Sunday, 26 April 2009

Tips for a Successful Wiki

By James Everett Web Link

Not all relevant to HE context since it's mainly geared towards business and relates in part to deciding on what type of wiki to sue etc., but some tips do resonate with my experience such as:

* Tip 5 - Create a Structure.
Since users can create additional pages and determine which page links to which, the wiki structure can rapidly become chaotic. So it's best to determine and get the students to agree on a structure on the outset, ideally related to the project needs. Encourage them to think of the structure in terms of sub folders / hierarchies. Once that's done they can go off and create the pages and you'll see the wiki evolve. A good suggestion by James is that the first page should present the most pertinent information.

* Tip 6 - Give each project its own namespace or area. Or if requiring students / groups to keep their own develop content provide them with separate spaces. It's a good idea to do this in advance of introducing the wiki to the students. Another way forward is to pick a volunteer from each student group and ask them to initially populate their group area with member pages etc, (this will cut down on edit collisions in the initial phase of using the wiki).

* Tip 8 - Train Users in Stages. Absolutely agree with this. Start them slow. Most students are not as familiar with this technology as staff expect them to be. As such they can be easily overwhelmed. So have a small introductory session with 5 minutes tasks each building slowly in complexity, e.g. edit some text, insert an image, create a page.

And a couple of my own tips:

* A good idea would be to establish a 'wiki help' group staffed by student volunteers to whom the others could ask for help in terms advice on how to create new pages, add images, formatting etc.

* More importantly make sure enough in-class time is given over for the groups to meet, discuss progress, assign tasks etc. Online collaboration is to be honest only part of the picture since many successful wikis often rely on F2F as well as the internet.

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