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Corinna Souza on Wikis for Collaboration

I am Corinna Souza and I am an evaluator at evalutechnica. Our small firm works primarily with regional school districts. Lately, I’ve been on the lookout for tools to help my evaluation team work collaboratively. There are four of us, working from two different offices, plus our key liaison to the schools with which we are working.

Lesson Learned – What is a wiki: It is an online website that allows for collaborative adding and editing to the content of its pages. You have probably heard of Wikipedia, the most well known wiki out there. There are lots of other wikis as well.

Rad Resource – Packard Foundation’s Goldmine Research Project Wiki: One wiki example is from the Packard Foundation and TCC group’s Goldmine project. The project’s“objective is to analyze and make meaningful the “goldmine” of organizational effectiveness data from 1300 capacity building projects in order to 1) enable the Foundation and the field to better evaluate OE grants and 2) disseminate lessons learned from the field—all in an engaging and transparent way.” Their wiki includes discussions, what they’ve learned, and lots of tools and resources.

Hot Tip – WikiMatrix: Wikimatrix is a huge database that allows you to compare 134 wiki platforms. There are a lot of options, aimed at different audiences and with different capabilities. We did quite a bit of research trying to choose the best platform.

Lesson Learned – Go With Supported Platforms: Ultimately, we ended up on the same platform as the Packard Foundation’s wiki – Wikispaces. We got drawn in by the range of tools and bells and whistles available, but in the end went with Wikispaces because it had the core functionality we needed and, what turned out to be the most important, two members of our team were already comfortable using it and could help along the way.

Rad Resource – Wikispaces: Using Wikispaces, we have, for free, gotten a basic multi-page website, a discussion platform, and a space for collaborative document development. It has good administration tools so that different people can have different access points (some can see, some can edit, etc.).

Lesson Learned – History: Our favorite tool on Wikispaces, which seems to be common across wikis, is the history function. We can back up a webpage (a document that we are co-editing) to any previous version and we can see who made changes along the way.

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