All in all, our assessment of RAP's effect resonates with other preliminary identifications of wikis with student collaboration and a sense of ownership. Additionally, we credit an upsurge of student output and involvement in the course subject matter to this tool. We consider the implementation and use of this wiki to be a success for the instructor as well as his students.
SnipSnap, in particular, proved a good wiki platform, and after RAP we subsequently reemployed it for two other seminars at Bowdoin. We will consider using it again in the Spring of 2005, when its associated course is taught again. Open-source software development progresses rapidly, however, and we plan to once again assess a range of engines for RAP2.
The virtues of SnipSnap led us to choose it above other wikis in 2002; these virtues include general simplicity and elegance, flexible navigation, and proven stability. Such features have not stopped us, along with students, from developing something of a wishlist, and as we move to RAP2 we will be scanning available wikis for the following additional features:
Communication profile control. Extending the notion of keeping students 'in the flow,' and taking it beyond just instant messenging, we would love to alert users to changes in their wiki space. It is technically possible to send changes to posted entries to an author's email address, to their instant messenging client, or even to their cell phone's text messenging environment. Such alerts seem likely to stimulate an even greater level of active participation.
Visualization tools. Toolsets like Touchgraph can help users visualize a wiki 'dataspace' (see Fig. 1). This graphic presentation can help users of a wiki get a feel for the scope of its content, the relationships between seemingly unrelated entries in the wiki; with such visualization, connections that might not otherwise get noted could present themselves.
Linkback. One drawback of SnipSnap was its one-way linking structure. It was difficult to track student entries back to the poems they commented on, unless students took the time to build 'anchors' to passages of poems and then linked to these anchors in their entries. Ideally, a wiki would allow visitors to see an automatically generated list of all pages that link to a given page.