OMD/MPII/Assignments/Concept Review DRAFT2

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Randy Fisher's Masters Project II

MA, Organization Management and Development, Fielding Graduate University, California (April 2009)

Assignment - Week 5

AUTHOR: Randy S. Fisher
DATE: March 4, 2009
TITLE: Primal Primal Needs Gone Digital: Educators' Motivations in Collaborative Wiki Spaces

STANDARD CITATION: Fisher, Randy S. (2009). Masters Project Paper, Fielding Graduate University, Master’s Program in Organizational Management and Development, Santa Barbara, California. Published in Public Domain wiki

ABSTRACT Pioneering educator-authors are self-organizing and contributing their energies and talents and approaches to developing Open Education Resource (OERs) projects and the global, open source WikiEducator Community. Otago Polytechnic, an established, forward-thinking education institution in Dunedin, NZ has embraced WikiEducator as a collaborative project development platform. Motivated by self-interest and needs for power, achievement and and/or affiliation, Otago's learning design group and educator-authors are increasing their productivity and performance - and experiencing a shift in their power relations - by collaboratively developing OERs within the context of a complex and self-organizing ecosystem, open-source technology hiccups, wiki skills gaps, cultural differences and resistance to change.


Educators from learning organizations participate in the WikiEducator community due to their Need for (1) Power (n-Pow); (2) Achievement (n-Ach); and/ or (3) Affiliation (n-Aff), as defined by David McLelland's Theory of Needs Motivation.


motivation, *wiki, collaboration, cooperation, education, organizational change, *open source, linux, FOSS, fear, resistance, needs, technology, technological change


Content analysis, unobtrusive measures. Also proposing an workshop with a performance intervention and measuring the results against baseline data (i.e., vs. workshop without intervention).


Babbie, E. (1998). The practice of social research. Eighth Edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company.

Lamb, B. (2004). "Wide Open Spaces: Wiki, Ready or Not", in EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 39, no. 5 (September/October 2004): 36-48. Retrieved December 6, 2008 from

McLelland, David C. And Michael Burnham (1976). Power is the Great Motivator, Best of Harvard Business Review: Motivating People (2003).

WikiEducator Statistics Reports (Tables & Charts). (2008). Retrieved December 5, 2008, from

WikiEducator Strategy and Timeline: Quick Facts and Highlights. (2008). Retrieved December 2, 2008, from


Concept Review (draft)

(1) Proposed Solution

  • Motivated self-interest is responsible for community growth and content development, within a complex, self-organizing wiki environment.


  • Educators from learning organizations participate in the WikiEducator community due to their Need for (1) Power (n-Pow); (2) Achievement (n-Ach); and/ or (3) Affiliation (n-Aff), as defined by David McLelland's Theory of Needs Motivation.

Research Question

  • What motivates educators from learning organizations to provide free and open educational content on WikiEducator?

(2) Principal Outcome Measures

Proposed Intervention

Currently, several challenges facing educator-authors on in using WikiEducator

  1. Confusing account creation procedures and non-user friendly mediawiki software
  2. Their lack of confidence in using wiki skills
  3. Their lack of understanding of how to operate within the WikiEducator culture and community, and a self-organizing ecosystem.

Redesigned Wiki Skills Workshop

  • A redesigned wiki skills workshop (with facilitator support) to increase WikiEducators' effectiveness, by integrating learner-centred innovations and revisions, and comparing the results against prior workshops and interventions. This incorporates:
  • An accelerated 5-day wiki skills workshop
  • Using a feedback page for direct wiki communications
  • Providing enhanced facilitator support for WE account creation/registration, logging in and properly setting up preferences (so that users can automatically received WikiAdmin email notifications for page changes and modifications), at the beginning of the course.

Measures of Educators' Effectiveness

The following measures will help assess WikiEducators' Effectiveness in the context of an educational institution (i.e., Otago Polytechnic) that has embraced WE as collaborative OER development platform. They include:

  1. Number of user accounts registered on WE
  2. Rate of conversion from new users to active contributors on WE
  3. Number, diversity and growth of active contributors on WE

1. Number of user accounts registered on WE

This measure is a clear indication of the number of educators actually putting WE through its paces. In general, registering an account on WE is an anonomyous process; however, Otago's educators (including learning designers) will be aware of who their colleagues are, and their progress beyond account registration. Otago will have a dedicated subdomain space on WE (i.e.,, and comprehensive web statistics and data will be available, based on WE's metadata, Google Analytices and Otago's scripts/customizations (i.e., )

2. Rate of conversion from new users to active contributors on WE

This measure shows that WE's are migrating from their 'Newbie' status to a more active role. An Active Contributor is an Otago educator-author who has completed the skill requirements associated with the WikiBuddy level which includes creating and inserting wiki-pedagogical templates; developing one lesson or content resource for WE; and adopting another user in the Otago WE community. This is equivalent to 75 edits over a 5-day period (in an L4C wiki skills workshop. WE defines Active Contributors as having more than 100 edits per month.

