Wiki-supported project-oriented learning

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We define wiki-supported project-oriented learning as some kind of relativly open enden project-based learning design that uses the wiki as sole (or central) tool. Of course, such a design also can be adapted to other project-oriented learning designs, e.g. inquiry learning

Pedagogical goals:

  • Create applicable and/or "deep" knowledge in some domain
  • Learn how to conduct a research project.

Example architecture (1)

Below are some suggestions for a minimalist design that need to be adapted to your needs.


  • This model has been tested in 2006 with a semester-long undergraduate class in history of deviant social behavior. Both teacher and students didn't have much exposure to Internet technology.

Preparation and wiki training

  • DSchneider helped designing the course (2h of work) and then sometimes met with the teacher and the class. All in all it rather was a "low cost" operation and no systematic observation was performed. Evaluation by students was "ok", but some complained about the workload.
  • Students received less then half an hour of wiki training in the beginning and a short help text including short editorial guidelines were prepared. Most students ignored some important features of the wiki, e.g. some didn't really undestand how links work, why one should use titles, how to organize a discussion page, how to fill in a home page, etc. A few forget to save articles from time to time and lost stuff, because they didn't know how to copy/paste after an editing timeout and this created some frustrations. The overall result (wiki pages) however was acceptable, but DSchneider believes that more structure and more training may improve results, but it interested to observed that a minimal approach also works.


The model has four stages.

(1) Preparation
  • Teacher defines global course topic
  • Defines (ajustable) milestones and student evaluation procedure
  • Student teams (5 to 7 members) are formed according to their interests (each student had to write a short text in the wiki)
(2) Planning
  • Team members search resources, start some reading
  • Students write the initial specification of the project, for example goals and questions.
  • Students add some planning elements: Rough definition of tasks (work packages) and important milestones.
  • Teacher gives feedback and students revise the project plan (at least 2 times)

Each team works with the following pages

  • A single project / research plan page.
  • A page for the paper (i.e. the research
  • Other pages for shared activities (see below)
(3a) Implementation of the research project
  • Students were set to work on their project. More or less informal deadlines have been set for important common milestones (like reviews of the literature, initial fieldwork, methods, fieldwork, etc.)
  • After some initial fieldwork (interviews/reading documents) students were asked to present their research methods (this is somewhat particular to history). Also, sometimes students made adjustements to the plan themselves.
  • Teachers insures that some cooperation (either off-line or on-line happens). Some presential classes have been cancelled and replaced by meeting time for students.
  • Once per week teacher gave feedback in the wiki (mostly in discussion pages).
  • Repeat the previsous steps until all milestones are met and/or the course end approaches
(3b) Other activities

Students also were asked to:

  • Work on a common bibliography
  • A dictionary of terms
(4) Finalization
  • It was required that final project (a long wiki page) somewhat met academic standards
  • Each group had to present result to class and then make some adjustments
  • Grades and the whole experience are discussed in a final meeting.

Organization of the Wiki

On the frontpage, there should be:

  • Planning (1): The current tasks on which students should work (with deadlines)
  • Planning (2): A pointer to the overall program (syllabus) of the course.
  • A menu leading to index pages for various tasks (project planning pages index, project pages index, dictionary index, common bibliography, etc.). These also have to be made by the teacher.
  • Extra-information like Wiki Help

Below is a screenshot (in french)

Mediawiki-supported project-oriented learning in history

Other examples

this is still missing, e.g. out experiences with biology teaching at high-school level, or writing-to-learn designs at master level...


Any sort of wiki can do, although we suggest to use a wiki that allows tagging and linking. Some "Wikis" that are embedded in pedagogical platforms are not really wikis (but just simple CMS tools that allow both students and teachers to edit pages through the web.

See the wiki article for technical details.