Commons Wiki Upgrade Coming Soon

Our current version of MediaWiki has seen its days, and we’re badly in need of an upgrade. When that happens (hopefully in a couple weeks), the Commons wiki will be able to run some interesting extensions. (Extensions are like plug-ins in WordPress – they are chunks of code that extend the wiki’s functionality.)

First on the list is to add an RSS feed generator to the Commons wiki. This will be done by enabling a News Channel extension, which creates feeds from wiki pages according to category combinations. There will be more on this when it becomes available.

To complement the RSS feed generator, we will install a RSS Feed Reader that will let you embed RSS Feed into your wiki pages. These feeds can come from the Commons wiki, or from other sources.

Our “Welcome” page will soon change to take advantage of this RSS functionality. We will be able to showcase new pages, and make our front page more dynamic and interesting.

Let me know about any other extensions you are interested in getting installed. One in particular which caught my eye is an extension that lets a user to pick pages from the wiki and “Create a book.” The book can be downloaded to a PDF, and sent via email to students. Could be a great way to centralize course content and save on the cost of textbooks. (Of course there are copyright issues here…)

And finally, in anticipation of the new MediaWiki upgrade, the Wiki Wrangler blog has changed its look. Goodbye dusty mountains. The columns on the left and right will eventually be filled with content from the wiki. (For now, I have hard-code some links to new wiki pages, and taken a feed from the Commons News blog.)

Open Source on the Commons Wiki

I started a new category on the Commons Wiki called “Open Source” and added five pages from the research I’ve been doing. Open Source Movement gives a quick background of the OS movement, lists some of its tenets, and provides some useful links. Open Source – Demographics investigates the makeup and motivational factors involved in Open Source communities. Evaluating Open Source Solutions tracks journal articles that explore conversion decisions — whether Open Source the correct approach, and how to estimate cost savings and support needs. Open Source – Defect Tracking and Resolution pulls together studies that investigate the Open Source development model – showing how a dedicated community can use group forums and wikis to track bugs, plan enhancements, and release superior software in a shorter time frame than the traditional, proprietary model. Open Source – Digital Libraries reviews articles about Open Source Content Management systems, focusing on the LIS community.

Please feel free to add more content to any of these pages, or add some new pages to this category.

Blackboard Help on the Commons Wiki

Seems like an eternity such the calamities of Blackboard, 2009! Love it or hate it, Blackboard is here for awhile, and I wanted to make everyone aware that the Commons Wiki has a lot of information that makes Blackboard use less painful.

Need help setting up a class on Blackboard? Having problems uploading files? Want to add some journal articles to your class site? Check out Integrating Library Resources into Blackboard.

Looking for some examples of Blackboard classes? See Sample Course and Modules. It provides links to CUNY courses set up in Blackboard and can give you an idea what’s possible.

And before you start, check out Design a Lean and Clean Online Interface to Promote Learning for guidance and best practices.

And finally, Karen Greenberg’s Blackboard Tips and Tricks is a great resource to consult when you get stuck. It links to other pages within the category, including How to Create Student Group for your Course.

Open Access Publishing

I created a new wiki page called Open Access Publishing and tagged it under a new category called “Open Access (OA).” As the cost of journals continues to skyrocket, OA needs to be on our minds. Anyone with interest in this topic, please feel free to add some pages.

WikiLeaks – Blowing Whistles since 2006

Just thought I’d share this interesting use of wiki technology. WikiLeaks is a place where sources anonymously upload or “leak” sensitive information without the fear of reprisal. Based in Sweden and in operation since 2006, it was started by Chinese dissidents, and is now used internationally. With 1.2 million uploads, it claims to “provide a forum for the entire global community to examine any document relentlessly for credibility, plausibility, veracity and falsifiability [sic].”

An “uncensorable system for untraceable mass document leaking,” WikiLeaks editorial board focuses on content “of political, diplomatic, historical or ethical interest.” Past leaks have included posts on Guantanamo Bay procedures, Scientology, Sarah Palin’s Yahoo emails, Australia’s proposed laws on Internet censorship, and toxic dumping in Africa.

It has recently been in the news after it leaked a 2007 video of US soldiers indiscriminately killing over a dozen Iraqis and two Reuters new staff from an Apache Helicopter flying over a Baghdad suburb. See Collateral Murder for more information.

Critics of WikiLeaks point out the fundamental problem of proving the authenticity of the leaked documents. WikiLeaks responds by arguing that the “simplest and most effective countermeasure is a worldwide community of informed users and editors who can scrutinize and discuss leaked documents.”

The site has had financial difficulties, and had to shutdown briefly in 2009. It claims to have 18 steadfast supporters, mostly from journalism, including the Associated Press, the LA Times, Hearst, Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press, Citizen Media Law Project (Harvard), The E.W Scripps Company, and the National Newspaper Association.

