Thoughts on quality

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Consider the following questions, add your name as a heading and let us know what you think:
  • 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?
  • In your opinion, should closed or open authoring approaches be used in the development of learning resources for use in education? Give reasons for your view?
  • What mechanisms can be adopted to assure quality of educational content developed in wiki environments?

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  • Once you have laid out your thoughts here, you are invited to join the attempt to synthesize the various perspectives into one coherent document.

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Kathleen Texeira

I think that Open Authoring Approaches can contribute to high quality learning in that it encourages the sharing of ideas.This allows for better communication & opportunities for best practices.Educators can have a greater impact on their learning since they are exposed to a variety of resources and may not focus on only the teacher & textbooks. Contribution  must be of a high quality & to obtain this, one must be willing to invest time, money and good use of  resources.There is scope for this approach as the technology advances.


--Hassan Hamadu 07:27, 30 August 2010 (UTC)

I have until recently had reservations on Open authoring. However with the current trends in technology I think it is best for knowledge sharing. Of course these new tools will allow us to use them positively or negatively.

(Zan writes - is this the right place for this ? It feels a bit scary being on this page alone :-)
Re: Dear Zan, Kia Ora! Thanks for your thoughts. yes, it is the right place. Please keep sharing your thoughts and other will also join in. All the best. --R C Sharma, PhD 15:57, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
Re: Dear Zan, Thank you for stepping out of your comfort zone. Don't feel shy, there is no right or wrong way, just a different way of thinking. We are a community who respect others' opinions, so feel free to elaborate on your thoughts and on the questions below. Warm wishes--Patricia Schlicht 17:18, 26 August 2010 (UTC)

Submitted by Zan 09:21, 26 August 2010 (UTC)
Kia ora from Auckland, New Zealand.
There is a saying that comes from the new testament 'freely you have received, freely give'(Matthew 10:8, King James Version) It is an interesting saying attributed to healing but also can apply to everything including education. Where did the need for ownership, copyright and royalty arise in our history. I suggest one of the many roads that led to this was the belief or sense that in order to survive we need to make money - if I publish I can then use that as a form of income for my family etc... and then consumer demand appears which 'ups' the quality required - greater quality - greater charge and status and thus income. This chain of events means we now pay for anyone's ideas or creations. This is today's world (which is now being transformed through wiki's etc). It could be argued that this belief - charge for sharing ideas - would have threatened human survival if it occurred in very early human history (as its considered that through sharing and copying good ideas in primal days humans gained an edge on surviving as a species.)

But is money and 'status' the only motivator for quality - no, if we look back it wasn't the money that 'fired' up the first request for payments it was the love for one's family that led to asking payment for ideas. As humans advance they come to an understanding that they are part of a human family (not just an isolated nuclear family) and that when the love for the human family is embraced, its actually even a higher quality of ideas that unfolds and a richer sharing that occurs, way beyond that which is currently copyrighted, because the flow of ideas becomes unlimited. 

As humans we have been graced with communication skills and ability to invent and create - these are free skills - skills to freely gift towards humanity's advancement and betterment..--Zan

But we do have to find a way to support the person who dedicates their life to producing quality resources, don't we, Zan? Whatever kinds of resources they are. Quality resources demand an investment of time. How do you see that investment as being supported?--Grskyrme 20:27, 26 August 2010 (UTC)

I think sharing resources reduce the investment of time needed to provide content. I 'm not sure there's have to be only one way between open and closed aproaches. Nevertheless if open authoring approaches keep growing, (and there's no reason to think otherwise) it's going to be very difficult for closed learning resources to reach the same level of quality. That's because you have more opportunities to test open authoring resources. More feedback means more chances to improve. More hands on the problem. More quality .Feedback and constructive criticism make any practice better. You have to test your content and then evaluate what worked well and went wrong. Encourage people to share their expirences is the key mechanism to ensure quality of educational content.--Fabián Gatti 21:09, 26 August 2010 (UTC)

It has been so disburting to write a page-long answer to the workshop's assignment and to witness it vanishes into thin air due to my carelessness and low-tech ability! I am now not patient enough to remember and write the whole page again. Here are just a summary of what I have written.

