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Using Wikis In A Sophomore Engineering Design Course

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Communication in Design

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1347.1 - 15.1347.12



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Paper Authors

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Patricia Mellodge University of Hartford

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Fouad El Khoury University of Hartford

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Using Wikis in a Sophomore Engineering Design Course


With the launch of Wikipedia in 2001, the nature of creating content and gathering information on the internet began to change dramatically. Initially introduced as a free online encyclopedia1, it has become a single source of information on nearly any subject and one of most visited sites on the internet, consistently ranking in the top ten. It can be used as a starting point for research on almost any topic. A wiki, according to Wikipedia2, “is a website that allows the easy creation and editing of any number of interlinked web pages via a web browser using a simplified markup language or a WYSIWYG [what you see is what you get] text editor.”

An important feature of a wiki is that users themselves can edit the content of the page. In the case of Wikipedia, anyone with access to the internet can update nearly any entry at any time. While this has been a controversial feature of Wikipedia, due to fact that false or erroneous content can be anonymously inserted in an article, wikis can be useful in other contexts. One example is corporations that have been using wikis for knowledge sharing and project management3. Another example is the use of wikis in education4,5, since it is an ideal tool to use for collaborative learning. In such situations where editing access is controlled, a wiki may be effectively used as a central location in which information pertaining to a particular topic or project may be found.

As wikis have increased in popularity, they have become more prominent in academic settings as a learning tool. The education community has initiated studies on the effectiveness of these web- based collaborative learning tools. See Aharony6 and Parker and Chao7 for a review of wiki use in general and how they fit into different learning paradigms. These researchers see wikis as enablers of deep learning and their use within an academic setting teaches students to effectively use the technology in a professional setting.

Within engineering education, wikis have been used in several ways at several different levels. One example is the creation of ePortfolios in a freshman engineering design course8. The students were given writing assignments in which they reflected on the human implications of design. Another example can be found in a team-based capstone design project in which the wiki was used to document social knowledge and assess group performance9. A third example is a student-written online textbook5. In a senior level chemical engineering process controls course, an open-source text was written, edited, and reviewed by the students to allow them to learn the course content though teaching it.

This paper describes the use of a wiki in a project-based engineering design course at the University of Hartford. The inspiration for this application came from an article describing how students in a computer engineering course at the University of Alabama, Huntsville used a wiki combined with version control software to manage a programming project10. The wiki gave them a central location to store project files while the version control software allowed them to easily keep track of file revisions, an important aspect of programming projects.

Mellodge, P., & El Khoury, F. (2010, June), Using Wikis In A Sophomore Engineering Design Course Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16684

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