Teaching and Learning with Technology

Whether you’re busy loading apps on your new iPad this week, or not, you might want to check out our Commons Wiki category Teaching and Learning with Technology. This is a general category and one of our largest, with almost thirty tagged articles. I will feature just a few.

  • The Creative Commons Copyright Resources wiki is a great resource for copyright questions. It includes links to overviews, tutorials, wikis, and blogs related to content ownership issues. Links to sites with images, video, and textual content licensed by Creative Commons are provided. Very useful for Web publishing!
  • Sites with Information about Teaching with Web 2.0 is a good series of annotated links to interesting Web sites that deal with Teaching and Web 2.0. There is a link to the CUNY WriteSite which serves CUNY writers of all types, from undergrads to professors.
  • Design a Lean and Clean Online Interface to Promote Learning is a comprehensive investigation on Blackboard and how it can be used effectively. (The Commons Wiki has a Blackboard category that is also worth browsing through. This category deserves its own featured blog, and I will work on that soon!)
  • Web-based Assignment Design:Principles and Possibilities provides another series of annotated links to articles about teaching web-based courses, and examples how other universities are implementing on-line courses. Check out the link to e-Pedagogy for on-line syllabi and course websites in Literature, Theory, Writing/Composition/Rhetoric and Cyber-Cultural studies. Good stuff!

Happy browsing. And as always, please feel free to contribute more content to this category.

New wiki page about our Commons Wiki

Photo courtesy of cogdogblog.

Photo courtesy of cogdogblog.

I’ve created a new wiki page that lists some of the ways our wiki can be used: The Commons Wiki and its Uses. Check it out. And feel free to add more ideas!

CUNY iTunes U on our Wiki

iTunes U is a rich collection of over 200,000 educational podcasts from campuses across the country, all accessible via Apple’s iTunes interface. A variety of audio and video content, including lectures, readings, performances, demonstrations, original short films, sports highlights, and campus tours may be downloaded to your computer, iPod, or iPhone, and used for free.

All 23 campuses at CUNY now have a presence on iTunes U, and each has a home page on our wiki describing its current projects. You can follow this link to see the various iTunes U Campus Home Pages.

Our wiki is now home for all the CUNY iTunes U supporting documentation which our faculty has collected. There is a tremendous amount of interesting and useful information to investigate. Podcasting best practices, hardware recommendations, other campus collections, content ideas, lessons learned…

You may follow this link to our wiki’s CUNY iTunes U category page which lists the related pages. (This tag is also available on our wiki’s Category Cloud.)

CUNY iTunes U is the main page and a good place to visit first. Here you can get an idea of what’s going on with this project. There is a link to iTunes U where you can see what each college has collected so far.

Here are just a couple links to other interesting pages in this category.

I encourage you to browse through these pages. There’s some great stuff here!

Got cool links? Share them on our wiki…

One of the great ways to use the Commons wiki is to share your external links.  Maybe you’re working on a group project and need to organize your on-line resources.   Or you’ve done some individual research, and have a wiki page full of links others might find useful.   Tag your page so others know about it.  They can add their links too, and their annotations, and the wiki can grow organically.

New to wikis?  Follow this link to see how to create hyperlinks.

Check out how our wiki authors are using lists of hyperlinks as the backbone of their pages:

  • Cool Tools for Teachers – As its title suggests, the page is loaded with links to citation managers, free quiz generators, blogs, wikis, and other useful links for pedagogy.

Have some links you can add to any of these sites?  Pages only get better when more authors get involved and share what they’ve learned!

Realizing our Wiki’s Potential

I thought it might be a good time to step back and review our wiki’s potential.

The Academic Commons Wiki publishes many kinds of writing – individual and group projects, grant proposals, shared lesson plans, research ideas, repositories of useful links, solutions to common problems, ideas on course management…

Our wiki lets people to work together and share knowledge.

There is something empowering when you create a wiki page.  You add some headings, and a little information, and see a table of contents automatically created for you.  Then you link to a page, and are able to create it automatically.   You quickly enter some related content, and then maybe tag your pages, and now you have a sub-category, with an automatically generated index, listed in alphabetical order.  Cool…

External links are easy to add, and you can even get a little fancy and include other media – pictures, video, PDFs, powerpoints…  Get other people involved, and they can add to what you’ve done, and suddenly something much larger has been created.

According to Wikipedia, the term “wiki” comes from the “Wiki-Wiki” shuttle buses that connect the terminals at Honolulu International airport.   They are quick and simple, open and transparent.  With their ability to return to prior versions, authorship anxiety is lessened.  Don’t like the current version?  You can always go back to a previous draft.  Wikis are easy to revise, and they motivate people to work together.

Wikis encourage contribution.  Whether it is to share research, identify best practices, publish project reports, or aggregate technical tips or lessons learned, the Academic Commons Wiki is a great way to organize and centralize ideas.   Give it a shot!

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