Excellent set of questions
Not to worry about the "rough" reflections. WikiEducators don't bleed easily. Its refreshing to see that the wiki way is still live and well! - but more importantly that we are discussing these challenges openly in the community.
Governance is a process that makes decisions to help define expectations, and in terms of its Latin origins helps to steer a future (that hasn't happened yet). As a community we have the freedom to determine the leadership style we adopt to help steer our project to success. We shouldn't confuse governance with the leadership approach/style we choose to adopt. My personal view is that we should minimise bureaucracy and promote open and transparent discourse.
When the WikiEducator prototype started on a desktop server in Auckland - it has one registered account holder. As of today 1,847 accounts have been created and the site generates about 42 000 hits per day from about 3223 visitors per day, from 183 countries for the month of October. By comparison to the big wiki sites this is trivial. However, this is far too big for Wayne Mackintosh sitting in Vancouver to take the tough decisions on his own alone.
Early in the history of WikiEducator I asked the assistance of an Interim Advisory Board to help me with the task of setting up appropriate governance structures the wiki way. You're right the 2500 arbitrary mark was an arbitrary figure I unilaterally selected for a democratic election process. However, I aim to keep my promise to the community.
Hey - if we only get 100 votes - that's fine by me. If we end up with a gender bias, I hope that the WikiEducator community will help us in getting it sorted. But a promise I make is a promise I keep!
Also the very first thing we need to determine is the raison d'etre of the board. And its role. In my view, an open wiki like this exists independently of its infrastructure. It is primarily a community (which can do finely without a board). It is also a bunch digital data under a free licence; which implies that if the database dumps are made available that too is independent of the infrastructure, at least in theory. On the practical side, a wiki needs an infrastructure without which it cannot express itself, and would die. Currently the infrastructure is provided for by COL.
I agree - WikiEducator does not have a raison d'etre for the board. I have intentionally not attempted to speculate about the raison d'etre - I'm hoping that this discussion is the first step in attempting to develop the first draft. You're right - WikiEducator is more about community than the digital data available under a free content license and that is why its imperative for us to collectively decide how we move forward.
I'm really glad that someone on this list disagrees with the role of Executive Director. I dream of the day when the community takes responsibility for the difficult decisions. Hopefully, one day I'll have a life again <smile>. Seriously, WikiEducator has been the most rewarding project of my career - but it would be great to have a thriving community that jumps in and takes the difficult decisions.
So I guess that an important requirement for a board member is the willingness to step in and take difficult decisions with the responsibility and accountability that comes with the decision.
We must avoid bureaucratic corners - so my request to you is to help us develop a policy that does just this.
The reality is that WikiEducator is at the point in its evolution where donors are investing real dollars in our work. Part of that investment is the result of our commitment to a community governance structure that has instilled confidence in what we are doing. WikiEducator, through its Learning4Content initiative will be launching, to the best of my knowledge, the largest wiki capacity building initiative for free content in the history of human kind. We need your help in ensuring our success.
Great chatting again Philip - we'll count on you to keep us honest!
great talk going on here about the first WikiEd board elections. Me personally, I don’t have much experiences with voting systems, the only things I can say are of general nature:
- I find it useful to our aims, to have a board of elected persons, who take care. That can take decisions in the name of the whole community and act quickly in case of need.
- For me, WikiEd is truly a COL project and should remain a COL project. COL represents for me a guarantee of good quality distance education in the developing world. Therefore I would prefer a majority of board members to be COL members.
- I see WikiEd still in its initial phase, and development will be quick and dynamic. But his doesn’t mean board members have to change quickly. A term of 3 years seems fine to me.
- I also see the issue of defining a voter. I guess, many have opened an account because they were curious, or just for fun. So, how many “WikiEducators” do we have right now? If we say, only one out of ten who has opened an account is serious, it will be about 200. This figure would fit with the number of participants inscribed in the Google discussion group (155).
- What criterion should we use for a voter? Learning4Content demands 2 serious wiki pages in turn for the introductory course, doesn’t it? So, how about the condition that only people who have contributed at least 2 serious pages to WikiEd get the right to vote? I don’t think someone who does not meet this criterion will feel discouraged for further participation.
Thanks for all your efforts to find a good way of governance for WikiEd!
Günther --White Eagle 15:26, 30 October 2007 (CET)
Hi White Eagle,
Appreciate your feedback- thanks. I think that your estimate of active content developers in WikiEducator is about right. Its growing every day and once the Learning4Content project gets started - I expect that we will see exponential growth in the active members in our community.
WikiEducator is a flagship project of eLearning for education sector development at COL. COL is very serious about achieving a free curriculum by 2015 and we will support the our community in the realisation of these aims.