Wiki Content Management for Efficient Document Creation: Part 2


Instructional Design

This one-hour workshop will take place at the upcoming staff meeting. These meetings typically span two full working days during which staff members share progress on their research projects and also receive project-related feedback from other staff members. The total desired attendance would be all 47 potential participants; however, since a considerable number of the learners are abroad, the in-person attendance is expected to be 30 participants. All learners are equipped with an internet-connected laptop. Prior to the workshop, password-protected user accounts will have been created for all learners and the MediaWiki software will have been installed and tested on the research institute’s webserver. The conference room used for these staff meetings is equipped with a projector and a screen.

The information learned in this one-hour workshop is intended to improve the work productivity and efficiency. As the research institute is a non-profit, it has to rely on donor funding. The fundraising process typically entails submitting grant proposals, writing progress reports on projects in process, as well as submitting findings of completed research projects and their application. Furthermore, a quarterly newsletter and regular website updates keeps potential donors and other interested stakeholders current with the institute’s activities. Therefore, the overall quality and efficiency of getting the research from the field to publication, is extremely important.

At the last staff meeting, staff members were taught how to use the “blog” that was installed on the institute’s webserver. The purpose of the blog was to provide an intermediary point of information for stakeholders. Most of these reports are somewhat informal field reports and observations; however, within the span of the three months since its installation, two feature articles for the newsletter have been written based on a series of field visits that had been blogged about.

While this was an unexpected outcome, it also helps illustrate the effectiveness of having a single repository of projects and reports available to all the staff members. The process of transformation from a blog entry to a feature article was based on comments by other staff and community members that helped guide further exploration. However, not all information produced by the research institute is intended for public distribution. This is where a private wiki becomes useful, serving both as an electronic library of past and future research projects and as an efficient collaborative document creation platform. From an instructional design perspective, it also illustrates that the prior mode of delivery—demonstration along with immediate practice, along with a brief “Helpful-hints User Guide”—was relatively successful. Additional materials will be necessary, however, to adequately serve the needs of the learners unable to attend the workshop.

There are several learner characteristics which contribute to the workshop’s design. This workshop will benefit greatly from the learners’ “prerequisite knowledge” that has been obtained through their personal and professional work experience. Since all the steps involved in the document creation process before relied on electronic means of communication (emailing electronic documents back and forth between the documents’ collaborative authors) and since almost all the learners have now had experience using the blog, the learning curve for using the wiki as a document creation platform should be considerably reduced.

Another learning characteristic worth mentioning is the learners’ attitude. Many of them have expressed frustration working with longer collaborative documents while simultaneously stressing that the documents would not be possible (due to travel requirements, linguistic limitations, and so on) without the collaborative features in place. A few teams have identified that the process is simplified with smaller collaborative teams and with a more structured editing and reviewing process. However, all have also expressed great enthusiasm about online collaboration. A few of them have independently used third-party online tools but have expressed that they were not comfortable with the security levels of the documents nor were they happy with the performance of the applications when collaborating on documents longer than 10 pages.

The learners’ experience—as related to their employment at this institute—and their value-systems are also noteworthy. Slightly over half of the employees are Indian nationals; for the remainder of the employees, most of them are from Europe or the United States. Many of them have completed their graduate studies, and have accepted work in India at wages substantially lower than their earning potential in their native countries. For the Indian nationals, the job empowers them to conduct relevant research that aids in the country’s development. For the non-Indian nationals, the job presents them the opportunity to have excellent firsthand development experience which could (1) significantly help others and (2) significantly contribute to their future career potentials. All of these elements lead to a strong commitment to the work—a commitment that translates to a willingness to try something new providing it is reasonable and helps promote the work of the institution.

Below are two performance-based objectives for the workshop.

  1. Given a short printed paper as a working sample, all the learners will be able to apply 100% standardized wiki formatting/markup to create an online version of the paper. This paper will only include very standard formatting rules including different header levels, applying footnotes, and common text formatting such as bold, italics, and underline. This objective will be evaluated as a group and any discrepancies relating to formatting—for example, simply applying the “bold” option to text that should otherwise be formatted as a separate header level—will be immediately addressed. The purpose of the immediate evaluation is to stress the importance of a standardized input format from an early point in the document creation process since this will simplify the process of going from web-to-print. At the end of the workshop, all learners will also receive a printed sheet listing the most common formatting elements as well as some more research-specific standards for formatting bibliographic entries.
  2. Given outlines of two longer papers which belong to a common group of case studies (in other words, they share common features such as the foreword, acknowledgements, and author and institution information) the learners will be able to create a series of interlinked wikis in which the final document will be composed. The focus of this activity is to evaluate the learners’ ability to logically divide longer papers into logical, more manageable regions of data. Again, as with the prior objective, evaluation will occur as a group to reinforce standardization of document creation. Furthermore it will encourage learners to think of additional ways of interlinking documents, for example, for the creation of a “glossary of relevant terms” or other similar documents.

