WikiEducator Community Council

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WikiEducator Community Council - Policy Development & Governance (Case Study)

An online 10-day meeting was held with the WikiEducator Community Council to develop policy and review outstanding issues in the global user community of 12,000 educators from 120+ countries. The 25 elected and appointed Council Members are leaders in open education and come from diverse cultures, time zones and perspectives (i.e., Australia, Canada, Commonwealth of Dominica, Israel, Germany, Ghana, Germany, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, Uganda, Samoa, South Africa, USA). Council Members from well-known institutions include: Erik Moeller, (Wikimedia Foundation); David Wiley (Brigham Young University) and Ahrash Bissell (Creative Commons Learn); Christine Geith (Michigan State University) and Ken Udas (UMass). Randy Fisher (aka WikiRandy), Senior Consultant, Intersol is an elected member of WikiEducator's Community Council.

The 3rd WikiEducator Community Council meeting (April / May 2010) took place openly in WikiEducator synchronously and asynchronously, using Mediawiki, a free software wiki package written in PHP, originally for use on Wikipedia. It is now used by several other projects of the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation and thousands of wikis around the world.

Knowledge-Sharing & Meeting Workflow

  • The Chair must have a sound knowledge of the practice and application of Parliamentary Procedure
  • All participants need to be aware of Parliamentary Procedure, and ensure its use in all meetings - past, current and future (precedents)
  • Meeting Workflow: All meetings are conducted in accordance with Parliamentary Procedure, Roberts Rules of Order, and respects and appropriately adapts prior conventions used by successful wikis operating in open ecosystems (i.e., Wikimedia Foundation).

All Council Members have WikiEducator accounts and training in basic wiki skills and are able to use the wiki as an activities / discussion space for ideas, concerns and issues, notices, motions and votes. Accordingly, they are able to log in and 'sign' their name in attendance, and comment on motions and votes under development; active (requiring discussion and voting); and vote their approval, disapproval or abstention on votes (or any other business) of importance to them, their colleagues and the larger WE community.

All content (including draft documentation and prior discussions) are available in the wiki. This provides Council Members and the larger user community with an updated transcript for review and comment

Communications and Consensus-Building

Council Members were sent an email with a hyperlink to a page in WikiEducator, outlining the Aagenda, a progress update, approval of previous meeting minutes, approval of the current meeting agenda, old business and new business and action items for consideration.

Dedicated email forums (with threaded discussions) were used by members on a case-by-case basis to raise issues and concerns; however these individuals were encouraged to bring their comments and discussions into the wiki, so that all Council Members could see the communication and respond accordingly. Instant messaging and Voice Over IP (VOIP)phone calls were also used to support and remind Council Members about timely discussions, motions and votes taking place in the wiki. Communications were led by the Chair (Wayne Mackintosh).

Contentious issues were dealt with (i.e., discussion regarding embedding 3rd party media such as YouTube videos), leading to lively discussions from diverse viewpoints. Consensus is achieved through open and transparent dialogues taking place in the wiki, where Council Members can see colleague's stated interests and rationale for choosing one position or another. Straw dogs, consensus polling and prioritization criteria are developed prior to official voting (which also takes place in the wiki).

Communication of results is circulated via email using embedded links and threaded discussion fora to the larger WikiEducator Community, at the conclusion of the Council's business.