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My Vision for WiEd

This is more of a cross between Feature Requests and a vision for future direction.

WiEd has three identifiable (even if not distinct) roles that I can see:

1. An experimental technology platform, where techies and educators come together to try and develop/implement new ways of using generic information manipulation tools (aka ICT) to serve the education process. WiEd serves both as a community enabling tool, and as a technology platform itself.

2. WiEd is a Community of Educators, coming together online to develop a Free version of the Curriculum (or parts there of)

3. WiEd is a (wants to be a) resource for students/educators etc... where they can find OER that can be used as is (and potentially provide feedback.

While Wiki might not be the ideal tool for any of these (including point 2, as most potential contributors are scared off by anything that looks remotely technical) it is the best tool currently available that can somehow service all these aspects.

So my vision, in the short term, is that of WiEd becoming more self aware (i.e. recognise the various differing directions the different parts of the community might want to take the project. Unfortunately, the traditional solution to this sort of situation in a highly structured hierarchical institution would be to separate responsibility of each task to a separate department. This would not work in Community driven environment. And I doubt it would be desirable.

In order for this to happen, the bit of technology that is most urgently required is that of a Good Discussion Space! Maybe a good old could be the solution, but I really don't know.

Feature Requests

I will not repeat the good ideas aired elsewhere. I shall just list a few useful or wacky and not too useful ideas I have, in no partucular order.

1. <logo> </logo> in mediawiki. Logo is reputed to be an excellent language to teach kids, as not only does it introduce them to algorithmic thinking, but can also be fun. A plugin for MediaWiki that allows the inclusion of some logo and spits out a PNG or better an SVG would be a great feature to play with. Implementing a logo->javascript interpreter with wiki style history would be uber-cool, but addmitedly not the most pressing of issues to be resolved.

2. The Powerpoint Issue. Love them or hate them Presentations are amongst us, and teachers use them. Finding a way of wikifing presentations is needed. Maybe an extension to the <Gallery> tag that would allow that set of images to viewed in full screen as a slideshow, of to be downloaded as a pdf could be an interim solution (this would also need an upload filter that takes an Impress file and turns it into the necessary set of Wiki pages)

3. Better Handling of non-Image media. WiEd has a real need for non-image media. The way MW handles these is too Image-centric. when I upload a file MW should be able to detect what kind of file it is and recommend the syntax to use with it. e.g. if I upload a file called Test.pdf I should be presented with the suggestion of using {{PDF|Test.pdf}} to get this: Test pdfPDF down.png rather than Image:Test.pdf.

4. Inline file upload.' Clicking upload a file while editing a page would open the upload page in a new window, and once the upload is finished The correct syntax placed in my editing window.

The above 3 are inter related, and are general issues about the handling of media. I'm sure there is more.

5. Better Hierarchies. MW has an essentially flat structure. Most learning matirial to date has an essentially Hierarchical structure. Sub-Pages Just don't cut it, (the confusion it creates in the eyes of newbies is something to be reckoned with). What is needed is either a better way to deal with sub-pages or my preference is that of introducing a new paradigm for describing a hierarchy of pages in wiki (This can currently be done using transclusion, Categories etc.. but a more conviniet method is required) Of course both solutions together would be ideal.

6. More community forming features which might not make sense in wikipedia are needed. A who's online box maybe? A navigation history box ("where you have been") etc...

7. Integration with IM I don't know why but I love that paleolitich protocol: IRC. In fact I want to try and make WiEdBot a bit smarter. but Web Based IM for people 'currently online' seems to be much more fashionable. Then Imagine the next step: Wiki+RSS+XMPP(Jabber) So watchlists and recent changes would be available as RSS and Talk pages would essentialy be a history of Jabber conversations ... and Vice versa.

I'll stop here as the next thing that's coming to mind is online collaborative non-linear video editing with bittorrent for sharing the huge files and distributed processing (ala SETi@home) for effects rendering.

I am also leaving out things I'm taking as given like the need of a good set of Templates, better help etc...