Otago Active Contributors will be engaged in organizational meetings and discussions (on- and off-wiki), starting new WE projects, contributing to their colleagues wiki pages and beginning to collaborate in an effective meaningful way. They will also be better positioned to understand the nuances of the wiki culture (i.e., how to exercise 'professional courtesy' with colleagues on-wiki); how to develop taxonomies for the lack of organization; and how resources and knowledge can pool in the Otago WE Community. They will begin to experience the aha's and insights associated with the wiki experience: just how powerful the software is, and how they can improve individual performance and productivity, and migrate to just-in-time learning without facilitator support. Active Contributors will experience greater control over their performance; exhibit greater influence and leadership in their communities; and experience lower levels of stress and anxiety in the Otago WE Community. As the conversion rate increases, it is an important indication of the maturity of the Otago WE community and project development space, and an indicator of the potential for meaningful project collaboration ahead.

3. Number, diversity and growth of active contributors on WE

At the heart of a sustainable Otago Community of WikiEducators, is the number, diversity and growth of active contributors. These outcome measures and associated timeline are indicators of a credible and maturing community-of-practice, increasingly drawing in serious educators (who are concerned about peer review and program quality). Otago will be able to identify when it is 'crossing its own chasm' and individual and organizational resistance is decreasing; and how its adoption curve is migrating from innovators and early adopters to early- and late-majority (Moore, 1991).

Once these OER projects get rolling, WE's production environment kicks into high gear, enabling mass production of customized learning resources at a fraction of the cost of traditional publishing alternatives. Otago's educator-authors will gain a greater sense of their power and influence. They will be able to easily update and revise their learning materials, and publish them for small production runs, such as the groundbreaking OER Handbook for Educators V1.0, written and published entirely on WE. (Wiley, 2008) They will be able to confidently manage cost-effective project collaborations with like-minded WikiEducators from other educational institutions; increase their own effectiveness; and leverage Otago's OER leadership and experience nationally and globally.

(3) Methodology

The research methodology in this research project uses Content Analysis and Unobtrusive Measurement.

Content Analysis

In seeking to prove my hypothesis that educators are motivated by the need for power, achievement and/or affiliation, I will be focusing on discovering patterns that recur in different times and places (Babbie, 2008, p. 350) - namely, in public, recorded pronouncements and dialogue within open communities and sub-communities; online and offline meetings (recorded); or on public fora such as the main WE Discussion Group (formerly, the WE Mailing List), on Google Discussion Groups., or within related community discussion groups and WE nodes / spaces. Additional communication occurs through email discussions with attached documents and/or embedded hyperlinks to text, audio, video or other media.

As of March 4, 2009, the main WE Discussion Group had 521 members. It is the main communications channel for member discussion (i.e., postings) and is publicly available for anyone who wants to view it. Public communications also occur directly on the wiki (i.e., talk/discussion pages where comments are inserted directly in response to pages of interest to users).

These wiki pages use an open-source extension to the installed Mediawiki software (which drives WikiEducator) called Liquid Threads (LQT). LQT was a custom-designed to be the primary means of communications to support inter-individual and inter-project collaboration on WikiEducator. It had a number of important collaborative features, including assigning unique 'learner identifiers' for each posted message (for tracking individual messages and creating 'learning bubble' groups); and automatically notifying users via email of postings and changes to their Talk/Discussion pages. However, due to funding considerations, LQT software development was scaled back and these features have not yet been implemented.

Consequently, LQT's partial implementation has led to inconsistencies in performance and a cumbersome user interface, and has forced users to go outside of the wiki to communicate with each other (i.e., Google Groups). While collaboration takes place within WikiEducator, the fact that communication is somewhat external to the overall wiki site has compromised participation between educator-authors, inter-project connectivity and a sense of cohesion within the WE Community. In the future, LQT's promise may be realized, when it secures additional development funding and/or volunteer assistance.

Unobtrusive Measures

As a complex, self-organizing and social learning ecosystem, the WE project has dynamics that are common to traditional organizational structures and important differences. The flat wiki structure creates opportunities for increasing connection and collaboration, diminishing power distance (Hofstede, 1984, 1991). It also poses challenges to the established hierarchical order and work culture. which is a precursor to fear and resistance. Also, informal educators, learning designers and educators with less tenure have an equitable opportunity to voice their concerns and effect change within the wiki environment, as do more established and formally-tenured educators.

