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Case Study: jnthweb.pbworks.com

23 Feb

Joan from JNthWeb Consulting (jnthweb) was kind enough to spend the time to participate in our most recent PBwiki case study.

You can read her bio here (http://jnthweb.pbworks.com/MyBio).

PBwiki: Why’d you choose PBwiki?
Joan Vinall-Cox: I choose PBwiki because it was visually attractive. I saw a PBwiki being used by, I think it was, Chris Sessums, (who posts frequently on Elgg) and was impressed with how much cleaner and more attractive it looked than another, easier, wiki I was using. Its appearance impressed me so much, I was willing to go to the extra effort of learning some wiki write-up language – and even some HTML – to get the appearance I wanted. That point is moot now, because of PBwiki ‘s new [Point-and-Click] editor.

PBwiki: What’s JNthWeb Consulting about?
Joan Vinall-Cox: It’s my business website, showing my area of expertise and interest – Web2.0 and its uses for businesses and education. (I am interested in the social and communication possibilities of the computer and the web, and am limited in my technical knowledge. I’ve taught myself a little HTML and have created websites and put them online before, but using wikis allows me to avoid a lot of the onerous technical work, and still have an online presence.)

main450.jpg

PBwiki: How do you use your PBwiki?
Joan Vinall-Cox: It’s a collection of information that I can point people to. For example, I send my students to the AcademicPapers page and the AttractivePages page so they know what my expectations are and how to use the computer and Web2.0 to accomplish them. I also point clients and friends to pages focused on areas they are interested in.

PBwiki: How many people are active on your wiki?
Joan Vinall-Cox: Just me. I want to keep it as my website, not as a shared writing/editing space. Until the new [Point-and-Click] editor, I didn’t think the people who would be drawn to my wiki, largely technophobes and/or newbies, or my students, would be interested in trying to use the more complex wiki write-up language of the previous iteration.

PBwiki: Give us your insight on using the new Point-and-Click editor.
Joan Vinall-Cox: I love [Point-and-Click] editors because they allow me to set up more interesting and attractive web pages myself. More importantly (and why I think the time of the wiki has arrived), the [Point-and-Click] editor allows people who aren’t technologically skilled to add to wikis. This sharing can lead to the organic development of learning communities, which is great in education, and will become increasingly important in business. The [Point-and-Click] editor rocks!

PBwiki: What has been the biggest surprise for you in using PBwiki?
Joan Vinall-Cox: I really enjoyed figuring out how to create my title by using Word and taking a screenshot, and I was excited when I figured out how to use HTML code to change font colour and size. The greater flexibility of PBwiki surprised me.

PBwiki: Would you tell others about PBwiki?
Joan Vinall-Cox: Yes I would, especially now that there is a [Point-and-Click] editor, and more people are beginning to understand some of the possibilities of what can be done with a wiki. I think the time of the wiki is arriving.

Case Study: 7thwardbag.pbworks.com

16 Feb

We just finished our case study with Nils Gore from Rebuilding the Seventh (7thwardbag.pbworks.com).

It’s a wiki built that’s helping assist a collective of architectural schools and other collaborators in rebuilding the New Orleans 7th Ward.

7thward Wiki Image

PBwiki: Why’d you choose PBwiki?
Nils Gore: …we decided to use it because of its flat learning curve. We also have collaborators in New Orleans, and had no idea how web-savvy they were (in terms of web design). I had seen a blog link to PBwiki a few weeks before and had tried it out. So I knew how easy it was to make instant web pages, and that it would be feasible with a diverse group of people. I have attempted before to have classes of students do a group website, with each adding content, using Dreamweaver, and it was basically a disaster. I’ll never attempt it again.

PBwiki: What’s Rebuilding the Seventh wiki about?
Nils Gore: We started this collaborative project in January 2006 to bring architecture students to New Orleans and help with the re-building effort. We needed a place to quickly post stuff, as a way of 1) communicating with ourselves; and 2) communicating with others outside of our organization. We have collaborators in Kansas and in New Orleans.

Construction

PBwiki: How do you use your PBwiki?
Nils Gore: We use it as a way of documenting our completed work in New Orleans; as a way of making links to other web content about new Orleans (mostly for our own students education); as a way of sharing files with all of the collaborators; and as a way of allowing numerous people to add content without screwing up the page design (too badly).

PBwiki: Give us a project update! Is this particular project done?
Nils Gore: We could work there forever if we wanted to; no shortage of work to be done in New Orleans! We just do one or two projects at a time, on a semester-by-semester basis, paying for it as we go along.

commgardenfall06-020×280.jpg

PBwiki: Would you tell others about PBwiki?
Nils Gore: I have several times.

PBwiki: What has been the biggest surprise for you in using PBwiki?
Nils Gore: I have quite a bit of web design experience, and could be doing this myself. But I have to spend very little time fooling around with PBwiki; less than I would if I were building it from scratch. I’m also surprised that the students haven’t messed it up when adding their own work. It has an incredibly flat learning curve.

Case study: cas100b.pbworks.com

8 Feb

What is Cas100b.pbworks.com?

It’s a class on communication, arts, and sciences (100b is the course designation).

