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Introduction of wikis to foster collaboration in health professional education

Caitriona Cunningham, Grainne O'Donoghue, David Jennings


Background: In order to facilitate learning that prepares students for future media- rich, collaborative, professional practice, a wiki-based assignment was introduced to a professional physiotherapy program. The aim of this study was to explore learning experience with wikis from the student’s perspective.

Methods: Over a 12-week semester, 57 Year 3, BSc Physiotherapy students worked in groups to create and collectively contribute to a wiki regarding exercise for specific clinical populations. Each student then documented their progressive wiki experience in an online reflective journal. Data from a random sample (n = 10) of the students’ journals were analysed for common themes using a framework analysis method.

Results: Three predominant themes emerged from the online journal data regarding the student experience: (1) using a novel learning platform, (2) teamwork and collaboration and (3) enhanced learning opportunities. Wikis facilitated achievement of learning outcomes, including collaborative team skills and evidence review, synthesis and presentation. Themes identified from the students’ journals have led to the development of a framework for the integration of an enhanced social collaborative environment in a health professional program. A greater level of student orientation to wikis is advocated, and it is important that the wiki platform chosen has a user friendly interface and ideally is developed as an open learning resource.

Conclusion: Wikis were found to be a valuable tool for facilitating collaboration and enhancing learning, important for future professional practice of these health professional students. A framework for integrating such social collaborative environments into health professional programs has been presented. 


wikis; collaboration; physiotherapy/health professional education

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