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Presentation by Edmund Lee from English Heritage, outlining how wikis have been used by his organisation to collaboratively develop guidelines and training materials

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  1. 1. Wikis for professional guidance in the heritage sector: a case study Presenter: edmund.lee@english-heritage.org.uk Standards and Guidelines Manager Date: 8th July, BCS Brunel University
  2. 2. Case study outline • What English Heritage does • The role of professional guidelines and standards • An early wiki adopter in the sector • Pros and cons of wikis
  3. 3. “Knowledge is the real treasure”
  4. 4. Who we are and what we do • Policy advice to government • Strategic lead on the heritage sector profession • Owner of 400+ properties and17 museums • Advisor on protected sites to local authorities • Free educational visits and outreach projects • Commission £7 million of research • Archive of 7 million + photos and maps and 1.3 million online database entries • …Making the Past part of the Future
  5. 5. EH Providing guidelines • 15 – 30 documents per year • Variety of audiences – Heritage specialists – Heritage ‘ generalists’ – Related professions – Local authorities and elected members – Property owners and managers • Shifting to digital • BS-style Standards as well as good practice • Knowledge management not just publication
  6. 6. Integrated with Training • Training can be based on agreed published good practice • Face to face training tests the practical application of the written documents • Development of communities of practice – ‘ Heritage Champions’ in local authorities – Historic Environment Record managers • Historic Environment Local Management website • www.helm.org.uk
  7. 7. Wikis: An early adopter
  8. 8. Wikis: An early adopter
  9. 9. Wikis: An early adopter
  10. 10. Advantages 1. Shared authorship: fast and efficient collaboration 2. Greater accountability 3. Interconnection of resources 4. Rapid response to change 5. ‘Write once use anywhere’ potential efficiency gains “The information paradigm behind the wiki is one of inclusion, of community and the marketplace of ideas” Jude Higdon in Stewart Maders ‘Wikipatterns’
  11. 11. Potential problems and pitfalls 1. Fit with existing IT infrastructure • Stewart Maders ‘ Adoption’ anti-patterns 2. Acceptability to authors of allowing others to update their text • Stewart’ s ‘ People’ anti-patterns 3. ‘Eternal beta’ • We need a definitive version • Standards documents, where the specific wording may need to be robust enough to withstand legal challenge. • Required authoritative nature of documents issued by a sector lead-body.
  12. 12. Potential problems and pitfalls 1. Need technical training of authors in using a wiki • Awaiting common editing standard (wiki creole) • Attracts technophiles rather than authors 2. Integration with other knowledge sharing initiatives. • Email, intranet, website, Sharepoint, Listserv etc • conferences and training courses 3. Web-site accessibility requirements 4. Focus on text – other media may be more appropriate 5. Risk of ‘unlearning’ the lessons