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Experience with Software Support for Managing Student-Authored Wiki Textbooks

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Information and Network Security

Tagged Division

Computing & Information Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.676.1 - 22.676.10



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Paper Authors


Edward F. Gehringer North Carolina State University

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Ed Gehringer is an associate professor in the departments of Computer Science and Electrical & Computer Engineering at North Carolina State University. He received his Ph.D. from Purdue University and has also taught at Carnegie-Mellon University and Monash University in Australia. His research interests lie mainly in computer-supported cooperative learning.

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Experience with software support for managing student-authored wiki textbooksTraditionally, students study from textbooks written by "experts" in the field. But there areimportant pedagogical advantages to having them write part or all of their textbook. It forcesthem to confront the primary literature, and gives them experience in organizing their thoughtsfor their peers. It teaches them to "find truth" by balancing different viewpoints. Until Web2.0, however, student-authored textbooks were infeasible because of the overhead in reviewingcontributions and making them available to the rest of the class. A wiki meets both of theseneeds very nicely. But substantial administrative overhead remains. Students must be givenhelp in finding useful sources of information on their topic. It is necessary to make sure thatprerequisite chapters are written before the chapters that depend on them. Reviewers must beassigned to review students' contributions, and be rewarded for taking reviewing seriously.Our Expertiza system helps manage all of these tasks. It performs the functions of a social-bookmarking, peer-review, and 360-degree assessment system. Social bookmarking issupported by giving students the opportunity to recommend sources for their classmates toconsult when writing about their topic. Chapters submitted by students go through two roundsof peer review, giving the authors a chance to revise their work based on reviewer comments.Assessments by reviewers, authors, and teammates are taken into account when assigninggrades for the project, imparting a 360-degree assessment flavor to the process.This paper reports on two semesters of experience with it, in one small class (15 students) andone large class (130 students). Lessons learned include the following: Student needconsiderable guidance about which sources to consult, and how to organize their prose. Otherstudents in the class, though, can help with this by suggesting topics to write on and sources toconsult. It is important to keep a close watch on the reviewing process, using a detailed rubricto guide students in reviewing their peers’ work.Student reaction has been quite positive, and we have learned many lessons about effectivelysupporting large student project.

Gehringer, E. F. (2011, June), Experience with Software Support for Managing Student-Authored Wiki Textbooks Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17957

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