There are a number of perceived barriers to setting up and using wikis in class. These include:


1. No time to set up a wiki project

I found that I could set up the Chinese Cinderella wiki project as I went along and could also use this to model to my students how to work with wikis

2. Wikis will be difficult or more time consuming to assess

With my wiki project, I assessed on a regular basis by writing comments in the discussion section of every page – this meant I had a progressive record available. I also formally assessed tasks on agreed deadlines, using rubrics and/or comments
In one research article, it was found that teachers considered it much easier to manage and assess group projects that had been completed using a wiki (Elgort, Smith & Toland 2008)

3. I don’t have the technical ability for such a project, nor do my students

Wikis are really easy to learn – if you can use a word processing program, you can learn to use a wiki. In addition, there are many instructional videos and step-by-step instructions available to assist you. Don’t forget, you can learn with your students when you first use wikis.

Several researchers found this to be of concern to teachers. (For example Deters, Cuthrell & Stapleton 2010)
Careful explanations, demonstrations, and examples for the application of the wiki to the assignment are needed to alleviate some of these barriers, as is sufficient time to develop competence with the new technology. Further, a well-chosen wiki platform may address many, if not all, of the concerns that can arise from technical difficulties. (Deters, Cuthrell & Stapleton 2010)

4. Some students might not contribute at all, or might contribute unequally

Remember that this challenge occurs with other forms of delivery! Students still need incentives, encouragement and praise. Emphasise that it is an important part of their assessment – they are being marked on it. As with any group project, it is possible for students to contribute unequally to the task. Fortunately, this can be monitored by looking at the history of pages and/or receiving RSS updates or emails for when changes have been made and by whom. It is important to monitor this in the early stages so that steps can be taken to rectify this problem.
A number of researchers identified the challenge of supporting students in regard to consistency and equality of contribution to the wikis (for example, Bower et al. 2006; Higdon & Topaz 2009; Mak & Coniam 2008; Solvie 2008).

5. Some students might become upset because they believe they are doing more than their fair share of the work

Provide students with the opportunity to reflect (anonymously) on the contribution of their peers. Make students aware that wikis clearly show how much and how often each student has contributed.

6. My students’ responses are inadequate and not up to expectations

You will need to model responses and clearly spell out your expectations. Students need to be taught how to respond.

7. My students are not participating in the page discussions or are not participating in an acceptable manner

Set guidelines for your students as to how often you expect them to post responses and comments. Be very explicit about the types of comments you expect them to make and the need for them to be respectful of others at all times. Teach them appropriate etiquette.

8. I am concerned that my students with special educational needs will not be able to benefit from this activity

Because wikis are collaborative tools, this is a perfect opportunity for mixed ability groups and for more confident/able students to assist other members of the group. This becomes a positive experience for all. In addition, you can provide a varying degree of scaffolding for your SEN students.

9. One of my student groups has had a major falling out and the students can no longer work together

Firstly, it is important for students to be able to work with those they don’t necessarily like – this is what they will have to face in their working lives. However, if it becomes clear that students will not be able to do this, steps must be taken. I experienced just this situation with one of my groups for CC. I ended up moving one student to a new group and getting this student to complete an alternative task to compensate for missed work.

10. The wiki does not appear to be working

Wikis can sometimes be a little ‘twiki’! At times, text won’t format the way you want it to and other minor inconsistencies occur. The designers and providers of wikis are always working on improving them and eliminating some of these minor bugs. Sometimes you have to look at a different way of achieving what you want. You can also overcome text formatting inconsistencies by first copying your text into a notepad-type of application, then copying and pasting it back.

11. My students dispute my assessment of their contribution to the wiki

To overcome this problem, you will need to encourage students to do as much of the work as possible in the wiki, particularly any ‘draft’ work. This way, you will have very clear evidence (using wiki page histories) of what each student contributed.

12. Students are perpetually leaving tasks until the last minute

This can be a problem – when students leave tasks until the last minute, there is little time for collaboration and discussion. As a result, students are not benefitting from the wiki’s collaborative learning potential. This problem can be avoided by allowing class time for students to work on their wikis as well as setting regular mini deadlines for components of the wiki. In addition, make it clear to students that there must be evidence of regular collaboration and discussion in order for them to produce a superior product (wiki) and receive a higher grade.
One of the papers I read reported this to be a significant problem. The authors found that collaborative opportunity was lost because many students left it until the last moment to complete the work (just prior to deadlines). (Judd, Kennedy & Cropper 2010)