Digital skills for collaborative OER development/Wiki skills/OER reuse and remix

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OER reuse and remix using wiki technology

The OERu is distinctively open and fosters open design and peer collaboration models to maximise reuse and remix.
In this course we will use wiki technology for collaborative authoring of OER and we provide a brief explanation highlighting the benefits of this approach.

Learning Management Systems (LMSs) like Blackboard, Canvas, Desire2Learn, Moodle and Sakai are widely used by institutions of higher education as their preferred technologies for elearning. Some institutions use blogs and other website technologies for publishing and hosting online courses.

While many of these software tools support interoperability specifications and standards for importing content into their respective systems including, for example, the IMS Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI), IMS Common Cartridge and SCORM, exporting content from these learning management systems for reuse across different delivery technologies is not universally supported. Moreover, these LMS tools were not primarily designed for collaborative authoring and reuse on scale.

Practical challenges

In the OER world, implementing a peer collaboration model for OER design and development for reuse across multiple delivery platforms poses a number of practical challenges:

  1. How do we provide a 'single source' of content which can be easily integrated into a wide range of delivery technologies?
  2. How do we manage version control in an open collaborative development environment?
  3. How do we design for scalability for large numbers of prospective learners?

The wiki OER authoring solution

In a global collaboration like the OERu, it is unlikely that all partners would agree to using the same learning management system. Moreover, if we were to use a learning management system for collaborative authoring, if one academic were to make a change to the course materials, it would not be easy for the other members of the team to monitor and manage the detail of these changes. Remixing the sequence of the content or substituting assessments for different international contexts would not be easy to implement within a shared learning management system. Scalability for large student cohorts is also a major challenge. For instance, if a facilitator were to host a webinar and request a course cohort of thousands of learners to click simultaneously on a particular discussion forum post, the server infrastructure may not be able to deal with the traffic load. One possible solution is to distribute the computing resources required for interactions across the Internet, and this is the pedagogical approach used in the OERu model.
Designing OER courses for reuse and access through multiple delivery platforms.

Revision control software used by software developers, for example, GitHub, would provide the functionality needed for version control. However, many educators do not have the technical skills to use revision control software.

In this course we use wiki technology because:

  • Wiki authoring is relatively easy to learn when compared to sophisticated revision control systems used by software developers.
  • It is relatively easy to integrate wiki content into a variety of delivery platforms.
  • The wiki keeps a detailed history of all edits, making it easy to manage changes with the added ability of targeting specific revision instances for inclusion in a learning management system.
  • The wiki software provides an effective way to manage the metadata and legal attribution requirements for openly licensed images.
  • As a collection of individual pages, it is easy to build different learning pathways for reuse and remix in different learning contexts.
  • The Mediawiki software engine used by WikiEducator is scalable. We use the same software as Wikipedia - a top 10 website of the world.
  • The OERu requires technology to offer courses in parallel mode with full fee registered students studying with free OERu learners. In parallel mode, registered students access materials through the institutional learning management system whereas free OERu learners access the same materials hosted on WikiEducator.
  • Mediawiki is open source software which means any institution could replicate our approaches for their own institutions.

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Thinking about advantages and disadvantages
Drawing on your own experiences of teaching, learning and collaboration we invite you to share your thoughts and ideas on the pros and cons of using a wiki authoring model for collaborative OER development.

Please post your ideas on this topic on WEnotes below, OERu forums or Twitter. (For Tweets, remember to include the hash tag "ds4oer" in your post). Ideas to share:

  • Pro: Wiki ...... #ds4oer; or
  • Con: Wiki ...... #ds4oer; or
  • I think that .... #ds4oer; or
  • I suggest ... #ds4oer.

(If using WEnotes below, you do not need to explicitly add the tag to your post.)