One of my assignments at Large Online University involved designing a department wiki and implementing an adoption strategy to encourage department staff to use the wiki.
Initially we decided to work with Media Wiki. I installed the software on a server, then began researching how to create a post. I quickly realized a cheat sheet was needed, so I made one that listed the most common markup tags.
The necessity of the cheat sheet should have warned me! During our first training session the participants rebelled. MediaWiki was not the platform they were looking for. The platform wasn’t easy to use, and it was obvious that the wiki was DOA. I scrambled for a better solution.
Happily I didn’t have to look too far. Laddie O., a co-worker, had been talking about Google Sites. He said it was basically a wiki. I didn’t understand Laddie’s position because Google wasn’t promoting Sites as a wiki but as a way to create pages. A little investigation proved Laddie was right. Google Sites is indeed a wiki, with page-level authoring permissions, versioning, and (best of all) a very easy-to-use interface.
I moved our scanty content from MediaWiki to Google Sites that afternoon. After my supervisors approved the change, I planned another training session. Since the last training session had left a bad aftertaste, I worked hard to create a new, positive image for the wiki. We decided to name it “CSI Central” (CSI being our department). The wiki’s byline was “Our stuff. Organized.” The byline reminded the group they owned the material, and that the wiki’s purpose is to help everyone find the material when needed. I deliberately chose the word “stuff” to imply any kind of work-related content could be included in the wiki.
I also wrote Five Golden Rules for wiki use, and incorporated five gold rings into the wiki’s logo design.
The evening before the training, I decided to make swag for training participants. I purchased small square vases at the Dollar Store, printed the logo on water slide decals, and filled the jars with candy. Since everyone on the team recorded audio at one time or another, I also made door hang tags asking for quiet. We frequently used CDs for backup, so CD labels were an easy win. As everyone left training, happy with the new wiki, I handed out certificates of achievement.
The swag, which might seem frivolous, worked exactly as I intended. Everyone kept it in their offices, where it served as a constant visual reminder of our wiki.
The wiki held over 600 pages by the time I left Massive Online University. The entire department authored and corrected pages. The first iteration may have been rocky, but the second one rocked.