[Mediawiki-l] Namespace recommendations for using MW in university courses

Joshua Yeidel yeidel at wsu.edu
Mon Jan 29 22:56:09 UTC 2007


Clarification below...


On 1/29/07 2:04 PM, "Joshua Yeidel" <yeidel at wsu.edu> wrote:

> Cris,
> 
> It depends a lot on what you are trying to accomplish.  If you want a space
> which only you can edit, a wiki is probably not the right tool.  If you want
> a space which only your students can edit, MediaWiki is probably not the
> right tool (unless you run your own instance).

I should have said, "If you want a space which only you and the students in
your course can edit..."

-- Joshua



> 
> At Washington state University, we use MediaWiki to support what we call
> "WSUWiki":
> 
> http://wiki.wsu.edu/wsuwiki
> 
> This is a general encyclopedia-style wiki for use by the whole university
> community.  We see a benefit in cross-course discussion of topics, so
> specifically did NOT want to create course spaces.  Obviously, this concept
> is not well understood by everyone, so there's some "wiki gardening" and
> general education to accomplish, but we think the principle is sound and the
> work is progressing.
> 
> You could create course-specific topic pages by using subpages, e.g.:
> 
> LOG120
> LOG120/Cohesion
> LOG120/Coupling
> 
> Each page and subpage has its own "Talk" page.
> 
> If the "subpage" feature is enabled, then each subpage will have an
> automatically-generated link to the "superpage" -- in the example,
> LOG120/Cohesion would have an auto link to LOG120.  If you have subsubpages,
> the links form a breadcrumb all the way back to the root (LOG120) page.  If
> the "subpage" feature is disabled, the auto links don't appear.  Other than
> that, you can use a "/" to denote a subpage whether or not the feature is
> enabled.
> 
> However, be aware that the superpage does not have a list of its subpages;
> you can maintain a list of links manually, or use one or another MW
> extension to provide it.  Of course, a search for "LOG120" will turn up the
> page and all its subpages.
> 
> HTH,
> 
> -- Joshua
> 
> 
> 
> On 1/24/07 4:53 PM, "Christopher Fuhrman" <christopher.fuhrman at etsmtl.ca>
> wrote:
> 
>> Hello,
>> 
>> I'm very pleased to learn that my university department has put in place a
>> MediaWiki server for use in our courses, IT support, etc. However, I'm
>> writing to ask for advice about a good "pattern" for name spaces in such an
>> environment, as our technicians prefer to just let us "have at it." I have
>> seen a few live wikis at universities, and there doesn't seem to be a set
>> pattern, per se, on how to do this.
>> 
>> As an instructor, I've already set up a few wiki pages for use in the
>> context of one of my courses, using MediaWiki on a free web site. During
>> this trial, I realized a few problems. First, certain terms have definitions
>> that are relative to my course. For example, I teach an intro to software
>> design (LOG120 is its course code), and I expect my students to learn the
>> very basic concepts of "coupling" and "cohesion". If one looks up the global
>> (wikipedia) definitions for these terms, they may or may not be useful in
>> the context of my course (not to mention that software engineering is a
>> "young" field and we don't all agree on terms). So, this means I have to
>> prefix my pages with a context of my course (project). Second, I had to be
>> very careful while rapidly creating my pages on this site not to "steal" the
>> global definitions (which happens if I forget to prefix a link with my
>> namespace and I accidentally create it.)
>> 
>> So, the pages for Coupling and Cohesion I'd like to have for my course have
>> a particular context, which implies I need to have a name space that's
>> unique to my course, e.g., LOG120, so I'd have LOG120:Coupling and
>> LOG120:Cohesion.
>> 
>> Here are the problems I see with this approach, and I'd like to get some
>> feedback from this list before we spend too much energy in the wrong
>> direction:
>> 
>> 1) From what I understand about MW software, there are only 16 name spaces
>> allowed, and my department has more than 30 courses. Assuming every
>> professor jumped on board with the wiki approach (which is unlikely), it
>> seems we'll run out of name spaces with this strategy of one per course. If
>> we don't use course-specific contexts, I can foresee disagreements about
>> content on pages for different contexts. It could be interesting perhaps to
>> have one context, but with course-specific information separated on that
>> page. Professors aren't going to be agreeing on definitions, because of the
>> principle of academic freedom.
>> 
>> 2) On a given page, most of the links will have to be prefixed with the
>> course's name space. This seems to be a lot of redundant prefixing, and runs
>> the risk of an errant global page being created when done hastily. Is there
>> a way in MediaWiki pages to define a "default" name space prefix?
>> 
>> 3) What about the basic concepts of "Talk:", etc. for MW layout? It seems
>> like if I use a name space convention as stated above, Talk:Cohesion would
>> not be about my course's version of Cohesion, but rather the general
>> meaning. This is ambiguous.
>> 
>> An obvious alternative configuration would be a wiki server for each course,
>> but that seems like overkill for the technicians to maintain. The opposite
>> is to not have any course-specific namespaces, and use prefixes with a "."
>> like LOG120.Coupling - again, this seems like less user-friendly from the
>> standpoint of editing of the links.
>> 
>> Looking forward to any feedback, advice or examples of well designed MW
>> sites used in a teaching context. Regards,
>> 
>> Cris Fuhrman
> 
> 
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