The debate between science and spirituality is framed as a knock down fight for truth with winner take all. But does it have to be that way? Deepak Chopra is a physician and one of the most highly regarded spiritual teachers in the world; and Leonard Mlodinow teaches at Cal Tech and co-authored, along with Stephen Hawking, “The Grand Design.” Chopra and Mlodinow wrote “War of the Worldviews: Science vs. Spirituality” to help start an intelligent and civil conversation about this very hot subject.
In this hour long video, Deepak Chopra and Leonard Mlodinow debate science and spirituality moderated by Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, Senior Religion Editor for The Huffington Post. This conversation was streamed live on Oct. 4, 2011 on the date of the publication of “War of the Worldviews: Science vs. Spirituality” by Deepak Chopra and Leonard Mlodinow.
I just finished reading Steve Krug’s “Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability,” and it was very insightful.
While geared towards website usability, I think a lot of the principles and practices that Krug outlines can apply to designing e-learning, online training, simulations, or just about anything interactive.
Krug writes with a light, friendly style, knowing that many readers of his book are going to be first-timers: people charged with doing usability testing, without hiring a professional.
The book is filled with practical examples of real-life “what works and what doesn’t” graphics and explanations. He highlights the differences between what web designers usually have in mind for the user to do, and what the user actually does. Web pages aren’t really read, they’re scanned for anything that seems relevant or “clickable”. Users don’t take the time to figure out how things should work; they would rather just “muddle through”.
Some design concepts covered from a usability perspective include creating a clear hierarchy and designing navigation, paying attention to conventions (rules are there for a reason!), breaking up pages into clearly defined areas, making it obvious what’s clickable, and keeping the “noise” down – cutting out unnecessary images, navigation, and especially text! Both “happy talk” (useless introductory text) and instructions (users don’t read them anyway, remember?) must die.
Finishing up the book is a clear, concise outline of everything necessary to conduct your own usability tests: materials, preparation, and a handy guide written by an expert.
If you’re in charge of doing any sort of web or interface design, or conducting usability testing, I highly suggest you give Krug’s book a read – it’s short, flows well, and gets right to the point – which, if you’re in a pinch, is a great help!
Wikis are rapidly becoming commonplace as educational tools – and with good reason! Wikis make it easy to collaborate and share information, in a relatively simple format.
But if you’re the one charged with setting up a wiki for your company, school, or classroom, there are several factors to consider – such as ease of set up, user accounts, page versions, syntax, attachments, and a lot more.
Here, I’ll list some of the most popular wiki platforms on the market today, along with some pros and cons, so you can pick the best wiki for your needs.
First of all, there are several wiki comparison tools available on the web already. Check out:
Wikipedia’s List of Wiki Software
Wikipedia’s Comparison of Wiki Software
Cunningham & Cunningham’s list sorted by engine
Oh my! That’s a lot of wikis to sort through! So I’ve done a bit of the grunt work for you.
Easiest to Install / Set Up / Start Using Out of the Box
Want to start using it right away? These are your best bets.
pbWiki [http://pbwiki.com] (hat tip to Wes Fryer, thanks!)
I tried this one – set up took me about 5 minutes total. Wow. Check out mine: [http://edtechhacks.pbwiki.com]
Pros: super-easy setup, hosted, no ads on educational version, page history and multiple user support
Cons: must pay for more features, advertising on non-educational wikis
Another one I tried – super-easy as well. Good for a plain, no-frills wiki. See mine: [http://edtechhacks.wikispaces.com]
Pros: very easy to set up, hosted, page history and discussion pages, notification options, WYSIWYG editing
Cons: ad-supported (but less obtrusive than some, can get k-12 ad-free), few customization options
Best Multi-User Support
Using your wiki to collaborate? Keep in mind page revisions and user accounts – and check out these wikis.
The wiki engine behind Wikipedia. If you’re an active Wikipedia user, this platform will feel very familiar.
Pros: can view page revisions/history, support for multiple users, well-documented support, open source, free
Cons: requires hosting (Apache or IIS), a bit complicated to set up (PHP and SQL knowledge a plus)
Powered by the MediaWiki engine, ScribbleWiki offers a hosted version. Here’s mine: [http://edtechhacks.scribblewiki.com]
Pros: free, can view page revisions/history, support for multiple users, hosted
Targeted towards software developers and collaborative workgroups, this platform has it all for multi-user support.
Pros: open source, free, section editing, revision history and locking features
Cons: requires hosting, WYSIWYG option as plug-in only (not automatically included)
Simplest Syntax / WYSIWYG Support
Want the easiest possible editing of your pages? Take a look at these.
Very simple point-and-click editing. Nice array of features too. I made a test of this one too; see it in action here: [http://edtechhacks.wetpaint.com]
Pros: support for multiple users and page history, site analytics, widgets, pre-set themes, easy WYSIWYG editor, hosted
Cons: ad-supported (google text ads all over the place – but can apply for an education wiki if you meet certain criteria), orientation demos are a bit much for experienced wiki users, but great for beginners
Supports formatting in Textile and CamelCase; very simple documentation.
Pros: uses wiki-standard syntax, simple set-up, clean interface, no advertising (except for StikiPad itself)
Cons: limited configuration on free version
Need branding, your own domain, tech support, or tools for business users? These are the way to go.
More than just a wiki, TikiWiki boasts a large list of features, such as forums, directories, blogs, articles, and more
Pros: open source, free, requires hosting, good documentation, active development community
Cons: steep learning curve, not for beginners
Lots of features for scalable deployment – personal, small business, and enterprise options.
Pros: choose hosing on their servers or yours, supports blogging and IM integration, file management options
Cons: not free (except personal, discounts offered for non-profits), limited info on homepage (must contact sales team for more info/pricing)
Open source, enterprise targeted platform.
Pros: requires hosting, plugin and application support, can add attachments, multi-user friendly with revision and access control, WYSIWYG editor
Cons: no tech support, semi-steep learning curve (from personal experience – my workplace experimented with this platform!)
What Did I Miss?
Do you have a favorite wiki platform that should be included in this list? Add it in the comments!