Editing About the WSU Technology Knowledge Base
- Audience - All WSU students, faculty, and staff who want to learn more about the WSU Technology Knowledge Base.
- Summary - The Technology Knowledge Base is an interconnected network of articles containing information about the technology available to the WSU campus community. The knowledge base uses a local instance of MediaWiki, the same software that powers Wikipedia, running on our WSU open source servers. This article includes the rationale for creating a wiki-based knowledge base and other general information about this resource.
Watch the Video
Why a Wiki?
We decided to move to an open wiki in hopes of solving the three major problems we had with previous attempts to provide the WSU community with technology documentation:
- Collaborative Document Management: Many of our previous help documents were in the form of Microsoft Word and PDF files uploaded to a web server and linked to from a web page. Adding new documents was a relatively laborious process that involved several steps and the right permissions. Making changes to the documentation was also a chore and often involved reformatting and publishing a new file. All of this was difficult to do collaboratively, resulting in much of the management work being done by one person on the team. The TLT team includes professional staff and students, all of whom need to be able to create and edit online help resources quickly and easily. Everyone in TLT can contribute new pages to this knowledge base at any time and we can all edit each others' pages. All previous versions of pages are archived and can be recovered if needed.
- Search: Searching for the answer you need can be slow and difficult if all of the help documentation is trapped in Word and PDF files. Wiki pages are easily searched and all pages can be tagged with keywords that can help you zero in on what you need. The power of the wiki will increase as the amount of content increases, as pages become more interconnected, and as common search patterns emerge. Hopefully, we can create a knowledge base that makes it easy for you to find the information you need quickly and that leads you to discover something useful that you didn't even know you needed.
- Cost: There are plenty of commercial, Web-based tools for managing help documentation. They all cost lots of money and offer all sorts of nice features and functions. MediaWiki is free, fast, easy to use collaboratively, and familiar to our audience. What we lose in terms of fancy, we gain in terms of speed and usability.
Searching for Articles
Enter a search term in the corresponding field on the upper-right and select Go to begin searching the knowledge base.
Saving and Printing Articles
We understand that some people prefer printing documentation or saving it to their various devices for disconnected use. Word and PDF files certainly have value when you want to save or print copies of certain instructions and we will continue to use these file types to supplement our wiki-based content when appropriate. There is also a Printable version link on the toolbox panel on the left that will display a more printer-friendly version of the article. Finally, we must put in a plug for saving resources by resisting the temptation to print knowledge base articles. This is a reliable online resource that is open and available 24-7. If you are printing because you are afraid that the article will be unavailable online when you need it, fear not.
Knowledge Base vs. Other Learning Opportunities
This knowledge base is just one way that WSU students, faculty, and staff can learn about campus technology. TLT also offers other learning resources and opportunities. List of TLT learning opportunities
Visual Introduction to the Knowledge Base
TLT student interns developed a short video about the knowledge base. Check it out. "Introducing the TLT Knowledge Base Wiki" Video.
Work In Progress, Suggestions Please
The development of this resource has just started and will never be finished, so we appreciate your patience and feedback as we move forward. We are currently wrestling with the best design for the front page and realize that it's a little busy. We are also experimenting with different templates for pages to make them easy to scan. Please email us with your suggestions.
-Your TLT Team-