Thoughts on quality

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=== The concerns I have about an open authoring approach relate to the content and purpose of the resource. I see the approach having tremendous benifits in collaborative development projects such as curriculum development, especially within a defined community. If the context is course content, then certainly open authouring provides currency not availabe in more traditionsal print forms (much in textbooks is outdated before it even gets to print).

The concerns about quality should be seen within the context of how the reader intends to use the content. The reader/user has the responsibility of reviewing/screening all content prior to reusing, revising, remixing or redistributing. I, like others, appreciated the concept of a user/peer rating system to assit end users in assessing the validity of content.

Karen Hodgins

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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.

Insert Comments Below

Vishal Jhotty

Benefits are numerous regarding the open authoring approach. Educators and other users can contribute how much they want to discussions, projects. This sharing is so professional. We can share our views whether it's positive or negative. About quality we cannot blindly trust on any data or information. The source of the information must be known. It's the responsibility of the user to select content or any other information. --Vishal jhotty 12:08, 31 December 2010 (UTC)vishal

Concerns about Content and Purpose

The concerns I have about an open authoring approach relate to the content and purpose of the resource. I see the approach having tremendous benefits in collaborative development projects such as curriculum development, especially within a defined community. If the context is course content, then certainly open authouring provides currency not available in more traditional print forms (much in textbooks is outdated before it even gets to print).

The concerns about quality should be seen within the context of how the reader intends to use the content. The reader/user has the responsibility of reviewing/screening all content prior to reusing, revising, remixing or redistributing. I, like others, appreciated the concept of a user/peer rating system to assist end users in assessing the validity of content.

Karen Hodgins

Dianne Bloor

There seem to be many benefits to the open authoring approach.  Key among these it that it provides a means for educators to contribute different perspectives to a discussion, project or educational materials.  It also supports an interprofessional perspective.  Many of the issues and questions we face today do not "fit" nicely within established disciplines and all work is richer when it benefits from multiple perspectives.  Also note worthy is the dynamic nature of open authoring, making it a useful tool for responding to a constantly changing knowledge base. Of course, the challenge is to ensure that the information or product created is credible. Obviously, the more participants there are the more likely there will be internal monitoring and a positive outcome.  I like the notion of a peer-review-rating system-- especially in areas where accurate and reliable information is critical.  Being able to critically appraise information is a valuable skill for us as well as our students and, in my opinion, an important component of an open authoring system. --Dbloor 05:03, 19 November 2010 (UTC)

Dianne - lots to reflect on in your post. As a forum for educators, WikiEducator is not a general-purpose wiki - which means that folks tend to be more 'courteous' in contributing to pages and making changes. Practically-speaking, smaller, pre-defined groups that choose to do their work on the wiki, in the context of a membership in a larger community - can address some of the peer-review and quality issues that are frequently-raised about using wikis for course development/production. - Randy Fisher 22:12, 20 November 2010 (UTC)

Wajiihah Emambokus

I think that the open authoring approach has been beneficial to lots of people, especially educators. Different level of expertise can be met with and thus sharing their knowledge. Quality of educational resources has always been a great concern to educators. Open authoring approach provides high quality of learning materials because it is concerned with a worldwide community with different levels of expertise. Unfortunately, mostly educators do not have that much time to dedicate to the production of high quality education resources. So it would be better if both approaches coexist.Moreover, the open approach is more prone to errors and omissions. Mechanisms can be applied so as to improve quality of educational contents developed in wiki education. Examples are: we can think about time extension concerning work to be submitted. Students can be encouraged to share their work among themselves , thus allowing passive students to express themselves easily. --Wajiihahemambokus 18:30, 18 November 2010 (UTC)Wajiihah E.

