Thoughts on quality

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Wikis are open authoring systems -- and in education circles, quality is an important consideration. We're keen to hear your views on the following three questions.
  1. 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?
  2. In your opinion, should the creation of teaching materials and course development use closed or open authoring approaches? Give reasons for your view?
  3. What mechanisms can be adopted to assure quality of educational content developed in Wiki environments?

Brad Williamson

1. No, I think teachers will only want to share resources they are proud of. People who make the effort to contribute are likely to be dedicated to learning and will make sure that they are sharing quality. When other people see innappropriate resources share there is room to respond, remove or improve the resource.
2. I think people should share openly but it is important for teachers take make sure that they adapt when necessary to make sure the resource is appropriate to their purpose.
3. Not sure but it is about the professionalism of the individual teachers as critical consumers of the wealth of materials and resources available and the learning they are aiming in there classes. Is it a fun easy to use activity or does the activity meet a learning need for my class?

(Comment.gif: Good points. I agree as educators we should take responsibility for the quality of our work. If the quality is not up to standard, we only have ourselves to blame ;-). OER is special in the sense that we are always free to improve the quality of our work. --Wayne Mackintosh 03:25, 20 May 2010 (UTC))


I think we duplicate effort a lot by not sharing between learning institutes and see open authoring as a good way to reduce the duplication and potentially freeing up time to do more indepth development or more specific content for a subject. Peer review of open content seems appropriate to me for ensuring quality standards, obviously with some guidelines - I take content recommendations from other teachers all the time, word of mouth is always good. I think we should make all teaching material open, you learn as a teacher by getting feedback from other teachers if you do this. Quality of content happens on wikipedia as there are so many people reviewing it and editing it, but it still takes a core team of reviewers as well. I hope we can keep making quality education resources here.

(Comment.gif: I agree -- reducing duplication alludes to the fact that OER is a renewable and sustainable resource! I hope you will be one of many Kiwi educators helping us create education resources we can share for the benefit of all! --Wayne Mackintosh 03:33, 20 May 2010 (UTC))


I guess I live in a blog world and am trying to adjust to the difference.  I thought I was being pretty liberal by not monitoring the comments left by my students.  Enabling them to change what I write and their peers does raise many questions.  For someone unknown to be able to do it is another thing again.  I know that Anouk, our wikitaster facilitator, assured us that there is an unwritten rule about being constructive not destructive.  The jury is still out for me.

To have feedback from other teachers is very exciting for me. I work in a small school that limits your daily input so bring it on.

(Comment.gif: There's nothing wrong with living in the blog world ;-) -- Just a different technology designed for a different purpose. A blog is more of a personal publishing tool with options for users to comments on blog posts. Whereas a wiki is a collaborative tool designed for team authoring of individual pages. Later during this workshop, we'll learn about the features in WikiEducator which help you to monitor edits. --Wayne Mackintosh 03:38, 20 May 2010 (UTC))

Tanya 2

I agree with Tabitha about open authoring as a way to prevent re-inventing the wheel. The open authoring approach is in line with my favourite quote of Woodrow Wilson…”I will use all the brains that I possess and all that I can borrow.” It is a philosophy about teaching in general, is it not? My goal as a teacher is to SHARE knowledge…with my students AND my colleagues. There are many talented educators out there…some of them I get to meet every day at school, some at conferences and workshops and some in online communities. The ability to link with their collective knowledge in a ‘targeted focus’ environment is something too delicious (and sensible) to pass up. I think though that we must acknowledge that there will always be the ‘sacred cow’ of intellectual property rights. I don’t however see that as an enormous issue, as much work will still be published in a closed authoring environment…and rightly so (i.e. in such cases as masters and doctorate theses and others) but these can AND SHOULD always be cited appropriately in a wiki. I guess I believe that one approach should not preclude the other...2 hands working together.

I also agree that the quality of educational resources developed via open authoring is subject to the process of open scrutiny by peers. I too seek feedback from colleagues on the teaching resources that I develop…this is simply that same process but in the ether. Open authoring in fact faces a far more robust process of examination for quality than many of the closed authoring resources that one can source. How many times have we all downloaded a resource from a site, only to change it for the context of our teaching environments, students and content? Yet I rarely (if ever) give feedback to the originator of that resource, and hence the development of that resource/area is closed in more ways than one. Open authoring removes that barrier to development.

