Establishing a Workgroup

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I took Wayne's first thoughts on process and added steps to reflect the earlier discussions (charter, commenting/annotation period, how many initiators does it take...). A few thoughts:

  • Might be useful to describe a few Workgroups to help people see the kinds of issues/innovations that might benefit from a Workgroup.
  • Need to more fully explain the minimum requirements for the charter, would be good to provide an example.
  • Provide a section describing communication options and minimum requirements
  • Need a more detailed description of the review and commenting stage. What needs to be created/specified to support this process?

Look forward to your thoughts and comments.

ASnieckus (talk)14:42, 5 June 2009

Hi Alison,

That's a good start. I was wondering about the following point:

  • "Submit the charter to the Council for evaluation...and approval?? (would like a different word -- something that indicates consent to move forward)."

This may be a redundant point in the sense that the Workgroup policy guidelines (once approved by Council & assuming we do this well) would provide the "authority" for establishing the workgroup. I think Council's role should be to ensure that due transparent process has taken place rather than exercising value judgements on the charter. Perhaps the step is to list the establishment of new Workgroup in a dedicated space in the wiki -- so that Council members (as members of the Wiki community) can contribute and comment on the proposal. Things we need to think about here:

  • Council may not meet regularly enough to provide prompt feedback or "consent" to move forward. There is an idea posted by Peter to look at a continuous asynchronous council -- this would address the time issue. However, Council has not taken a decision on this yet.
  • Council policy does cater for the establishment of an Executive committee to assist with day-to-day management issues, for example consents on workgroup charters -- but Council has yet to decide on whether an Executive committee will be established or not.

What do other folk think?

Cheers Wayne

Mackiwg (talk)15:45, 5 June 2009

I totally agree that the Council should evaluate for process rather than value judgment of charter. Although, I'm also thinking that Council would evaluate for completeness. Probably need to specify criteria for evaluation.

The previous step is working on the charter; seems like the group needs a way to indicate to the Council that they are ready for a first review. Maybe the verb should be request rather than submit.

Interesting, how this process will need to mesh with Council process. Hadn't really thought about that.

ASnieckus (talk)11:45, 7 June 2009

Hi Alison,

Yip -- I can see we're on the same page here.

Ideally the development of community policy should be based on a consensus model and there is a tacit acknowledgement that Council are the stewards of community process. Thinking practically, I suspect that in most cases/scenarios consensus can and will be achieved by the community.

While we should strive for consensus, arguably there are situations where for example, tensions between consensus and practicability may arise, for example:

  • Affordability -- e.g. proposals which would require financial resources which the community and/or OER Foundation do not have.
  • Legality -- where consensus proposals cannot be implemented for legal reasons (we're not all legal professionals)
  • Technical restrictions --- where consensus proposals relating to technology changes which for instance, create security risks or technological dependencies which are difficult to support (again we're not all IT professionals)
  • Conflicting values --- for example, WE since its inception has subscribed to its interpretation of the meaning of free content under the free cultural works definition. So for example a consensus proposal to adopt the non-commercial restriction on the site conflicts with the core values of the project.

So thinking about criteria for evaluation we could propose, for example, that Council should apply the following criteria:

  • Is the proposal affordable?
  • Does the proposal meet legal requirements?
  • Are there technical barriers to regarding the implementation of the proposal (this will be alleviated in part with the concurrent developments of the Technology policy workgroup
  • Is the proposal aligned with the core values of the WikiEducator project?
  • Does the proposal represent/or likely to achieve a consensus opinion from the community? (Some indicators of what we mean by consensus combined with the mechanisms to determine consensus would be useful.

Are there other criteria which Council should apply?

How this process will mesh with Council meetings etc -- is pragmatic, and whatever Council decides regarding frequency of meetings, the establishment or not of an Excom etc -- will be reflected and incorporated into the policy.

This is taking shape rather well -- I'll post a note on the main list encourage folk to take a look at the discussions and developments so far.

Cheers Wayne

Mackiwg (talk)15:43, 7 June 2009


Agree that consensus model suits our needs perfectly. As you suggest, we'll need to work out the detailed process --the WP article on consensus decision-making could be helpful in this work.

My understanding of consensus model is that further discussion and rework is necessary whenever one or more people disagree. Your practicability issues will likely reflect Council members' -- who are all WE members --and likely many others' opinions such that the proposal would fail to achieve consensus if any of these were inherent problems. To avoid denials/failures/much reworking later in the process, I think we should include these practicality concerns in our charter specifications (as well as the evaluation criteria, as you suggest) -- have the Workgroup address these up front. As with good learning design, the specs grow out of the criteria for evaluation (Ben, I've been reading Wiggins and McTigue "Understanding By Design" that I learned about on your distance lang learning page :-).

Will think more about evaluation criteria.

Agree, would like to get some more opinions on these topics.

Regards, Alison

ASnieckus (talk)05:32, 8 June 2009