The psychology of university student learning and performance: using the wiki tool in Blackboard to support collaborative hypertext development among first-year psychology students


  • Steve Provost
  • Donnah Anderson


Before wikis and mind-maps there was hypertext. Somehow hypertext lost popularity at exactly the same time as its direct descendent, the world-wide web, become omnipresent. One of the problems for educators wishing to use and evaluate hypertext was the lack of availability of tools that students could understand for its generation. Times have now changed. Social networking is rampant, Wikipedia has been a huge success, and universities have now developed pervasive computer systems based on Blackboard and similar products. These provide easy-to-learn tools for hypertext creation, if you know where to look. We have been using the wiki tool in blackboard to support a collaborative hypertext project. Students in their first year of psychology are asked to gather information regarding career paths in the profession. They then cooperate in small groups with overlapping interests to present this information as a wiki on the MySCU site. At the end of semester, each group gives a brief presentation regarding their wiki and its development. Use of the wiki tool editor requires almost no training, and the majority of students were able to complete this assignment with ease. Gentle encouragement to incorporate hypertext design elements, as opposed to a linear presentation, was effective in many cases. Pleasingly, the experience leaves a (small) group of students interested in how to develop these skills further, manipulating CSSs and trying to get images on the background. Feedback on the unit was generally positive, and very few intra-group problems emerged. The success of this project suggests that the educational benefits of hypertext may now be achievable: at the very least it is now possible for educators to focus upon evaluation of the conceptual skills acquired rather than the technical details of hypertext creation for their students.