The workshop will also have other forms of assessments. One objective assessment will be centered on formatting issues. Unlike the two activities mentioned above, this assessment will be an individual assessment. Please refer to Appendix A for a copy of the questions. A performance assessment will also be conducted. The performance assessment will simply be the actual complete production of a document using the wiki collaboration platform. As such, this assessment does not have a set deadline; however, all users are expected to begin using the wiki platform immediately following the workshop. A rubric for this assessment can be found in Appendix B.

Appendix A

The following quiz will be administered to workshop participants. The correct answers have a red asterisk * following them

After this workshop, what do you know about wikis?

  1. Which of the following code(s) will produce bold text in a wiki?
    • '''This will produce bold text'''
    • <b>This will produce bold text</b>
    • <strong>This will produce bold text</strong>
    • All of the above *
    • None of the above
  2. Which of the following code(s) will produce italicized text in a wiki?
    • ''This will produce italicized text'' *
    • <it>This will produce italicized text</it>
    • [slant]This will produce italicized text[/slant]
    • All of the above
    • None of the above
  3. Hitting the "Enter" or return button ONCE automatically starts a new paragraph. T/F*
  4. HTML formatting can be used in wiki markup. T*/F
  5. When writing a wiki document, you can create a new document simply by creating a link to that document. T*/F
  6. Sometimes, in a wiki document, you want to include text from another document. This is called "transclusion." How can you tell if text has been transcluded?
    • It shows as highlighted text.
    • It shows up with a blue dashed border around it.
    • It shows up in a separate text box.
    • You can't tell—it blends in seamlessly with the new document.
    • It all depends on how transclusion is set up. *
  7. To transclude another document into a wiki, which of the following code(s) would you use? Imagine that "document name" is the document you want to include.
    • [[document_name]]
    • {{document name}} *
    • <ins>document name</ins>
    • All of the above
    • None of the above
  8. You see the following code when you are editing a wiki page: [[img:flower.jpg|frame|A pretty flower!]] What does that code snippet indicate?
    • The insertion of a picture, flower.jpg, with a title "frame," and with alternate text (for screen readers) of "A pretty flower!"
    • The insertion of a picture, flower.jpg, surrounded by a frame and including the caption and alternate text of "A pretty flower!" *
    • The insertion of a picture, flower.jpg, in an external frame (in other words, from another website) with alternate text of "A pretty flower!"
  9. When creating a wiki, you can link to an external document (in other words, one on another website, just by typing the full URL. T*/F
  10. Which of the following tags are necessary to create citations for your document?
    • <ref>, </ref>, and <references/> *
    • <foot>, </foot>, and <footnotes/>
    • <end>, </end>, and <endnotes/>
  11. When including a citation, you put the full citation:
    • Immediately in the text, enclosed by the correct tags *
    • In a separate part of the document
    • In a separate document altogether
    • You make a note in the text and then manually type the citation at the end of the document.
  12. To automatically make a bulleted list (often called "unordered lists," all you have to do is type an asterisk (*) before each line that represents a new item. T*/F
  13. You should use "Header 1" titles in your text. T/F*
  14. If you want to include comments directly in the page which are viewable in the source code but not in the preview mode (for example, if you wanted to include a note to an editor), which of the following pairs of tags should surround your comment?
    • <hide>, </hide>
    • <noshow>, </noshow>
    • //, //
    • <!--, --> *
  15. Different header levels (one through six) are all preceded and succeeded by sets of which symbol?
    • = *
    • +
    • >
    • ^
    • |
  16. Creating a new header automatically creates a new editable section in your document. T*/F
  17. To automatically make a numbered list (sometimes called an "ordered list," all you have to do is manually type the number before each item and place each item on its own line. T/F*
  18. You can create links to documents that don't even exist yet. T*/F
  19. To indent blocks of text, you precede the paragraph by one or more colons ":" T*/F
  20. Learning to use MediaWiki is going to be hard to learn. T/F*

Appendix B

The 20-point rubric used for the performance assessment will be as follows:

Item Poor Satisfactory Good Excellent Comments
Syntax was used correctly 1 2 3 4  
Document was logically divided 1 2 3 4  
Deadline for paper was met 1 2 3 4  
All authors contributed 1 2 3 4  
All edits included an “edit summary” paragraph in the document’s history 1 2 3 4  

One Response to “Wiki Content Management for Efficient Document Creation: Part 2”

  1. 1 :: Exciting day!

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