|Work in progress, expect frequent changes. Help and feedback is welcome. See discussion page.|
WikiEducator (WE) is a global education project focused on the development of a free and open education curriculum by 2015, in line with the UN's Millennium Development Goals. This free content is being developed for use in schools, polytechnics, universities, vocational education institutions and informal education settings and removes barriers to active and meaningful international collaboration among educators (formal and informal), regardless of educational level, language, culture, technology, and geography.
It is a project supported by the Commonwealth of Learning in Vancouver (an intergovernmental organization focused on open and distance learning) that recognizes that Western business models can neither accommodate nor scale cost-effectively to meet the demands of developing nations for affordable and universal education. Developing countries simply don't have access to a large pool of local teachers and instructors and affordable curriculum development services and educational texts.
“There is something fundamentally wrong with our world considering that the majority of our children will not be going to school. Consider, for example, that in Sub-Saharan Africa, 76% of the children in the age group for the last three years of high school will not have the privilege of attending school. We do not have enough money to train the teachers or build the classrooms needed to achieve universal secondary education.” (Wayne Mackintosh, 2007)
WE uses free and open source mediawiki software to bridge-the-digital divide (a WE slogan). This software allows multiple authors from any location to collaborate on developing educational content. (This software was developed by the Wikimedia Foundation, and is the same that powers Wikipedia, the world's largest encyclopedia.) There is a close, yet arms-length relationship between WE and Wikipedia, as WE project founder, Dr. Wayne Mackintosh sits on the International Advisory Board of the Wikimedia Foundation, and WikiMedia Deputy Director Erik Moeller sits on WE's Interim International Advisory Board - http://www.wikieducator.org/WikiEducator:Advisory_Board (Erik Möller is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Wikimeida Foundation, and co-authored the Definition of Free Cultural Works with Benjamin Mako Hill.)
How it Works
One of WE's most important success factors is the focus on projects of interest to formal or informal educators, says WE founder Dr. Wayne Mackintosh, Education Specialist for e-learning and ICT policy for the Commonwealth of Learning. (http://www.col.org)
Considering their interests and priorities, educator-authors decide on the content they want to develop on WE as: (1) individuals; (2) a dyad, small cluster or larger group of authors from one or more educational institution(s) / organization(s); (3) a cross-disciplinary group of authors in one or multiple locations, who have self-organized individually or have been appointed to work together on a project, such as the Sustainability course at Otago Polytechnic in New Zealand. Other possibilities abound, and content may be developed in line with pre-existing course requirements, pilot projects and/or emerging needs.
A WE project consists of either a single wiki page or a series of hyperlinked pages. Educator-authors create wiki pages by registering as a new user on WE. Afterwards, they can 'edit' any existing page on the wiki or create a new page, by simply entering text or adding their own contentt (i.e., syllabi, course outlines, learning activies, audio, video, images, hyperlinks) in a wiki editing box, and clicking 'save'. The wiki editing software has powerful features (i.e., templates, scripts, publishing) that are enabled by knowledge of the underlying 'wiki syntax' ~ the language of the wiki (similar to HTML for websites). Free wiki skills tutorials are available for educator-authors who wish to learn basic or advanced wiki skills (supported by a grant from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation of California).
WE is a global community of shared interest and support for educator-authors.
Its Big Hairy Audacious Goal is to build a thriving and sustainable global community dedicated to the design, development and delivery of free content for learning in realisation of a free version of the education curriculum by 2015. WE is governed by an Open Community Council of elected members (This paper's author is a member.) The 'people' who support the WE project are the educators, learning designers, multimedia and technology support individuals who form the WE community. This includes organisations and institutions. In the case of a single educational institution, this would involve educators, learning designers, multimedia and technology support and administrative and executive support people.
WE is also a global Community-of-Practice whereby educator-authors use WE for their motivated self-interest: by participating in and/or contributing to a self-organizing social learning ecosystem aligned to the values of the Freedom Culture (see glossary). WE is a community-driven and open platform for peer learning and participatory action learning: to access and share ideas, content and practices for technology innovation; and to collaboratively develop, share, customize, localize, and re-use open educational resources (OERs).
WE is also a global Community of Support for educator-authors to learn about and experiment with new, free and open-source technologies that widen access and reduce the cost associated with providing and updating and revising education primarily through the use of free content; improve the time-to-implementation and quality of free educational content; develop sub-communities, projects and nodes and related communities-of-practice; and build capacity for mass-collaboration in the authoring of free content.
The debate between forces wanting stronger copyrights and others wanting unfettered access to open and free knowledge has been a galvanizing force for the Free Culture Movement, which believes that access to open and free knowledge is a basic human right — ranging from software to all cultural and creative works. (Lessig, 2004). Within WE, there is an ongoing dialogue about restrictive copyright provisions for educational content that cannot be used, modified or updated to reflect local teaching and cultural contexts without 'expressed written permission', payment or both. For example, teachers in small villages in Ghana, are unable to (cost-effectively) localize Basic English 101 materials or Grade 8 math texts, because of various legalities, prohibitions and copyright restrictions as to how, and on what information devices the content can be used (i.e., books, cd’s, dvd, ipods, etc.).
WE has taken a stance, and history will judge its success or failure. At the time of writing, being a member of WikiEducator is a values statement: participating educator-authors agree to work within the boundaries of open copyright licensing, whereby all works on WE are licensed as Creative Commons-By-Attribution or Creative-Commons-By-Attribution-Share-Alike. The CC-BY-SA copyright statement ensures that any authored content on WikiEducator may be used with complete freedom: for either noncommercial or commercial purposes.
Disruptive Economic Models
The phenomenal success of Wikipedia has turned the tables on traditional economic and business models which suggest that most people will only do serious and useful work when they are paid at the highest market rate. In both Wikipedia and WikiEducator, there are many examples where highly-competent educator-authors have contributed their time, talent and resources for seemingly less-than market rates of compensation ~ financial or otherwise.
With these disruptive business models in force, educator-authors are still required to develop and revise their curricula to ensure better learner outcomes – as part of their professional job description. Working on- or off-wiki does not mitigate their professional need to to seriously develop, update and revise useful educational materials (i.e., course outlines, syllabus, handouts, media, learning activities, formative reviews) to reflect changing societal conditions, cultural influences; local contexts and teaching innovations.
WE offers a collaborative peer environment and complex, self-organizing ecosystem to test-drive new technologies and educational and cultural approaches in a global peer learning community. Educator-authors learn from each other, and share insights and experiences in a way that enriches their 'job description' in a tangible and meaningful way. This form of 'payment' is not always immediately visible (even to the individual educator-author), when measuring through purely quantitive means.
A critical distinction between Wikipedia and WikiEducator, is that most WE educator-authors actually do receive financial compensation from educational institutions where they are employed – and choose to develop However, they choose to develop OERs 'on-wiki' to satisfy basic their needs for power, power, achievement and affiliation (McLelland, 1976).
Similarly, educational institutions which make the decision to license their educational works as CC-BY (such as Otago Polytchnic of New Zealand), and then embrace WE as an institutional OER development plaform for employee collaboration and free content authoring are also satisfying the organization's needs for power, achievement and affiliation. (McLelland, 1976)
What Motivates Them...?
1 Overview (a kind of executive summary)
2 Basis of the main message (personal experience; key author(s) and core theory - wiki-process
3, 4,& 5 Concept reviews (of the theory, the intervention, critical analysis of outcome measures — success, benefits, side-effect — and perhaps the research method) — one chapter for each concept.
6 Specific evidence in support of your message (see Kit #63)
nellie – need for power, self-empowerment, motivated self into it....
“When we go off WE, it's like a dungeon. The forum is so controlled, you can't breathe.” - nellie, WikiAmbassador
7 Devil’s advocacy. Evidence and examples for counter-arguments against your message
8 Implications for action (recommendations reflecting critical thinking about the validity and appropriateness of the proposed intervention— see Kit # 07)
9 Conclusions (personal reflections on what you learned, esp. surprises and shifts in your understanding.
- Interviews about success factors, Wayne Mackintosh
- Sustainability course, Otago Polytechnic - http://www.wikieducator.org/Sustainability
WE Growth Timeline
Open Community Council
* Note from Wayne Mackintosh, Nov. 4, on main Google Discussion Group: http://groups.google.com/group/wikieducator/msg/c507c5881d2da402?hl=en
"Just a brief clarification -- the notion of a free curriculum should not be misinterpreted as an attempt to build a meta-curriculum for all nations. It has never been the intention of WikiEducator to suggest that a single curriculum would serve all nations and all people -- this would be travesty for education.
It would be more accurate to say that our project strives to work collaboratively with the freedom culture to develop free content resources in support of national curricula, for all sectors by 2015 (as articulated in the M&E plan: http://www.wikieducator.org/WikiEducator:M_and_E_Overview )
Education is contextually bounded and will always be driven by the local needs and circumstances of the learners we are aiming to serve. I hope that we will not become too trapped in pedantic debates regarding the articulating our vision at the expense of what WikiEducator is really about.
Sure, WikiEducator is not the only show in town --- but it is founded on a core set of values, which are not necessarily embraced by projects like GoogleDocs, Youtube, Flickr etc. WikiEducator has a demonstrated track record and commitment to helping educators -- largely from the developing world in becoming equal participants in sharing in the potential of what social software can offer. There is no educational wiki project in the world that has made a greater effort in building capacity in helping educators live out the real purpose of education -- i.e. to share knowledge freely."
- Open Source options available - [http://oedb.org/library/features/how-the-open-source-movement-has-changed-education-10-success-stories How Open Source Has Changed Education - 11 Success Stories, including Moodle]
Core set of values underpinning the open source WikiEducator project - individuals and partners 'buy-in' to it, before creating content and developing collaborations
- McLelland Theory of Motivation - n-Ach, n-Aff, n-Pow
- purpose, projects (paid service, unpaid service, community service learning, "bounties"
- organization's values, priorities as connected to motivation - IP Policy, Learning, pilot project
- Individual needs as connected to motivation - behaviour, and leadership behaviour (i.e., behaviour on one's project, leadership behaviour as connected to other projects)
- see response to Joe S.
- Affiliation - community connection, culture -affinity and affiliation, to a learning system ecology
- Achievement - leadership, completing curricula, building one's reputation, leadership, expertise in global community - that's highly recognize' 'energy' and 'freedom' to play in a new environment
- Power - control over one's destiny, ranking in community, using technology (latest advances, Web 2.0), increased influence, opportunities, ability to exert control within development environment