Case Study (Learning Management): Dennis Daniels

Big pages like this could certainly benefit from the title/edit link as found in wikipedia look to the right of the page

I've been using Tiki for managing my high school English class here in California... http://www.dennisgdaniels.com/tiki-index.php. I'm grateful and encouraged by all of the people who have been contacting me about Tiki in the classroom. Please feel free to leave me a message here or on my site. I try to update this page weekly to share my impressions of how Tiki does and does not meet my needs as an educator faced with the real world problems of:

assignment management

    • portfolio building: all contributions to a Tiki site by a student needs to be tracked and a way to 'print' a report with all contributions so that a student can 'walk' away with all of the work ever done for a class

test management

    • The PluginMiniQuiz offers great promise for teachers in creating databased linked quizzes. The trackers provide the backbone for this new plugin. Conversion of the text questions can be partially handled by the PluginRegex which is now in CVS.


feedback management

    • particularly peer review management
    • anonymous and volunteer reviewing
      • in a public school environment there are a number of adults who could help with the review process as long as the document creator/ writer was made anonymous.
    • peer review
      • critical to maintain teacher sanity is a way to 'farm off' paper reviews to peers... so making viewing of assignments anonymous is very important... there's no human way to read 100+ papers in a reasonable amount of time

learning management

  • lesson plan development and management
    • standards based lesson development is the norm now in the States, a tracker could be used to build assignments


There are few who can appreciate the demands of a teacher but imagine if you can, managing and grading 140+ individual documents across five groups of ~30 people daily. Tiki has all of the components needed to manage this huge amount of input and output but, as yet, there are critical elements missing to make it a real solution for full time use in the classroom.

There are a number of features that make Tiki an almost ideal solution for many of the day to day issues teachers face. Instant editing, sharing of content easily with other teachers, parents and students. Entire department curricula could easily be built and shared using Tiki as it is now. But, teachers are overworked and do not want to use yet another tool that doesn't integrate assignment submission tracking, grading and reporting. There are literally hundreds of tools that meet parts of what a teacher 'really' needs. I don't claim full connaissance of all the issues all teachers face. But, I do have years of experience at the corporate and public school education level and the issues are the same.

I use Tiki as a classroom document support system. I'm encouraging other teachers to share their work using my site, to develop a dynamic curriculum management and distribtion system. However, I would very much like to move Tiki to a full blown assignment work place and submittal interface.

Why Tiki? Well, it's a CMS and a wiki. Each document wiki page has a history, supports comments, attachments and a one-to-one or one-to-many relationship with authors. As an English teacher, I need to see that students are revising and rethinking their work. The smileys you see in the edit window could easily be modified to be grammatical correction marks... The spellcheck is built in and of course the templates... I could easily assign students a page with a template so that all content can look the same to facilitate grading... But, Wiki's are not designed to be controlled in the way I've just described therefore, the first problem with using a wiki as an education tool: one student to one page i.e. permission control.

Permission problems

siridhar: Is it possible to give edit permisson to only those tracker items that a registered user created?

Siridhar is asking the very nugget of the question that is now plaguing me as a teacher trying to implement Tiki in the classroom. I'd really like to have each student do the same bit of work using tiki so that I can see who has done what but also be able to keep that homework private until after the assignment time has closed and passed... i.e. no one should be able to see a page created by anyone else until after the paper has been graded...

Grading should be done by scores and rubrics... much like the voting system.. the voting needs to be tracked to the assignment and the student. The grading could easily be handled with Tiki's built in voting system, a kind of rubric, or a scoring system, but it is not there yet.

The community mod

Mose has put together a Community workflow in preparation. Each member of the tikiwiki community that the page http://tikiwiki.org/whois is only reachable with proper rights (for the curious, it's an apache rewrite-rule that goes to /tiki-g-run_activity.php?activityId=33). This little piece of genius might be the fixt I've been looking for in terms of restricting some Tiki content to specific groups.


Extranet 'hack' and wiki pages

A conversation I had with Murphy Mc

murphy: Would you want students posting any public Wiki pages?
dgd public wiki pages? well I'd want to make the pages public after a while
dgd that way I can build a larger library of materials to use ...
dgd but, no, I don't think I'd want them to ever have direct access to wiki pages without first meeting my approval
dgd I don't want them writing things that would get me or them in trouble

I wouldn't call it a hack necessarily but Murphy ))McCauley(( has put together some code that makes the extranet idea a reality. Here it is, paste it into tiki-index right above the "// Let creator set permissions" line. Same should be done for the other two index pages.

