Blogs and Wikis:
Tools for Research and Collaboration

Presented by Paul Young
Associate Professor
Graphic Design Program
Parkland College, Champaign Illinois

AIGA Massaging Media 2 Conference
Boston Massachusetts
April 5, 2008





Professional designers do research, so should students. Therefore research should be a required component in every undergraduate design class. Digital tools are now easily accessible (and free) to help students organize, record, analyze and reflect on their research. For this reason, I have incorporated the use of blogs and wikis into all the classes I teach.

In each of my classes, every student is required to maintain a blog throughout the semester as a graded assignment. Depending on the class, the topic of the blog may vary. Some topics I have assigned in the past include: award-winning design work, examples of excellent typography, examples of creative concepts, or a defining the diverse world of design around us. A blog does not necessarily mean research on the web. In fact, often I require all blog research to be sourced from printed periodicals and books.

In addition, I often ask my students to collaboratively author an article in a wiki environment. Collaboration and team work are required to be successful as a professional, so students should be exposed to the social skills needed for successful collaboration in the classroom. The topic of the article differs each semester, but in each case students work in teams and are asked to research a topic or answer a proposed question for our FAQ database. Articles that meet my standards are then incorporated into the FAQ wiki for future students to access.


Learning objectives


Examples of blog assignments


Examples of student blogs


Example of a wiki assignment



(Also see pictures and notes)