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Wikis: March 9th – 15th

March 9th, 2009


You may remember wikis from our 2008 MLA course Web 2.0 101: Introduction to Second Generation Web Tools. As you probably know, a wiki is a page or collection of Web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content, using a simplified markup language. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites and to power community websites. The collaborative encyclopedia Wikipedia is one of the best-known wikis. Wikis are used in business to provide intranet and Knowledge Management systems. Ward Cunningham, the developer of the first wiki software, WikiWikiWeb, originally described wikis as “the simplest online database that could possibly work”. (“Wikis.” Wikipedia.org. Accessed 19 February 2009.)

For more overview on wikis, watch this Common Craft video “Wikis in Plain English”

How can wikis be applied in the library world? For an overview of wikis and examples of applications in the  libraries and health sciences settings, refer to this presentation  “Using wikis in library liaison work: overview & trends” by Molly Knapp. (This presentation was originally part of the “Not-So-Dangerous Liaisons: Best Practices for Library Liaison Work” Symposium for the Medical Library Association’s 2008 Conference in Chicago, IL.)

Now that we’ve reviewed wikis and explored some of their applications in libraries, lets get some hands-on experience.

Preliminary Setup

This course will use PBwiki.com.

PBwiki was chosen because it is targeted to education professionals, does not have ads, is relatively easy to use, and is free. You can also set restrictions for wiki users. In our case, everyone in the class has ‘Writer’ level access to the wiki, meaning you can contribute to the wiki pages, but cannot irrevocably delete anything.

You will receive an invitation to join the class wiki through the email address with which you registered by Monday March 9th at 5pm CST.

PBwiki help: http://pbwikimanual.pbwiki.com/

Discovery Exercise 1: Mining wiki resources

As librarians, we are skilled in finding and sharing information on specialized topics. Let’s apply this to wikis.

Step 1: Locate one resource for each topic in the list below:

  1. Wiki software or platform
  2. Online resource/webpage about wikis
  3. A journal article, book chapter or book about wikis
  4. A library-related wiki
  5. A health sciences-related wiki (medicine, nursing, dentistry, allied health, biomedical research/animal care)


  • WikiMatrix.org provides a listing and comparison of wiki platforms, while Wikipedia has a list of wiki software.
  • You can locate an article on wikis from a library journal in the LISTA or Library Literature database, or find a book on wikis in WorldCat. Commercial book sites like Amazon.com are another place to locate books on wikis. If you’ve read an article from a general magazine or journal on wikis, or a book on the topic, you can also use that.
  • Refer to the Web 2.0 101 blog for links to websites about wikis, or try a Google or Yahoo search. Maybe there is a website you found extremely helpful in learning about wikis from the Web 2.0 101 class. Maybe you have heard of a medical or nursing website that has written an online column or blog about wikis.
  • If your library has experimented with wikis for a project, or developed one for a department feel free to use it as an example, even if it is unavailable to the general public. There are also several general library wikis available.
  • David Rothman has a growing list of HS wikis on his blog

Step 2: Briefly browse, read and evaluate each of the items you located for your topics. Consider the following questions. You may want to jot down some brief notes or comments, but it is not required.

  • Which one was the most useful?
  • Did you dislike any of them?
  • What is the scope, purpose & authority of the resource?
  • What challenges did you face implementing your library wiki?

Step 3: Make sure you record the 5 resources you select on scratch paper or in a document, as you will need them for the Cumulative exercise.

NOTE: You will not share or post all 5 resources with course members.

Discovery Exercise 2: Exploring pbWiki

You should receive an invitation from do-not-reply@pbwiki.com to join the Dig Deeper Wiki on Monday, March 9th. If you do not get an invitation by 5pm, please email one of the instructors.

Step 1: Join the Dig Deeper Wiki.
Click the link in your email from do-not-reply@pbwiki.com to join the wiki. You will need to create a user name and password. (Yes, another one, sorry.)

Step 2: Familiarize yourself with pbwiki.

Features of wiki: Frontpage, SideBar, Edi

Features of wiki: Frontpage, SideBar,Help

  • FrontPage - like a home page. There is a link to return to it on the side.
  • Sidebar - where the wiki pages are located. Wiki pages are also linked in the content on the FrontPage.
  • Edit tab – Where you can edit the page. PLEASE DO NOT EDIT THE FRONT PAGE.

Step 3: Play in the Sandbox.

  • Click the link “Sandbox” on the Sidebar.
  • Notice the Edit Tab? (Behind the View tab at the top of the screen)
  • Click on the Edit tab and you will see a menu that looks similar to the icons for Word or Google Docs. Here is where you can edit the wiki page.
Editing a wiki page and creating a link

The Edit screen and icon for creating a link

  • Type your name or a message to your classmates.
  • Practice adding a link. Notice the Insert/Edit Link icon ? It looks like this:
  • Insert/Edit link allows you to add a link to a wiki page, email or an outside web page.
    • To create a link to an outside web page, select “URL” from the drop down menu and try adding a link your library’s homepage.
  • Notice there is a SAVE BUTTON at the bottom of the screen. Press this button to save your work. You will be automatically taken back to the VIEW version of the page.
  • TIP: Watch this 13 second video on editing pbwiki.

Cumulative exercise

For the cumulative exercise you will help build an annotated list of wiki-related software, articles, websites and wikis-in-use as they apply to libraries and the health-sciences.

Step 1: Refer back to your 5 resources from Discovery exercise 1.

Step 2: Choose one of your selected resources to add to the wiki.

Step 3: Go to the wiki page for the topic you are going to post about, i.e.: Wiki Platforms, Wiki resources & websites, Wiki journal articles, books & book chapters, Library Wikis, or Health Sciences Wikis.


Step 4: Edit the page and add the name of the resource, a link to the resource, and your initials (or name), as well as  some comments about it in 150 words or less.

TIP: Writing prompts and examples are given at the top of each wiki page
TIP: Try to keep the resources in Alphabetical order.
TIP: If your item is already posted, consider adding something else from your list. If you post the same thing as another person, please add some value to what has already been said in the previous annotation.

Step 5: Save the page. View the page. Look OK? Great, you are finished! Time to submit your work.

Submit your work.

To get credit for this course, please fill out the Wikis Course Progress Report.

Course Content

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