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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Wikipedia citations -- thoughts?

An interesting discussion thread started this week on the main WikiEducator list relating to citations from Wikipedia. May be of interest to this wiki page discussion. Take a look and let us know what you think. Does your institution allow citations from Wikipedia? --Wayne Mackintosh 23:04, 15 February 2012 (UTC)

Abhijith M S

I have been thinking about this a long time ago. At first I was known or concerned about Wikipedia only. Such a huge resource base, contributed by the world; a world of good, bad and even ugly people. How can we depend on something like that.(My doubts became true when some firm used their Wikipedia page for the favour of the company). But I am satisfied with one thing that, these resources are undergoing a cycle of modifications and improvements too. Here in Wikieducator , I don't think that its just like the same. Anyways some moderating approaches should be there to ensure the credibility of educational resources developed using an open authoring approach. --Msabhijith 02:35, 16 February 2012 (UTC)

WikiEducator is a community of educators, in my view, we should take responsibility for the quality of our outputs. If we produce poor quality, who will we blame? :-) --Wayne Mackintosh 23:31, 17 February 2012 (UTC)


      The question is how authentic an information is.....If any one and everyone can make whatever changes; information may not be authentic. Moreover referring the same at a later point will lead to something else. But wiki has its place in learning..That is for sure.  --Pramodkumartk 11:46, 16 February 2012 (UTC)

Open question -- If the changes add value, doesn't that constitute continuous improvement? --Wayne Mackintosh 23:33, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

Patrice Prusko Torcivia

Getting textbooks to our international students has been an issue due to cost and shipping times. We have been exploring and using OER for several years in our international program. Determining what are "quality" sources has been one of the obstacles we have faced. I am a member of the SUNY e-pub task force and this is a topic we have been discussing for quite some time. We are currently working on a position paper related to the creation of intellectual property and how to balance both pubic and commercial interests. As educators we are teaching students how to determine what is a "reliable" source. By allowing greater access to information it enables the public to research topics of interest, be more knowledgeable, and potentially make more informed decisions related to their personal lives as well as society. But who is teaching the public how to know what a reliable, quality source is? What are the ramifications when misinformation is posted? --Patrice Prusko Torcivia 12:00, 16 February 2012 (UTC)

In a digital age, I think the skills of discernment in knowing how to judge quality are arguably more important than the quality of the artifacts. --Wayne Mackintosh 23:35, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

I feel we should have a workshop on creation of books using wikis. --Ravi limaye 05:53, 19 February 2012 (UTC)


Our institution does not consider Wikipedia as a serious source for students. They are encouraged to use journal, books, academic resources. I do use Wikipedia myself as a starting point when I'm broadly gathering information, but I would check the content using other resources. I like Wikipedia's interlinked format for finding related information easily. But in the end, you have to check the content for validity. --Mikieogle0 21:23, 16 February 2012 (UTC) Michele Ogle 

In research, I think we would generally agree that an encyclopedia article is neither a primary source, nor intended to provide the depth of analysis we expect from research conventions. What is interesting is that open and closed models do not necessarily result in a significant difference on the quality dimension, taking into account the purpose and intent of an encyclopedia article. --Wayne Mackintosh 23:39, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

You have rightly said, the content validity lies with the user. Wiki gives the information, it can be substantiated with research from jounals and improved. The dynamic nature of content and the editing feature of wiki need to go hand in hand. wiki content needs to be nurtured edited, expanded and its value will definately grow. --Ravi limaye 05:57, 19 February 2012 (UTC)


I thought it was interesting that there are so many offshoots of wikipedia and other wikis, born of the concerns expressed above (and we all share them). "Scholarpedia", "Wikiversity", and I assume even "Wikibooks" seem to receive more scrutiny and vetting from qualified peers. I saw somewhere that wikipedia itself was trying to sustain some sort of review of the material, but what a huge and never-ending task! And then the question of how to make sure it is reliable information and still keep it free. There is certainly value in open sharing, but I'm not sure how to get past the possible misuse and possible distortions without qualified reviewers involved in the process. I don't think we can rely just on good "citizenship." Make it another of the public universities' responsibilities? --Lpcalix 21:48, 16 February 2012 (UTC)

I'd encourage anyone who has not edited on Wikipedia to consider creating a new article or adding value to an existing article. Most people will generally be quite surprised by the rigour of the process. Increasingly there are a number of university hosted projects where students are tasked with editing in Wikipedia as a graded university assignment. One example is the Murder Madness and Mayhme project at the University of British Columbia where students are required to develop an article to acheive "featured article status" in the Wikipedia project. Most students are surprised by the rigour of the process. --Wayne Mackintosh 23:47, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

