WikiEducator:Community Council/Meetings/First/Finalise the Policy

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MOTION WITHDRAWN IN FAVOR OF THE ALTERNATIVE MOTION: Further consultation re the policy and seeing as this motion has not yet been seconded.

There have been serious reservations expressed by Elected Members and Wikieducator Users regarding aspects of the Draft Policy which is being used to ratify the first Council. Specifically, the sections relating to Nominated Members and Executive Committee. I move that the Draft Policy be reopened for consultation and developed into a final version by Users and Elected Members before any further action is taken in forming a Council beyond elected members. Leighblackall 22:56, 20 October 2008 (UTC)

Second the motion

Discussion of the motion

Bronwyn Hegarty as suggested an alternative motion and discussion follows:

Questioning the readiness of the Draft Policy

Some members are questioning the Nominated Members section of the Draft Policy and cite it as a vulnerability for the Council that might then lead to impenetrable power base established in the Executive Committee. These members wish to propose that the first task for the first Council be to further develop the Draft Policy into a final Policy for the first term. It is held that unanimous agreement should be obtained around a final Policy before relevant actions take place in relation to that Policy.

So far 2 Elected Members have questioned the Draft Policy: Leigh Blackall and Minhaaj ur Rehman. Their common concern relates to the Nominated Members and Executive Committee. Leigh has recorded his concerns relating to this on the discussion page of the Draft Policy. Leigh proposes that the Policy being still in Draft is still open for development, and that the appropriate time for that development is now - now that we have elected members to look at it. Leigh proposes that the first task of the Council is to find a way that ensures an acceptable level of participation for a collaborative development of a final version for use in the first term of Council.

Other Elected Members argue that the Draft Policy is the final policy for the first term, and that it has had its open consultation period. They hold that the Draft Policy cannot be changed now that elections have taken place based on it, and that amendments can only be made for the next term.

Policy development process

The community process adopted for the formulation of the Draft Policy included the following steps:

  • A series of opening questions were posted on 27 October 2007 to the community as the foundation for guiding the formulation of the policy;
  • 25 October: Informed the Interim International Advisory Board of the need to commence development of a governance policy having reached 1,839 users nearing the threshold of 2,500 users;
  • 27 October 2007: Open invitation posted to the WikiEducator list requesting feedback, guidance and recommendations on the drafting of the policy.
  • 28 October 2007: Notification posted to the Interim International Advisory Board requesting feedback on the draft questions;
  • This page was open for discussion for approximately 8 months.
  • 25 January 2008, A reminder posted to the WikiEducator community inviting comment on the discussions.
  • A transcript of these discussion has been posted on the WikiEducator Community Council discussion list.
  • The feedback from these discussions were collated into a draft policy document open for editing by the community.
  • 22 June 2008, we invited feedback from the community on the draft policy by posting an invitation to the WikiEducator list as well as publicising the schedule for achieving community consensus on the policy by 7 July 2008.
  • 22 June 2008: Interim International Advisory Board requested to review and see whether the draft policy represented the concerns and suggestions of the Community from the preliminary discussions. This message specified that silence would constitute assent to the draft policy.
  • On 10 July 2008, the policy was protected from editing as the founding document for the elections and constitution of the first WikiEducator council.
  • This policy was the basis on which the Council elections were executed.
  • In accordance with the published policy, the inaugural Council is tasked to ratify the policy.

Debate this issue

  • Follow the link for the debate


Note: All draft documents are to be developed in the wiki

Resumes from members

To assess the tapestry of skills and experience of the elected members will be requested to submit a one-page resume with headings for:

  • Nationality and place of residence;
  • Qualifications; and Chronological summary of professional experience.

This will assist the elected members to identify skills gaps of the elected members. These resumes will be linked from this Community Council page.

What are the needs of WikiEducator

Our Policy requires us to nominate members "who will best fulfill the mission and needs of WikiEducator" -- What are WikiEducator's priority needs for the next two years?

