4/19/2006

Wiki Software Part 2 - #6b

To continue my thoughts on wiki software, Schwartz, et. al. (2003, p. 3-4), outline specific criteria for selecting a wiki for educational use, such as cost, complexity, control, clarity, common technical framework, and features. Though some of this technical information was beyond my scope, the authors’ list is a great framework from which to begin in-depth exploration. The obvious factors such as cost, user-friendliness (support, ‘sandbox’), password protection, archiving, WYSIWYG editing, hyperlink insertion and history tracking were all listed. In addition, such features as equation editor (if math-oriented), drawing whiteboard (diagram/drawing tools), polling, spell-check, and emoticons were also included. The authors found more similarities than differences in their comparisons. Since this article is dated (in Web 2.0 world), I decided to explore some of the potential wiki software myself.

The wiki matrix was my first stop - a nice comparison tool. Questions regarding features such as, history page, WYSIWYG, software v. hosted, domain, and corporate branding are part of the wiki matrix wizard, which yielded seven different wikis for my consideration. There is also the side-by-side compare available which allows a look at cost, hosting features (i.e., bandwidth, ads, storage), security/spam, support/technical and other special features (such as embedded video, image editing, statistics, feed aggregation and many more that I would not have thought about…). All seven met the basic features I was looking for, but I eliminated two since there would be a fee for more than five users and another one due to overall fewer features. I checked out the websites of the remaining:

  • Central Desktop – very comprehensive looking tool with many features well outside the basic wiki and probably more appropriate for business. Since it is much more than a wiki, it would not match my purposes for an educational wiki at this time. However, when more educational interfaces move into a web-based world, this type of social software has potential.
  • PB Wiki – currently pushing educators to try and provides education-related templates. I’ve had a little bit of experience with this software and have found it to be relatively easy to comprehend – like anything, one needs to try it!
  • Stikipad - this one looks promising as well, selling itself with various uses from planning a vacation to setting up a party to more serious work ventures. I like the personalization aspect, as well.
  • Wikispaces – free only to public and non-profit and is popular among many of the educational sites. At first glance, this one looks competitive, as well, however, I’m not sure that I would want to “invite” group members via e-mail (labor intensive), rather than just provide everyone with a password – perhaps there are settings to avoid that issue.

These last two postings have been important and practical tools for implementing a wiki. Consciously selecting a platform (despite possible similarities) for desired pedagogy and outcomes provides additional thought towards purpose of technology to support learning. I’m hoping to ‘unveil’ my LWIT wiki for practical nursing students in my concluding post!

Schwartz, L., Clark, S., Cossarin, M., & Rudolph, J. (November 2003). Educational wikis: features and selection criteria. Athabasca University Online Software Evaluation Report. Retrieved April 16, 2006 from http://cde.athabascau.ca/softeval/reports/R270311.pdf

4 Comments:

At 9:39 PM, Blogger Joshua O said...

Your links to the various Wiki "hosts" was very helpful, Marie. It helped to put some of your past few research postings in context. I found Wiki Matrix useful but a bit busy. WikiSpaces was probably the most visually pleasing to me - after our Design articles and project this seems more important to me now. Cost and ease of use may really impact the acceptance of your wiki's to the end users. I am looking forward to your LWIT wiki for practical nursing students. Which of the features of your reviewed Wiki sights do you hope to incorporate into it?

Josh

 
At 1:26 AM, Blogger Julie Romey said...

Marie - thanks for the comparisons of the various wikis. I had come across PBWiki just a few minutes before reading your post. I created a wiki to check it out, but I'm still waiting for the email with my instructions. The wiki I was looking at on it seemed pretty simply laid out and easy to use though.

I also looked at Stikipad, but it mentioned "less than $5 a month for the plan". Made me wonder.

According to our district network tech, we can host our own wiki internally, like we will be doing for my class blogs. Do you have this available to you? I'm opting for the internal route as much as possible so that we have as much control over the process as possible. I think this is needed more with teenagers than post-secondary like you are dealing with.

I am looking forward to your wiki!

 
At 11:55 PM, Blogger M. Yates said...

I agree with Josh these comparisons are very helpful. I had a hard time choosing my favorites thought the wiki matrix was definitely not one of them (too busy)! I liked the school example given by PB wiki and the idea list provided by stickipad. Central desktop was also very nice and I have to say I like having all of those tools at my disposal. I am looking forward to see what you end up doing.

 
At 4:11 AM, Blogger William said...

quick note ... Stickipad died quite some time ago and all that stuff people had there was 'lost'.

Lesson to the wise: always BACK-UP on the PC, the Moble and the CLOUD.

:-)

 

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