Wallwisher: A New Way to Promote Student Collaboration for Online Colleges

Working closely to the field of education, I get to learn about the fascinating learning opportunities that are available for students. Technology continues to stimulate the learning experience and more students are choosing online colleges as their preferred method of education. E-learning has had its share of criticism from members of traditional academia who often point out the disadvantages of accredited online degrees. One of the most common arguments I’ve encountered is that students choosing online education are missing out on the importance of teamwork with other students. Some educators claim that face to face group work better prepares the student to function in their real world job. Wallwisher is a relatively new tool that is on the right path to solving the lack of collaboration and team work of online college students. Here is the breakdown:

What is it?

Wallwisher is simply a customizable online message board where anyone can post a note. The wall is just a webpage that allows short written messages to be viewed by anyone and monitored by the owner. Wallwisher can be used for personal note taking, to-do lists, feedback collection, etc. Best of all there is no signup needed- simply create a wall and start posting.

How does it benefit distance learning?

As I’ve briefly mentioned, this is a great tool to stimulate group collaboration among students enrolled in online degree programs. Multiple walls can be created for an entire group project:

  • A wall that has the to-do list and which student is responsible for each task
  • A wall that allows students to jot down notes for the project as they collect information (allowing others in the group in use the information)
  • A wall that offers individual feedback when determining a decision that needs a group vote
  • A wall that tracks the completion status for each group member’s task

What do the experts say?

Eric Tremblay, an experienced post-secondary educator in both campus-based and online classroom settings, agrees that Wallwisher is perfect for student collaboration because of its ease and quickness: “team members can post multiple short notes (max of 160 characters) to a common wall as well as post links to other web-hosted pages or files. Team members can move these notes around on the wall and organize them in whatever way they wish. For example, similar notes could be grouped together, notes outlining a process could be placed in a hierarchy to better illustrate the start and the end of the process, some notes that are proposed for deletion could be segregated to a specific area of the wall until all team members agree that they can be removed.”

Professor Tremblay also describes Wallwisher as the ‘storming’ phase of Bruce Tuckman’s 1965 team development model: Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing. Says Tremblay, “Wallwisher is a great Web 2.0 tool for the ‘Storming’ phase. This phase is the time for members of the team to share ideas, to propose a method of working together, to divide and assign tasks to individual team members. Combined with a wiki, which could best serve the team in the Performing phase, Wallwisher is definitely a useful tool for teams working together at a distance.”

Enough already, what does it look like?

Here is a demo from the Wallwisher website. To visit the actual demo, click here.

The possibilities seem endless, but the point is clear: Wallwisher is further proof that technology continues to create new opportunities for distance learners to gain the same educational experiences as students in campus-based programs.

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