Wikis for Knowledge Sharing

There are a lot of options for knowledge sharing tools depending on the goals in mind. As always, there are services you pay to join as well as free ones that only require an account. Wikis are one of the most common collaborative tools, though their usefulness if debated among users.

You’ve likely encountered wikis before, but (if you’re like me) may not know how they actually work. As an introduction, check out this site and the featured video Wiki in Plain English. Basically, a wiki is easy to create and easy for users share knowledge. An internal wiki for public libraries would require permission or credentials to edit. Now that we know what’s going on, let’s talk potential!

Pros, Cons & Considerations

Is a wiki the right knowledge sharing tool for your organization? Here are some things to consider…

Benefits:

  • They’re relatively simple to start and it’s easy to learn how to make an entry, certainly in comparison to repetitive emails.
  • Collaborating with multiple people in various places to complete a project or create a body of knowledge. This is one of the great benefits to public libraries with staff across multiple branches.
  • Enables a form of socialization for users. If desired, wikis can be a place where librarians and members of the public can contribute to make unique collections. As the value of public libraries is increasingly questioned, community knowledge is an area of potential.
  • Using a collaborative wiki has great potential for uniform instruction across locations. The same information is accessed from all locations, ensuring the same material is available to all members.

Challenges:

  • Encouraging constant contributions takes work. Even with initial interest, wikis tend to fall into disuse over time. This makes them great for interests that shift over time, but more difficult to maintain long term. A number of the wikis I visited, both library-related and otherwise, hadn’t been updated in years.
  • Requires maintenance to avoid duplicate and dated information or overly complex structure. (This is sometimes referred to as “wiki gardening,” which is a pretty cute term for such an activity.) Broken links were common on the blogs visited.
  • An effective search function is essential. Wikis rely on links and files to connect pages, so searching for the information is necessary for ease of use.

Considerations:

  • Is a wiki the right tool for you? Like any planning, careful consideration needs to come first. Take some time to play with an existing one and look at the different forms they can take.
  • When looking around, I’ve noticed some of the wikis become almost a collaborative directory. LISWiki and LibSuccessWiki generally offer a collection of great entries, but some of the pages—like the page on LISWiki’s laptop check-out—offer a list of resources or examples. Sharing links to resources is undeniably useful, but is this the kind of knowledge we want to capture? Does LISWiki offer the desired balance of resources and entries that capture experience?
  • What is publically accessible and what isn’t? Looking at the topic of wikis and public libraries was a bit tricky because most of the library wikis are internal tools (which makes perfect sense). The Albany County Public Library wiki can be viewed by the public. While this really helped me, it did make me wonder: how does the public accessibility change what may be contributed?

There are many options for creating your own, free wiki including: Wikia, Wikispaces, PBworks, Wikidot, and you can even use a google site by following this instructional video.

Pic is Share from C!….

 

As well as the sites linked above, here are some resources consulted for this post
Allan, C. (2007, April). Using a wiki to manage a library instruction program: Sharing knowledge to better serve patrons. C&RL News. http://crln.acrl.org/content/68/4/242.full.pdf
Garcia-Perez, A., & Ayres, R. (2010) “Wikifailure: the Limitations of Technology for Knowledge Sharing” Electronic Journal of Knowledge Management Volume 8 Issue 1 (pp43 – 52). http://www.ejkm com
Lindvall, M., Rus, I., & Sinha, S. S. (2003). Software systems support for knowledge management. Journal of Knowledge Management, 7(5), 137–150. http://doi.org/10.1108/13673270310505449
Lisitski, D. (n.d.). How Wikis are transforming Knowledge Management. IT Today. Retrieved July 28, 2016, from http://www.ittoday.info/Articles/How_Wikis_Are_Transforming_Knowledge_Management.htm
Sousa, F., Aparicio, M., & Costa, C.J. (2010). Organizational Wiki as a Knowledge Management Tool. Presentation. SIGDOC 2010. http://www.slideshare.net/carlosjcosta/organizational-wiki-as-a-knowledge-management-tool

 

 

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