Wikis are great for supporting long-term or large-scale collaborative projects, enabling multiple team members to edit the same document, with the scope to view or 'roll back to' older versions. But for smaller projects the 'entry cost' of configuring them correctly and getting your material into wiki format, which is not standard HTML, can be a barrier to using them (I touched on this tangentially in last year's posting on building a wiki). Jotspot offers an alternative way in to building wikis, using MS Word-style WYSIWYG editing, and a straightforward way of importing content from standard file formats like Word and Excel. It also has a valuable set of applications that you can plug into your wiki to add functions, from project management and tracking to forums and polls.
As part of my work for the TUC, I used Jotspot to create an online version of guidance about managing TUC e-learning. This was initially produced and edited in Word, but, once we reached 'version 1.0', we wanted to have a means for the document to be shared by all potential users — meaning that they could update it in the light of experience, and everyone would always be able to find the latest version.
The guidance is over 60 pages long, so I broke it up into sections: the wiki currently comprises 39 pages, including 5 navigation/table-of-contents pages. I also activated a blog applet — for people to announce significant new 'releases' or updates to the guidance — and a feedback tracker — for people to comment on the guidance without editing it.
The conversion from Word to web page was better than I expected, knowing how infamously quirky Word formatting is. The only editing I had to do was the links and anchors for navigation within the document. I could have avoided even that if I'd known from the start that I was going to make the document into a wiki: by using mixed case WikiWords, the links would have been created automatically. The only problem with the conversion was that, just recently, a bug has stopped the conversion working, so now we have a few holding pages with Word files as attachments.
Jotspot is free for 'personal use' and prices go up to $49 per month, depending on factors like how many pages, how many users, and how much security you want. Details are in the price list.Posted by David Jennings in section(s) E-learning, Social Software on 26 July 02005 | TrackBack