Wajiihah - your comment about 'different levels of expertise' struck a chord with me - because this extends to open authoring and digital literacy. When courses are open, then the folks involved are more easily able to reach out, and bring in additional expertise to add value to a specific OER resource, whether it be a syllabus, module or open textbook. Also, when you bring in additional expertise, it can have a dynamic and energizing effect on the rest of the group. - Randy Fisher 22:15, 20 November 2010 (UTC)

Savitha Harish

I strongly recoment open authoring approach in generating and sharing of knowledge. Because acquiring knowledge is the liberty of all. As we have enough technological support for knowledge reach,we must make the best use of it.Gathering and sharing of knowledge at one's own time and pace is really exciting.But I have concerns about the quality of the knowledge.Errors , ommissions,ambiquities etc are more likely to happen.  Proper measure should be taken to validate  information The prime concern should be on quality and accuracy.--Savitha harish 09:44, 9 November 2010 (UTC)

Malisha Hettiarachchi

  • I do not have any concerns with regards to quality of the information provided here, which is why I believe that the" open approach" is the way to go. This not only allows students to learn freely and but they are also able to contribute to the knowledge they are being provided with.
  • With regards to quality, minimising spam and having administrators who are able to intervene when needed would be recommended. This does not mean they restrict freedom to the point where educators are unable to speak freely.--Malz 01:41, 17 November 2010 (UTC)

Reuben Cutfield

  • I am somewhat of a cynic when it comes to believing what I hear. The more respectful the source is naturally the more confident I am but generally I like to know where information comes from. There lies the importance of wikis in-built encouragement to reference pieces of information. If someone feels something may lie in a grey area of knowledge any user can request that someone finds a reference for a particular sentence. This factor definitely makes wikis more reliable.
  • Of course for less visited paes vandalism and ignorance can damage your education and I would suggest only using pages which have a lot of authors, collaborators and visitors. Also I would advise to only use the resource to gain knowledge on matters which have historical proof or lie on the surface of a subject. This will prevent you taking one side of a debate as the truth because an author sitting on that side of the fence published the wiki.
  • I think areas like news and history are actually best suited for wikis. These are usually accounts of things that have happened which if reported by an individual would make the report possibly bias or missing pieces of the history. Having multiple opinions, recalls and unbias mediating current events and historical records will have greater reliability on wikis. 
Reuben - IMHO course development and revision on a wiki rocks! It's super-easy to create the course, and revise it with new info as it becomes available. Also, it's great to invite a colleague in, to review a part of the work, or give ideas for illustration, images, etc. Folks like to contribute to a work-in-progress, where they're adding value. - Randy Fisher 22:19, 20 November 2010 (UTC)

Nivedita Gopaul

According to me the open authoring approaches are good for everyone because we are able to get new knowledge, share ideas and views and also analyse the ideas that we get, but we cannot be sure about the information we do get because they can and cannot be 100% genuine, trusting information of open authoring approaches can be misleading also. The users must choose and select information wisely.(Nivedita- 10.51am)

Tzaynah Toofany

Open authoring approach is effective when people concerned are likely to share relevant materials or support published issues collaboratively in a resourceful manner. This helps in having good quality of learning materials as many people across the globe will be contributing their expertise. However, one factor which may generate a sense of hesitation in people when they hear open authoring is the fact that any person may log in and edit the materials, thus it must be assured that the information published is relevant, reliable and not outdated. As far as the development of learning resources for use in education is concerned, it must be borne in mind that education is a delicate issue. Any post made may contribute to a great extent in the learner’s knowhow. If a post is irrelevant, it may guide the learner in the wrong direction. Else, if the post is resourceful, it may help the learner to achieve lots in his career. So, I think open authoring approaches are appropriate provided the information provided is reliable. Open authoring approaches may provide the learners with a wider horizon since there will be an unlimited amount of knowledge being shared. The information should be presented in a clear-cut, non-contradictory and non-confusing way. Some mechanisms which can be adopted to assure quality of educational content developed in wiki environments can be:
• Controlling the eligibility of users to post and edit contents
• Putting some strict rules and regulations which users should abide by.
• Validating the contents and quality of the posts being made --Tzaynah 09:45, 18 November 2010 (UTC)

Jeetendra Prakash Murdan

The way papers are published is already well established. People have to use an academic language, the paper is peer reviewed, revised and then published. A paper might be accepted if it contains references to authorities in the field. This gives a status to the paper and then is used by others for further research. Less formal journals and magazines do not require that degree of reference of academic language and are taken as such.

Here with open authoring we have a crowd adding up their pieces without strict reference being required, and the authors might not be experts in the specific fields. The validity of such a document might still be questioned.

