Questioning the use of 'Official'
I have refrained from making any comments regarding this workgroup, though I have been watching it, because I'm still trying to wrap my head around the idea of a globally recognised foundation and a wiki working together in this way. I'm not really familiar with Wikipedia's working relationship with the Wikimedia Foundation, but I get the impression that WE's working relationship with the foundation is one of symbiosis, perhaps more so than WMF and WP. Without WE, the foundation doesn't work. Do I have the right idea?
Good questions. I'm certainly not the most capable at clarifying, but I can say that I have a similar understanding of the relationship. Although I think there is more to the Foundation than WE. My reading suggests that WE is the main mechanism for achieving the goals and vision of OERF. OERF's About page provides the bigger picture of the foundation and how WE fits in. Note that there is a WE.com entity that is a for profit initiative (I think).
I expect Wayne will chime in here at some point and help us both come to a better understanding as to the relationship.
Symbiosis is a good description of the working relationship between the OER Foundation and WikiEducator.
I should also point out that WE has a different organisational history when compared to WP and WMF.
WE was originally administered under the auspices of an international agency i.e. the Commonwealth of Learning (an intergovernmental agency established by the Commonwealth heads of Government.) All operations and support were centrally funded by the Commonwealth of Learning. I must commend COL for its commitment to a community governance model for WikiEducator thus enabling the project to evolve as a community of association -- a community of educators working together on OER projects without interference in the community governance of the project. This is unusual in the world of international agencies and attests to COL's commitment to listen and respond to the voices of the communities it serves. The growth in Wikieducator as an international project had resulted in a number of difficult challenges. For example, COL is funded by Commonwealth governments, and therefore it was becoming increasingly difficult to justify expenditure supporting WE initiatives for members from non-commonwealth countries. Software development necessary to improve they way we work could not be justifiably be funded by COL as this fell outside the agencies remit. Moreover, it was not possible to raise donor funds for WE as the community has no legal status. The domain names of WikiEducator have been transferred to the OER Foundation an independent non-profit registered for charitable education purposes.
Symbiosis is a good description of the relationship between WE and the OERF. WE provides a solid foundation for the OERF to raise donor funding and membership contributions to support the work of WE. Similarly -- OERF is the sole funder of WE paying for the server infrastructure, training workshops etc. The OERF respects the autonomy of WE and is required to operate within the policies established by the community. For example, there are no allocated seats on Council for the OERF nor is there a requirement in the constitution of the OERF to have WE members on its board of directors.
OERF has a wider remit than WE -- and this is healthy situation. OERF has the flexibility to widen its sphere of operations regarding funding models etc, without compromising the core values of the WE community. WE has the advantage of a dedicated funder --- and the more success WE achieves, the greater the returns will be for our community. (Remember OERF is a non-profit, and all surplus funds are reinvested back into OER and WE.)
OERF subscribes to open philanthropy which means all planning documentation, funding proposals etc are developed openly and transparently in the wiki.
This is the model we have, and its worked well for WE to date, taking into account that the majority of WikiEducators are working within the formal education sector. Speaking candidly, the funding models and organisational structures are more appropriate for education institutions who are traditionally more conservative.
I apologise if it seems I'm asking all the same questions about that, Wayne. I've been doing whatever reading I run into, and am still having difficulty wrapping my head around the subject. I'm sure I'll figure it out eventually. That is a good explanation!