Going Mobile with Wikispaces Just Got Even Better

“If I could kiss @wikispaces right now, I would! Have you looked at your wikis on an iPad today?”

We were excited to read @RhondaLuetje‘s response on Twitter and hope you feel the same! Our team knows how important it is to access their content from a variety of devices, and our most recent update has a few features that will change your mobile experience for the better.

1. Responsive Sizing

Websites sometimes look different depending on the device you’re using, and we want to make sure Wikispaces looks just as good no matter what you’re using. Now you should see much cleaner navigation with some awesome responsive sizing elements. For instance, you won’t see horizontal scrollbars on your phone and tablets while still maintaining a nice juicy large screen experience to your desktop browsers.

2. Improved Pop-Ups

Pop-up screens come up for a variety of reasons in your web world, and sometimes they can act a little funky on mobile devices. Now, with Wikispaces, they should act a bit more behaved for you on the small screen. Menus should appear and take up the entire screen, making it much easier to read, scroll, and make the customizations you need.

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Pop-ups now take up the entire screen.

3. Larger Button Targets

Screen Shot 2014-03-14 at 1.26.50 PM-1Sometimes, when we use our fingers on our mobile devices, we feel like we’re mashing the screen with huge unwieldy mitts that never get those pesky buttons to do what we want them to do.

To help with this phenomenon, our engineers have made buttons larger so they can be more easily clicked with your finger. On the navigational menu, you’ll notice all of your buttons on the side and easier to press. Sadly, they still won’t work if your fingers are in a glove or covered in Cheeto dust, but we’re working on it.

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Now larger buttons for your navigation menu!

 

4. Top Navigation

We’re nothing without our navigation – in fact, we’d be lost without it (nyuk nyuk). Now everyone gets a top navigational bar on even the smallest screens that incorporates menu items in one place. This saves precious screen space and lets you easily access all of the controls you need.

Let us know what you think at @wikispaces or help@wikispaces.com because we’re always striving to improve your experience.

Posted in Wikispaces | Leave a comment

Now Looking for Ridiculously Talented Folks to Join Our Squad!

You may have heard that we’ve recently joined forces with education powerhouse TSL Education. This is great news on many fronts. For one, it means that we’ll be expanding our team in South of Market in San Francisco, California!

WikiDoorThere are a lot of reasons you might want to join us, not just because of the fabulous array of lunchtime eateries within walking distance of our HQ. Have a listen to Eric, for instance, our Account Manager who has been with Wikispaces for 4 years. “I have the opportunity to work with an intelligent team of well-rounded, genuine people who bring a sense of purpose and humor to the office,” he notes. “While I get clear guidance from the team, every original idea is welcomed with honest advice and support. Interacting with our users, I get a real sense pride from learning about the impact our work has had on teachers, students and the larger educational community.” Eric is our first point of contact on the phone and email for our Wikispaces Campus members and he helps them design the experience they need for success at their school.

If you join our team as our Operations Manager, you’ll have all sorts of opportunities to work with Eric and the rest of our team. You’ll get to help manage our vendor relationships, run our recruiting program, manage our employee benefits programs, handle incoming payments from our customers, arrange meals and travel, handle our (simple) accounting, manage and update basic financial reports, and generally be responsible for our team being happy and productive. It’s an amazing opportunity to help shape the way our company grows.

Wikispaces has been evolving in so many exciting ways over the years, thanks in no small part to our talented team of software engineers, and now we are looking for new members to help push the platform even further. Our partnership with TSL will bring resources and a demand for all kinds of creativity. So if fun challenges are your kind of thing, you may consider becoming one of our Software Engineers. If you join the team, you’ll be designing and building new pieces of the application, working on our front-end javascript and AJAX, squeezing a few more requests/second out of our web heads, and working on our replicated databases and file storage. We’re also looking for a DevOps Engineer to help manage and scale our cloud-hosted infrastructure. Candidates must have a love for automating the things they do today so they can do more interesting things tomorrow and of course they’ll get to work with a pretty fantastic team.

Maybe you’re more into User Interface design? Perfect. Come join our team as ouUI/UX Designer and realize your vision in HTML and CSS. You’ll own our interface and will make your mark on a site with over 35 million monthly visitors and thousands of customers.

Max leads our Support efforts, and really enjoys “working in an environment that understands the value of teachers, and actively works on providing teachers with tools that make teaching more efficient and engaging.” Everything you do in Operations, Software Engineering, DevOps or UI/UX will revolve around that principle, and maybe Max will even teach you some of his krav maga moves. If you’re lucky.

Read about all of these jobs in detail at wikispaces.com/jobs and send us your CV right away if you’re talented, a great team member, and you feel like we’d be a good fit for you.

