Welcome to Learn and Experiment

Author: Jean-Pierre Redonnet

The project

The objective is to create an free and open source wiki perfectly suited for the education. The wiki will include several features to make it a perfect tool for the collaborative and constructivist learning.

Can we teach differently? Can we learn differently?

Yes of course, I am going to explain my project in this wiki. In a few words, my goal is to use an especially designed wiki for education purposes . It will bring the students in a collaborative and constructivism learning where they will be proud of their contributions and they will have the possibility to give new directions to the courses.

The traditional teaching is often perceived as boring!

The traditional way to teach is not the most efficient way to teach, particularly with unmotivated students. The majority of the undergraduate students feel that the traditional lecture is boring and the application exercises are unfunny. Too many students arrive in class unprepared and read their book just before the quiz. Why? Because the traditional textbook and workbook are often boring too.

High achievements are not possible without strong student engagements.

It is clear that the students have to invest themselves in the learning process. They have to work hard to understand and to learn new concepts. They have to persist in their efforts, to participate in class, to work at home, to integrate new knowledges to their lives. This process requires efforts and the students will not do it spontaneously unless they gain some benefits, advantages and pleasures to do it. The book Teaching Gap by James W. Stigler and James Hieberg is an deep comparison of the Japanese, German and American ways of teaching mathematics. In my point of view, one of its most important and in fact evident conclusion is that "high-achieving countries succeed not by using particular methods but by finding ways to engage students in sustained efforts."

Collaborative and Constructivist learning

Collaborative learning, constructivism and learning by teaching are three other solutions to learn and they can be combined together easily with the help of a wiki.
Information about these methods can be read here:

Wikis are the key for a better education?

Certainly yes! Of course, it is my opinion and I am sure it is right. But ordinary wiki engines are not the best approach. They are perfect to create open collaborative knowledge bases but they have several limitations in education, for instance (unsorted critics):

  • They are too open, anybody can create or edit a page anonymously.
  • The real name of the authors (students) does not appear on the page.
  • They do not report the contributions of each author (student) during a period of time.
  • The instructor work is not facilitated (it is difficult to evaluate and to grade the contributions of each students).
  • They do not indicate the level of quality of the contributions (rating indicators on the top of the pages).
  • They do not guaranty the quality of the contribution through a peer-reviewing procedure.
  • They do not allow to embed interactive flash animations.
  • They do not accept form fields and javascript programs in the page (to include autocorrected exercises, quizzes).
  • They do not allow to attach file to a page.

Some of these limitations are corrected by several wiki engines such as wikidot but it still imperfect for an educational use.

Textbooks are too expensive!

Texbooks are expensive, too expensive! A basic textbook without companion website costs easily $50, nice textbook with hardcover and companion website can cost up $200! Often, an additional workbook is required too! A pedagogical wiki will be as good as any book with their companion website. In fact, it will be better because the students will the possibility to read it as any book, to do the interactive exercises as any companion website, and to contribute to wiki, thing that books and companion websites do not offer. Finally, it will be free!

The Pedagogical Wiki

A named pedagogical wiki, a new sort of wiki especially designed to allow the students to create their own courses that will be taught by their instructors. The students will contribute to the course by submitting articles, explanations, exercises that will be "stored" in a wiki. The instructor will grant the permissions to modify or create pages of specific topics (related to the course taught). These permissions will be granted to the students enrolled in the course, and the contributions of each student will be reported to the instructor for correction and grading. There are several technical aspects that will require to have a wiki especially designed for this application, ideally the new wiki will be an existing wiki completed with several extension plugins for the required features. There are the pedagogical aspects too, and there are certainly the most important points to study carefully if we want an effective pedagogical wiki.

Some special Features

The pedagogical wiki will be different of the usual wiki. The most important features are:

  • Page edit, create and delete require permission.
  • Name of the authors and reviewers are always displayed.
  • Page are rated (review) and the rating are displayed on the top of the page.
  • A lot of resources such as courses template, videos, pictures, drawing, flash animations, quizzes, pieces of code, extracts of text should be available. A basic quiz generator will be very useful too.
  • Audio, video and flash interactive animation can be embedded in a page.
  • Pages can contain html forms and entries to create quizzes.
  • Pieces of code can run on the server (php) or on the client (javascript) to create interactivity or to autocorrect the quizzes.
  • Files can attached to a page.
  • Comments can be attached to page.
  • Users can vote (surveys, polls).
  • Group and user contributions are tracked (for grading).
  • Wiki pages are compared (evaluating the creativity).

Student generated contents

It is the main goal. The students will learn in an active process. They will learn the content more efficiently than during a lecture, and they will acquire many other competencies. They will search the information, explain the rules and design the pages for instance.

Instructors generated contents

The instructors have the possibility to create their courses too. The advantage is they will have the possibility to modify/to complete their courses very easily with an ordinary web browser. Their courses will the templates for other courses and will help the students to create their own courses.

A lot of templates, pictures, drawings, snippets ready to use

It is a difficult and an intimidating exercise to create a course from zero. So, it is important to help the students with many templates, pictures,… ready to use. These resources could be stored inside another wiki where the students will choose their template and drag-and-drop their illustrations. The instructor courses and the best students courses will feed the resources wiki. A basic quiz generator will generate the html and javascript code to include in the wiki page (between two [html] tags for instance), so only the questions, the correct answers and the quiz format will have to be entered.

Pages design

This is a basic page showing the most important features: Example basic page
It is very important to be able to evaluate the contributions of each student. Here a basic example: Example contributor tracking

Ownership and copyright questions

Intellectual property can be a big issue if we don't take care to define clearly the rights and license. The creative common licenses (http://creativecommons.org/) are certainly the best choice because the collaborative contributions to the pages of the wiki. It is important to provide the link to the license page in every page of the wiki and to demand during the new login process to accept the creative common license. The contributor will to have agree to do not include any copyrighted documents in the wiki, of course.

The team

The project will require a lot of competencies in web programming, database management, pedagogy, multimedia, eLearning and graphics. I take the position of Initiator. My goal is to make things happen and if you want to know a little bit about me, take a look to my CV.

We will need:

  • Project managers.
  • Programmers (Java? PHP? Python? In fact I don't know yet).
  • Database experts (MySQL?)
  • Web designers.
  • Pedagogy and eLearning expert.
  • Graphic designers.
  • Translators.
  • Testers.

Do you want to contribute?

Are you interested in this project? You can participate in this wiki, the code development. You can submit your ideas, request features or enhancements. You can support us financially or provide free hosting.

You need to have a Wikidot.com account and be signed to apply for membership.

if you already have a Wikidot.com account


it is worth it and is free

Wiki experimentations in education


Making money?

Well, it is not the aim of this project. But they will have some opportunities for the experts.


If you take a look to the page in edit mode, you will see that the inclusion of html and javascript in the page makes it harder to edit! One of my goal is to make the quiz inclusion easier.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License