  • Financial sustainability
  • Operational maturity (our current hosting environment should be considered our biggest technical risk) -- Peter Rawsthorne 18:16, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
  • More content
  • More users of WE content (increase in reuse and localization)
  • Further development of (and community participation in) quality improvement initiatives -- Peter Rawsthorne 18:16, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Consistent use of categories, templates and WE "best practices" -- Peter Rawsthorne 18:16, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Easier use of technology for non-technical people
  • Inclusiveness toward speakers of languages other than English
  • Greater participation from K12 -- Peter Rawsthorne 18:16, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
  • We need to have a general understanding of the STrategic focus/plan for WE as orignially set out by the WE project Management team. --Victor P. K. Mensah 14:39, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
  • We need documented and followed approaches to changing the WE code base. -- Peter Rawsthorne 15:08, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Other thoughts?

Cursory analysis of the election results

The democratic process has achieved a good result. There is a good geographic spread:

  • Asia -- 3
  • Pacific - 4
  • Africa - 2
  • Europe - 1
  • North America & Caribbean 5

There is a good spread between developing and industrialised countries.

The WE Council is fortunate to have four experienced woman leaders among our elected members. However, there is a male gender bias on our elected Council. The Council will need to think proactively about nominations -- preferably woman leaders with experience in education and a commitment to the peer collaboration model of OER when filling the skills gaps on Council. The Council should consider the need for a dedicated Gender officer to help our community in promoting gender equality.

Tentative thoughts about nominated members

Looking at the composition of the elected members -- the following gaps should be considered:

  1. Expertise in managing large open projects -- eg someone from the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF). WikiEducator has a good track record in collaborating with the WMF (eg wiki-print and Kaltura). WE should foster and promote ongoing collaboration among our respective projects.
  2. Legal expertise, eg someone from the Berkman Centre for Internet and Society @ Harvard, ?
  3. Strategically the relationships between OER and the publishing industry will become increasingly important, and it would be important to have someone with relevant experience in educational publishing;
  4. Copyright and licensing will continue to be a challenge in the OER arena. The Executive Director of CC-Learn could add considerable value and expertise to our team. (Assuming of course that he'd be willing to serve.)
  5. The Council is very thin on representation of the OER interests in the school (K12) sector.
  6. What about the other big OER projects that subscribe to the free cultural works definition, eg Connexions? The OER movement needs to figure out better ways to work together.
  7. Consider candidates who stood for the election but did not make the final list of 15 (Suggested by Valerie)
  8. Consider candidates outside of the Commonwealth --Randy Fisher 20:06, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
  9. Consider candidates who have significant expertise in managing / operating / navigating within educational institutions (this is critical, since one of WE's goals is to obtain 1 or 2 FTEs within institutions to develop curricula --Randy Fisher 18:20, 2 October 2008 (UTC) - I believe we already have this expertise - see my post on the talk page--bron 22:57, 21 October 2008 (UTC)

Thoughts on the procedure to choose appointed members

(Comment.gif: Please also see the Discussions taking place on the Discussion page )(Liquid Threads) - What I think the policy says we are obligated to do Since the Draft Open Community Governance Policy does not call for a special procedure, it can be assumed that the elected members are to select their appointed colleagues by normal means of resolution. In other words, at any meeting, an elected member can move to appoint a new member, and if seconded then the resolution should be voted on as would any other, with the majority position prevailing. That's it, it's simple.

Note that while the Draft Open Community Governance Policy calls for appointed members, it does not necessarily require ten, but specifies a minimum of four and a maximum of ten. In this, there seems to be no prohibition against appointing a few members to fill obvious gaps and meet the threshold, and leave spaces to add others should it later prove advantageous. Thus, from my reading of the policy, I believe it is incumbent on the elected members to move forward with four appointed members at the first meeting, but at that point the Council can be considered fully constituted, and the other appointed positions can be filled at the same time, later, or not at all whilst still fulfilling the policy's mandate.

Steve, that's my reading to. Once we have 4 nominated members -- that's a fully constituted Council. At the same time nothing precludes us from nominating 10 members right from the start. Setting up the first Council was always going to be difficult -- We have an opportunity to bring on board the best skills we can taking into account the requirement we will be facing in Phase 3 of our strat plan. I think its far better to establish a team from the start than go through repeated induction processes for members that are nominated piecemeal. It shouldn't be too hard to find 10 nominated members, particularly if we also include the candidates who did not make the "top" 15. --Wayne Mackintosh 01:49, 2 October 2008 (UTC)

What I personally think we also ought to do In the interest of openness, I believe that those who intend to make a motion to appoint a member should do so here, ahead of time, so that debate on their merit can occur amongst the Council and the community prior to the first meeting.