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Democratization with Digital Textbooks

Garth HolmanGarth Holman is a Middle School Social Studies teacher in Northeast Ohio and an University of Akron Professor. He and colleague Mike Pennington share ideas on at teachersfortomorrow.net on implementing 21st century skills: collaboration, risk-taking, and reflection. Follow Garth at @garthholman on Twitter and Mike at @professormike1 to continue the conversation.

 

Garth Holman teaches in Beachwood City Schools outside of Cleveland, Ohio while his partner in crime, Mike Pennington, teaches about 45 miles away. His goal is for all of his students to publish their work to the web, and his Digital Textbook , which he started 8 years ago, strives to do just that. 1,600 students at 2 schools working together to create a living, student-created textbook!

How Do Kids Build Legacy and the Capacity to Do Great Things?

Garth shares his digital textbook on Wikispaces, which he describes as a “kid’s playground,” and further explains that, “through the democratization of everyone involved, we come up with the best possible answers we can get” and you can tell that by the rich media embedded in the wiki. If you want to read more about digital textbooks and the students who create them, you can check out Alan November’s “Who Owns the Learning,” and
“The Global School” created by Ohio’s own, William Kist.

How can you get started? Garth and his students began by simply discussing the standards and the topics they were required to address by the end of the year. The first iteration was just text but soon enough the class began to brainstorm about how to make the experience more interactive. Students began adding new kinds of media to round out their digital textbooks. Pages not only contained text and images that you mind find in a regular textbook, but also YouTube videos, ThingLinks, and other interactive media elements embedded right into the wiki.

Students kept a digital record of what they edited, and the Mr. Holman, was also able to view the History of any page to see its transformation over time. All of the images are Creative Commons and the text is kid-created in kid languages, for kids! Amazingly, students would even jump online during the summer simply because they were interested in seeing what was new. Nothing has been graded on this Digital Textbook- it’s all for the intrinsic motivation of having a real audience view their work. As he quotes Dan Pink, “We’re preparing our kids for the future and not the past.” The ultimate goal? Garth says it is to make an identical copy of the book from the European perspective from a European school and showcase the different perspectives– Americans learning about European history vs. those walking by castles every day!

Wiki tips for your own textbook

The potential for new projects is just amazing– students can make music video parodies inspired by History Teacher Amy Burvall from Hawaii,Skype with an actual historian about the Decameron, share an original political cartoon, or create embeddable Thinglinks and truly build all of the content themselves. Anything you can create on the internet can be embedded or tied into your Wikispaces digital textbook, and the content your students create and curate may surprise you.

Garth also has a unique and easy way of adding students to the textbook– before he sets the wiki’s permissions to Protected (public viewing rights, but only Members can make edits) he holds an “open enrollment” period at the beginning of class where he actually takes Membership requests so that his students can quickly add themselves. Then he switches off this option, but turning it on again if he gets new students during the year. We loved this idea for taking your wiki from a place where you put content as a teacher to a place where students are contributing.

Screen Shot 2014-03-07 at 11.02.57 AM

 

Check out more of Garth sharing this work along with our other Educator Bloggers Jessica Sullivan and Timothy King from last week’s Google Plus Hangout on Air Panel: Rockstars of the Digital Classroom! Stay tuned for more panels and webinars at wikiwebinars.wikispaces.com. 

Posted in Wikispaces | 1 Response

Letter to the Wikispaces Community

TSL EducationWe are thrilled to announce that Wikispaces has been acquired by TSL Education. A few things won’t change: our entire team in San Francisco will continue to work on the platform you know and love with a true commitment to serving teachers and students. One thing will change: we are now backed by TSL’s deep resources and huge education network (read more about TSL in our acquisition announcement). This means we get to build more ambitious, more revolutionary, and more delightful products for you more quickly than ever before.

This day marks a new chapter in the story of our company. While our plans for the future are important, allow us to reflect for a moment on why we started Wikispaces and how we got here. We think it’s the best way for you to understand why this is going to be great for the education community.

We set out in 2005 on a journey to build a company that was different from many other Silicon Valley startups. We didn’t raise venture capital. We didn’t have a splashy product launch. We didn’t chase trends. We never issued a press release. Instead, we focused on positively impacting the lives of as many real people as possible. We strove to build a company with a human voice. We answered your emails and phone calls ourselves, day in and day out, to understand your needs. We built a company that was comfortable playing the long game, where success is measured by building a sustainable business making real change through technology.

Early on as we were learning who we were as a young company and product, we were surprised to discover that our most excited and engaged audience was teachers, students, librarians, parents, education technologists. We tugged on that thread, and it’s been the source of nearly all of our success ever since. Through relentless iteration we grew to serve the needs of millions of registered users, and tens of millions of monthly visitors.

All along we found our strength from you. From the feedback — both good and bad! — you sent us via email, on Twitter, in person at conferences. From the hundreds of millions of edits, uploads, and messages you’ve put on your wikis. We are in awe of how you’ve used technology inside and outside the classroom to make your lives and your students’ lives better, across every grade level, country, and subject matter imaginable.

