Wiki for Data Modeling

Collaborative Data Modeling: Experience Using a Wiki

Presents an overview and taxonomy of collaborative mechanisms, then presents experiences with students in groups using a Wiki for a comprehensive data modeling project. Points up some significant weaknesses when using a Wiki for data modeling,. Overcoming the weaknesses presents some challenges to the developers of data modeling tools.

TIME: - Comfortable in 1 hour; 2 hours allows an extended discussion with attendees on their use of collaborative mechanisms, and what needs to change to provide effective collaboration to virtual teams.

WHERE: International Workshop on Object-Role Modeling, Algarve, Portugal, 2007/11; MnIPS (Minnesota Information Professional Society), 2008; DAMA Minnesota chapter, 2009; DAMA International EDW Symposium, 2009 (rating 8.14/10).


Have you struggled with how to facilitate the functioning of database design teams where the subject matter experts are geographically temporally dispersed? Accepting the fact that data modeling is generally a team effort, the challenge is to provide effective collaboration tools for "virtual" teams. A Wiki is one possible collaborative development environment (CDE, as defined by Grady Booch). While a Wiki has some great advantages, we discovered that it also has some serious limitations.

This presentation describes the experience of using Wikis in a classroom environment in which the students were mostly professionals in a large metropolitan area. The logistics of face-to-face meetings were very difficult, hence the need for a collaboration tool, just as would be in an organizational setting. Come and learn about the advantages of a Wiki, and the unexpected problems using a Wiki. This presentation will highlight some suggestions for what you can do to increase the effectiveness of Wikis for data modeling in virtual teams.

* Brief overview and comparison of several collaboration mechanisms and tools, both old and new

* Fundamental Objectives and Characteristics of a Wiki environment

- how do they fit the nature of a data modeling task?

* Rationale and Conduct of the Data Modeling Assignment

* Resulting Observations and Outcomes

- Advantages of using a Wiki - how it can help

- Problems using a Wiki, and how to minimize those problems.

* Recommendations to maximize the effectiveness of using Wikis in virtual data modeling teams.


This presentation is based on experiences in my advanced database design class, which is taught to both MIS majors in the business school as well as to working professionals. Increasingly, data modeling is done in virtual teams. Hence, I felt it necessary to give my students some sort of experience using a collaboration environment. A comprehensive Wiki environment has recently been introduced a the University of Minnesota, so it provided a unique opportunity for a student experience. There were some surprises, at least given my expectations. In particular, some serious limitations emerged and has caused me to explore what needs to be done to overcome those limitations and make Wikis a more effective collaboration tool for data modeling projects.