Hi Steve -- I personally support the notion of an open process where members of our Community (outside of the elected council) also have the opportunity to put forward nominations for consideration and decision by the elected members. We also need to think practically about the process. There are potentially privacy issues --- for example we cannot openly discuss one nominee above another without their consent. What I'd like to propose is a simple nomination process, where, for example:
  • two WikiEducator members are required to confirm a valid nomination (this can be done via private email, conversation or phone call)
  • Confirmation of availability and acceptance of the nomination by the individual concerned prior to being published on the wiki. We must give nominees the right of refusal.
  • A requirement for WikiEducators nominating folk to state their reasons for the nomination -- We nominate Ms ABC because ........ This way council will have a better idea why the community has made a nomination --Wayne Mackintosh 22:48, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

I also personally would prefer to look first to those candidates who stood for election but did not meet the threshold, as well as to those who administered the election. I think we should look outside the community if that's what it takes to fill a real need such as technical or legal expertise, but I do not think we should appoint members to our governing Council solely to foster alliances with other organisations -- an honorary Advisory Panel would do that just as well. --SteveFoerster 22:02, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

I agree -- appointing folk to foster alliances should not be the basis for nomination. We need to fill real gaps that will serve the best interests of WE --Wayne Mackintosh 22:48, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
I can't see why we need to bring expertise in as Nominated Council Members. We certainly need consultative expertise when specific issues and agendas arise, but why do we need such consultants on Council and without democratic election? It seems to me that we should aim to retain flexibility in who we consult with for decisions we make because we can't possibly know what issues or proposals we are to face in the future (can we?). The only reason I can see is if we have a very low engagement level in the Council - at which point I would refer to Steve's suggestion to look first at other candidates from the election.
The Governance Policy we are referring to has always been in draft, and up until now has not really had the input of more than 2 people, more obviously 1. Now that there are elected council members, it makes sense to me that the first task of those people be to develop the Policy from its current Draft status, to a final agreeable version to guide the first term. Anything short of that - or implementing a disagreeable Draft Policy as though it must be final strikes me as suspect conduct. We now have an opportunity to truly develop a policy in a collaborative way because we now have a number of people elected and with responsibility and perspective of this Policy. Before the elections, it is evident that we did not have anywhere near an adequate engagement level in the consultation period of the Draft Policy, nor anyone with perspective on it. If it is final, why is it still called Draft? --Leighblackall 21:16, 4 October 2008 (UTC)
Just my words Leigh but you aren't alone on this. I have repeatedly mentioned the lack of rationale for nominated council members. Now that we have enough support on this, we should remove the policy where it states that we need nominated members. I think elected council has enough members with pertinent skills to handle council affairs appropriately. Lets modify the policy page. --minhaaj 22:05, 4 October 2008 (UTC)
The Draft Policy is called because it is to be finalised by fully constituted Council. Fully constituted Council is 15 elected and 10 nominated members. Only after that the word Draft can be removable.--Pankaj 06:53, 21 October 2008 (UTC)
I take it from this Pankaj, you are not concerned by the unwieldy size of the council, the likelihood that voters (or Elected members) did not appreciate the Nominated Members aspect, the in fact negligible participation in the consultation period, the fact that such an unwieldy council size will necessitate an Executive Committee, and the potential of that resulting in a stacked Council, and all of this undermining confidence in the democracy of Wikieducator (as it has for me and a few others who have expressed concern here). I take it that you are happy to over look all of this in favour of adherence to a less than clear process that in all honesty, doesn't have to be followed. --Leighblackall 21:15, 21 October 2008 (UTC)
I do have concerns Leigh, on the Council and on the procedures in the democratic environment of our WE and I can say so as a resident of largest democracy of the World. That is why I opinion that full house should take things forward as per the policy that was drafted much before elections. When I contested, I was much aware that I am going to be among 25 members not only with 15 elected members. Half way through, before completion of the process of constitution of FULL Council, I firmly beleive that even part (elected) members have little role in coucil affairs particulary to deliberate of Draft policy. Leigh, why are we afraid of 25 member council or why we feel that 15 member council is suffice? More opinions will certainly a strength to our Council. --Pankaj 05:44, 22 October 2008 (UTC)