UKOLN AHDS Guide To The Use Of Wikis At Events

About This Document

This document describes how Wiki software can be used to enrich events such as conferences and workshops. The document provides examples of how Wikis can be used; advice on best practices and details of a number of case studies.

Use of Wikis at Events

Many events used to support the development of digital library services nowadays take place in venues in which WiFi network is available. Wikis (Web-based collaborative authoring tools) are well suited to exploit such networks in order to enrich such events in a variety of ways.

Examples of how Wikis can be used at events include:

Note-taking at discussion groups:
Wikis are ideal for use by reporters in discussion groups. They are easy to use and ensure that, unlike use of flip charts of desktop applications, the notes are available without any further processing being required.
Social support before & during the event:
Wikis can be used prior to or during events, to enable participants to find people with similar interests (e.g. those travelling from the same area; those interested in particular social events; etc.).

Best Practices

Issues which need to be addressed when planning a Wiki service at an event include:

It is advisable to develop an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) covering use of the Wiki and other networked services. The AUP may cover acceptable content; responsibilities and preservation of the data.
Local or Hosted Services
There will be a need to decide whether to make use of a locally-hosted service or choose a third party service. If the latter option is preferred there is a need to decide whether to purchase a licences service or use a free service (which may have restructured functionality). In all cases there will be a need to establish the at Wiki software provides the functionality desired.
Registration Issues
You will need to decide whether registration is needed in order to edit the Wiki. Registration can help avoid misuse of the Wiki, but registration, especially if it requires manual approval, can act as a barrier to use of the Wiki.
Design Of The Wiki
Prior to the event you should establish the structure and appearance of the Wiki. You will need to provide appropriate navigational aids (e.g. the function of a 'Home' link; links between different areas; etc.).
After The Event
You will need to develop a policy of use of the Wiki after the event. You may, for example, wish to copy contents from the Wiki to another area (especially if the Wiki is provided by a third party service).

Examples Of Usage

A summary of use of Wikis at several UKOLN events are given below.

Table 1: Use of Wikis at UKOLN Events
Event Comments
Joint UKOLN/UCISA Workshop, Nov 2004 A workshop on "Beyond Email: Strategies For Collaborative Working In The 21st Century" was held in Leeds in Nov 2004. The four discussion groups each used a Wiki provided by the externally-hosted Wikalong service. The Wiki pages were copied to the UKOLN Web site after the event. It was noted that almost 2 years after the event the original pages were still intact (although link spam was subsequently found). See <>
IWMW 2005 Workshop, Jul 2005 Wikalong pages were set up for the discussion groups at the Institutional Web Management Workshop 2005. As an example of the usage see < webmaster-2005/discussion-groups/south-east/>
Joint UKOLN / CETIS / UCISA Workshop, Feb 2006 A workshop on Initiatives & Innovation: Managing Disruptive Technologies was held at the University of Warwick in Feb 2006. The MediaWiki software was installed locally for use by the participants to report on the discussion groups. See < ucisa-ukoln-cetis-2006/wiki/>.
ALT Research Seminar 2006 The licensed Jot Wiki service was used during a day's workshop on Emerging Technologies and the 'Net generation'. The notes kept on the Wiki were used to form the basis of a white paper. See <>.
IWMW 2006 Workshop, Jun 2006 The MediaWiki software was used by the participants at the Institutional Web Management Workshop 2006 to report on the discussion groups and various sessions. It was also available for use prior to the event. See <>