TRU set to join the wiki world

Starting early January, students and faculty will be able to use an open TRU-based wiki

Mark Hendricks, Science & Technology Editor Ω

TRU director of innovation Brian Lamb has had experience launching wikis before. He was the driving force behind the UBC wiki, which is now broadly used across the campus. Lamb is now in the final stages of launching a TRU equivalent. The TRU wiki will launch in January but it will be a soft launch, so don’t expect to see it advertised much at first.

Brian Lamb is the driving force behind the TRU wiki. This is the second time he's launched a university-based wiki. Mark Hendricks/The Omega

Brian Lamb is the driving force behind the TRU wiki. This is the second time he’s launched a university-based wiki. Mark Hendricks/The Omega

“It took about a year-and-a-half to two years to get the UBC wiki to the point where there was broadly adopted. I’m actually hopeful we’ll get there quicker here,” Lamb said. “Partially because the technology is better now. We’ve learned a bit from some of the mistakes we made at UBC and the other thing is that the administration has been supportive of it.”

The UBC wiki`s homepage has six million views now, with both faculty and students serving as users and creators.

Some of the content that the wiki will house includes campus life articles, such as a map and reviews of the bars on campus, while others are more educational, such as the graduate students who decided to create electronic versions of old math exams on the UBC wiki.

“They took every single exam they had on record, and they broke them down into individual questions and rendered them on the wiki,” Lamb said. “When you’re doing self-study there’s hidden hints built in, and sometimes there’s multiple solutions.”

Professors can also use this technology to assist students with the creation of open content.

The current home page for the TRU wiki. The photo on the home page is a temporary inside joke at the wiki being in the germination stage, according to Lamb. Image courtesy Brian Lamb

The current home page for the TRU wiki. The photo on the home page is a temporary inside joke at the wiki being in the germination stage, according to Lamb. Image courtesy Brian Lamb

“If you take a class, in most course environments, at the end of the class you get locked out of most of that course content. What this professor did was take her course lessons and put them into this open wiki format, so now the students have the ability to access it.”

There are technical improvements over the UBC wiki as well. Editing the wiki will now be more visual and user friendly.

“MediaWiki has been rolling out this visual editor that actually allows for editing right inside the document itself, so it’s much more what you see is what you get,” Lamb said. “I’ve asked the team to try and install it on ours. Apparently it’s not a trivial thing to do, but this is something I hope to have.”

There are already groups at TRU that have plans for the wiki once it’s up and running.

“There are six or seven groups that are very keen to go. The library is very interested, our group of editors here are already ready to do a style guide and there are people in the career services department that are really interested in using it,” Lamb said.