Wikis with students: what I've learned about managing files and folders

It's funny but even though I work with data on a regular basis, I can't always predict the best way to manage data until I have my own data to manage.

My classroom wiki site is no exception.

Now, that I've been seriously using a wiki with my class, I've found that I should have set a few things up a bit differently.

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The biggest challenge has been making sure that the right people can do the right things - or who gets to see what and upload what where.

Not knowing what methods would turn out to be useful, I originally set up my class wiki with a folder called "students," used templates to make copies of worksheets for each student, then made each student a writer for their worksheet.

But, I found that it was challenging for students to upload files. Either I missed assigning them the proper permissions or they weren't able to find their files after uploading.

It also turned out that giving each individual student permission to work on a file turned out to be a royal pain and too much work.

Now that I have the benefit of hindsight (always 20:20!), here's what I did vs. what I should have done:


What I did

My original tactic of making a new file for every student and every assignment, meant that I had to assign permissions for this many files:

(number of students) x (number of files) = total number

(8 students) x (5 files) = 40 files.

And, the students didn't have permission to upload new files to the student folder. With this method, the number of files to tend goes up with every assignment.

What I should have done

If I had set up a folder for every student, I could have set the correct permissions by folder. Then, all the files in that folder would have the same permissions as the folder. This would have meant that I'd have to assign permissions to:

(number of students) = total number

(8 students) = 8 folders.

This strategy would have better, too, because each student would have had permission to upload files to their folder. And, if I were to add more assignments, I wouldn't have to make sure that I set the correct permissions for every assignment, I would just put the assignments in each folder and they would already have the right permissions.


I suppose it would have been good to do the math before doing the experiment, but heh, if I did that, what would I write about?

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giving each student permission to work on a file turned out to be a royal pain

Yeah, point-and-click would be quite tedious. Writing a script to set permissions is scalable, though. And delightfully nerdy.

By Matt Platte (not verified) on 25 Nov 2008 #permalink

I don't the wiki system that I using would allow for scripting, but it's a fun idea.

since your wiki is web based, it probably can be scripted. Whether or not its worth the effort is a fair question. Mediawiki is surprisingly easy to script.

Cariaso: I'm pretty sure that pbwiki can be scripted, but since it's a commercial wiki system, I don't think I can script it.

I also don't see any reason to do script anything now that I know how things should be set up.