Vasi Doncheva

I personally do not have any major concerns about the quality of educational resources developed using an open authoring approach. Wikieducator resources are a great example of how an open authoring approach contributes to high quality learning materials that are current and relevant to learners from all over the world. One of the most powerful mechanisms that can be adopted (and already works very well in wikieducator) to assure quality of educational content developed in wiki environments is the transparency of contributions. Playnice nz 23:13, 16 February 2012 (UTC)

I think the transparency of an open authoring process is a strong catalyst for continuous improvement arguably capable of producing higher quality outputs. After all - -the world can see what we are producing. More importantly, I think open authoring environments are also transparent and honest about the process. Quality is a process -- very few individuals are capable of producing a high quality product with the first draft -- it takes time and multiple revisions. --Wayne Mackintosh 23:50, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

Ravi Limaye

Content is a Dynamic Entity. It emerges with time, the quality also comes as more people contribute and create content which is possible through wikis.--Ravi limaye 06:10, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

Yes -- in education, quality improves over time. Also, quality is contextual. It means different things to different people. --Wayne Mackintosh 23:51, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

Irwin DeVries

The quality issue unresolved in my mind is if open design of a course is edited in different areas by different designers with different approaches. How do we maintain the coherence of the overall design? I would be very interested in comments on this. --Idevries 01:05, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

Irwin, valid questions. The process for coherence and consistency of design in WikiEducator is managed a little differently when compared to Wikipedia because of the differences in the product. Learning materials are different from an encyclopedia article (one page) which aims to produce an objective article. In WikiEducator, a course is a collection of many pages but authored within an agreed design, delivery model, pedagogical foundation etc. Typically the team authoring a course (a collection of many pages) will decide on the approach, style guidelines etc as part of the development. The convention for contributors is to author individual pages within the parameters of the "design blueprint". In this way we avoid "paradigm debates" and editorial contributions which don't fit the design of a specific project. If an individual or group don't agree with the approach, they have the freedom to fork the course design for their own development by replicating their own set of pages to implement their own design preferences because the source text is openly available to be copied into a new collection of materials (derivative work.) There are many features in the wiki which assist us with monitoring edits and team discussions. We'll explore these later in the workshop. --Wayne Mackintosh 00:05, 18 February 2012 (UTC)

Susan Fall

Most, if not all, of our mentors do not allow students to use Wikipedia as a resource because anyone, despite their level of expertise, can modify the text.

Despite the reservations of our mentors, though, students do go to Wikipedia to obtain information about a topic. The existence of Wikipedia proffers an opportunity for educators to encourage students to conduct further research to compare and contrast its content with other sources. Certainly, determining the reliability of information is a valuable life skill.

I feel this is the strength of the wiki. Moreever one learns to judge content validity and reliability. The dynamic nature of content and the edit feature of wiki enhance the learning experience --Ravi limaye 06:19, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

Fiona Coffey

Hi Like others I guess it is all about ensuring quality. Making sure that students are able to critique what they read i.e. that the sources are credible (conflicts of interest and funding sources transparent etc). On the up side I am attracted to the concept of not re-inventing the wheel. In the health sector for example it seems crazy to have tax payer funded organisations working as seperate business units not sharing resources such as policies, protocols and guidlines when the funding could be put to providing services with the stretched health dollar!--FiFi 06:32, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

The open model is unquestionably more efficient from the perspective of avoiding unnecessary duplication. --Wayne Mackintosh 00:07, 18 February 2012 (UTC)

Heriberto Valdez

My institution doesn't give much credit to Wikipedia for two reasons: First, our students don't try to discriminate information, they only copy and paste  those paragraphs where the key word appears, so the final work has no sense. Second, teachers, incluiding me, have a traditional system of teaching, ans it is difficult to think about directly participate in knowledge construction like this wiki.

We must be careful not to conflate: plagiarism (the act of copying someone else's work and attributing it as your own work); breach of copyright (Not attributing resources within the conventions of fair dealing or in accordance with the permissions provided by the copyright holder), and open authoring process. Plagiarism is a problem with both open and closed source materials -- one difference, its easier to trace and detect with open resources ;-) --Wayne Mackintosh 00:12, 18 February 2012 (UTC)

Kathleen Stone

My concerns over quality of open education resources are no different than those with closed authoring approaches. Any educational material that is used by educators should be examined by that educator for quality. For example, if you are using traditional textbooks most educators will look at several ones and review them for quality and applicability to their course. This process should be no different for open educational resources. No one should be using an OER simply because it is freely available to do so. If anything, I believe that the openness of resources can create higher quality resources because they are being looked at by more than just a handful of peer reviewers. If you look at the success of open source technologies, such as Moodle, it is easy to see how having resources open can be extremely beneficial for advancing knowledge and the application of knowledge.
The sharing of knowledge should not be dependent on who has the most money to buy content. When educational resources are created using closed authoring approaches, the knowledge contained in those resources are taken out of the hands of the creator and placed with the entity that facilitates the closed authoring, who in turn requests a fee for their service. If faculty members publish through closed means, they often can’t use what they created without purchasing it and having their students purchase it as well.
Quality of education content developed in wiki’s can be assessed by those who wish to use it. I do not want to use the term peer review because it is too connected with closed authoring, but there should be some kind of quality rating system. Users should be encouraged to leave feedback on the resources, as well as state their area of expertise.

