Today’s plugin for review is the OU wiki and I was using Moodle 2.2 for this review.
This wiki module has been around since late 2007. It is created by The Open University in the UK, and is maintained by their internal team including Sam Marshall. As the OU switched to Moodle for September 2011, the module was ported to Moodle 2 and had a beta-release that month. There has been quite a few fixes and changes since then but currently those code changes are only available on the github site.
What does it do?
This is a Moodle activity plugin which is an alternative wiki option within Moodle. It has been designed specifically with teaching and learning in mind and not as a best-possible-wiki option such as MediaWiki (which you could use with Moodle over IMS LTI). The key to this wiki is simplicity and it has only one of the special wiki-syntax options available the syntax for linking (which is [[nameofpage]]).
Is it simple to install?
There is a zip available in the official Moodle plugins database, however for the purpose of the review I downloaded the most recent codebase from Github.It is a normal Moodle module, so once I downloaded it I created a folder called ouwiki in my moodle 2 site under /mod. I then uploaded the contents of the zip to this folder.
Logging into the Moodle 2 site as admin, I was prompted to upgrade to install the plugin, which went fine with no reported errors. There are no global settings for the OU wiki, so once installed it was ready to try out.
Is there documentation for it?
This is quite a simple wiki. The plugins page gives a simple overview on the plugin. There is a There is also a Moodle Docs page which provides more details on the plugin including a list of features and the development status.
There are some forums threads about the module, including a link to a manual put together by Steve Wright from Lancaster University Centre for Studies in Advanced Learning Technology (http://www.csalt.lancs.ac.uk/csalt/support/OU-wiki-guide_demo.pdf).
The README.txt in the zip provides an overview on the functionality too with installation instructions.
Is it easy for the teacher/admin to use?
When you go into editing a course, it is just another option on the Add Activity drop down. The wiki settings for the OU wiki are more detailed than for the normal Moodle wiki.
The normal Moodle wiki has settings for the initial page name, the mode (a collaborative wiki or an individual wiki) and the format (HTML, Creole, Nwiki).
However, the OU Wiki has a lot more options.
Firstly, you can set a collaborative wiki for the course, or a group or just have the individual work on their own wiki.
Secondly, a user can be given rights to add inline annotations to the wiki.
A nice feature is the edit timeout. When two people want to edit the same page in a wiki, it is locked to one of them. This allows setting a timeout that will release auto-submit the person who is editing saving their changes and unlocking it.
It is possible to restrict editing to just between certain dates ( this is a nice detail which goes beyond the access restrictions allowing them to read the content and discuss it, but won’t allow them edit until the time set).
But of the features there is one which I really like, and that is the ability to upload pre-defined templates. This means a teacher can have a set structure and some content already created to help see the wiki rather than have it just a complete white space. This is a very nice option.
It also shows word counts, so when this is part of the requirement of submissions it can be set and when not, it can be left off.
The killer feature of this OU wiki however is the Grade options. The Moodle wiki has no grading options, and this does. Lovely!
So once it is all set up, and the first page created what now?
Well, as you can import the structure from a template, once you build a wiki structure you can also export it for use as a template.
When viewing a page in the OU Wiki, with the right permissions you get access to the following look.
This includes a link to edit or annotate the page. When you annotate it this shows up in the page as the small bubble with lines in it. This can then be expanded by clicking on it as below.
This is nice and can be nicer than adding comments into the actual content.
I also like the fact there is an RSS feed available for the Wiki pages.
There are also some interesting reports that you can run:
Participation by User
This report has two purposes; firstly to provide a good overview on the contributions of users and secondly to grade those contributions. This can also be downloaded as a csv.
You can also get a nice report of the OU Wiki page changes.
Is it easy for the learner/student to use?
For a student, yes, so very easy to use. No need to learn a complicated wiki language, students just use the built-in HTML editor. The students can add View, Edit or see the history and also their participation of the wiki.
The view page also has nice links to add section or page as below:
So it has done a good job of de-complicating wikis.
Does it do what it promises?
The OU wiki sets itself up as a simple wiki with clear goals, and it delivers on them all. It is easy to use for teacher and student whilst also having the option of annotation and grading which are very good for teaching practice and feedback.
It does not have all the options of the Moodle wiki and so there will be times you will use the standard Moodle wiki and other times you will use the OU wiki. I would love to see one wiki with the best of both worlds! Really nice job.
As mentioned this was said to be a beta release, so I am looking forward to when there is a production release of this module available and some perhaps up-to-date documentation once it is production ready.
Stars: 4 out of 5 stars for this plugin
These reviews check out the plugin for usability not for security. If you are considering installing any module on your site you should also check that is secure and does not impact the server performance.
This work by Gavin Henrick is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.