Thursday, October 11, 2007

October 15 - 21, week 6: Online tools and applications and Wikis

This week we look at tools to help you collaborate online - google documents and wikis.

Tasks for this week are:
Thing 8. Create a google document and share it with another participant.
Thing 9. Create your own wiki on PBwiki and email the address to Kathryn. (

Your blog post: Make a link to your wiki. Can you think of other situations where collaborative documents / wikis would be useful in your work? How might students use them?

Google documents
Google documents lets you create a document (wordprocessed, spreadsheet or slide presentation) straight onto the web for sharing with others if you'd like. You can see who has changed what and "roll back" to an earlier version with one click. You cannot do quite as much as with Microsoft Office or Open Office, but it is great for shared preliminary drafts.

This little clip Google Docs in Plain English made for Google by the Commoncraft folk explains the why and a bit about the how:

A wiki is a web page that you can create online using simple tools. Wiki wiki in Hawaiian means swift. The first wikis were created by programmers who were required to write documentation. They wanted something they could create easily, was accessible from the web and that allowed them to work collaboratively. You are editing a wiki when you record your progress on the 23 Things progress chart.

Here's a clip that explains how wikis work, Wikis in Plain English.

Wikis can be used to:

Plan events: Library 2.0 on the Loose unconference
Create directories: Library success: a best practices wiki
Record procedures: Dallas Library policy and procedures
Store files for sharing: Library grid
Create encyclopedic works: Wikipedia

For a more comprehensive list check out the LISWiki

Many wikis use a special wiki markup language, which is far simpler than HTML, but harder to use than a wordprocessing type of interface. Wikipedia uses a wiki called Mediawiki, where users make updates using wiki language.

Optional extra reading from the Learning 2.0 @ Mac blog

What’s the difference? Choosing the right wiki

TWiki, WetPaint, Stikipad, PHPWiki, SeedWiki, PBWiki, Wikispaces, MoinMoin, Netcipia… with all these different wikis to choose from you might have a difficult time deciding which wiki is most suited to your project. A tool you might find useful for comparing the features of various wikis is Wikimatrix. The Wikimatrix website has several useful features for comparing any number of more than 80 wiki engines listed. So what are some of the features common to Wikis & what are some differences?

  • Wikis allow you to assign different access permissions to different users. The site creator (Administrator) can assign other Administrators or Moderators to the Wiki. Wikis typically have several levels of contributors with varying degrees of access, such as Admin, Mod, Writer, Registered User, and Guest.

  • Many wikis allow users to subscribe to them either via email or RSS feeds. Some allow users to subscribe to specific pages and keep apprised of recent edits.

  • Personalization of user accounts can be quite different from wiki to wiki; some allow for the creation of detail user profiles, private messaging, and commenting upon individual profiles.

  • Many wikis are tiered with both free accounts and ‘premium memberships’ that often have added features such as a higher page limits or greater storage capacity.

  • Pages edit history & Revert. Wikis allow users to view the history of specific pages, and mark up recent changes. Many have more advanced edit comparison features that may allow users to compare the changes to an entry over the course of months! Wikis also typically have a revert feature that allows those with sufficient access permissions to rollback a page to an earlier edit.

  • WYSIWYG. Not only do most wikis allow users to use Wikitext instead of Html, but wikis also have “What You See Is What You Get” editors that make it even easier for anyone to contribute!

Further readings (optional)

Chawner, B., & Lewis, P.H. (2006). Wiki Wiki Webs?: new ways to communicate in a web environment. Information Technology and Libraries, 25(1), 33-43.

Clyde, L. (2005). Wikis. Teacher Librarian, 32(4), 54 – 56.

Farkas, M. G. (2005). Using Wikis to Create Online Communities. Web Junction.

Singel, R. (2006). Veni, Vidi, Wiki. Wired News.

Fun site for the week

Uncyclopedia, the content-free encyclopedia that anyone can edit,unless the server goes down, in which case no-one can edit it.

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