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I'm looking for a tool (web application) similar to Atlassian Confluence but for academic purposes. The main purpose of that is to allow selected teachers and students from different schools collaborate on a project. It should have features like file uploading, to-do lists, calendar, rules assigning etc. Also it should have a possible low price-tag. I'm from Europe so if it could be a European tool that would be great.

  • What features are you looking for that Confluence doesn't have? How big teams? – Davidmh Mar 13 '15 at 21:09
  • Confluence has everything we need and much much more. The problem is that it is probably too powerful and not created especially to schools. There will be about 60 people in our team. I have never read of a school which used Confluence, but I believe that they must be using something to get their work done. – Maciej Szpakowski Mar 13 '15 at 21:18
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I understand you mean "school" as in "before university", so you are working with non professional researchers. In this case, I think the most important bit is to keep it simple, and use tools people know and are familiar with and just work. So,

  • Mailing list: for group-wide communication. There are tons of free alternatives.
  • File upload: shared Dropbox folder or ownCloud. With the extra benefit that everybody has a backup of everything, so nothing gets lost.
  • Everything else: any free wiki.

That should cover all your needs.

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Probably you want to look into JiveOn software. It is mostly used by businesses, but that groups includes Google and Pearson (a US education supplier). I have used it in a corporate setting, and can speak well of its ability to create collaboration spaces, and reinforce a group-learning social network.

If you find they have pricing for education, or a course-long trial period, it would be good to hear. Seeing their potential, I would not be surprised that you could negotiate a deal, though as a EU-based learning org, you may not be able to offer them US-based tax deferral (501c3). Maybe they have a EU arm.

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You should find this wiki comparison engine helpful:

http://www.wikimatrix.org/

I've personally seen wikis used very successfully in large academic environments.

A couple of suggestions thought:

  • Don't think that because you start a wiki, people will use it. You must do most of the work initially, placing the content in there, structuring the content, etc. Others will come and contribute on their own, but only once you've seeded 90% of the content.

  • Do not lock down the wiki with too many rules. As long as you lock out spammers and strangers, that should be enough, give everyone the same editing privileges on all the pages. You're not wikipedia.

  • Make refactoring a wiki page a homework assignment for newcomers. Newcomers to wikis are afraid of refactoring existing wiki pages, for fear of deleting other people's content. Making refactoring a wiki page a requirement will alleviate that fear.

  • Make editing the wiki an homework assignment for newcomers. Ask them to create a profile for themselves as a wiki page. Ask them to use their real names when registering, or at least their real first name (unless they're too young obviously).

  • Make sure that the wiki has a RecentPages functionality and bookmark that page. That will be your primary way of observing what's happening in your wiki.

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