Screenshot of cas100b.pbworks.com How’d you first hear about PBwiki?I took an English graduate class (I’m a grad student as well as an instructor) and decided to give it a try since I teach a group communications class. Several of my colleagues were using PBwiki and it seemed really easy.We love hearing that! So how do you use your PBwiki?Neither of us had ever used a wiki in a classroom, so we were feeling our way through it with our students. We have our own course management software through Penn State. So at the beginning, we were using the CMS (content-management system) and then having the class submit through the wiki. Finally, the students asked if they could do just one. So we turned everything to the wiki.

I really wanted a space where they could work together and see everyone’s else’s work. Our CMS is really good for individual work and student/instructor (we assign, they return) but it’s not really good for encouraging group work. The group file areas aren’t very good. One group can’t view another group’s work.

We were interested in the public and collaborative aspect of the wiki. It was a lot better than the other closed-off options we had. We want our students not only learn for themselves, but analyze other group’s work and learn from them. It would give them a different perspective from just their own groups.

We end up having a couple of groups in crisis, so other groups could see that weren’t functioning so well. I think this was very helpful.

Can you share some of the results you’ve found from using PBwiki?

The flexibility was so useful for me. Being able to just go in and change the lesson plans around, and make the chance instantly in the wiki, was really useful to me. Being able to keep up with the groups — I asked them to post their group notes so I could see who was keeping up and documenting their groups’ progress. I could step in and ask them to speed it up. I could technically have had them turn paper in, but most of them don’t use paper any more. The wiki was really useful for flexibility and keeping track of their progress in a different way.

Why’d you choose PBwiki?

Because it was easy. I’d gotten recommendations from a couple of friends, and almost without really meaning to, I had a wiki set up instantly. I’ve done a little bit of stuff on Wikipedia. Without having set up a wiki before, I was surprised how ridiculously easy it was.

How many people are active on your wiki?

143 students and 2 instructors.

Wow. What has been the biggest surprise for you in using PBwiki?

Surprised at how simple I found it. I also didn’t realize how many files my students would store (like Powerpoint files).

Would you tell others about PBwiki?

Yes, and I have. I tell them that if they ever want to start a wiki, PBwiki is a really good one to use.

PBwiki in medical school!

5 Feb

Ritu S. writes…

I’m a first-year medical student and for Histology class we are assigned multiple group projects over the year. There are six to eight students per group, and we usually divide the project into sections. We each send our individual slides to one or two other students for editing and compilation. For each assignment, our professor receives 32 PowerPoint and Word documents, filled with graphics and various formats of text and “speaker’s notes” via “yousenditâ€?.

After the first assignment, a student recommended using PBwiki to streamline the group projects. Dr. Brandon liked the idea and suggested that the students could do the projects using PBwiki if we felt it would save time and make our projects more cohesive.

From Dr. Brandon’s email:

THE FINAL PRODUCT can be:

MS-Word format with pictures (always fiddly to get the pictures to stay where we put them).

PowerPoint. If you use this tool, PLEASE USE SPEAKER’S NOTES!

A Wiki. The best way to collaborate because any group member can edit the current version of the document at any time, using any computer with a browser. You can set one up for free at http://www.pbworks.com. If you’re interested, ask me, or Amy Hockenbrock, for details (the Amy-generated Physiology website at rfumsphysiology.pbworks.com is a good example).

By the end of the last project, about one third of the class groups were putting their presentations together using PBwiki. Our final is coming up and Dr. Brandon just emailed us some links to a handful of the projects, indicating that some of our test questions will come directly from those presentations, as well as some of the PowerPoint files he has posted online.

I knew about PBwiki before my professor made the suggestion, but I wouldn’t have thought to use it for a class project. It’s proven to be a pretty useful tool for a lot of my classmates and myself, more so now that I can easily study for the final using the wikis we’ve created.

Case study: clipclip.pbworks.com

18 Jan

I interviewed Chih-Chao Lam, who runs clipclip.pbworks.com, to understand how his team uses the wiki — and how they got it to look so beautiful.

clipclipwiki
clipclip How do you use clipclip.pbworks.com?
Initially, we wanted to get user feedback. But mostly, it’s for internal use now to get everyone on the same page, to get product plans, to compile lists of things we want to do. Ad hoc collaboration. The product we’re working on is a few things: Clipclip.com is a web2.0 service, and the primary feature of it allows you to clip things off any page. URL.com is a social metasearch engine that we just launched.
Why’d you choose PBwiki?
Primarily because I met David Weekly at SHDH and heard about it. We tried several others including the Track Wiki, and we liked it best because it was simple to use and things worked. The simplicity of it meshes well with HTML. What has been the biggest surprise for you in using PBwiki?
Good clip of features that you’ve been gently been introducing over the last year. For example, intermingling HTML and Wiki syntax together, and both working seamlessly was a nice surprise. Would you recommend PBwiki to others?
Yeah, and I have! I tell them that it’s really easy to set up if they need something lightweight collaboration, it’s a good tool.

Your wiki is gorgeous. How’d you do that?
We wanted it to be community-focused, and we wanted to mesh it with our own web site (http://clipclip.org), so we wanted to make it look consistent. It took our designer maybe a day’s effort.

How do you think has PBwiki helped you succeed?
Because we’re so distributed and we work in such an ad hoc fashion, it’s a great collaboration tool. It’s a great communication tool. It’s a great way to get everyone on the same page.

Sachiko Kwan

Sachiko Kwan, the wiki designer

To be a featured case study on PBwiki, email ramit@pbworks.com

-Ramit Sethi, PBwiki co-founder