Wikis at Literacy Link South Central (LLSC)

July 15th, 2010 by Monika Jankowska-Pacyna

In 2008, we realized that our service area was so vast that we needed a more practical, economical way to keep in touch and share resources with programs on an everyday basis. We learned that sending large documents through email can be time-consuming, and is sometimes not possible. We decided that an interactive online communications forum would be the best way to share documents, news, best practices, and resources. Our needs were met with a wiki – a free, secure, online environment that allows LLSC to distribute information to programs quickly and easily.

The LLSC wiki is used for:

•    keeping track of events with shared calendars
•    real-time interaction and discussion
•    sharing of documents and resources
•    distributing news and information

Currently, the LLSC wiki is for members only. There are about 30 people who have the ability to log in to participate in discussions and to access resources. We really appreciate the security, because it means that we know exactly who is able to see what we’re posting.

As with the introduction of any new technology, there have been some stumbling blocks along the way. At first, people were unsure of a new online tool like a wiki. There are generally some challenges with learning to navigate around an interactive website, especially for people who are not as comfortable with computers. Another downfall is that a wiki is entirely based on user participation, so there needs to be a good reason for people to log in and use the wiki on a regular basis in order to keep it active and to keep content up to date.

We have found that by holding instructional workshops on how to use this tool to its fullest advantage, people are more willing and interested to give it a try. Seeing the tools in action and learning how they can help with everyday tasks firsthand is a great way to get people involved. We also try to include interactive content (like polls, games, and podcasts) to keep the wiki participants engaged.

If you’re considering using a wiki in your program, be sure to develop a plan of who you want to participate and find out what kind of content these people need and/or want. Surveys are a great way to get a feel for what kinds of content should be included.

As always, the best support is a network of people who are after the same common goal. Working together with others who are doing the same thing can be a great way to find answers to your questions.

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Literacy Link South Central (LLSC) is a non-profit adult literacy network that is funded by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. LLSC helps create and maintain a well-coordinated literacy system in the 6-county area of Middlesex, Oxford, Elgin, Brant, Haldimand, and Norfolk. Amanda Burdick has been working with Literacy Link South Central since 2008 as the Director of Information. She began working with LLSC on a project to incorporate the use of technology and social media into the organization.


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