Posted by: networklearning | August 17, 2009

The benefits of a closed Mediawiki for Collaboration

Authenticated Login to view Mediawiki

Authenticated Login to view Mediawiki

Mediawiki is designed for open viewing of content but it is possible to turn on a username and password requirement before users can view content. Check out Illawarra Institute resource mediawiki with DET authentication at http://wiki.illawarra.tafensw.edu.au , it works quite nicely.

All Resource Mediawiki content is now behind a DET username and password. Moodle will also be integrated with the DET Single Sign On (SSO), i.e. students and staff will log into one system to access both Moodle and Mediawiki.  To top the VLE off I’d also like to see a file repository that seamlessly integrates through SSO with Moodle and Mediawiki now that would be nice!

Mediawiki has worked well for teachers and staff in developing their resources (after a bit of training in the basics). Click here for an example course (Diploma of Children’s Services) developed with Jennifer Hopkins and based on this model.

The open Mediawiki has had good traffic for marketing courses from outside TAFE (6000 + views of front page) and some positive feedback on the content model but I don’t think the cross Institute collaboration aims have been realised as envisioned.

In a way the openness of the Mediawiki resources has been a big barrier to uptake and collaboration between Institutes. Culturally the people who have put in the hard yards and contributed to the Illawarra Institute Mediawiki Resources want their great work visible to TAFE students and teachers just not on the open internet and that’s understandable, from experience this is the common viewpoint especially with management who are concerned about commercial interests.

Initially the idea for making the resources available on the open internet was based on removing barriers which seemed quite radical a few years back. Power-law distribution and openess asserts that 80 percent of productivity and collaboration within an organisation will be done by 20 percent of employees, the open Illawarra Institute Mediawiki was meant to make existing resources highly visible in one location and remove access barriers for the 20 percent of productive teachers from other Institutes to collaborate. (At least that was the plan :-)).

I’ve been asked several times why is a Resource Mediawiki needed when Wikispaces is available, so much more user friendly and feature rich? Mediawiki’s strength is that it’s designed for openness and mass collaboration between many users. Wikispaces is working well but is generally used for smaller classes and groups, many Wikispaces are private with locked up content so there are issues with visibility and limited opportunities for members only collaboration.

Working in an open internet environment is my personal preference and I’ll continue to do so for the benefits of networking but my conclusion is a closed TAFE NSW Mediawiki bridging solution is needed that affords opportunity for mass collaboration between those “20 percent” Teachers who do not want to be publishing to the open internet. A resource Mediawiki in one location is well worth investing in; resources can be used across multiple delivery platforms for example linking to Sakai as well as Moodle resolving the issues of catering for multiple delivery platforms.

Success will come down to strategic support and coordination from Management for projects where the commercial interests between Institutes are best served through collaboration, for example sponsoring the existing Flexible Learning Toolboxes and new LRR ‘How to’ use technology learning objects to be linked and categorised in the Mediawiki.

Also as discussed at the last Moodle User Group meeting there has also been some trial work in consultation with TELS on setting up a Moodle Community Hub for collaborating and sharing courseware in anticipation of new Moodle 2.0 functionality. I recommend Checking out David Gilchrist and Diane Van Berlo’s New England ‘Moodle for Beginners resources’.

The Illawarra Institute is just starting some “trial balloon” case study projects with CLI and New England Institute on cross Institute collaboration work. The plan is to create some exemplars in utilising the resource Mediawiki and Community Moodle Hub:

  • Alexander Miller of North Coast Institute has contributed the QuickE Moodle resources to add to the ‘Moodle for Teachers’ Mediwiki Category
  • Rory OBrien is contributing the CLI Social Learning and some of TAA Diploma eLearning Units and LRR ‘How To’ technology guides to the Moodle Hub and Mediawiki.
  • David Gilchrist and Diane Van Berlo have contributed a new LAW Learning Activity Wizard course.
  • I’m looking at the integration of Flexible Learning Toolboxes into Moodle and Mediawiki other resources may be included over the coming weeks.
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