This bit of code sets particularly for individuals in a group.


if($wiki_creator_admin != 'y') {
$tempGroups = $userlib->get_user_groups($user);
if (in_array('teachers', $tempGroups) == false) { // not a teacher accessing
$tempGroups = $userlib->get_user_groups($creator);
if (in_array('students', $tempGroups)) { // creator is a student
if ($user != $creator) { // accessing user is not the creator (or admin)!
$smarty->assign('msg',tra("Sorry, but this page is not public."));

It's only implemented in tiki-index.php at the moment (not in _p or _raw), BTW. Not that it'd be hard to do the other two. And search would turn up results in other students' pages. Not sure what to do about that.
And, this works for any wiki page!

it's not configurable in anyway. On the up-side, it doesn't require any changes to the database at all. And will work with existing users. Just throw students in the students group, teachers into the teachers group.

Create a group 'students' and then assign my students to that group then assign myself and my TeacherAssistants to group 'teacher'.

Two groups. The groups are 'students' and 'teachers', one teacher

I've tested the above code on Murphy's site and it worked...

Articles as a way of tracking student homework assignments?=-

I was originally looking at using the articles as the submission interface because it has a rudimentary permissions system but there was no way for the person who submitted the article to edit the article to review the article without setting each article's permission individually... Imagine that kind of work with 140+ students times five every week. Impossible. Now imagine a school of 1,200 or 2,400 or larger.

  1. student submits an article (selecting preformatted template)
  2. teacher reviews it
  3. teacher sends notice back for correction to the student
  4. student recieves notification via tikimessaging with URL to edit article
  5. student edits article
  6. teacher recieves notification of article being submitted
  7. teacher then approves for the site

This would require that some kind of tracking would need to be implemented on the use of templates... template #1 equals assignment #1 that would write into a tracker for a rudimentary gradebook...

article and tracker

So, Siridhar's suggestion makes more sense in a way, so I can track the assignment number (critical!) and the person who submitted the tracker because the tracker essentially becomes the drop point... and the homework tracker.

Trackers are becoming the real way to handled all of the issues I'm having as a teacher trying to manage homework assignments... but at this time the CVS tiki is not really robust enogh to handle the demands of 140 users submitting documents daily...

I've been testing Microsoft Classroom Server and I'm here to tell you... there's nothing in that app that Tiki doesn't already do... it's just that tiki doesn't use all of the tools in an integrated fashion.


Submitting files is a bad way to handle homework

If for no other reason that file uploads is busted in cvs 1.8 though I need to test the file storage instead of db storage.But, also because there is no direct linkage to the person who submitted the homework... it requires a lot more clicking, setting of app and browser preferences, funky file types etc. Don't use file uploads as a homework catcher in Tikiwiki!

I thought submitting files was the way to go...but that turned into a nightmare because if I replied to a student's .doc or .html I would have to open another application... type in their email etc... that was a bad way to go and since stopped taking files as .doc or .html... so, bringing us back to using tiki for homework drop... All it really needs is a way to make sure that the person who creates an article or page or tracker is the only person who can view it until the admin clears it as open... This is a major major item... Maybe going with trackers might solve it... All I know is that the students like Tiki, the parents like it, the teachers and administration like it, everyone likes it but me(no, I like tiki), the teacher, because the most basic functionality of a secured place to create a document is not available in tiki.

File upload minimum criteria

At minimum to make file upload usable in a classroom:

  • ftp for folders
  • tracking by user upload, sortable, data passed to tracker or handled through tracker
  • would like students to upload homwork into a tracker so that I can clearly see who has done the homework
    • the student would fill out the tracker like a survey so as to verify that the correct assignment was done and all the necessary information was included
    • this information would be written to a tracker/ reporting system that would send emails to parent's email addresses notifiying them that their child has not done an assignment

file attachment

When a new file is attached to a page it needs to show up as a page modified. The file upload format extension needs to be controlled so as to prevent students from uploading undesired formats.

  • I would like to categorize each file gallery listing by the type of assignment
    • file galleries should use the same categories as the pages so as to minimize redundancy and re-entering categories

Still searching for a secure but flexible homework interface

I need a place to send the students in tiki that can be tracked and secured from other students eyes until I've had a chance to grade it... I'd like to have a tracking number group... All students do assignment 37 so I'll need to track all of the students who have completed assigment 37 in the tracker... Ideally the tracker is the assignment interface... that would make it much easier in some ways...


