FAQ

Blogs? Wikis? What are these things?!
Who can set up blogs/wikis at the 2.0 Toolbox?
Why is the library hosting blogs and wikis?
What’s the benefit in using this service over a free service like blogger or pbwiki?
What sort of support does the library offer?
How long do I have access to my blog/wiki at the 2.0 Toolbox?
Why would I want to use blogs or wikis in my teaching/research?
Why did the library choose WordPress and PmWiki to power the blogs and wikis on the site?
Will the library add other tools to the 2.0 Toolbox?


Blogs? Wikis? What are these things?!
We’re glad you asked! If you’re just starting out with these tools, you might enjoy these quick and super-informative online videos:


Who can set up blogs/wikis at the 2.0 Toolbox?
Currently the service is available to faculty and staff at McMaster University. We’re investigating the possibility of opening it up to students as well, but we’re not quite there yet.


Why is the library hosting blogs and wikis?
It’s the library’s core mission to provide and manage access to the university’s academic resources and scholarly information. In a world where web technologies are changing the face of scholarly communication and the creation of the scholarly artifact, we feel that providing a platform for faculty to harness new technologies to facilitate their teaching & research makes a lot of sense for the library. It allows us to continue our role as stewards of that scholarly content. In addition, we see our provision of these tools as an extension of our role in upholding and advocating for intellectual and academic freedom.


What’s the benefit in using this service over a free service like blogger or pbwiki?
It’s true, there are all sorts of freely hosted blogging and wiki tools out there. But we feel that we have a little something extra to offer the McMaster community!

  • No ads on your blog or wiki.
  • Everything is hosted on a library server. That is, not just your content, but the software you use to publish that content as well. Which we think is a big advantage over having your content on an unknown server in some unknown place!
  • If anything goes wrong with your blog/wiki, we’re a quick phone call/email message away!

What sort of support does the library offer?
Since these services are pretty-much self-serve, we don’t anticipate that you’ll need a lot of help from us. But in case you do, we’ve put together a list of Help Resources that you might find useful. Also, depending on the adoption of these tools, we plan to hold some training sessions during the course of the year (depending on demand). Finally, there’s always email for those times when you’re really stuck!


How long do I have access to my blog/wiki at the 2.0 Toolbox?
You can use your blog/wiki for as long as you’re affiliated with McMaster University.


Why would I want to use blogs or wikis in my teaching/research?Teaching
Blogs provide an excellent platform for students to communicate their ideas with their peers. Faculty members have reported that writing for a broad, public audience encourages students to be more thoughtful in their posts, and since blogging tends to be a reflective activity, it encourages students to reflect upon the learning process in which they are engaged. Blogs are also a great tool for extending in-class discussions, thanks to features like blog comments.

The wiki format lends itself to collaborative authoring and distributed research. A wiki would be a great tool to use in a class that includes group work, where students have to collaborate on a writing project or building a repository or knowledge base.

Here are a few articles that provide more information as well as great ideas for the use of blogs & wikis in teaching:

Research
When it comes to research, blogs are a great platform from which researchers can flesh out ideas and engage with their communities of interest and practice. Also, as mentioned above, the wiki format handles collaborative authoring well, thereby making it an excellent tool for collaborating with multiple researchers.

Check out these articles for more information on the ways in which researchers are using blogs and wikis:


Why did the library choose WordPress and PmWiki to power the blogs and wikis on the site?
We chose WordPress and PmWiki because we believe in using open source software whenever possible, and both of these platforms are open source. As well, both tools have large and thriving development and support communities, which was an important consideration for us.


Will the library add other tools to the 2.0 Toolbox?
Absolutely! At the moment, we’re looking into possibly adding a social bookmarking tool. If there are any specific technologies you’d like us to consider for the 2.0 Toolbox, let us know!

 

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