- Learn about wikis and discover some innovative ways that libraries are using them.
A wiki is a collaborative website and authoring tool that allows users to easily add, remove and edit content. Wikipedia, the online open community encyclopedia, is the largest and perhaps the most well known of these knowledge sharing tools. With the benefits that wikis provide the use and popularity of these tools is exploding.
Some of the benefits that make wikis so attractive are:
- Anyone (registered or unregistered, if unrestricted) can add, edit or delete content.
- Tracking tools within wikis allow you to easily keep up on what been changed and by whom.
- Earlier versions of a page can be viewed and reinstated when needed.
- And users do not need to know HTML in order to apply styles to text or add and edit content. In most cases simple syntax structure is used.
As the use of wikis has grown over the last few years, libraries all over the country have begun to use them to collaborate and share knowledge. Among their applications are pathfinder or subject guide wikis, book review wikis, ALA conference wikis and even library best practices wikis.
Use these resources to learn more about wikis:
- Wiki’s: A Beginner’s Look – an excellent short slide presentation that offers a short introduction and examples.
- What is a Wiki? – Library Success wiki presentation
- Using Wikis to Create Online Communities – a good overview of what a wiki is and how it can be used in libraries.
- For this discovery exercise, you are asked to take a look at some library wikis and blog about your finding. Here’s a few examples to get you started:
- SJCPL Subject Guides – a pathfinder wiki developed by the St. Joseph County Public Library system
- Book Lovers Wiki - developed by the Princeton Public Library
- Library Success: A best practices wiki
- ALA 2006 New Orleans wiki – an example of a wiki created to support a specific event
- The Bull Run Library wiki - a public library wiki and also a Learning 2.0 participant
- Other library wiki examples
- Create a blog post about your findings. What did you find interesting? What types of applications within libraries might work well with a wiki?
- Take a look at some online productivity (word processing, spreadsheet) tools.
The availability and use of online productivity web-based applications (think word processing and spreadsheets) has exploded over the past two years and for good reasons! These powerful applications provide users with the ability to create and share documents over the internet without the need of installed desktop applications. Some experts speculate that this emerging trend may mean the death to Microsoft Office and other software-based productivity tools, while others think web-based applications have their place, but not in the office. But no matter which side of the office suite platform you side with, on this both sides seem to agree; web-based apps have their place.
One large benefit to web-based applications it that they eliminate the need to worry about different software versions or file types as you email documents or move from PC to PC. Another bonus is that they easy accommodate collaboration by allowing multiple users to edit the same file (with versioning) and provide users the ability to easily save and convert documents as multiple file types (including HTML and pdf). And, you can even use many of these tools, such as Zoho Writer and Google Docs* (formerly known as Writely) to author and publish posts to your blog. It’s this type of integration with other web 2.0 tools that also makes web-based apps so appealing.
For this discovery exercise, participants are asked to take a look at a web-based word processing tool called Zoho Writer, create a simple document and then document your discoveries in your blog. If you're up to the challenge, you might even export your document as an HTML file or publish it through Zoho to your blog.
With Zoho and web-based applications, the possibilities are endless.
A short list of web-based productivity applications – Note: I authored this list in ZohoWriter and exported it as HTML.
- Create a free account for yourself in Zoho Writer.
- Explore the site and create a few test documents of two.
- Try out Zoho Writer’s features and create a blog post about your discoveries.
Optional: If you're up for the challenge, try using Zoho’s "publish" options to post to your blog.
* Note: You can also explore Google Docs (formerly known as Writely), Google's online word processor, as an option for this exercise. On Oct 11th, Google relaunched Writely (which it acquired in Spring 2006) as Google Docs.
BTW: Here’s a document (viewable as a webpage) created using Zoho about some of the features I found beneficial.
- Explore any site from the Web 2.0 awards list, play with it and write a blog post about your findings.
Throughout the course of this Learning 2.0 program we’ve explored just a small sampling of these new internet technologies and websites that are empowering users with the ability to create and share content. But given time there are so many more we could explore. Current estimates place the number of web 2.0 tools at somewhere between 300 & 500 with only a handful emerging as market dominators. And although time will only tell which of these new collaborative, social networking and information tools will remain on top, one thing is for sure, they're not going to go away (at least anytime soon).
For this discovery exercise, participants are asked to select any site from this list of Web 2.0 Awards nominees and explore it. With so many to choose from, it might be handy to first select a category that interests you (like Books or Personal Organisation) and then simply select a tool/site to explore. Be careful to select a tool that is free and that doesn't require a plug-in or download. The majority of these free, so this shouldn’t be a problem.
- Select any site/tool from the list of Web 2.0 Awards nominees. (If you prefer to select from just the winners, here’s a link to the short list.)
- Explore the site you selected.
- Create a post about your discovery. What did you like or dislike about the tool? What were the site’s useful features? Could you see any applications for its use in a library setting?
Web 2.0 – with so much to explore, just start with ONE. :)