Thursday, May 14, 2009

My wiki would rather play shuffleboard.

shuffleboard.gifASU has outgrown its current blog and wiki service, the one we started as a beta back in February 2006. That's close to age 65 in blog and wiki years.

Although many students and faculty members have used this service successfully over the past three years, we're finding it hard to keep up with superior external services like Blogger, Twitter and Google Sites.

These newer services offer improved editing tools, more intuitive interfaces, customizable templates, enhanced multimedia features, upgraded commenting and collaboration features, better group blogging controls, and the ability to post to your blog from your mobile device.

So rather than spend money while continuing to fall farther behind, we're considering retiring ASU's blog and wiki service due to the small number of users and the existence of good, free alternatives like the ones listed above.

I'd like to hear your thoughts and notions about this possibility.

Would it inconvenience you if ASU discontinued this particular service?

How important is it for you to preserve the contents of your existing ASU blog or wiki? Would you be willing to migrate the content yourself into a new blog or wiki if we could show you how, or would you want ASU to do it for you?

How important is it to you that ASU provide blog and wiki services directly or would external services like Blogger or Google Sites be sufficient for your uses?

Please email me with your comments at or post them below.


Nathan Corwin May 15, 2009 at 3:56 AM  

Our blog & wiki services are well behind the curve of other freely available communication and collaboration tools. I look forward to seeing the feedback from blog & wiki customers based on their experience over the past three years.

William Abbott Foster,  May 18, 2009 at 9:48 AM  

I feel left in the lurch. I have to teach a class this June and I was planning on requiring a group project with a Wiki.

What should I do?

Best wishes,

Emerson May 25, 2009 at 9:42 AM  

I look forward from wiki customers based on their experience over the past five years.

Adrian Sannier May 26, 2009 at 4:30 AM  

Hi Will,

Go ahead with your blog for class this summer. Nothing will happen until after then, if ever.

Cris Bloomfield May 27, 2009 at 11:16 PM  

It's a very interesting proposal. As you already have experience of outsourcing services to external providers (e.g. Google), many other institutions will be looking carefully to see how you take this forward.

I suspect that there may be some concerns raised, not with material being in the public realm, but with material being hosted by providers external to the institution. Do the alternatives you're considering offer the same level of cooperation and guarantees over data rights and access that your users are currently getting? Are there legal issues over intellectual property rights that need to be resolved?

Sher,  May 31, 2009 at 6:56 AM  

Interesting proposal. My own experience with ASU blogs in courses has been ok, but I agree that some of the free alternatives out there are a bit more customizable and have better UIs and other features. I've had my students use both Wordpress & Blogger for several online courses and have been pretty satisfied. Blogger tends to be the most user-friendly, according to many of my students. As for the wikis, I don't normally use them in my classes, so I can't comment there.

@Cris Bloomfield - I understand the concerns you raise about material being in the public realm. One interesting solution, for wikis at least, I've found for educators is PBwiki. It's geared more towards k-12 audiences, but I can see some potential for using it for higher ed courses. PBwiki offers a free wiki service for educators that is private - only authorized users you specify can access the wiki. Also, with free blog services like Blogger & Wordpress, there are privacy filters. With blogger, you can have up to 100 users/contributors for a single blog and can restrict access as well. Of course, none of these solutions is ever 100% private, but it'll block at least major search engines.

Zachary,  July 3, 2009 at 8:04 AM  

I've used Google Sites for several projects in my university classes and you're right... their interface is far superior.