TikiMessage is the only way I can use Tikiwiki and still maintain security over plagiarizing students and is perhaps the worst way to approach this problem. Yes, the humble email interface was my prime way of handling homework... there's nothing about the tikimessaging that makes my job as a teacher using Tiki any easier to handle homework... but it's the only secure interface where I know students cannot read other works and blatantly steal homework from one another...And often, students and teachers do not have access to POP accounts on school sites. Since moving to a more secure environment where only the teacher and the student can see the work the amount of cheating i.e. copying other's work has gone down significantly.

Tiki messaging needs the following things to make it a workable choice for accepting homework:

  • filters by user id
  • folders by user id
  • the same wiki editing interface as found on a wiki page
    • preview
    • spell check
    • html support
    • etc
  • grammatical smilies (cusomization options for smiilies is a long standing request)
  • threading of messages
  • status of message: replied is a big one

I would like to see a mapping of the messages that are being sent between users too... This is to track potential copying (plagiarism) among students.


Tiki directories for a teacher needs:

  • tracking of user id submitting directory link
  • watches to notify that a link has been submitted

I'm using the directory as part of my students' homework, to get them used to researching on the web. However, there is no way for me to easily identify the people who have submitted the sites... please include a field with the submitters name and the ability to send them an instant message with the contents or the URL of the dirrectory listing.... they can't edit their directory listing can they!? Darn!


MindmeldDev would be a great tool to integrate into integrate into tiki.

This is all old hat

Many of the issues identified below have already been identified here: http://tikiwiki.org/TikiUsability

Back to the perms problem

The number one thing that is really lacking right now is a good permissions system. I cannot assign electronic worksheets/forms to students because I've no way of making sure that only person, me!, can view it. Without strong permissions, any student can view and copy the work of another student.

The wiki pages make it very nice to view who has edited what, but without a tracking system I can't see who has been looking at what... only registered users should be able to view some documents... tracking who looks at what deters the obvious cheaters. Students are often very clever about cheating... so clever one wonders why they don't apply that cleverness to doing the homework. lol

The interest in using Tiki is high among my peers. The next biggest thing is the testing/ quizzes and surveys tools... there is a lot there that could be improved upon which would increase buy-in from other schools

    • I've been 'awarded' a new classroom and (hopefully) a server to run an English dept. intranet... I want to use Tiki but again, there are some limitations in Tiki that make it 'merely' a support tool rather than a curriculum development and delivery tool

setting up accounts for students

Don't use students full names... use their first name and then the initial of their last name... Build a cvs import file too so that you can take the whole bunch and load them into the right groups by classes.

  • mose has posted a possible fix via galaxia that I need to test


Perms are tricky... you want students to add materials but you don't want them vandalizing... Furthermore, the biggest issue is getting students to submit stuff but not making that available to anyone but the admin and a maybe a teacher assistant... naturally this begs a question of gradebooks... see below for that.



Use the tracker
Being able to quickly see globally what is happening in the class is very important.

Use the spelling database

The spelling feature has been dead for some time cry
Track the number of spelling errors that students make and generate spelling quizzes from that data.
I'm getting ready to pay someone to fix the spell check interface. It's not worked since 1.5 if I remember correctly and it's killing me and my site's reputation, as I've so many students submitting documents that have spelling errors. I'd really like to see a logging device against the user who has the most spelling errors.


  • I would like to assign quizzes to students who have scored low on a paper or quiz
  • I would like to have the students create the quizzes and questions
    • I want other students to view the submissions but make the submitter's name anonymous... The students will vote on and correct the quiz submissions
  • By far the most critcal part in US schools right now is testing students to accurately place them by skill level... I really want to see students submitting questions for quizzes...
  • Quiz questions need to be submitted for appoval... on submit the registered users name gets a notch in their card... for submitted questions and questions that get approval
  • CSV upload... enable a way to use CSV files for quizzes
  • each user who takes the quiz needs to be tracked back a db to verify homework completion

remote loading of quiz data

It's not perfect but it offers teachers a way of sharing quizzes across the internet. The bummer though is that keduca has not been ported to Winblows. It'll only work with *nix or OSX installs.

Perhaps a keduca import formula for integration?


