Monday, January 26, 2009

Week 3 - Wikis

This week we will be looking at Wikis. Wikis are websites that are collaboratively written and edited by their community. The following short video will show you how wikis can be useful for coordinating a project:

Wikis in Plain English
(approx. 4 minutes)

To be able to do the exercises below, you will need to create an account on the Wiki that has been set up for this week's activities. Please go to and request an account using your ryerson email address. It may take some time before you receive confirmation that your account is active. We are suggesting that you do this step now so that the account will be ready when you need to use it.

Wikis in Libraries

Wikis are being used in libraries for a variety of projects. Some libraries have decided to use wikis for their subject research guides, to build communities of users who have a common interest e.g. book lovers, and for creating a space where groups of staff members can collaborate on a project. Wikis are also useful in conference planning. Following are a few library-related wikis that you may want to check:

Scholars Portal Spot Docs
SJCPL Subject Guides
Bizwiki - a subject guide for business at Ohio University
Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki
Albany County Public Library Staff Wiki

Wikis at Ryerson

CCS is using a wiki internally to manage some of their projects. This wiki requires a login, but you should be able to view the introductory page.

Diane developed a wiki for use in the Issues in Marginalization course which had an assignment on Wikipedia.

Other Wikis

The most famous and often controversial wiki is Wikipedia. Our library users are using Wikipedia instead of other reference tools such as encyclopedias. One of the main reasons is that it is accessible on the web from any location at any time. If you haven't used Wikipedia, check it out. It is also available in multiple languages.

Much of the controversy that surrounds Wikipedia relates to the authority of the articles and the number of errors. In December 2005 Nature published an article on this topic: Internet Encyclopedias go Head to Head

Globe and Mail's Public Policy Wiki

Creating and Maintaining Wikis
There are a variety of tools available for creating your own wiki. Like blogging tools, wikis can be hosted on someone else's server (wiki farms), or they can be installed on your own server. For our exercises we are going to be using a tool called pbwiki which is hosted on a non-Ryerson server. Graham has set up the RULA2.0 wiki using this software. Before you start on the activities, you might like to have a look at:

pbwiki tour which will illustrate some of the features of pbwiki.

1. Create an account on the rula20 wiki.
If you created an account above, you can skip this step. If not, go to and create an account with your Ryerson email address.

2. Edit or create a wiki entry.
If you have your account, go to the RULA2.0 wiki and sign in. Once you have signed in there are many ways that you can contribute to the wiki.

You can edit a copy of the Ryerson Library entry from Wikipedia. The entry for the Ryerson Library in Wikipedia is outdated and needs some work. You can edit the entry yourself on Wikipedia, but we thought we would work on a copy here then upload all the changes to Wikipedia for the world to see.
Another option is to create some content for the recipes section of the wiki - you can upload food photos, submit a recipe, provide some cooking tips and tricks, whatever you like.

If you are not interested in food, feel free to create another section on any topic you choose.

After you have completed the above activities, post about your wiki experiences on your blog. Possible topics: how can we use wikis in the Library, can you see using a wiki as a tool to help with a group project?

Optional Readings

Using Wikipedia to Extend Digital Collections, D-Lib Magazine, May/June 2007

PEW Report on Wikipedia Users
Student Wikipedia Use Policy - Dept. of English, UCSB

Is Wikipedia Becoming a Respected Academic Source - Lisa Spiro, Director of the Digital Media Centre, Fondren Library, Rice University

Veni, Vidi, Wiki

Wikis and Libraries: Resources, Articles and Links

No comments:

Post a Comment