My wiki is in business! http://hmlslibrary.wikispaces.com/ (Barbara, you should receive an email inviting you to join.) For another class last year I made a wiki on pbwiki, so I thought I’d try wikispaces to see if I liked it better. My final verdict….they both seemed fine. I made a library wiki because I’ve wanted to figure out a way that students at my school could have online discussions about the Massachusetts Children’s Book Award books. I’m still not sure a wiki is the best way to approach this project. The need for accounts seems cumbersome, and I’d bet many students would forget their passwords when the time came that they actually were going to use the wiki. For students in a classroom, I think a wiki could work wonderfully to allow collaboration on writing assignments and projects, and students would have the teacher right there to remind them of passwords and of how to work the wiki.
Nonetheless, I learned a number of useful skills as I created my hmlslibrary wiki. For my homepage, I made a Voki cat, and embedded it. This took a few tries of pasting the code in, but eventually it worked fine. I think children visiting the wiki would have fun with my library cat! I also made a Volunteer Page, because I dream a lot about library volunteers this year. (Last year I had a work study student who put books away for 25 hours a week (I miss you, Stephanie!), but this year there are no work studies.) Mostly I made the Volunteer Page to see how tricky it would be to embed a Google Calendar. It was easy!
The other accomplishment I’m proud of is my neat and tidy MCBA page. At first I was trying to make one page listing all the MCBA books, each including the book jacket art and a discussion section. By the time I had three books listed, the page was a confusing mess, and the Navigation section was becoming overwhelmed with book titles. I decided to make a separate page for each of the MCBA books (well, I did about 10 of the 25 titles), and then I linked them all to the MCBA page. This format allows a student to click on a link and quickly go to the page he or she wants without being distracted by other pictures, comments, and clutter. I also learned how to edit the Navigation section to hide the book titles.
For formatting and the designing the wiki, I was grateful for people’s comments on the discussion board. Their tips on using the “T” on the formatting bar saved me some time. Also, I did much better once I watched the site’s tutorials.
I love how the wiki can absorb so many different kinds of media—audio, video, calendars, Vokis, etc. And wikis are obviously very powerful in enabling collaboration between people. But I still need to find a way to allow easy access to students while also keeping them safe from possible inappropriate comments if the wiki is open to anyone.