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According to Wikipedia, a wiki is a type of website that allows the visitors themselves to easily add, remove, otherwise edit and change some available content, sometimes without the need for registration. This ease of interaction and operation makes a wiki an effective tool for collaborative authoring.

Wiki's are a great tool for environments that need to engage in a team atmosphere. Some of these groups can include teachers with their students, librarians, co-workers, and in our case, a group of grad students collaborating on a Wiki about the "Round barns of Indiana."

Virtual Conferencing

For the creation of this wiki, we collaborated by organizing a virtual conference. Our team began collaborating on our University Oncourse site. Oncourse, (Oncourse CL) provides Indiana University students, faculty, and staff with a powerful environment in which to collaborate and learn.

Using Oncourse, our team organized a date and time to hold a virtual conference using AOL instant messenger. There were conflicts with the first meeting. One team member did not have AIM and missed the meeting. Also, there were personal conflicts for several team members. Some were going on, or coming back from vacation, and with deadlines looming we had to decide quickly on a topic and decide how to divide work. We realized that this is often a conflict in working environments.

All together, our team conducted three virtual conferences (Conference #1, Conference #2, Conference #3) as well as conferring back and forth on Oncourse and through e-mails. Our first meeting consisted of finalizing the topic, "round barns of Indiana," and deciding on how we were going to work on the project and not overlap our individual pages with repetitive information. Since we came from different areas of Indiana, we decided to focus on our particular regions and the round barns within them. Additionally, we decided to research unusual stories that might be of interest and possibly unknown to the audience. For example, some team members created pages on, the grandson of a barn builder, Amish Acres Round Barn Theater, barn wandering, bicycling ride to a round barn, round barn shapes, and round barn businesses.

Our second virtual conference was basically a meeting to touch base with each other and discuss our progress. One member could not be there and her daughter sat in for her and recorded the information. This is one plus to virtual conferencing. If one is not available, it may be easy to have a friend or family member stand in for the missing member. In other words, in a meeting held at a school, library, or in an office this would not be so easy to do. We decided at this meeting that whatever we repeated as far as information that we would edit and expand when needed. We also decided to each add to the home page and this page.

Our third meeting consisted of finalizing any issues that may have been missed and to see how we were all progressing. By the third meeting, each team member had completed their specific requirements. One team member was on vacation and could not be present for the meeting, but this team member had completed all of the requirements days before. As a team, we are all pleased with what we had accomplished without ever organizing or meeting in person, such as in the case of traditional group projects. In the beginning of the project, frustrations and tension filled the air. We, as a team, pondered if we were going to come together as a whole to complete this project, meet the deadline, and organize the site without redundancy. By the end of the project, we were thrilled and satisfied with how the site and pages came together and flowed smoothly. The site is not perfect, but it is a job well done and it proves that long distance virtual projects, meetings, and communication can be accomplished.

Why did we create a wiki on the round barns of Indiana?

Round barns of America are a vanishing landscape. In Indiana, there are roughly 100 round barns left. The round barn of Indiana is a piece of the historical landsacpe. If the round barns are not restored or maintained the round barns will vanish much like animals that face extinction. Preservation of historical landmarks is vital to our heritage, not only as Americans, but Hoosiers as well. The round barn is an unique, intriguing part of the farming culture of Indiana.
Addtionally, many organizations are striving to bring back the round barn.
Fulton County Historical Society states the following,
"Although no longer being built, the round and polygonal barns are of special interest and beauty. Many groups are working to preserve as many barns, both square and round, as possible. The National Trust for Historic Preservation and Successful Farming magazine established the BARN AGAIN! program. Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana conducts regional workshops to help spread the word that old barns can have a new and useful life, both on the farm and off. Old round barns make wonderful buildings for other purposes: theaters, restaurants, museums, club houses, antique shops, the list is limited only by your imagination. Let's save our barns!"

Why is this wiki a unique contribution?

While Dale Travis's website details round and polygonal barns from across the United States and Fulton County Historical Society highlights the Round Barn Museum, there existed no cohesive web presence on the World Wide Web which dealt solely with round barns in the state of Indiana. A search on Wikipedia returns virtually no relevant results when using the keywords of Indiana, round, and barns.

Additonally, one cannot find information on the Internet regarding the father of Indiana round barns, Benton Steele. If one is to look for Benton Steele on Wikipedia no results will surface. Information on Benton Steele can be currently found in books such as "A Round Indiana, "Round Barns in the Hoosier State," by John T. Hanou. To understand the round barns of the Hoosier state, the father of Indiana round barns requires a web presence. Steele accomplished major feats for the agricultural and farming industry at the turn of the 20th century. Thus, from a historical perspective, Benton Steele is a notable figure for round barns as well as for Indiana.

Furthermore, round barn sightseers, architectural enthusiasts of farms, round barn admirers, and patrons interested in the Hoosier landscape would appreciate the web presence of the round barns of Indiana. Information on the web regarding Indiana round barns, would allow enthusiasts to locate the barns in specific regions, obtain information from a historical and present day perspective, and view images of the round barns in their current state. As previously stated, there is limited information on the round barns of Indiana on the web. Therefore, a Wiki on the round barns of the Hoosier state is necessary.
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