Markus Hofmann, Matt Smith, Institute of Technology, Blanchardstown

This paper outlines the process and outcomes of using Wikis as a tool for assignment work with final year marketing students.   The technology was used for an elective course, Brand Management, which is a one-semester module within the Bachelor of Commerce Degree. The module is traditionally delivered in two-hour lectures across a twelve-week period.  

The course was previously examined using continuous assessment in the form of four written individual assignments.   Typically, sixty-five students selected the subject from a suite of electives. In 2009, the course adopted the use of Wikis as the substantive component of continuous assessment. The aim of this change was to foster increased engagement, to give students an opportunity to use new technologies, and to apply enquiry based learning methods online. 
Students worked in self-selected groups. Each group were assigned a brand and a wiki template from which to work. The students became ‘brand managers’ for their assigned brand for the duration of the semester. During lectures, the students were given issues to relate to their brand, and were required to submit each response on a new page of their wiki. In all, five assignments were provided, resulting in five wiki pages for each group.  
This technology offered a number of advantages. First, students were required to work in groups, which facilitated interaction and supported collaboration. Second, the Wiki format allowed students to collaborate while based in diverse locations. Third, it provided students with experience in creating wiki pages, updating content, and including links to relevant items. Fourth, it allowed the lecturer to provide constructive comments on each wiki, which contributed to subsequent pages. Fifth, it offered each group privacy, as access was limited to each group and the course lecturer. In addition, as the participation of each group member was visible and measurable, students had reassurance that group evaluation and the allocation of marks was fair. Sixth, it supported the learning objectives of the course, as students applied theoretical concepts to their assigned brands in a new way. 
Prior to explaining the assignment to the class, the lecturer surveyed the group to determine their awareness of wikis, and their perceptions about their benefits and challenges. Although the average time spent online was 3 hours per day, 63% of those surveyed did not know what a Wiki was. The group highlighted concerns about the use of the technology, and its application for assignment purposes. This paper outlines the learnings arising from the use of group Wikis as a learning and assessment tool, and the feedback from students on completion of the Wiki assignments.