Changing the Learning Lab

Since the formation of SALT the question has arisen as to what sort of web presence it should have. A static information site? A community driven site? Part of the main university site? How does this debate impact on the Learning Lab? Should all learning and teaching support be in one place? How do we make sure that we preserve our “treasure trove of goodies?”

Here in Learning Lab Towers we’ve been exploring whether we can export the Learning Lab into Joomla and WordPress in order to preserve the content but also allow the community to be maintained and to flourish. Having played around with both, using a nifty little tool called WAMP Server (thanks to Alex Roberts in LIS for this) it seems that we can for most of the site and the numerous Joomla plug-ins mean that we can expand the community driven nature of the site. We can also improve the navigation and give the site a more cohesive look and feel. The only downside is that we can’t find a decent wiki for Joomla. We could stick with PBWorks or maybe Mediawiki using university accounts? Or perhaps something else?

So the plan is to create a SALT site with all the learning and teaching resources in Joomla, WordPress and a wiki whilst preserving the content and philosophy of the Learning Lab. What do you think?

2 Comments

  1. I say go for it …

    On the wiki question: MediaWiki is the daddy. It is very powerful, but in my experience, a challenge to set up. Also, the syntax, though not that difficult to learn, takes a bit of getting used to, and you might have some training issues.

    I suspect pBWiki and the Learning Objects Wiki (even Google Docs) work with our community because most of us work through the WYSIWYG editor. It's HTML behind the scenes not some odd-looking wiki text … so when you do have to drop out of the WYSIWYG view to, say, embed a the HTML code for a YouTube video, it's not that daunting.

    Drupal (a similar platform to Joomla) has a wiki plug-in that is really no more than a multi-author document editor with a nice WYSIWYG toolbar that fronts the HTML. I'm surprised that there Isn't the equivalent in Joomla. The only real wiki feature that is a must-have is the insert link to page/create page … is that's what's missing from the Joomla wiki or is it the rich set of media types?

    Another consideration is that given that the current Learning Lab wiki, pbWiki, produces HTML, you may want to choose an HTML-based solution to make migration easier. What about learning objects wiki … couldn't that be embedded into the SALT site with some form of single sign-on?

  2. Thanks for the comments Chris. We'll have a look at an open Learning Objects wiki and see if there is some kind of HTML based multiple-author page creator for Joomla

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