The “Manage Wiki” Control Panel

Earlier this month, a colleague approached me and asked, “Miguel, I just got a grant. Since we’re geographically scattered, how can I bring us all together to share our ‘glows and grows’?” Resulting conversation revealed that my colleague saw this grant project as an opportunity to add wikis and Moodle forums to her repertoire. So, working with her, I mapped out the use of a wiki to organize her site, as well as discussed the use of Moodle to host forums.

Although we’d started out using a wiki paid for out of one organization, funding cuts threatened our long-term (3 years) control of the wiki. As a result, I migrated content to a wiki due to their announcement to keep Wikispaces ad-free, no-cost for educators.  This was important since this isn’t, specifically, focused on any one organization…and took about 24 hours to approve the request for the free Plus Wikispace. (Thanks @wikispaces!).

For the Moodle portion–when considering portability–it would be fairly easy to port the Moodle course to a hosting provider (e.g. Siteground, Rackspace). It’s kind of a shame to have to think about portability of data, but it’s necessary since you don’t want to put your content some place and then have to consider moving it because of a funding cut!

The initial look–which will change completely once a theme/skin is designed in CSS that matches the wiki and Moodle to each other–appears below:
One of the fun things about wikis and Moodle creation is that when you have a team of people, my goal is less to do the work myself, and encourage others to learn. Although I did the initial work on the wiki above, I promptly encouraged my colleague to add her team members to the wiki so they could start making contributions. 
Although my colleague had not worked with wikis before, it was pretty easy for her to get started with editing and adding content. As always, I’m amazed at how quick-n-easy is to introduce to folks and let them take off. 

Another plus was that it works just fine with Internet Explorer, as opposed to other commercial wikis which do not…a problem that I discovered when working with a teacher who said, “I AM clicking on the same link and I don’t see the folder.” It turned out there was a whole set of options NOT available because the commercial wiki wasn’t compatible with Internet Explorer. When I switched her to Firefox (banned in her district), we were both able to see the options.

One of the challenges was creating discussion forums for different groups. Although I setup a Moodle instance, I asked my team members to create the Moodle courses that would house the forums. They immediately hit a snag or two. 
The first snag was we’d originally envisioned ONE course housing 3 forums (for Directors, Coordinators, and Principals) but we didn’t want each group to see the other forums. So, as a director, I would login to a course, and ONLY see the Directors Forum. Although we setup different groups with enrollment keys, we realized the solution wouldn’t be as elegant as just setting up a course with social format setting selected (in lieu of Topic).
The result is an open looking forum:
After considering this with the team, we decided it would be easier to switch to 3 social format based courses in Moodle.
However, one remaining question was how to handle the News and Announcements. It occurred to me to use a meta-course, which Moodle describes in this way:

meta course is a course that is “with” or linked to one or more courses for its studentenrolment (enrollment to some). Adding or subtracting participants in a metacourse can only be done from the courses it is linked to. The linked courses push enrolment information to the metacourse(s) every time cron is run. There are many uses for a metacourse.

My hope for the meta-course was that it would pull enrollments from the 3 child courses (directors, coordinators, principals) but still enable my colleague to send out News & Announcements to ALL members of those groups without making the news public. 
The discussion engendered in the creation of a wiki and Moodle to facilitate conversations and learning proved to be fun for a Friday afternoon, as we explored different ways to get the job done using the tools available to us.
Of course, there are a lot of other Web 2.0 tools available. What would you have done?

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure