The Use of Wikis in a Product Design and Development Class to Enhance Project-Based Learning

Fiona Masterson

National University of Ireland Galway

Project-based learning strategy is regarded as the best pedagogical model for teaching product design and development. A product design and development class was designed to follow a guided project format where class discussion and in-class design work contributed to the completion of the final design project. The wiki web 2.0 tool was identified as a tool that would enhance the students’ experiences, with collaboration central to project-based learning.
The design and development of new products requires professionals to collaboratively find new, creative solutions and approaches in order to come up with new products. In the context of product design and development, professionals seldom are co-located. This implies that work and learning take place via electronic facilities. Wikis are a tool that can be used for these purposes. The students in the product design and development class used the wiki to document the entire spectrum of the design process, from idea generation to prototype design.
After a short introduction to the use of wikis in product design education, the paper will investigate the learning lifecycle that the students experienced through designing a product on the wiki technology platform. The design project exercise and assessment process is described. A student survey indicates that vast majority of students found the wiki to be a good tool for project collaboration. The wiki was found to improve student engagement in the projects and enhance the instructor’s ability to observe and guide group dynamics and to facilitate timely feedback.

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