Friday, November 30, 2007

Light at the end of the tunnel...

I had to take a couple days off from the contant barrage of information created by the course, and focus on my university work and preparation for my students' final exams.
Getting that distance was good as I have had some "assimilation" time now for all the jargon, course requirements etc to sink in. I feel like i made a breakthrough today and actually signed up for Twitter and got a 'TwitterPost' widget for my Mac desktop, so I could meaningfully contribute to the kG Twitter wikipage.
I realised that although I had great intentions when I set up the "Exploring Online Virtual Environments" wikipage, I am not actually going to have time to seriously get into using Second Life at this point.However, the page has taken off of it's own accord so that is the main thing.
I also upated my Userpage by getting a better layout ( I actually just copied the code from another student's page that I liked the look of - as I'm sure that student had done herself....) So now I can easily add a record of my course assignment progess to my Userpage.
I find the standard templates provided in kG are not very useful. Maybe it would be better if the templates were updated to something actually useful for students...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

More on kG functionality

I guess the best way for me to analyse the shortcomings of the kG environment is to run one of the web design checklists on it, and pinpoint the weaknesses.
One thing I noticed yesterday was how poor the search function is - i wanted to give a link to a kG wiki page but I couldn't find it again. I tried searching for the name of the creator, (too many pages) and then what I thought the title was (too many similar titles) and just got nowhere. I couldn't find it using the history button on Safari (too many pages and not sure what day), and finally I luckily just happened to remember the name of the section where I had located it the first time...and eventually found it again.
Guess i'll just have to bookmark anything interesting I come across in future...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

More on Wikis

"What is a Wiki?
Wikis are growing because, at their core, they are about as simple as can be. That simplicity means that people find them easy to use, just like e-mail and blogs."

from How Stuff Works

So why is knowledge Garden so difficult to use? This is really bugging me now.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The mud thickens...

hmmm, now that I know what the Tiki is the much touted TikiWiki "content management system" of the USQ knowledgeGarden wiki, (sounds like a tongue twister) I am even less impressed with it's poor navigation.
Their slogan seems like a bad joke: "TikiWiki CMS/Groupware -- Whatever you're looking for, Tiki's got it."

I have never been so disorientated in cyberspace, and so unable to find anything easily.
I cannot form a picture in my mind of how all the elements of the system logically link together, and even after hours of trying I am still getting lost.
I think that when an online learning environment has highly computer-literate people like myself still getting lost and frustrated after more than a week of constant use (and I'm talking hours every day), the design and architecture has serious problems. I am very disappointed with FET8611, as I was hoping that this CMS would be something I could actually use with my own university students, but I wouldn't inflict this system on anyone I liked , let alone anyone I wanted to educate.

HOWEVER... I am wondering if the main problem is simply how congested and cluttered the USQ kG environment is, because there are so many different courses all on the one site, OR if the page layout that has been chosen is particularly poor. I am looking at other TIKIWIKI sites to see if they are as difficult to use.
Other TIKIWIKI-based sites seem clean and user
Here is a TIKIWIKI_based university course page on a similar theme to kG that seems less cluttered and a bit more User-friendly (you can click on the pic to get a larger, high resolution view):
Matt Barton's TikiWiki

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tikis & Wikis...Clear as mud...

Well, had another go at setting up my knowledge Garden User page today. I opened Peter's instruction page and tried to follow directions, but I just kept flipping backwards and forwards between the User Page and his instructions and getting no-where. The problem seems to be that I don't really understand the purpose of the User page and it is just so NON-intuitive to navigate. (Obviously not designed by a Mac user...)

I ended up searching out a past student's Userpage (thankyou Penny Gardner) and starting to just copy what she had done. But somehow just copying something doesn't seem to make the exercise meaningful or useful.
Anyway, I ended up also adding myself (name and avatar) to a couple of other kG pages like the FET8611 wiki page and the Members-Where I live page.
To be honest I had never heard of a Tiki before this course outside of the context of one of those ugly little New Zealand face thingys, and I still don't know what it is in terms of technology jargon. Guess I'll have to Google it -
American Heritage® Dictionary: Description of tiki
NOUN: 1. Tiki Mythology A male figure in Polynesian myth, sometimes identified as the first man.
Oh dear, not getting very far.... it's going to another 50 hour a week course at this rate....

Tried Googling 'Tiki Wiki'
- getting closer....

Learn More About Tiki

Tiki is a free (LGPL), full-featured Content Management System (CMS) that uses:

With Tiki, you can create online applications, web sites, portals, intra/extranets, and just about anything else. Tiki has all of the features you want (wikis, blogs, surveys, forums, maps, and more) in a tightly integrated package. Simply pick and choose the features for your site.
Apparently you can customise them - they don't have to be all boring white & blue like knowledge Garden. Here's a screenshot of a featured Tiki site: Netineo

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The journey begins....

Well, I've finally got a blog set up for the course. I initially tried to set up a blog on Live Journal just to explore a different site, but it seemed to be slow and buggy and I wasted SO much time and still couldn't even get a title up for the blog.
I don't know whether they just don't cater for Mac users or what, but they didn't have a very good FAQ page and I couldn't find out!. Also you have to put up with ads everytime you write a new, I wouldn't recommend LiveJournal for serious bloggers as it seems to be more for chat communities and finding friends.

So I'm back home to where things generally DO work and the environment is very easy to use. I wish I could say the same for knowledgeGarden! Oh dear... the User page set up is the most non-intuitive, hard to use environment I've ever come across.
It started with clicking on the the Google map to insert my location. I kept putting the pointer on my location and clicking save, but the page would come up showing me in the middle of the ocean! but there seemed to be no way to then get back to the User page at knowledge Garden to insert the latitude and Longitude co-ordinates anyway...So I just got a pencil and paper and wrote down my co-ordinates, and called it a day. I'm still not really sure what the User page is actually for, but I think it should be re-named the "User unfriendly page"...