However we are living in an era with an explosion of knowledge, fields of knowledge are interlinked, we need input from many people and fast. Time has changed. What is important is what use the knowledge is being put to, its accebility. In such times of perpetual change there is a need for a new approach like the wiki. Because finally what counts is the benefit experienced by people at large. Participation involves the person and in so doing brings him benefit. As it is said " Involve me and I'll understand". People value something if they had a say in it.

As for quality and reliability of content, we have to trust people. Basically the world runns on trust or there won't be much evolution. There is a point in accountability. But times are such that we have to overlook certain principles and adopt new (higher) ones. Wiki is the future and that would justify its inherent correctness.

--Jeetendraprakashmurdan 11:27, 18 November 2010 (UTC)

Jacky Hood

Collaboration on projects is critical. When teams are co-located, face-to-face meetings and gathering around a document is possible. When we start shipping versions of documents around by email, chaos happens quickly. Having web-based documents that can be edited by the entire team makes a lot of sense. Backups and security are essential.

Version control is also useful - Randy Fisher 13:28, 19 November 2010 (UTC)

Fardeen khan

Quality of educational resources should of course be a concern of every educator and I believe that it is possible to be achieved using an open authoring approach like a wiki. Wikipedia and wikieducator are good examples of high standards in the quality of the content produced this way. However, to achieve a high level of quality in an open authoring approach at least two conditions must be met: the quantity and quality of their contributors. The more people contribute to the development of a resource, the greater the chance of a higher quality. I am pretty certain that the use of an open authoring approach in course development for education could produce a high quality of learning materials because it would take advantage of a worldwide community with different levels of expertise.

An extensive debate and dialog would result in the production of interesting and valuable resources for everyone to use in their teaching practice. On the other hand I don’t know if there would be many teachers and other education experts willing to offer much of their valuable time to produce high quality education resources without being rewarded for their work.

At this point it’s easier for me to imagine open and closed approaches coexisting in the development of education resources, although I must admit that I feel more sympathy for open approaches then for closed ones. --Fardeenkhan 19:07, 18 November 2010 (UTC)

Rajcoomaree Ramkhelawon. Acquiring knowledge ,the right and accurate knowledge, is a fundamental right. In this light,open authoring approach is better suited at generating and sharing of knowledge.Nevertheless, one major concern would be to look into the quality, accuracy and genuineness of the knowledge. Fortunately, wikis in-built encouragement to reference can give some assurance.

Dave Ghidiu

Knowledge changes every day; our collaborative, societal knowledge is always experiencing change. Environmental, social, and technological advances force us to augment what we understand, and how we understand it. And open authoring is a phenomenal resource in addressing the constant shift. A systemic failure of textbooks is that they seldom survey multiple perspectives. Another is that they are static - a textbook from five years ago does not reflect the current world we live in (Obama as president, housing market failure, Ireland's banking issues). The sustainability of our knowledge, our information lies in the ability to allow multiple perspectives and immediate updates. Consider Linus' Law, "Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow". Originally intended for open-source software, I think the message transcends programming and is adopted by open authoring. Given enough people, all information is reflective of our current state.

Naturally, every educator should be concerned with open authoring. Wikipedia, though highly regarded as invalid when quoting research, is likely the first place students go when learning about new topics. In general, the content is probably very accurate and worthy of serious consideration. Students can often get a sense of the topic, and then use the references at the end as a springboard into more "credible" research.

I also believe that open authoring is a brilliant tool for the development of learning resources in education. There are millions of teachers who desperately need a platform like this to share ideas. Collaboration, after all, is the best way to teach. Sharing lessons, ideas, cultural perspective. The best way to mitigate quality degredation, in my opinion, is a peer-rating system. The idea of Market Forces in economics is consistently applied to collaborative, online resources. Seller's ratings in eBay are earned and reflect a level of trust. Amazon's rating system for books and other media yield insight into the quality of a product (any online retailer, for that matter). allows users to percolate very interesting news topics to the top of a list, as bad ones filter down. Even Facebook has an inherent rating system (press the "Like" button); an added bonus is that the social component of Facebook allows users to associate a level of trust, or "street cred" with the people who "Like" something.

Knowledge has been static for as long as we have recorded it. The powerful tools we have access to are so ubiquitous and potent that we would be remiss to not use them in our quest for better education.

