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A wiki can be thought of as a simple, page addressable content authoring tool as well as a fine-grained repository of text, audio, image, and video. Its very rudimentary structure encourages the use of tools to insert and extract collections of those assets for contextualization, localization, or deployment.

This simple, yet structured format has formed the centerpiece of a Digital Learning Resource Workflow that I have suggested. By making the repository addressable by page (and section of a page) rather than package, I argue:

  • activation energy to do corrections/updates/enhancements is lowered
  • direct indexing of content can actually be better than poorly applied metadata
  • simple structure allows automated reuse in a variety of ways
  • history, versioning, tagging, and templating are already built-in


MediaWiki and WikiEducator

MediaWiki has demonstrated that it is a robust and scalable wiki implementation. There is a well defined mechanism for extending it.

The WikiEducator project uses it to collect educational resources for all educational levels. It champions Open Educational Resources, requiring all contributions to be licensed under either the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike or the Creative Commons Attribution licenses. It provides several parallel wikis for different spoken languages including Te Reo Maori (although admittedly to date English has been the only truly active instance).

WikiEducator has also developed a set of pedagogical templates to encourage structure within each page of a resource. (This is a direct parallel to the iDevice template scheme seen in eXe).

MediaWiki and its extensions can be implemented within an institution either for branding or access control. Data might be copied (or linked) between WikiEducator and an institution's wiki provided the licensing terms of each are met.

Content can be entered in a variety of ways:

  • wikitext -- a simple text based format in a web browser textarea inspired by email conventions
  • rich text editor -- a Javascript based add-on that attempts to provide more WYSIWYG capability in the browser textarea
  • copying from other MediaWIki installations
  • OpenOffice -- the OpenOffice suite of tools has a MediaWiki export filter (and a prototype extension to the filter has been done to support the WikiEducator pedagogical templating convention)
  • programatically -- recent versions of MediaWiki expose an API that simplifies programs inserting or extracting data or metadata

The Collection extension (recently renamed the Book extension) provides the ability to select a number of pages in a user specified order or outline. That "collection" can then be printed in PDF format or exported in Open Office format. There is a prototype of a tool that will export in IMS Content Package or IMS Common Cartridge formats for use in an LMS. There is also some early experimentation with using the Content Package format as input to Open Office for additional editing.

Further Work

  1. macros to facilitate use of WikiEducator pedagogical templates
    1. proof of concept
  2. package import
  3. package export
    1. proof of concept
    2. stylesheet to control what is exported
    3. improved metadata
  4. collection extension
    1. include specific revisions of pages
    2. improved author attribution
  5. improved convention on asset metadata
  6. conflict resolution on OpenOffice publishing to wiki
  7. assessment
    1. improved tools for building/collecting quizzes

Jim's Stuff