Help:Using EcoliWiki for teaching

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Several users have inquired about using EcoliWiki in classes, and we teach annotation in our own classes at Texas A&M as well as colleges across the country. This page will review some features of EcoliWiki that will allow instructors to be use EcoliWiki productively and without worrying about students inadvertently (or deliberately) doing damage to the site. Please add your own ideas and experiences to this page and the associated Discussion page.

Student accounts

We have created a new User group called "students". Student accounts have the same editing privileges as regular users, but they are not allowed to create new user accounts. To manage Student accounts, we've created a new user rights management tool: Special:User_rights_list. This page will list any user accounts that you created, and will allow you to change them to student accounts (note that if you do not do this, the default for new accounts is a regular user with the ability to create accounts).

If you would like a different group name for your class, or a different set of user rights for your students, please contact us at and we can set it up for you. We suggest that your students be members of both the generic "student" group and your custom course group.

Tracking student contributions

Several features of the wiki are useful for keeping track of student contributions

Page Histories

One use of the wiki is to assign students to work on specific pages. Note that these can be either existing pages we have set up, or new pages focusing on material from your course. Each of these has a page history, and the contributions of individual students can be viewed by comparing selected versions. You can keep track of what and when your students save changes.

User contributions

You can also follow what your students are doing even if you let them choose their own pages to work on. Find your students on Special:Listusers. Note that you can filter the list to see only those in the student group, or just the students in your class, if we've set up a custom group for you. When you click on the username of a student, a new link User contributions will appear in the toolbox under the search box. Clicking on it will give you a list of each contribution made by that user.

You can make links to these contributions pages and put them on another page, such as your own user page. This allows you to construct a class roster as a wiki page, where you can check what each student is doing on the wiki.

Examples and Ideas

  • We tried this with a group of students at Texas A&M University in April 2010. It was wildly successful and we were AMAZED at how productive the students were. The program has continued for several semesters and has become a successful class at Texas A&M, as well as other schools including Mississipi State University, University College London (UK), and many more! The CACAO materials have been moved to a sister wiki GONUTS. For more information, including contact information, please see CACAO on GONUTS.

Teaching students how to read the literature

Ecoliwiki has pages for every paper that has a PubMed ID. These pages are for users to contribute methods, pertinent conditions, etc. as well as to summarize and document why the literature is important. Each paper's page also has a Discussion tab, which can be used and seen by all registered users. These tabs are great places to hold on-going conversations about data or findings in the paper.

CACAO instructors have been very successful at training undergraduate and graduate students to analyze information presented in the literature; this portion of their education is vital to their success in almost any scientific field. CACAO allows students to be taught in a fun but competitive manner.

Teaching students GO annotation

This portion of the program, due to immense success, has been moved to CACAO on GONUTS and now any protein in the UniProt database can be annotated.

Having students build pages about systems

EcoliWiki encourages contribution at all levels, and research findings can easily be contributed to the appropriate Ecoliwiki page. Information on genes, proteins, strains, phage and other topics in our wiki are always welcome.