Sandy King

 I am excited to learn more about open authoring.  I do, however, share the concern some have expressed about accuracy and quality; I wonder also if group authoring leads to differences in writing style and expression within the same document.

Sandy - a sure way to learn about open authoring is to read about it, and also to do it. The wiki projects are great for that. Regarding your second point - it's a great one. Yes, there will be differences in style and expression. A possible workaround, is to "freeze" production of Version 1, and then ensure that these style differences are polished for consistency, and publication. Of course, folks can continue adding to the document to create Version 2 - but those updates won't appear in Version 1. In terms of creating that consistency, one might take on that responsibility, or hire someone to do it. - Randy Fisher 22:22, 20 November 2010 (UTC)

Wendy Burton

I am hesitant about truly open authoring. I have seen many examples of graffiti artists playing with text and thereby ruining it with rogue comments, etc. I prefer to collaborate on authorship with people I know and to whom I have a sense of responsibility. I assume my collaborators also have a sense of responsibility. We can, therefore, hold each other accountable for changes made to our common text, understand why changes have been made, and we don't have to keep watch to be sure that changes are meaningful and valid. I have been watching open education resources as a movement for a while now, and open authoring "should" be a good idea, but I remain unconvinced of its value.

How can we work together in a meaningful partnership, sharing resources and responsibilities, without wasting time "weeding out" often? -- Wendy Burton 17 November 1:08 pm (Pacific Standard)

Wendy - Good feedback - I'm glad you've raised it, because people do think these thoughts, but may not feel comfortable sharing them in an open forum. Consider the evolutionary path to working more openly - it does take time, when trying something new - to master it, and feel comfortably using it, even drawing in peers. It's part cognitive, and part experiential. IMHO, I've found that the speed in collaborating with other authors more than outweighs any drawbacks of openness. As well, because this is not a general purpose wiki, there is far less vandalism than one might encounter on WikiEducator. Come to think of it, we've had more acts of vandalism (spam) on the Google Groups, than on any page or project in WikiEducator! I invited you to reflect on your ideas and evolution in proceeding through the course - as well as after it is completed. - Randy Fisher 01:16, 21 November 2010 (UTC)

Reena Rajkomar

Open educational resources (OER) are educational materials and resources that are freely available to anyone. The materials are collectively created, constructed and shared by both learners or professionals. Therefore, we have a diversity of ideas, perceptions and analysis from different perspectives. This multi-perspective aspect itself establishes a quality environment that takes into account different viewpoints, contexts and feedback and improvement through further contribution to what one has written. For some people, OER do provide access but they can raise issue with respect to quality of open resources. We can argue that only specific learning situations or contextx can determine whether a resource is useful or not and therefore, it is up to the user to ‘rate’ quality of resource. Readers, students, teachers can rate the quality of the article, can post comments and can question certain aspects/views/ideas they deem not reliable. I believe that OER promotes the culture of learning is sharing where learners and professional and formal and informal as well as personalized and shared learning are merged and it is up to individual to take out the best (according to his needs and learning context) of what is available. I would opt for open source because then, we are imparting knowledge acquired to others. Since it will be opened to the public at large and therefore, open to criticism (if any), authors will feel more committed to produce a work of quality. Being open to public might also bring about constructive criticisms that might help author to see the evolution of his content. --Reen.redrose 05:07, 21 November 2010 (UTC)Reena Rajkomar

TOLSY Subbaraya Pillai (MANJULA)

I think that open authoring approach is beneficial to educators interm of discussion, educational support and authoring approach is a learning platform where one can improve his skills and knowledge. It is a worldwide platform where each one can share their expertise and resourceful It is a good idea for having open authoring approaches be developed in learning resources for use in education. However information should be accurate and reliable. Nowadays we have strong technological approach where knowledge can be shared . However errors,modification of materials can happened. so proper measures should be taken to avoid problems mentioned.

Abhisheksingh Summun

I personally think that wikis provide another way for learning and sharing of information to take place. It is a learning platform where the materials and resources are free and available to anyone. Also the editing process is a quite interesting one. Constructive criticism is also important as it allows contributions and different arguments that would benefit all the people present here and in our teaching also.

Yes, these are good points - constructive criticism elevates, not demeans - and it adds value to both content and individual. - Randy Fisher 19:47, 28 November 2010 (UTC)