Most of what I have described is from the view of an educator using the open resources. For learners, I think it is extremely important for them to understand how to check for quality of resources. If the learner is in your classroom, they can be taught how to assess the quality of sources. When citing information in a formal classroom environment Wikipedia should not be cited, but can be used as a guide. For instance, it is great for a quick overview of a topic, but the real benefit of Wikipedia is the sources cited in the bottom of the articles. They can be viewed for more information to see if you agree with the point of view of the Wikipedia entry and check for the quality of the information. An exercise having students confirm the quality and accuracy of a Wikipedia entry would be a great way to get them thinking about sources as well. Overall, Wikipedia is a great starting point for research, but as with any source of information it should not be the only one consulted. Always use the primary sources when available. For the public at large, there should be guidelines available on every page to help them make informed decisions. While it is impossible to ensure that everyone understands how to check for quality on their own, at least having some kind of direction available can help for some. --Kstone 16:21, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

As educators, I think intuitively know what quality is and how to produce it. I think that working openly creates opportunities for many minds to contribute to the quality of the output which is a distinct advantage of open authoring models. --Wayne Mackintosh 00:14, 18 February 2012 (UTC)

Alenka Švab Tavčar

The educator must known what his students need and what he wants that his students achieve. For my outputs I'm the one, who must take the resposibilty for the quality. --Alenka 10:00, 19 February 2012 (UTC)

Don Beadle

Hi all I just took an interesting seminar about e publishing and it seems on point for our discussion. I think that as ebooks and e publishing become the norm, then concerns about quality will decrease. I think the richness and depth that open authoring fosters enrichs education resources. Here is the link to the scope seminar

Cynthia Thompson

I believe that education should be a public good and we should endeavor to ensure that we put minimum (if any) barriers to learning and knowledge. When we restrict knowledge we impede growth and development of people and societies.

The power of many eyes and minds not only strengthens the quality of projects created through open authoring; they also enrich the materials developed by allowing creative contributions unique to many cultures and people.

I first learned about open authoring after seeing materials developed on Wikipedia.  At that time I had my concerns because I saw materials posted that I knew to be incorrect. If I knew more about open authoring at that time I would have made a contribution to ensure the correctness of the content.  

I am now more familiar with open authoring and I believe it presents unique opportunities for us to create materials that are robust in content and activities. The scrutiny of content specialists and professionals and the establishment of quality standards can help to assure quality products.--C Thompson 05:11, 20 February 2012 (UTC)

Dr Sujata Dhopte

Now a days elearning resources and various forms of virtual education is becoming a big and amorphous marketplace.International trade in eresources is growing with faster looks like one component of global educational linkages far it will remain 'open'in the regime of SOPA & PIPA?--Dr Sujata Dhopte 14:11, 22 February 2012 (UTC)

Balqis Thaahaveettil

Let us create awareness about this magical wand of WE and OERu among the educators community around the globe and be faithful to ourselves and the students while creating content for WE and OERu.We, ourselves,must take the pledge for creating quality content however ,the quality issue is multi-dimentional and multi-contextual as it differs to different educational systems around the world. Above all content we create is under continuous evolution .In every subject area ,day by day ,new information is being added up and the contents must be revised according to the curriculum of the university or educational sector to which it belongs . The most important thing is the updating these contents and I wonder how many revisions and re revisions of a single content will be there after some years ! -Balqis Thaahaveettil 21:33, 26 February 2012 (UTC)


Making Web to Write, Learn and Share the knowledge has impacted the open authoring on the web in many ways. This gives a creative space to produce the original thoughts at the place where a author is sitting without hindrance of publication by writing on paper and editing through manual hard procedures and printing. Any one across the globe can create his writings on web quickly.And the content can be viewed and web and viewers can comment son the positive and negative components of the content giving positive space for editing

Jonas Backelin

Crowd Sourcing are based on the knowledge of the community, but the strength of WikiEducator is that the OER’s are used in an ‘Open Learning’ context. When we move into ‘Open Assessment’ the chain will make each link stronger (i.e. mechanism to assure quality). Peer-2-peer assessment can also make the community accountable for the quality of educational content. --SwedInBalchik 07:49, 1 March 2012 (UTC)

  • I agree with you --Ravi limaye 00:41, 2 March 2012 (UTC)