At Canisius we have a wiki, referred to by its brand name as “Confluence,” or “the Canisius Wiki.” A wiki is a web space or set of spaces that allows many participants to collaboratively create, edit, and display a variety of information, images, video, and links. Users can do so within their web browser, without specialized development tools or skills.
Probably Wikipedia is the most famous of all wikis but the Canisius wiki is a bit different from that global-scale encyclopedia. Many Canisius wiki spaces and pages may be available on the web to the entire world, but other spaces and pages may be viewable only by certain individuals, such as members of project teams, departments, or offices. Our Canisius wiki is typical, however, in that it is quite easy to use. Unlike other web development toolsets commonly used to build and maintain websites, people with little or no web development experience can quickly add text, hyperlinks and other media.
This makes Confluence perfect for Canisius College units making information available to the general public (or really the campus community), or maintaining a set of documentation spaces exclusively for members of that unit. You’ve probably been in the wiki, if you’ve been sent a link from a department or office that points to a web resource they maintain. You can reach the wiki’s home screen, or “lobby,” here: wiki.canisius.edu.
In some ways, Confluence is similar to Google Drive and related apps. But Google Drive is better for sharing and collaborating inside files in a format not unlike traditional storage, in folder trees. By contrast, the wiki displays pages more like other websites. This makes Confluence better for creating documentation that users can more quickly and easily navigate. As on news or shopping websites, visitors to a Confluence wiki space need no special familiarity with it in order to read or see content.
Many campus employees are aware that this role was fulfilled in the past by ANGEL, our learning management system. Groups still exist in Desire2Learn, but D2L is less suited for this task, as it is more focused on supporting courses. In D2L administrative group management and collaborative work (outside coursework) aren’t easy, and sharing with anyone outside enrolled membership is simply impossible.
Offices, departments, programs, and project teams of various kinds looking for an easy-to-update webspace for documentation or instructional material should consider Confluence. COLI maintains a tutorial reference, “Getting Started in Confluence,” that teaches new users how to create and manage content, but also demonstrates what the wiki can do.
In 2017, COLI and ITS are working together to make the wiki even easier to use, to with intuitive navigation, push-button features, and better tutorials.
If you’re ready to use Confluence in your office, department, or project group, just let us know. We’d be glad to help you set things up!