When I taught Discourse Analysis to a class of third year students, I asked the students to think and search many sources for the notion of a discourse and give examples of ways to analyse a specific discourse and made presentations. My students came to class with PowerPoint presentations with heaps of ideas, films, pictures, graphs, whatever they could put in a PP presentation. When a student presented, the rest took notes and gave questions, sharings and comments after that. I was also a participant, gave questions and comments. At the end of this class, I summarised the key points of the notions as well as the comments, then I asked the students to comment this class, what they had done, what they had learnt, what they thought about this approach and suggest any changes of the approach. To my big surprise, most of the students did not like this approach because they got confused receiving “a bundle of miscellaneous information” and did not know what was correct and what was not. For the students, a big waste of time was what the class turned out to be. While they had expected to receive knowledge precise and complete for the exam, they did not receive it but time to listen to what they thought not knowledge. Disappointment was the initial feeling in me as a teacher attempting a new approach and receiving such a result. Later, when I talked to some of the students in the class, I got a bit more pleased. It was true that some students did not like my approach because they got the unexpected thing and found it hard to study for the exam tests. However, some other students said they learnt much more from referencing, searching, and listening to their peers, questioning and commenting than from the sole teacher. Most importantly, I stressed to those ‘advanced” students, this approach helps changed your attitude in learning and teaching (they are teacher students), that the teacher is not the sole knowledge giver and the learner is not the knowledge receiver. Messages behind this story can be summarised as follows:

1. Open authoring in education is very good. Particularly, in my teaching context, both the teacher and learner should abandon the misconception that knowledge is made available out there and held by some individuals. As a matter of fact, knowledge is embedded in interactions and anyone can be creators of knowledge. In the classroom, the teacher is not the know-all person and knowledge can be given by peers and/or built up through collectivity.
2. Regarding the quality of educational resources in open authoring, it should be recognized that educational resources can range from a pre-packaged piece of knowledge like a text book or dictionaries to the most open and flexible form like a thought. For me, no human knowledge is eventually absolutely right or wrong. What is right in this situation can be wrong in another. Viewing an issue from different perspectives can elicit different knowledge. Learners and even teachers having an understanding of the nature of knowledge can better their job to a great extent. Therefore quality control of resources is not only the job of experts but should also be trained to learners to the extent that they should be able to manage the given resources for their needs.
3. Together of open authoring, close authoring is always appreciated. At the end of the day, teachers, educators, academics, are still in need of pre-packaged knowledge, which is created by experts with their endeavour, time, money, and even lives. Humans have been paying hugely to buy such knowledge, and it deserves. Laws of copyright and authorship are born to protecting those knowledge creators and we have to strictly observe the laws.
--Anhpham 00:34, 27 August 2010 (UTC)

--- q1. Do I have concerns about the quality of OER resource - yes. Although having many eyes (instead of a select, elite group of eyes as in the traditional publishing approach) would seem to provide more opportunities to improve the quality of an OER, in practice the effort of ongoing review, modification and republishing exhausts the attention of open content author/editors. I've reviewed learning content in a variety of OER sites and found the quality fluctuated widely. I've found gems and I've found garbage to put it bluntly. I think that you need a very committed group of open authors to produce good quality resources. And we haven't even opened the topic of what 'good quality' really means for everyone. I can think of many topics where you would be unable to come to an agreement in an open forum on what was 'true' and what was 'false'. Years ago someone published entries from a big encyclopedia (can't remember which one it was) taken from different publishing sites around the world. It was fascinating to see the different slant on the same subject, depending on which part of the world had published what was supposedly the same encyclopedia entry. How do wikis and open content publishers deal with that? What is 'true' in Canada may not be 'true' in the midwest of the U.S.A. And we speak the same language (sort of). q2. Although my thoughts on q1 may seem negative, I believe that educational materials benefit from an open development approach. It's important to have to put your ideas and beliefs about a subject in front of others and to be able to explain/defend what you plan to teach. You don't have to accept everyone's input but you never know when another opinion will light up a new idea or open a new branch of knowledge to investigate and enrich your teaching. q3...we can take a look at how MERLOT's review committee's work. I have to say that most of the resources I've reviewed from MERLOT have been pretty good quality. They have volunteer review teams. Connexions also appears to have a fairly consistent format but I've never had time to investigate how they accomplish that. Perhaps I'll make the time now. That's it for now. Looking forward to reading other postings!--Sylvia 21:23, 26 August 2010 (UTC)