Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Wiki Neophytes

Monday I gave a presentation on working with wikis to a group of very enthusiastic participants.  After what seemed like a marathon session (almost two hours) with a feeble voice and sore throat, I was rewarded with eager teachers who couldn't wait to get out the door to set up their own wiki!  (True their motivation might have been fanned by the two 'freebies' PBWorks offers at sessions such as these, but nontheless, they seemed eager to begin.)  I wish all the wiki neophytes the very best of luck and will be notifying the happy winners soon.

In that spirit, here is a bit of advice for beginners:
1- Use the help manual often and check out those video tutorials.  They're very helpful.
2- If you get stuck, write to the help desk.  They're quick with the replies.
3- Establish a naming convention for files and teach it to everyone who joins your wiki.  When the wiki grows, as I'm sure it will, this will be very handy for finding files and organizing work.  For example, my students just uploaded a 'hard news article' they wrote and I forgot to tell them about the naming convention so I spent a few minutes renaming their files.  You don't want to waste time doing things they can easily do.
4- When you create pages, don't use apostrophes or any other symbols.
5-  I've found that Internet Explorer 7 is problematic and creates little 'bugs' that IE8 doesn't.  Firefox and Safari are no problems at all.
6-  Practice using the tables if you want to line up the picture close to text.  That works best. 
And lastly,
7- Use both the side bar and the folders for navigating.  You don't have to duplicate your navigation either.  For example, I have folders for 'student writing', 'cool resources', 'how to do stuff' (with screencasts) AND in the side bar, I've linked other pages that might not be in the folders.

Remember, change the instrument and you'll change the song.  Happy music making.

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