Discussion thread: Thoughts about wikis

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Discussion thread: Thoughts about wikis

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Read here discussions from a previous eL4C workshop (eL4C31)

Q1.Do you have any concerns about the quality of educational resources developed using an open authoring approach? If so, what are your concerns? If not, how does an open authoring approach contribute to high quality learning materials?

  • I have some concerns about open authoring if the work being used is the only source on a subject.
  • I feel that there is a great deal if information in the heads of people around the world that we did not have access to in the past. Open authoring can add information that the writer did not know. It takes courage to publish in a format that is open to being changed and it is a learning experience.
  • I suspect some things are published on a wiki to encourage readers to become involved in the topic.Kbolman.

--Katherine Bolman 00:50, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

  • The only problem I see is taking responsibility for maintaining the pages once one puts them up...I wonder if there is something or someone who deletes pages that are inactive for say, a year or so?? --Don W. Brown, D.Ed. 04:47, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

I would like to know the answer to Don's question. I had more trouble with broken links with Dreamweaver than iWeb.

In response to your point, Katherine, about wikis may be used to encourage some topics over others (hope I got the intent right) I wonder if the purpose and strategy for wikis varies. I also wonder if the area in which something is posted and its intent makes a difference. People will always, it seems to me, find a need to encourage readers to become involved in one topic over another. It seems like human nature. So how do we set up a wiki where that is either appropriate or not depending on how we state the purpose and strategy.
It is my hope that wikieducator will create a place for each subject such as English, Math, Science and for me Art History.--Katherine Bolman 21:19, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

I sometimes worry that some of us are better at marketing than others and can influence through their writing. Where is the line drawn and for what reasons? I guess it makes a difference to me in terms of editing other people's work as well. Do I have a right to edit a piece I feel is too focused on marketing for the context?
--Pamela Stern 16:16, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

I have not gotten into the marketing of anything. I will look to others to help me market a course if that is part of the intent of wikieducator. --Katherine Bolman 21:19, 15 December 2009 (UTC)Katherine Bolman

I think I misled you. I didn't think you were into marketing or did marketing of courses. I was worried about the quality of writing and that some might be better marketers of their ideas than others. If we are editing someone's work and believe it is in the best interest of the OER to make writing less about how important a topic is is and more about the topic itself is that a valid reason to edit? It comes down to the reasons someone edits. Is editing a way of managing the intent of content and is that ok? Please let me know if I have been clear enough. I think I am struggling with my concern that editing to change intent crosses a line somehow.
--Pamela Stern 00:23, 16 December 2009 (UTC)

how does an open authoring approach contribute to high quality learning materials? I think it does as not only teachers but students can contribute. Sometimes the teacher knows a subject and is not very good at teaching, it may be easier or clearer for a student to have it explained by another student.--Nadia El Borai 14:53, 16 December 2009 (UTC)

Too much information

In my opinion, most of the Internet related tools (and this also includes resources in wikis and WikiEducator) contain too much information that have to be read and filtered. It's too easy to write tons of text but nobody really wants to read it.

What about myself?

If I observer my own reading habits, I often shy away from reading stuff on the Internet, because of the following reasons:

  • too much text to read
  • lack of structure (in most cases)
  • lack of illustrations/pictures (in most cases)
  • too many reference links to follow (in most cases)

How I read

I usually don't read all the text that I find on the Internet. I try to scan what's important. I try to find illustrations or images that help me understanding. In most wikis it's just too hard for me to find information quickly (Wikipedia is a big exception) so I often give up early and don't follow most of the articles.

Things are changing constantly

It's also hard to follow some of the information because text may change over time. In the Wiki (here in this course) I use the compare tool to see what have been changed since I looked at the page the last time. This helps to identify the latest changes so that I don't have to read the old stuff over and over again.

Things are not kept in one place

I also find it hard to find out where an information belongs. When I write this article for example, I'm not sure if it's better to place it on this page or rather under "Questions"

--Marian Heddesheimer 10:45, 17 December 2009 (UTC)

Q2.In your opinion, should course development for education use closed or open authoring approaches? Give reasons for your view

  • I think the key word here is development. I think open authoring would be a great asset to the course I am working on. In taking on the idea of a course in the history of art and architecture around the world I had to deal with the idea that there was no way for me to know everything about a topic as broad and rich is this one. I will be posting my work on wikieducator as soon as I know how because I want the input. I will, at the same time keep control over the website in which the course is not growing. I think that open authoring, in this case, provides me with a team of people which I need and do not have now. I*f at sometime I feel a unit is complete I will no longer want open authoring for myself and if people continue contributing it will be useful or not for people around the world.--Katherine Bolman 02:43, 16 December 2009 (UTC)

Definitely I think an open authoring approach is best.--Nadia El Borai 14:53, 16 December 2009 (UTC)

Q3.What mechanisms can be adopted to assure quality of educational content developed in Wiki environments?

  • I have no idea how to answer this question. The only thing I can think of is that wikieducator might have in house subject experts that they can call on. If the subject expert feels that something is incorrect then the expert should use what ever methods are usual to handle this problem. I keep in mind the idea that quality educational content is a variable which is dependent on the reader to evaluate. I do hope that wikieducator does have a lot of quality content. Katherine Bolman--Katherine Bolman 03:12, 15 December 2009 (UTC)
  • One method is to use references to other sources, when available, to show collaboration or verification of fact. When we or our students use sources we usually verify or build knowledge by use of multiple sources on a topic.--Rae Roberts 22:21, 15 December 2009 (UTC)
  • I agree wtih Rae's suggestion to use references as verification. In teaching students the rudiments of academic research, this same question arises and that's one of the main tools mentioned. Another is evaluation of the credentials and background of the content provider. I spend a lot of time getting students to move from accepting any old webpage that pops up in Google as a legitmiate source to being discerning evaluators of what is being said, who said it, and how valid the information appears. Unfortunately, it is very easy to produce and disseminate poor or even false information online now. John E. Smith 03:02, 16 December 2009 (UTC)

No specific mechanism to assure quality is needed, I think this has been demonstrated in Wikipedia. I find that some subjects I know very well, I could not write about as simply or clearly as is done in some Wikipedia articles for example. After all a wiki is a wiki, quick information about something. --Nadia El Borai 14:53, 16 December 2009 (UTC)