Surveys could be a great way to get homework done digitally but currently the surverys don't support tracking who did what...

  • the surveys don't use the same category system as the tiki pages so there is no way of linking lesson plans created in the wiki to the support surveys.



I've discovered recently that forums can be very useful in getting students/users up to speed very quickly. Forums though need help. Anything that allows admin to rate / vote / grade a document without having to 'open' the doc. the better.




  • I would like to be able to push events into students calendars and task list
  • setting events by group and by category is also important
  • providing URLs to support information about an event is also pretty necessary
  • a more 'calendar like' interface for the month view
  • set calendar variables by odd blocks... 55 minute blocks...templates by days...there are at least three different schedules on my campus...each altering the amount of time in the classroom... students, parents, teachers and admin all have to juggle these variables.
    • rally/ assembly days
    • short days
    • regular days

Calendar For classroom applications, the Calendar needs a major upgrade. How could this feature (or a new, separate Calendar-like feature) best serve educational needs?

Big big issue... I need to get the calendar for the entire year as well down to the minute in the classroom. The students, the teachers, the parents and the admin need up to minute stuff. The trick with calendars, a schedule might last one 55 minute section or across a week. And each of those days should contain links to the

  • homework
  • lesson plan
  • standard addressed in the lesson

tracking and grading

Now, I've been using trackers almost exclusively for managing of the homework drops. Big issues though around the trackers, even though they are super cool!


  • easy to create

Take all of these cons with a grain of salt. I'm approaching the trackers from a teachers' perspective nor are they meant to be critical of all the great work that has gone into the trackers already! biggrin


  • no adding of values yet
  • categorizing as of today 29mar4 doesn't work
    • I've over 80 trackers and my users can't find the trackers they need to do the assignment...
  • file parsing of the templates
    • if the trackers supported a file upload and parsing mechanism... wow! That would really help in creating standards and templates for the trackers... admins could create dozens of templates and then their users could modify the templates to fit small change needs but maintain the same needed configs for viewing, perms and layout
  • load time
    • I get 20-30 users on tiki at the same time and the site begins to really crawl

The tracker needs to have a date and an assignment number with the standard addressed.
Tracker could be used to satisfy a lot of stuff... namely homework submittal... see http://tikiwiki.org/tiki-index.php?page=TrackersDev for more info
clearly without some way of measuring who did what then you can't evaluate it... and those evaluations must be tracked as well... meaning some kind of grade book system
trackers could be very useful for building course work by standard... needs to be more thoroughly investigated


Course management features are needed, but these should go beyond merely creating new database tables (and appropriate input/output pages) to record or display grades. What do educators need from this feature? How could grade input features be incorporated into workflow management?


What changes or enhancements are needed to Tiki''s permissions model in order to facilitate classroom use?

Trackers? How would Tiki's Trackers feature need to be enhanced in order to facilitate course management tasks, such as managing attendance records?


Workflow? Much of what instructors do involves workflow: students submit work; instructors read this work, make comments, and determine a grade; the grade is recorded; and the work is returned to the student. How could Tiki's workflow features be adapted, customized, or enhanced to make workflow applications easily accessible and transparent to users?


Network Learning

See the quizzes above too.
The most critical elements in no particular order:

  • preparing materials for network usage
    • clearly a form based interface is crucial for sanity...
  • training students on network navigation
    • preparing movies and multiple demos
    • Training TAs to assist during class
    • installation of screen grabbing software so students can prepare their own HOWTOs
  • training students on using computers and the accompanying problem solving strategies
  • networked based projects


  • paperless
  • student concentration
  • access to tools to support learning : web, mindmapping, text editors, typing programs, etc.


  • navigating the network
  • pairing students on projects
  • passwords
  • technical support

I don't know if it's worth getting into the administration aspect of the network or not from a teachers' perspective... if so then:

  • webmin
  • ssh
  • NFS
  • network homework drop boxes


Tips and tricks if you're still interested

Don't do this:
Period One Sophomore English
Period Four Sophomore English

If you've only got one prep then keep all instructions for the same day the same. Just update as needed.

Sharing classes between separate installs

Moodle offers a very cool and extraordinary interface for saving out chunks of a class which could then be used in another moodle install. (The yes/no rolldowns should be radio buttons.)

Here are the results.
output of save
final output can be used for other classes
the backups don't create new classes


Page last modified on Friday 08 October 2004 16:37:20 GMT-0000