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  1. 1. Developing a Wiki for CS 441 Thomas C. Lominac Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science Virginia Military Institute Lexington VA 24450 (540) 464-7493 [email_address] Teaching & Technology Project Summer 2007
  2. 2. What’s Been Happening Out There <ul><li>Excerpts from remarks by Bill Gates at Microsoft CEO Summit 2004: </li></ul><ul><li>(Source: ) </li></ul><ul><li>“ One thing that I think has been an interesting dilemma…is this issue of centralization versus empowerment.” </li></ul><ul><li>“… the next generation of collaboration really is about bottoms-up creation of Web sites where the IT department doesn’t have to get involved.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Another new phenomenon that connects into this is one that started outside of the business space, …a thing called blogging. And a standard around that that notifies you that something has changed called RSS.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Another big phenomenon is building communities around Web sites….And virtually every company ought to have on their Web site the ability for their customers, their suppliers, various people, to interact and their employees to see the dialogue taking place there and jump in and talk to them and help them.” </li></ul>
  3. 3. Three Grassroots Technologies <ul><li>(which are rapidly moving to sanctioned adoption by the enterprise) </li></ul><ul><li>Blogs </li></ul><ul><li>RSS syndication </li></ul><ul><li>Wikis </li></ul>
  4. 4. Informal Poll <ul><li>How many…. </li></ul><ul><li>Regularly read blogs? </li></ul><ul><li>Write a blog? </li></ul><ul><li>Use a blog for a class? </li></ul><ul><li>Use an RSS aggregator to read RSS feeds? </li></ul><ul><li>Write for a Wiki? </li></ul>
  5. 5. A Bit of MACS History <ul><li>CS Curricular guidelines—like many others, our program needed more content about ethics, social issues </li></ul><ul><li>Received in-house TTL grant to develop a new course, “Contemporary Issues in Computing” </li></ul><ul><li>Desired features: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Student participation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Up to the minute topics for discussion to augment basic issue categories (freedom of speech, intellectual property, privacy, security) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The course was taught once: spring 2005 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Instructor’s Blog and RSS feeds were heavily used </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Wiki was introduced as an afterthought </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>I continue to use a blog and RSS feeds in SS 345 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Summer 2007 – awarded grant to develop a wiki for CS 441 </li></ul>
  6. 6. Wikis <ul><li>A wiki ( wiki wiki , wiki web ) is a collaborative web site whose pages can be edited by many different authors </li></ul><ul><li>(Legend has it that the name Wiki was inspired by the name of the shuttle bus at the Honolulu Airport. &quot;Wiki&quot; is a Hawaiian word for &quot;quick&quot;.) </li></ul><ul><li>First wiki created in 1995 as a supplement for the Portland Pattern Repository ( ) </li></ul><ul><li>Most famous example: Wikipedia ( ), a publicly edited encyclopedia consisting of over 150,000 articles </li></ul>
  7. 7. What You’ll Need <ul><li>Join an existing wiki to participate </li></ul><ul><li>To create your own, you need wiki software </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Web server (e. g. Apache) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Wiki engine (a lengthy list can be found at ) </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. My Setup <ul><li>Constraints: </li></ul><ul><li>Inexpensive (preferably free) </li></ul><ul><li>Light- or middleweight in terms of complexity (installation and use) </li></ul><ul><li>CS Apache Web Server on Solaris, so blog and wiki servers should work there </li></ul><ul><li>Desirable to have RSS clients for both Solaris and Windows platforms </li></ul>
  9. 9. What I Currently Use <ul><li>Blogging: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Blosxom – includes RSS syndication </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>( ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>I have also experimented with Greymatter ( ) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>RSS Readers: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Firefox ( ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bloglines ( ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>RSSOWL ( ) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Wiki </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Oddmuse ( ) </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Conclusions and Issues <ul><li>Instructor blog is a convenient way to present classroom material; student blogs didn’t take off </li></ul><ul><li>RSS feeds provide contemporary topics for classroom discussion in an issues course </li></ul><ul><li>Class wiki is potentially a good tool for collaborative assignments </li></ul><ul><li>Same potential issues as standard web sites (obscenity, libel, etc.)—easier to write before reflecting </li></ul><ul><li>Open wiki editing allows graffiti </li></ul><ul><li>Revision control on wikis allays these problems if they surface (they haven’t for me--yet) </li></ul><ul><li>Wiki content copyright ???? </li></ul><ul><li>Not a full-blown CMS (free ones are available) </li></ul>
  11. 11. Discussion <ul><li>Questions? </li></ul><ul><li>Potential topics for discussion: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Do blogs, wikis, or RSS aggregation or syndication seem of use to you? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If so, what hurdles do you foresee? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can you think of other uses? </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Thanks! <ul><li>Feel free to visit my VMI websites at </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>Tom Lominac Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science Virginia Military Institute Lexington VA 24450 (540) 464-7493