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The use of a wiki at a college in Hungary as a tool to enhance personal learning

This paper describes a reflective practice project which explores the possibility of integrating a wiki into teaching professional English at a higher education institution in Hungary. As websites that can be freely edited by their users, wikis can further collaboration and knowledge sharing, as well as student-centred and self-directed learning. The main purpose of using the wiki in this project was to motivate students by offering a more challenging method in line with their digital awareness. The wiki was also intended to help them prepare for lifelong learning and experience knowledge sharing. A further aim was to provide tools for self-study and enhance self-regulated learning to compensate for the mixed levels of students (B1-C1). To achieve these goals a wiki was created on Wikispaces for two groups of tourism BA students (N=30) in 2012 to supplement the two 90-minute face-to-face classes a week. In order to gain in-depth experience about the use of the wiki a longitudinal case study was designed for three academic terms. The wiki was first used in class in a computer room, followed by students’ individual use at home for assignments, supplementary tasks and personal study. To encourage life-long learning, links to useful websites were collected that could be used for studying English at any time in the future, including online dictionaries, pages for practicing grammar and learning vocabulary. Knowledge sharing was implemented by uploading students’ work on the wiki where group members could read them, comment on them and use them for individual study. In order to enhance self-study, students were encouraged to use the wiki at home to meet their own needs and goals. To promote this a personalized evaluation system was introduced, in which students had to assess their skills and decide which skills needed improvement as well as lay down their goals. They were encouraged to select tasks for themselves tailored to their individual needs. Each student created an individual portfolio on the wiki which included all the tasks they completed. Assessment was based on points students earned for any task depending on the length and difficulty, which added up to grades at the end of the term. Points earned on the wiki could compensate for lower performance in class, where compulsory material was covered. The use of the wiki and the assessment system was evaluated quantitatively by pre- and post-questionnaires. Results of the end-project questionnaire show that the majority of the students regarded the wiki and the assessment system positively, and would recommend it for other groups. Concerning pedagogical implications, these findings suggest that the integration of a wiki in a professional English course in higher education can motivate students and enhance personal learning, which can promote intensive language development. Further research with a modified course design based on the results of the study will be carried out in the future to explore the adaptability of this methodology for different contexts.

Author(s):

Reka Asztalos    
Foreign Languages Department
Budapest Business School, College of Commerce, Catering and Tourism
Hungary

I have been working at the Foreign Languages Department of Budapest Business School, College of Commerce, Catering and Tourism since September 2009, first as an assistant lecturer, since January 1st 2014 as a lecturer. My duties include teaching all the courses as well as taking part in research projects. Courses range from professional English for tourism, business, commerce and marketing to academic skills and dissertation writing courses on the English language BA program of the college. I enrolled in a PhD Programme in Language Pedagogy at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest in 2009 and completed the course in 2012. At present I am working on my PhD research with the title “The pedagogical purposes of the use of virtual learning environments and web 2.0 tools in tertiary language teaching in a blended learning environment”.

 

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