i.e. regular inputs) are necesary for the programme to take off. 3 stages (i) Write, Publish blog posts regularly (ii) Post comments regularly (iii) Blog prompts based on text discussed in LAP classes. Fully agree with this! If one asks the students to do it yet do not personally demonstrate the desired behaviour, then it's not convincing in the kind of habit one intends to cultivate! Moreover, it's important to respond to the students' inputs - at least they are aware that someone's reading and will make an effort to do it well! The prompts are really the scaffolding that keeps thing going on!
  • I also like the systematic approach (which we could probably consider!): (i) Prior introducing Blogging to students, carry out a survey to prep the students. It also gives the teachers an idea where the students are. They term it as "Pre-test" (which I think "Survey" sounds more appropriate). (ii) This is followed by getting students to write/discuss "Journaling vs Blogging" to look at the similarities and differences (hence setting the tone and expectation, I guess). (iii) The class then moved on to analyse newspaper articles of racist bloggers, etc before they move on to (iv) Socratic Seminar on Dangers of Blogging. (v) Drawing from discussions and exposures through these engagement, students then create the blog policy which is then signed by parents as well as students to emphasize the latter's responsibility in blogging. (vi) Eventually, students create their first blog.
  • This blogging activity is also noted as a major ACE activity (10CPs) which all students are expected to complete 20 blogs and provide 12 quality comments to their peers. Their blog must also comprise of multimedia elements (video & photo images). Of course, there's a rubric for teachers to grade the entire exercise!

Something I'm amazed over...

Some useful sites come across in the session:

Other related sites that I chanced upon...

Presentation - Ether-World Models: Co-Curricular WetPaint - Environment Simulation

Presented by Robert Puffer & Ms Hoe Tou Hwa of Bukit Panjang Government High School

Was attracted to the session because of its objective outlined in the synposis:

  1. ... to provide a model for extending a student's opportunity for leadership and academic outside the school environment...
  2. ... to demonstrate uses of wetpaint wikispaces which create social environments where students become engaged in self-disciplined learning of curricular goals
  3. ... to demonstrate a peer evaluative tool
  4. ... to propose an extensive of this model to a global project resulting from a national competition. Students will apply their comprehension of class activity to a national and international mdoel for addressing global issues. A Global Issues Network (GIN) will be joined by Singapore students.

In the 30 min presentation, what I gathered...

  • There's this Earth Hope Global Issues Network Conference( where students could participate in discussions pertaining to global issues like Global Warming, Digital Divide. 2008's held in Beijing while this year's in Bangkok. Well, this could be an event where our students could participate, interact with students from all over the world and be engage in rich discussion cross-culturally.
  • Wiki is being used in the EL and History classroom (not sure if it's level wide). Currently, wiki activities seem to supplement who's in the main curriculum. The activities does not come with any assessment component as it aims to make interaction non-threatening. Moreover, not all students participated because not everyone has access to the internet.

Things I already know and I didn't expect to cover (based on the write-up)...

  • Signing up of the WetPaint account. Well, I think such technicalities could be more easily carried out or more effective to participants (who are new to WetPaint) if it's a hands-on session.
  • The new site (access via invitation) was created:
  • Features of WetPaint - something I already know.
  • Benefits of networking via wiki - mainly collaboration. Yes, and agree it depends on the make-up of the community that makes the interaction more enriching!

Questions remain unanswered...

  • What are some of the specific activities that the students are engaged in (English & History) that illustrates their growth and how they have benefited from the participation in a wiki.
  • Well, one example shared was, a student put up a question in the discussion focum (DF)of the class wiki where he invited replies from his peers. Well, this illustrates the clarification process - however, facilitated via a DF. It's not the key feature of wiki - which is suppose to be the collaborative platform.
  • How do students arise from occasion to lead? Not clear. Perhaps illustrated from the discussion forum when one led in the discussion and helped peers who need support? Once again, how does wiki really support this process, apart from the DF that comes with it?
  • Indeed, I was looking out for the kinds of activities/interaction that could leverage on the features uniquely wiki - which could be in the form of collaboration or something else!
  • BTW, what's exactly this Ether-World Model? It was never answered... or was it forgotten? or it's so abstract that it's already answered or I already experienced it without knowing? Hm...