We are extremely lucky to have found a partner as good as TSL Education. TSL is laser-focused on improving the lives of teachers around the world. In talking to Louise and her team we were excited by the similarity in our missions. And TSL has assets that we could only dream of as a small company: financial strength, an amazing and engaged community of teachers, and a broad library of educational resources.

The natural question you may be thinking is: what happens next? We will redouble our efforts to bring simple, usable, joyful technology into classrooms around the world. Our team in San Francisco will grow both in size and in ambition: we’re out to change the world of education as part of the TSL team. And we’re building applications on top of the Wikispaces platform that will surprise and delight teachers and students alike. We think you’ll love what you see.

We know that some of you will view this announcement with a feeling of trepidation. Many technology acquisitions don’t play out as planned. We ask you to judge this acquisition by our actions over the coming days and weeks and months. We’re the same team today that we were yesterday, now with a supercharged mission to better the lives of teachers and their students.

We can’t wait to take the next step in this journey with you. Keep an eye out here on our blog and on Twitter for a preview of what’s coming next. Tell a friend. Start that second or third or twentieth wiki for your classroom — we’re here to stay. And, as always, drop us a line at help@wikispaces.com. We’d love to hear from you.

The Wikispaces Team
Adam, Dom, Eric, James, Jeff, Max, and Wendy

Posted in Business, Classroom, Company, Education, Wikispaces | 6 Responses

Wikispaces is Now Part of TSL Education

TSL EducationWe are thrilled to announce that Wikispaces has been acquired by TSL Education. Joining TSL is the perfect opportunity for us to stay true to our principles and dramatically increase our ability to impact the lives of teachers worldwide. Read on for why.

First, the most important things you need to know:

1) The entire Wikispaces team is staying on board
2) We are more committed than ever to serving teachers and students
3) We are going to build more ambitious, more revolutionary, and more delightful products for you more quickly than ever before

If you don’t know much about our history, have a read of our letter to the Wikispaces community. It talks about how we’ve gotten here and how a human approach to business and a commitment to being part of the education community has been so important to our success.

We have always been committed to our principles and to doing the most good we can. When we met the TSL Education team last year, we realized that we had a rare opportunity. We could stay true to our principles, deliver a level of value to our community that we could never deliver alone, and do so at enormous scale extremely quickly. That’s because TSL is run by exceptional people and because combining their assets with ours is going to produce incredible products for the education community.

Like us, TSL has a mission that is focused on teachers. “We believe that teachers around the world are the single most important influence on a child’s education and that they need to access the very best content and resources to inspire their students.” Very often in the education industry teachers are seen as a means to an end, a stepping stone — or worse — an impediment to getting to the real customer. TSL has built its success on serving teachers. This focus on and commitment to teachers shouldn’t be rare, but it is.

TSL has managed to balance a long history of operational and financial success with being a deeply innovative company. Since being founded as The Times Educational Supplement in The Times newspaper in 1902, TSL has accomplished a rare feat several times over: adapting to and evolving with a changing world. In recent times it has been extremely successful migrating its teacher recruitment business from print to digital and at the same time has built the largest online network of teachers in the world. And that network isn’t just noise. Teachers download over 20 million pieces of teacher-built lesson content on TSL’s platform every month. We’ve had a chance to take a close look from the inside and it’s just a remarkable community doing great work at large scale.

What we are going to do with the combination of a large and vibrant teacher generated library of teaching resources and our classroom collaboration platform is going to be groundbreaking. Those of you who know our Wikispaces Classroom platform deeply will be able to divine some of the genuinely exciting things we’re going to build for teachers. And being backed by a group of smart, committed people, who have significant resources and a strong belief in our team and approach means that we’ll be able to move far more quickly than we ever have before.

Some of you may be skeptical, thinking that this acquisition may affect our ability to continue to serve teachers as we always have, or that it might change our focus so that we can no longer be the partners to the education community we have prided ourselves on being. To those concerns all we can say is “watch what happens.” In the next months you’re going to see an even more focused Wikispaces team, an even better Wikispaces Classroom experience, and a whole lot of good stuff that we could never have built for you without a partner like TSL.

Those of you who know us know how passionate we are about the company we’ve built and the relationship we have with all of you. We are so excited about this next step in our growth and what we’re going to be able to do together.

Thank you, sincerely, from everyone in the Wikispaces team, for all of your help. We would not have gotten here without you. And we won’t be able to take this next step without you either. Please continue to be as vocal as you have always been and let us know what you need, what we’re doing well, and what we aren’t. And let’s build great things together.

The Wikispaces Team
Adam, Dom, Eric, James, Jeff, Max, and Wendy

Posted in Business, Classroom, Company, Education, Wikispaces | 6 Responses
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