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An advisory group of 25 counsellors from regional stakeholder networks in adult education and counsellors working at schools, universities and public labour market service support the platform's design and improvement; the Federal Ministry of Education funds the project.
bib-wiki supports the systematic exchange of information among educational counsellors primarily working with adults, independent where and how these work. This refers to all sorts of information principally relevant during the counselling process, including informal knowledge and experiences gained within day-to-day practices. In that sense, bib-wiki provides a supra-institutional knowledge management platform in the field of educational adult counselling, thereby enabling professional exchange across organisational boundaries.
Beyond this, selected online content is made available to the general public. Particular emphasis is given to reaching out particularily to those population groups who are less likely to access available offerings for further education, e.g. migrants and social at risk groups.elected online content is made available to the public; the initiative pursues a low-threshold approach towards information access, aiming in particular at population groups who are less likely to access further education.
To this end, bib-wiki aims at providing concrete answers to a wider range of questions typically arising in the context of further education, thereby utilising easy language and where meaningful terminology typically used by a lay person rather than educational experts.
The platform relies on labour market information which is crowd-sourced from educational counsellors who work in diverse institutional settings throughout the country. They are supported by a small editorial team which helps in gathering and editing suitable online content.
A diverse range of information is made available within a password-protected area of the online platform, which is accessibly to educational counsellors throughout the country upon prior registration. All content is made available in terms of online wiki articles generated by the bib-wiki expert users’ community. Many contributions published by bib-wiki community members include hyperlinks to information and online tools available from external sources. These range for instance from web sites of organisations addressing particular target groups (e.g. refugees, people with disabilities or victims of domestic violence) over downloadable documents (e.g. literature) up to retrievable databases and online tools maintained by third parties (e.g. an educational data base operated by Euroguidance Austria).
Selected information is made available in terms of a publicly accessible area of the overall online platform. This part provides low-threshold information on opportunities for further education in terms of short statements bringing information to the point from the perspective of the user’s needs and interests. More extensive information is linked to these statements, e.g. on how to improve own skills, obtain school-leaving qualifications, find vocational training opportunities and many other aspects. Beyond this, information on how to deal with frequently experienced obstacle towards utilising educational offerings is provided, e.g. when it comes to caring responsibilities, psychological problems and financial liabilities.
- Upon request, expert users are provided with a password protected personal account and are enabled to add content or correct existing information online;
- Features for printing and forwarding of articles are provided;
- A dedicated functionality for initiating online discussions is provided;
- Online features are available to professional counsellors across the country by means of an ordinary internet connection;
- Expert users regularly receive an e-mail alert on content that has been added or updated. Care is taken that the expert users are not overloaded with information.
In numbers, currently, about 500 counsellors are registered as expert users and the overall number of users, including the publicly accessible part of the platform, has increased to almost 2 000 per month.
From qualitative perspective, users seem to value the straight forward availability of information, also suggesting that the flexibility of the informational crowdsourcing approach helps in quickly responding to newly emerging information requirements. The platform brings together a great wealth of information in one place, interlinking a large number of otherwise unconnected third-party information sources in a thematically driven manner. The networking approach facilitates mutual exchange among counsellors and knowledge transfer across organisations, contributing to the improvement of the service quality in the domain more generally.
Evaluation process: practitioners have been involved in the development of the platform right from the beginning. A user survey was also conducted at an early stage. Qualitative feedback by users is regularly collated at the occasion of Cafés, workshops and other events.
- Directly responds to the realities of a complex and scattered service landscape prevailing in;
- Serves the needs of counsellors and professionals;
- Editorial team supports registered experts in generating content, while actively promotes opportunities for further education of the counsellors themselves;
- Involvement of a diverse range of practitioners in the development from the beginning;
- Conceptual approach adopted towards structuring the information provided through the portal along the line of practical questions which typically arise in the context of educational counselling;
- Complementary onsite networking measures in terms of local/regional cafes;
- Endorsement by the Ministry of Education.
Time and capabilities required for contributing high quality content needs to be properly estimated.
Not all counsellors are familiar with the concept of an online wiki.
Occasionally, institutions active in the field seem reluctant to allow staff to share knowledge across organisational boundaries.
The initiative was mainly triggered by the demand of counselling practitioners working within a rather scattered institutional provider landscape. Generally, educational counselling tends to provided by different types of organisations and in a diverse range of organisational settings throughout the country. The approach towards a provider-neutral knowledge management tool for educational counsellors in terms of an online wiki was politically endorsed by the Federal Government in terms of repeated project funding.
No information available on the overall costs involved in the development and maintenance. The personal resources of the editorial team are estimated to 0.5 full time equivalents per year.
bib-wiki was developed and is maintained by a non-profit organisation; the management and editorial team comprises two employees. Onsite networking events are organised with voluntary support by expert community members. A dedicated advisory group of 25 members supports the initiative on a voluntary basis.
- Online platform relying upon commonly available open source wiki software (MediaWiki);
- Accessible by the users through a publicly available URL in terms of a web service, i.e. without requiring any particular software components being installed locally.
- Mutual exchange and further online engagement of registered expert users facilitated by locally/regionally organized on-site events and awareness rising;
- The combination of offline and online engagement means strengthens professional ties between bib-wiki expert users and represents a motivational incentive for contributing online.
- Re-launch of the existing online interface to increase the current level of usability through a more appealing end user interface;
- Connect the bib-wiki platform with the national portal on further education maintained under the auspice of the Federal Ministry of Education to facilitate the utilisation of the content by further users and to improve findability by search engines.