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pdf P18: Collaborative ORM Data Modeling: Educational Experience using a Wiki

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Date Added: 01-28-2008

Abstract This case study reports on a classroom experience using a Wiki to design an ORM data model. Student teams developed ORM diagrams and were to present them in a top down unfolding fashion along with an accompanying narrative description. Data modeling is typically a group effort involving several user domain subject matter experts. No one individual knows everything, but collaboration can capture their collective knowledge. In a large metropolitan area, the students were widely dispersed and most worked full time. This made face-to-face meetings difficult. Increasingly in practice, data modeling is done by virtual teams where members cannot meet to generate and review design ideas. Hence, there is a need for tools and an infrastructure to facilitate collaboration in virtual teams. Wikis have been used successfully for mass collaboration. Students are increasingly likely to encounter Wikis in their working world. Hence, the purpose of the assignment -- use a Wiki to develop and document an ORM data model. While there was considerable variation in the organization of Wiki pages across four teams, the most striking similarity was the inclusion of a Wiki page to collect elementary facts. This would attest to the central importance of this step in any data modeling effort, to gather information requirements and business rules. However, this classroom experience showed some serious limitations using a Wiki for small team collaboration in which there is some specific end product. The result goes beyond just the documentation itself to produce a well-defined database.

Author  Gordon C Everest, Professor Emeritus of MIS & DBMS, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota, geverest@umn.edu

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