However, I agree that guidelines for quality could/should be maintained through a core team of reviewers. After all, we do this with external moderation of tasks developed by schools for NCEA assessment standards. I’m not sure how we select and support such folks though…

I also think that there is a concern about how editing of the posted resources could possibly compromise the essence or integrity of the original teaching intent in that resource. If this is the case, could it be possible to look at having edits saved as ‘reworks’, rather than permanent changes??? (That would hammer storage space I know...maybe a '7 day acceptance' facility for a 'rework'? Any 'comments' rather than 'reworks' could possibly be on a message thread linked to the resource?)

Oh good topic Wayne. Thanks for the thinking opportunity :-)

(Comment.gif: Good quote! Thanks for that. Also in agreement with your observations. Yes it is possible to distinguish between "reworks" (derivative works) and enhancements / improvements to existing resources. The wiki can accommodate both needs :-) --Wayne Mackintosh 03:41, 20 May 2010 (UTC))


Just wondering about when a student or a colleague deletes all your stuff. Is there a way to get your "stuff" back again?

(Comment.gif: Hi Conor, the wiki keeps an accurate history of every edit. Yes it is possible to get your "stuff" back again and revert to any previous version in the page history. If someone makes a change to any page in the wiki, its can easily be reverted. A little later in the workshop we will take a look at how to do this. Technically speaking normal users do not have the rights to delete pages from the database -- removing text does not delete the page in the database. As long as you have saved your work on the WikiEducator server -- the wiki can restore this :-) --Wayne Mackintosh 21:11, 23 May 2010 (UTC))


1. I have no concerns about the quality of educational resources being developed. I would suggest that as the number of educators involved in contributing to wikieducator increases, the quality of the resources will grow as well. As educators, we already evaluate the quality of print material. Using wikieducator will be no different, except the more educators using it, the better the quality control will be.

2. I can see arguments for both sides. I think there could be occasions where a closed environment could be useful or necessary. Maybe, for example, in publishing research?

3. I have no idea really! I read that wiki's can be edited anonymously, so perhaps if only wikieducator users (logged in)could edit resources, there could be a measure of accountability. Because as with any community, a name is usually associated with a reputation.

(Comment.gif: Good points -- I agree good eduators (and learners) need to develop the skills to discern quality and validity of information. I remember growing up being taught that you shouldn't believe everything you read in the papers. Why should education be any different? In the case of WikiEducator, we do not support anonymous editing because you need to register an account in order to edit in our wiki. --Wayne Mackintosh 03:46, 20 May 2010 (UTC))


Wow - great discussions are happening already! Such interesting reading, thank you!

On the first question I tend to agree with Brad - that teachers will only share resources that they have found worked really well for them, and that they are proud of. I know that's what I would do! As I see it, an open authoring approach sees each resource you share able to be improved by others, thus making it better all the time. However, I do share Tanya's concern on how it is possible for the original intent of a resource to be lost with constant editing. Good to see that the wiki can differentiate between the original and 're-works' though.


What is your experience of teachers sharing, using and "upgrading" resources, lesson plans, etc? My assumption is that this process is in its infancy. One concern I have, through experience, is that there tends to be a few contributors and many more "takers". Will this change over time, or does the increase in numbers make this less of an issue.

Tanya (2) Thorogood

Good point Conor. Being someone who often 'puts it out there' in order to see what comes back that can inform my practice for my kids, I too have thought about this.

I agree that there is a measure of 'Personality Types' in a way...those who give/take will always give/take, irrespective of the environment (that's how people are.) I guess I have come to accept to the most part though, that in any community we participate in, we understand those dynamics and operate our choice and sense of efficacy as to how much we contribute (or not.)  For example on the one hand, I advise BTs all the time and appreciate that it can sometimes feel like (but definitely not exclusively) one way traffic. On the other hand, I am already benefiting from both reading and writing in this forum.

So it all works out, does it not?

I think too that the concept of open authoring is one that invites more participation than previous closed scenarios. Witness the growth of Wikipedia. As long as the essence of integrity is maintained, I hope that we can only stand to gain from such a process.


Steph Campbell

I love you give/take discussion.  I believe that people jump out of their "habit" the more secure they feel.  Here I am giving ( my opinion) where normally I take away others, formulate in my head a very convincing reply and yet never present it.  This forum for me is already taking me to more contributing.  So.... maybe the more we do this the more we will give even if thats " the way people are".  In my class I am amazed at the children who contribute that wouldn't in a " real" situation. 

Communicate is changing along with most things in this world.  I believe wikieducator is integral in our development of communication.- go wikieducator!!!