Considering Wikispaces Private Label
Image Source: http://planeta.wikispaces.com/
Ok, I surrender. Whew, that feels better! Over the last few years, I've been flogging myself and my team to discover a free, open source wiki solution that has a nice GUI. Nothing--no, not DekaWiki, either--has worked easily for us. After wandering in the wilderness, I don't think a wiki with a GUI exists in FOSS world that is easy to administer and implement.
Why the GUI? While some wiki purists appear to delight in using wiki syntax--and I enjoyed using it in my PMWiki for awhile--the brutal truth is that who the heck wants to type in exclamation marks, asterisks, spaces, etc. all the time? Some days, I just want to copy-n-paste my content in and let the formatting "chips" fall where they may.
To that end, I've decided to start encouraging the embrace of Wikispaces (I found PBWorks to be a bit expensive!). Will it happen? I'm not sure, since it has to be considered by stakeholders. As I considered the possibility, I was fortunate enough to be able to connect with Adam from Wikispaces.com via Skype and he responded to all my questions...of course, I can only hope I'm asking all the right questions!
Below is my first email on the subject and a particularly cogent response from a team member. I share them here to stimulate discussion and invite corrective feedback so we can elevate our conversation.
Before I take this forward for further review, I'd like to get your feedback. As you know, we've been struggling to find an easy to use, powerful web page editing solution for 2 years now. After some soul-searching and deliberation, I'm considering switching from our existing in-house approach with Teacher Classroom Pages running off of Apple Blog/Wiki server to a Wikispaces.com--an external solution--site.One of the responses my team sent me included the following; I include it here because it was well considered and I'd love to get YOUR feedback on this idea, especially if you've implemented it already:
As you know, wikis are an easy to edit web page solution that have multiple levels of access. That is, they can be open so anyone can edit them or closed so a select group of users can.
A "private label" Wikispaces.com site offers a variety of benefits, including the following:
$1000 per year gets the following:
* Unlimited users
* Unlimited storage
* Unlimited wikis
* Easy to use interface
* It's very easy to use and add content to.
* Custom domain name for SAISD
* Single sign-on
* Bulk upload of usernames/passwords
* Graphical User Interface (GUI) for editing that includes easy to embed images, tables, and more
* Easy to backup
* Multiple approval levels for posting, if we choose to implement
* Easy to theme using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
* All support is handled by Wikispaces.com not in-house
* Anytime/anywhere passworded access and administration of wikis
* All the benefits of the $1000 option but also Active Directory/LDAP Authentication if our District supports it
* Additional support
This wikispace would completely replace the following services:
* Apple blogs as phase 4 (e.g. Teacher Web sites) of Campus Web sites
* Apple wikis for group projects
* Replace alternative wiki solutions once and for all, including Moodle Wiki, GoogleSites, PMWiki, currently in use.
I am in favor of wikispaces.com as a private label with AD sign-in syncing.Thoughts?
From the teacher's perspective, there are many advantages. WS gives teachers muchly desired control over design and content in a WYSIWYG environment. This means practically no learning curve for the moderately techlit and a gentle introduction for those slow on the ball. This delivery tool will also score higher with teachers if there is "one less password scheme" due to the AD users/password syncing. Finally, the unlimited storage space is one less headache for the general user to encounter.
From our perspective, the discussion forums and file upload/downloads is right in line with intereactive, online learning. I'm all for Web 2.0ing in a safe environment. I am also in favor of WS's highly rated customer service and "no buzz" on the Web for WS being down or unavailable. I think a teacher webpage, even just as a resource for students and parents, is a necessity these days. And, let's face it, anytime we can "hook" a teacher into instructional technology, we're helping the students in a major way.
A note of caution: when my former district teachers released to webpage access without requiring online refresher/assessment/exposure to exemplars resulted in a dismaying mishmash of problems with copyright violations and a dismaying lack of focus that was difficult to correct after the fact.
In the meantime...
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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure