"How to" Guideline series is coordinated by Helen
Mongan-Rallis of the Education Department at the University of Minnesota
Duluth. If you have any questions, comments,
or suggestions to improve these guidelines please me at e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to Contribute to and/or Create Your Own Wiki Using TWiki
by Terrie Shannon and Helen Mongan-Rallis
Created: March 2006. Last updated:
February 17, 2008
. These guidelines can be found as a Univ. of MN Twiki at HelensWiki
What is a wiki? Definition
- A wiki is a web page that can be viewed and changed by anybody who has a web browser and access to the Internet. (Educause, 2005)
- Wikis are designed to be interactive and collaborative, rather than static pages that are created and controlled by one person. This means they can be used asynchronously as a means of enabling two or more people to collaborate in the creation, editing and discussion of the content of the web page.
- Wikis can incorporate text, image, sound and video files (any kind of digital file can be uploaded to a wiki and can then be viewed or downloaded by others from the wiki page).
- Wikis in plain English: View excellent YouTube video that explains with simple, clear analogies about what wikis are and how they work
How to contribute to an existing wiki
- The way most wikis work is to provide an edit link or button that enables you to edit any part of the page.
- In the University of MN TWiki, you'll see a "Edit" in gray near the top of the page. Click on that.
- A login window opens, asking you to log in (your UMD login). Do so.
- A text box opens. Use the scroll bar within the box to move through the text until you find the place at which you want to add your comments, and then type away.
- If you want to have your entry be formatted in any way (e.g. italics, bullet list, bold) there are directions on the bottom of the wiki page on how to do this. However, you don't need to worry about formatting at all if you don't want to. Just type away!
- Once you are done. Click "save."
Guide to creating your first University of Minnesota wiki (using TWiki)
- It's a good idea to review TWiki Welcome Guest. This provides you with some background information on how Twikis work, and gives links to useful starting points. Some of the most useful are:
- Click on the link to request a wiki and register as a new user.
- Request your own Wiki. You will be taken to a page that includes all of the following:
Examples of the email that you will send:
- First you are directed to send e-mail to email@example.com. In this email you should provide the following information:
- Wiki name. This should be a short name of up to 20 characters. Example: JoeSoap. The name must start with uppercase letters, followed by optional upper- or lowercase letters or numbers — no special characters, such as _ or -. If your Wiki Web (site) is to be used for a class, you will need to provide the following course information to use in creating the Wiki name:
- Course Number
- Public or Private. Decide if you want your content to be searchable from the Main Wiki site and to be listed on the SiteMap or private and accessible only to the users that you designate.
- Access Control. By default, Wikis are world viewable and editable by users with a University Internet ID. If you would like to include users who are not part of the university system, you will be asked to provide a list which includes: Internet ID, First Name, Last Name for individuals who should have access and what type of access (view or edit) each should have. The TWiki manger will set the initial access rights according to your list, and members of the group can alter the access rights later
- A request for a wiki that will be open to the public and have no restrictions will look like this:
- Name of wiki: HelensWiki
- Access control: default.
No need to say anything other than to stipulate your responses to each of the items above.
- A request for a wiki for a class and one that has restrictions will look like this:
- Name of wiki: Educ5413sec001
- Not searchable
- Not on site map
- Access control: only members of Educ5413sec001
Once you send this email:
- You might be sent an automatically generated email that tells you that you have been assigned a trouble ticket ID number. If this happens, don't panic! This doesn't mean you are are in trouble! What it means is that if you experience troubles in working on this wiki, use this trouble ticket number when seeking assistance. You will be told to quote a string such as "software.umn.edu #5555."
- You will then receive another email that tells you your wiki has been created. It will also tell you the URL of your wiki. Once you have this, you are ready to go!
- To enter content and edit your wiki, go to the URL of your wiki (the one that was emailed to you) and click on the edit link at the top of the page (from here, follow the directions described above on how to edit an existing wiki).
The basics of using your wiki
- Editing is synchronous: Only one person can edit the wiki at a time. If you try to edit the wiki while someone else is editing it, a screen will give you the message that, "This topic is locked by another user." It will include the name of the person currently editing the wiki. You can still edit the page by clicking on, "Edit anyway" in the toolbar that appears on the warning screen. However, if you do this, there is no guarantee that your changes will take effect (which means all your edits will be lost). If they do, you will overwrite what the other person is doing. So good etiquette is not to edit if someone else is already editing. You can click on "try again" to see if they have finished editing.
- If you are editing and need to pause for more than five minutes, be sure to save your changes because the locking out of other users is reset after five minutes of inactivity.
- Using HTML: The best way to format the wiki is using the wiki formatting (described at the bottom of the editing mode page). Although this is cumbersome, it is easy for novices to use. If you write your entries in HTML this will work, but it means that people who don't know HMTL can't edit your entry (or may try and mess up your code!).
- Creating a hyperlinked table of contents: First of all, your document should have headings within it (see formatting directions at the bottom of editing mode page). Once you have created headings, TWiki can generate a table of contents automatically. To do this, at the point at which you want the table to appear, type the percent sign followed by the capital letters TOC followed by another percent sign (no spaces). For an example, view the top of this document in editing mode.
If you already have a TWiki but want to create a new Twiki page
- Any time you visit a page that doesn't exist, TWiki will ask you if you want to create it. Thus, to create a new wiki page, type in a bumpy word (which is two or more words run together, each word beginning with a capital letter). For example: NewWiki?
- This bumpy word shows up as a hot link followed by a question mark when it is typed in a wiki. If you click on the question mark, it will take you to a new wiki page -- in this case, one that has the new web page name at the top. If you click on the save button, it becomes a new wiki page.
Purposes of Wikis
Wikis are designed to be used asynchronously as a means of enabling two or more people to collaborate in the creation, editing and discussion of the content of the web page. They can be used in many ways. A few examples to get you started thinking of potential uses:
- Student collaborative projects (students can post their information and all can add, revise, edit).
- Creating a meeting agenda which everyone can contribute items to. Following the meeting, the agenda can be expanded to become the online minutes of the meeting, which anyone can add to or revise as needed.
- Development of online study guide (all students can contribute).
- Creating a new course.
- Development of a list of resources, such as websites or documents, which all can add to and access.
- A travel journal.
- A photo collection.
- Co-writing a book! See list of about 500 Wiki Books.
Resources to learn more about creating wikis
- 7 things you should know about wikis. Educause Learning Initiative.
- Blogs and Wikis for Collaboration and ePortfolios. University of Southern California Center for Scholarly Technology.
- For Teachers New to Wikis. Provides information on teachers who are new to using wikis. This is a very useful overview about wikis. There are sections on:What are wikis? How can teachers use wikis to facilitate teaching, writing development, and learning? Where can teachers find appropriate wiki writing spaces? How can teachers introduce wikis to students? What obstacles can teachers expect? How can teachers get started? an Resources.
- Traumwerk Wiki Guidelines: Traumwerk is a project of the Metamedia Lab - closely affiliated with Stanford Humanities Lab and part of Stanford's Archaeology. This has links to sections on wiki design philosophy, design principles, wiki guidelines, and basic functions. The section on guidelines provides useful tips on using wikis for collaboration. Includes: how to make collaborative authoring and research work; some tips on authoring collaborative hypertext.
- TWiki Presentation by Peter Theony, August 2005 .
- An overview of information on wikis.
- Twiki: Enterprise Collaboration. Link to download Twiki and an overview of Twiki including topics such as: What is TWiki? What does it look like? What are the Main Features?
Links to other wiki creation tools
Examples of wikis used in colleges & P-12 schools
- Carl, M. (2005). English classes use wikis instead of paper. In The Digital Collegian. An article in Penn State's Collegian newspaper about use of wikis in an English class.
- Goodnoe, E. (2005). How To Use Wikis For Business. In Information Week, Aug. 8, 2005.
- Grade 3-4’s easily use wikis. This is a blog by Mr. P in Australia about students' use of wikis in his class. He provides a link from his blog to his class wikis if you want to jump straight to seeing these and skip Mr. P's blog. Also interesting: One of the links from his wiki page is to Mr. P's students' podcast page.
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