[Server-devel] MediaWiki on XS

David Leeming leeming at pipolfastaem.gov.sb
Fri Jan 15 15:33:18 EST 2010

I did "Learning4Content" Wikieducator workshops, teaching teachers how to
collaborate on content development, in a few Pacific Islands countries in
2008. They were very popular, and teachers were delighted to be empowered in
that way. However, many then had to go back to their workplaces where they
had no Internet access. It is easy enough to train some motivated teachers
in schools with OLPC, motivated by the strong desire to create materials for
their lessons. I saw that in Nauru. Teachers there generally had almost no
computer skills but the motivation to create was strong. I believe with some
mentoring and further training of local "champion" teachers it would work
well - but there they are also let down by lack of Internet provided at the
schools. The learner support for teachers is crucial, working with a few
enthusiasts in country as well. 

Although the Moodle in 0.6 is the main LMS, I am unaware of any Moodle
functionality that allows collaborative content development as effectively
as the wiki, and the WE is customised with features such as a set off
pedagogical templates, a great collections feature that allows PDF
collections to be published in a few clicks with a  great cover - which
could surely be customised with school branding, XO-friendly landscape
orientation, smaller size sizes and large fonts) , and there is also an IMS
package export facility (admittedly via an online partner) allowing SCORM
imports into Moodle. I'd really like to have an offline Wikieducator
alongside Moodle.

On an earlier posting which I seem to have lost (Mike??) someone remarked
about timing of classes, and it reminded me of Nauru again where they have a
"Rich Task" curriculum. This has themes, closely linked to life and society,
culture and history and "who we are". The subjects (maths, social science,
etc) are then intertwined around the theme such that the learning is not
disconnected between lessons. It also gave an immediate relevance to the
learning, of course all teachers try to do that but the rich task creates a
living connection or extension of the learning environment to the children's
home environment and the community. Isn't this just what the OLPC promises?
Impact on the wider learning environment? In fact, to use a phrase that is
emerging in my head but which I can't quite explain yet, perhaps "the XO is
the rich task"?? 

In other places in the islands, a more traditional curriculum is followed
(in many small schools you have one teacher teaching chi8ldren in different
grades at the same time) but there is still opportunity to link XO projects
across the curriculum. This would encourage a team teaching approach, also
highly resonant with OLPC "theory". Teachers could meet to coordinate and in
doing so support each other's ideas. So, the activities on the XOs needn't
be disconnected from one class to another. 

Not sure if that addressed the point from Afghanistan but it's worth

For more on Nauru there is a report (April 2009) and Youtube

David Leeming
Solomon Islands Rural Link 

-----Original Message-----
From: Martin Langhoff [mailto:martin.langhoff at gmail.com] 
Sent: Saturday, 16 January 2010 1:04 a.m.
To: Mike Dawson
Cc: Reuben K. Caron; XS Devel; Michael Stein; David Leeming
Subject: Re: [Server-devel] MediaWiki on XS

CC'ing David Leeming on this discussion - which is great to have on
this list. I am all ears...

I do have some comments on issues you mention...

On Fri, Jan 15, 2010 at 7:52 AM, Mike Dawson <mikeofmanchester at gmail.com>
> But in S. Asia of all places where time doesn't normally matter, I
> found that time really does matter.  So far in fact that we can't rely
> on lessons that are on the school server in case someone's wireless
> doesn't feel like it - switching now to weekly pre-load.

Hopefully, once we have a better GoogleGears/HTML5 "offline Moodle"
implementation, a regular "preload" can be done on Moodle course

(If you search for "offline moodle" you'll find my technical notes on
what needs to happen. It will take a while, as it's not "low hanging
fruit", but there are some proof-of-concept implementations out

> One other thing hit us here - If it's difficult enough to deliver the
> curriculum and we don't even have time for marking existing homework
> for students, how are teachers gonna have time (being new to it
> they'll need a lot of time and guidance) make match making games, wiki
> content, etc?

Ummmmm... IMHO this happens *everywhere*. At the beginning, it is
always a bit of a struggle; one that can be overcome with a large dose
of enthusiasm and working on the teachers' curiosity. Once the
teachers and children are over the hump, they teachers will know what
things they find the laptops most useful for...

Of course getting over the initial stage is the trick.

> It appears that Mediawiki does provide some support for HTML5 based
> offline viewing - so one could do a weekly content load.

I would humbly suggest you don't focus on MediaWiki but on Moodle.
That is where most of the action and improvements are going to happen,
inc working "offline" -- and it is fantastic for hosting content and
files for groups of users ("courses" in Moodle parlance).

Of course, you can have MediaWiki alongside, for content that is
preformatted as MediaWiki content for example. Or if you have teachers
that are very familiar with MediaWiki already. If you don't have those
factors, then I think it is better to keep it simple and focus on


 martin.langhoff at gmail.com
 martin at laptop.org -- School Server Architect
 - ask interesting questions
 - don't get distracted with shiny stuff  - working code first
 - http://wiki.laptop.org/go/User:Martinlanghoff

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