'Professional courtesy' seems to take a back seat to a free-wheeling open source culture where editing someone else's work is fine in the name of 'collaboration'. It's enough to wreak havoc on established 'respectful' relationships, established organization work practices and the well-preserved culture of the Academy.

This paper focuses on using unobtrusive measures (Webb, 2000) to research educators' motivations in the context of a public, online and rapidly-evolving self-organizing wiki community. Using this method sidesteps some issues associated with selection and investigator bias in terms of questionnaire design, surveys, interviewing methods and role/position (i.e., the author is an early adopter of WE, and a member of the WE governing Community Council.). However, there are ethical concerns with using online communication data and 'digital footprints' unobtrusively (Wikipedia 2008), and analysis and dissemination of results must be performed with sensitivity and tact.

In the wiki, communications are public, but an individual's decision(s) for making one decision over another is not. Recorded written and verbal communications of participating educator-authors are an important means for identifying and analyzing their public and rarely-seen rationale, motivations and intent. Such clues to their needs and motivations are affected by the communication source, the level of detail, language used, tone and communications privacy and confidentiality.

In reaching out to educators to join the WE project, the WE community has developed and leveraged its messaging to appeal to different stakeholder interests and motivations. Once the individual and organizational stakeholders have joined, each is is likely to respond to different appeals and messages.

There are several primary ways to 'join' and participate in the WE community, including:

  • Registering an account on the WE website ( - and create and edit pages and projects
  • Joining the WE main discussion group,
  • Joining a WE node / community-of-practice (i.e., Community Media, India) or discussion group
  • Registering for free wiki skills training in the context of the Learning4Content initiative.
  • Write about WE in an external blog, website, newspaper, or journal

'In addition to analyzing the content of online and offline communications, I will examine and cross-reference existing data such as WE's own statistics as well as statistics for the Otago subdomain on user roles (on- and off-wiki), participation, contributions, revision history and community performance over time. For comparative and historical analyses, I will examine WE/Otago's strategy and governance documents and policies, wiki skills learning contracts, speeches and presentations, and observed participatory behaviours in line with the initiative's timeline and growth.


Babbie, E. (1998). The practice of social research. Eighth Edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company.

Hofstede (1991) Cultures and Organizations. McGraw Hill: New York, as cited in Global Organization Development, in Rothwell, William J. and Roland Sullivan (eds). (2005). Practicing Organization Development: A Guide for Consultants, 2nd Edition, John Wiley and Sons Inc. (published by Pfeiffer)

McLelland, David C. And Michael Burnham (1976). Power is the Great Motivator, Best of Harvard Business Review: Motivating People (2003).

Moore, Geoffrey A. (1991). Crossing the chasm : marketing and selling technology products to mainstream customers. N.Y.: Harper Business.

Concept Review Notes

  • Quote: "I'm in control on WikiEducator. That's what I want." - Nellie Deutsch, in conversation with Randy Fisher, October, 2008. n-Pow
  • Partcipatory Learning (n-AFF), and (n-Pow)
  • TX reference

For example, your concept review (kits 64 and 65) should compare and contrast what different authors have said about a given concept or hypothesis, in terms such as:

~ These two authors agree on most points, but they differ in their conclusions about X. The reasons they disagree are A, B, C.

~ This author’s findings disagree with mine, but his/her study was flawed by having such a small and biased sample (or by drawing on a research population from a very different situation than the one I am addressing; or …)

~ This author supports my point, but didn’t go as far as I am going in extrapolating her conclusions to start-up companies.

I've broken my string of successive on-time submissions this semester (a big improvement since last semester btw)....I've really been taking the Rest & Reflection to new heights....<smile> and consequently I'm a bit behind....I'll get my redraft Concept Review in shortly...

In the R&R, I have made a major insight, and that is really understanding Self-Organizing Ecosystems as a new, and more natural form of organization, vs. traditional organizational structure - top-down or bottom up. I'm now more aware that many of the old 'proven' tools simply don't work, because they can't anticipate or control what's going to happen in this new form of 'organization'. I'm using the term 'natural' to make the link between naturally occuring biologic and adaptive processes that enable new behaviours, projects and activities to emerge, in a way that is not possible in more stratified, role bound organizational forms. OMG - I'm starting to talk like an academic! Scary....<smile>

Hi Barclay,

Yes, I think that I'm ready for this ~ flying up there in the nether regions with the eagles.

