Desktop or local wiki solutions

I’m thinking about offline or local wiki solutions that can run in a lab or on a classroom computer. Next week, we’ll be discussing web-based solutions that can work in the classroom and I’m hoping to put together a list of solutions that will work even in a classroom with only one computer.

So far, I have the following solutions:

  • Swiki (–the first wiki I ever deployed. It has served us well for many years and can run on just about any old computer (Mac OS 9, Mac OS X, Windows 2000-Vista).
  • Tiddlywiki (–a new favorite. This gem can be run from your local hard drive or uploaded to a server and served up over HTTP.
  • MoinMoin desktop edition–This is a Python based wiki that is quite functional. I have not had a chance to use it much though.

What are you using for a standalone wiki engine?

First look at the OLPC

So I’m getting first lookat the OLPC laptops that just arrived. This is pretty exciting to get our hands on one of these. I thought I’d share my first impressions of the device.

  • The keyboard is a bit tricky to get used to. In some ways the HP 200LX keyboard was a bit better than this, however with with a modified  keyboard/finger stance, I can type relatively quickly.
  • The trackpad works pretty well. It did start doing something erratic in that every time I would start to use it, it would reset the cursor location the bottom, right-hand corner of the screen. Reboot fixed it but it seems to recur after a while on this one.
  • I thought I’d try hooking up an external keyboard and mouse to the laptop today and my ability to navigate the OS greatly increased. Much of my frustration or lack of efficiency with the interface seems related to the clumsy keyboard and trackpad.
  • The screen is great on these little laptops — I love that the screen goes into a reflective mode when the backlight is completely off which means this thing should be useable in broad daylight.

That’s it for now. I’ll update with more info later.

LMS Mashups

Last year we had significant performance issues with the chat module in our LMS. Under heavy load, it would bring our server to its knees. We performed several adjustments and battle tested the configuration but we were unable to keep chat from overloading our server. To solve the problem, we decided to mashup an instance of Campfire into our LMS and had wonderful results. If you haven’t used Campfire, you should give it a try (a free account lets you chat with 5 users). The results were excellent and after a little bit of adjustment our users found that they really liked it. The only thing that was missing was the ability to have a picture or avatar next to messages that each user typed (I’m sure that’s coming soon though).

This sort of scenario brings up a good question though…How should a university respond to the current push for mashing up different technologies into existing solutions for LMS and CMS? What sorts of standards or guidelines should be set for faculty who want to innovate with technology? In my experience, it doesn’t make sense to try to squash innovation by those on the leading edge. Eventually, the best work that they do finds its way into production as a solution for faculty and students.

For us, the mashup with Campfire has gone very well. What are you mashing up to provide teaching and learning tools for your faculty and students?

Wikis in Online Education Programs

My colleague Scot and I are presenting at SITE tomorrow on Best Practices for the Use of Wikis in Teacher Education Programs. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to share the results of my research on the use of wikis.

We will be discussing our experiences, and a framework for categorizing my review of the literature comprised of WikiNature, WikiMethods, and WikiCurriculum.

View the presentation (QuickTime).

Sharing with the seminary faculty on wikis

I met with my colleagues at the seminary today to discuss how they might use wikis in their new MAML program that is ramping up. I’m currently mashing up an instance of the Swiki wiki system, which we’ve been running for 6 years, into Moodle. As I shared with them today, I accidentally chose to display the wiki in a frame within Moodle. The result: a wiki that works and is easy to use (as opposed to the horrid wiki built-in to Moodle).

I shared a pre-release version of my paper that I’ll be presenting at Site this year on what I’ve learned both in using wikis for the past 6 years as well as a review of the literature on the use of wikis for a course.

My colleagues in the seminary raised some important questions about assessment today during our time together — issues that were important and I hope to learn from them their solutions for assessing student’s work in wikis.

I’d like to hear about how others are assessing work in wikis. Please share a comment if you’d like regarding assessment or how you are using wikis in general.

Sharing at OTEN 2006 today

I’m sharing at the Oregon Technology in Education 2006 Conference today on how wikis can be used in K-12 environments as a collaborative web-based learning tool. We’ll be taking a look at how the portable and easy to use Swiki based wiki system can be downloaded and setup with minimal technical expertise and experience. The Swiki system makes it easy for teachers at any level of technical knowledge to build a website with their students centered around a lesson, project, field trip, or other activity. I’m including a brief video for later reference as part of the presentation. Take a look if you’re interested in getting started with Swikis.

Upgrading to Moodle 1.6.1

We’re upgrading to Moodle 1.6.1 next week and I’m really excited about the update. One of the modules that we have had some interesting experience with over the last two semesters is the Wiki. Our professors have begun using it in their courses and they’re reaping the benefits of its collaborative writing environment and the students are generating wonderful content. In 1.6.1, Moodle introduces blogs to the open source LMS, which will provide a new tool to our community for learning and communicating. I’m excited to see what develops over the coming year.