In this course, we will use wiki technology for collaborative authoring of OER. Here, we provide a brief explanation highlighting the benefits of this approach. Our approach is distinctively open and encourages open design and peer collaboration models to maximise reuse and remix.
Learning Management Systems (LMSs) like Blackboard, Canvas, Desire2Learn, Moodle and Sakai are widely used by institutions of higher education as their preferred technologies for e-learning. Some institutions use blogs and other website technologies for publishing and hosting online learning materials.
While many of these software tools support inter-operability specifications and standards for importing content into their respective systems, including, for example, the IMS Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI), IMS Common Cartridge and SCORM, exporting content from these learning management systems for reuse across different delivery technologies is not universally supported. Moreover, these LMS tools were not primarily designed for collaborative authoring and reuse on scale.
In the OER world, implementing a peer collaboration model for OER design and development for reuse across multiple delivery platforms poses a number of practical challenges:
- How do we provide a ‘single source’ of content which can be easily integrated into a wide range of delivery technologies?
- How do we manage version control in an open collaborative development environment?
- How do we design for scalability for large numbers of prospective learners?
In a global collaboration like the OERu, it is unlikely that all partners would agree to use the same Learning Management System. In addition, if we were to use a Learning Management System for collaborative authoring, if one teacher, for example, were to make a change to the course materials, it would not be easy for the other members of the team to monitor and manage the detail of these changes. Similarly, remixing the sequence of the content or substituting assessments for different international contexts would not be easy to implement within a shared Learning Management System. Scalability for large student cohorts is also a major challenge. For instance, if a facilitator were to host a webinar and request a course cohort of thousands of learners to click simultaneously on a particular discussion forum post, the server infrastructure may not be able to deal with the amount of online traffic. One possible solution is to distribute the computing resources required for interactions across the internet, and this is the technology approach adopted for this online course development ecosystem.
Revision control software used by software developers, for example, GitLab or GitHub, would provide the functionality needed for version control. However, many educators do not have the technical skills to use revision control software.
In this course we use wiki technology because:
- Wiki authoring is relatively easy to learn when compared to sophisticated revision control systems used by software developers.
- The OER Foundation has developed free and open source software tools to publish a collection of wiki pages to WordPress – a low cost and open source content publishing platform. For example, this course website is hosted using the WordPress content management system. However, the content was authored in a wiki and, if you click on the “[EDT4OL/Portfolio/OER reuse Content]” displayed at the bottom of every course page on this site, you will be directed to the original source in WikiEducator.
- The wiki keeps a detailed history of all edits, including the ability to compare the changes made between revisions thus enabling teams to work together on course pages.
- The wiki software provides an effective way to manage the metadata and legal attribution requirements for reusing openly licensed images.
- As a collection of individual pages, it is easy to build different learning pathways for reuse and remix in different learning contexts.
- The Mediawiki software engine used by WikiEducator is scalable. We use the same software as Wikipedia – a top 10 website of the world.
- This publishing ecosystem enables easy publishing to multiple websites, so each institution can host their own version of the content while using web-communication tools for learners from different course websites to interact with each other.
- Mediawiki is open source software, which means any institution could establish their own wiki installation.
Thinking about advantages and disadvantages
Drawing on your own experiences of teaching, learning, and collaboration we invite you to share your thoughts and ideas on the pros and cons of using a wiki authoring model for collaborative OER development.
Please log in to the course site and post a WEnote comment below. Ideas to share:
- Pro: Wiki …… ; or
- Con: Wiki …… ; or
- I think that …. ; or
- I suggest …
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