I'm also mulling over double loop learning, because I see those processes as essential to informing the individual and clusters of individuals in their own processing, interpretation and action. I'm thinking that the DLL (which in itself is an interesting abbreviation - Dynamic Link Layer, in Microsoft applications) is inadequate. That, in these self-organizing ecosystems, there's a more complex learning that happens and informs future actions. Call it Multiple Loop Learning or Complex Loop Learning I dunno, but 'actors' in these settings get feedback from what they do, the environment and this feedback is in turn amplified by ALL of what's happening both in the environment, and within themselves.

Anyways, this MA project has been quite an interesting ride, and if I'm going to get it done, I have place some limits on the depth to my exploration here... (pity!). I'm also connecting the dots to what you said last term, that once you find a good topic, it's pretty much limitless to how one can explore...

These days, I've become more absent-minded, as I drill down into these ideas and peek out from among the clouds....It is pretty bright and exciting up here... <smile>


DLL Definition. Retrieved March 4, 2009 from

  • Resistance
  • Magic Number of 5 (Clustering)
  • KT and SO
    • Transformation (last Barclay email)
  • Scenario Planning
  • MLL - system, individual

Concept Review

Unobtrusive Measures

(3) Methodology

  1. Using refined workshop methodology + post workshop evaluation as methodology
    1. watching historical trending in behaviour
  1. Content Analysis - from forum postings, meetings, discussions, documents (primarily main Google Discussion Group -
  2. Unobtrusive Measures


The CR was a big part of your work in OMD 690, so this is a re-write, but with the particular goal of making applying CRITICAL THINKING to your review. So post here:

(a) A brief one-paragraph abstract of your project (with working title and keywords) (b) Your annotated TOC, but only for your CR chapters

Then (important) post as a single document ATTACHMENT (a) and (b) plus (c) The draft text of your CR chapters

Be SURE to include your name and date in the name of the document — for example “Smith_CR_1Mar08”

There may still be some gaps in your CRs — where that’s the case, make a brief notation (in the text) of what you intend to fill in later.

There are several Fieldkits (as you know from last term) that describe the nature of a concept review — see especially #64 and #65 (and perhaps #66). But more important for this term (and this week), take another look at the “devil’s advocacy” questions posed in last week’s topic, and especially, take a closer look at Fieldkit#07.

Here are the two main ways that your CR this term goes beyond the draft you prepared last term:

~~ First, you can focus the CR more clearly on your thought experiment. What have you found in the literature that will (a) help you predict the “findings” of your TX, and (b) interpret and qualify those findings. For example, what would different authors say either to support the accuracy of findings you report in the TX, or to disagree with their accuracy?

~~ Secondly, most of you summarized what you had found in the literature, but didn’t need to question what you found. But now, this term — and for your final paper —your job in the CR is not to simply summarize what others have said but to CRITIQUE them, especially the key sources that you rely on to make your own case. Specifically, ask yourself:

~ Does the author provide any real evidence for their claims, apart from isolated anecdotes? ~ How do authors differ from each other, apart from ways they agree? (This goes back to compare-and-contrast analysis.) ~ How valid are the authors’ points under varying conditions — different cultures, different kinds of organizations, different kinds of employees and clients? ~ How well do the authors apply “peripheral vision” to address issues outside a narrow set of objectives? For example, are they only looking at the bottom line, without considering human factors, or issues of corporate responsibility? Are they able to keep both economic and psychological considerations in view, when advocating policies? Are they able to articulate and weigh the pros and cons of a particular course of action? ~ Are the authors biased, by any number of factors?

Usually, each concept gets its own separate chapter. For example, the concepts you choose to cover in separate chapters might be (1) your proposed solution; (2) your principle outcome measure (rationale for selecting it, along with its limitations; and (3) the methodology you would plan to use if you were gathering actual data for your study. (In fact you won’t be gathering actual data in the field, but instead undertaking a “thought experiment” next term, either re-interpreting published data, or plugging in hypothetical (but realistic) information.

Some people like to devote a CR chapter to the nature and scope of the problem, but more typically the problem is defined (and its significance noted, with numbers if possible) in Chapter 1. If the problem is significant, you probably don’t need to belabor it much further. Where you can really offer some value added is in proposing what to do about the problem (with your intervention), and critically evaluating whether the intervention will likely work.

Your view of the problem will probably evolve over the course of this research in any case. You might start off by thinking the problem is lack of worker motivation (solved by bigger incentives and rewards), but your research might show that rewards are counter-productive, because the real root of poor morale is lack of control over personal productivity, or lack of opportunity for self-development on the job, or the depressing context of working in a factory for weapons of mass destruction.