As I set out in my last post, I couldn’t get any work done whilst I was away in Texas due to ‘technical issues’… but that didn’t stop me from thinking about what I wanted to do when I got home. And so, after the emails had been answered at work and a few other pressing meetings were sorted, I settled down in my office to put together some finishing touches on my wiki idea.
The idea is fairly simple – to create a wiki related to our course and to then allow students on the course to be able to write the wiki under some broad headings, with me acting as moderator of the wiki to ensure that it provides accurate information. The idea has two learning outcomes – to provide information for future students who can use it as a resource, but also to help those students who are actually creating the wiki to learn as they are doing… I have always believed that one of the best ways to learn something yourself is when you have to try to explain it to someone else. So, all was prepared, I just needed to include the students into the process – by giving them editing rights they could then start to work on the wiki.
So, I just had to invite my students onto the site and give them editing rights – how hard could that be? A quick look at the ‘Help’ menu and it would be done… that was 8am this morning. The next few hours were spent trying to do this! Why? Because Instruction 1 said ‘select sharing permission’ in the menu (managed that in about two seconds) and Instruction 2 said ‘enter email addresses of recipients into the text box and choose whether they have editing rights or not’… but there is no text box! Try it again, same thing, no text box. Refresh the screen, no text box. Check every single thing in the menu to see if I have clicked on the wrong page… no text box. Call in several other people throughout the day, explain the issue to them, let them have a go at following the instructions… no text box. Search online in general help forums, watch YouTube videos, everything starts with ‘Just select Sharing Permission and put email addresses in the text box’… it seems that everyone in the world has this bloody text box but me!
By now I’m trying to decide whether to cry or throw my computer through a window – my really good idea is about to crumble because I can’t find this stupid text box. And then one of my colleagues said, pretty much as a throwaway line as we were leaving work ‘with the way our IT has been lately it’s probably the university system that is screwing it up’… could that be the answer? Because we don’t have administrative rights on our office computers we are doomed to a life of using Internet Explorer… but the wiki is being designed in Google Sites… could it be a compatibility issue?
As soon as I got home I dug out my laptop, fired up Google Chrome and headed straight to the website. Into the Sharing Permission menu and… there it is, the legendary text box! I put a couple of friends’ email addresses into it, sent it to them and within a couple of minutes they both had access (including editing) to the site. The feeling of relief was immense… but also the incredible feeling of frustration that I had wasted an entire day on something that should have only taken seconds. I’m still not sure if I should have figured out the problem earlier or not – even if I had I couldn’t have done anything about it at work… but I could have got on with something that I actually could do whilst I was there instead of achieving nothing.
I still don’t know if this browser issue is going to create problems for my students when they access the wiki… I guess we’ll find out about that one later on down the line. But I have learned two things today – Internet Explorer is crap when it comes to using Google Sites, and the university needs to give staff the ability to use multiple browsers if just using one can create such problems.