Reporters, Reporters, Reporters: Wikipedia for Credit, Western Governors U in Indiana, Redesigning College for Collab, and The World is Open in Boise
| Wednesday, September 08, 2010
|Yes school has been starting up during the past few weeks. But for me, there has been lots going on with reporters lately. This stuff goes in streaks, of course. Sometimes a couple of reporters will call me the same day and then other times there may be months or more without.
For instance, during late July and much of August, I have been talking to Jeffrey Young from the Chronicle of Higher Education about places and people in Asia he might this month when he is there. Jeffrey is visiting Singapore, China, Korea, and India. Like my recent book, A Special Passage through Asia E-Learning (also found here), Jeff is making such a journey in a physical sense. It seems like a fun (and important) trip. He has already been posting some of his experiences in Singapore.
As a second example, this past Thursday I received an email from Steve Kolowich, a writer for Inside Higher Education. He was under a tight deadline for a story about a new initiative of the Wikimedia Foundation. It involves asking professors to agree to integrate the creation and editing of Wikipedia entries into the assigned tasks of their course syllabi. They started with the recruitment of roughly nine professors from fairly high profile institutions such as Harvard, Georgetown, GWU, Indiana, Syracuse. They hope to expand this in the spring semester. For mroe details, one can go to this link:
Steven Kolowich, Wikipedia for Credit, Inside Higher Education, September 7, 2010. Available: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/09/07/wikipedia
Here is the resulting quote from me in the article:
“This is exciting to be sure!” wrote Curtis J. Bonk, a professor of instructional systems technology at Indiana and author of The World Is Open: How Web Technology is Revolutionizing Education, in an e-mail to Inside Higher Ed. “That is a key part the mission of all of us in a higher education setting — to generate as well as disseminate knowledge in different disciplines,” Bonk wrote. “Given that Wikipedia is now central to the knowledge dissemination process as well as the linkages between content and fields, such partnerships make sense.”
As you can see, this has me excited about the student empowerment possibilities; especially given my research on wikibooks. My response to Steven was much much longer, however. For those who are curious, my full response is below.
Steven asked me 2 questions for his article:
Steven's First Question.
1. What do you make of this?
There are several reasons for this:
1. Authenticity: It is an authentic class task. There is extensive discussion in higher education today for more authentic and engaging tasks. Millions of people use Wikipedia. Students know this. Professors know this. The professor does not have to design an assignment that has the “potential” to be used. Authentic and relevant tasks are motivating to students.
2. Value: As part of the authenticity of the task, there is value. In conducting Wikipedia page editing, they KNOW it will find use. Any work expanded will have huge payoffs. No doubt there. We all want others to find our work of value or use. Such a task—even a minor edit on a Wikipedia page—can give value and meaning to one’s life. And it is something a student or instructor can discuss with friends and family members (unlike most academic work). When that occurs, so, too, does enhanced self-efficacy, respect, and an appreciation for the work of others.
3. Collaboration: In the midst of all this, students are learning content that is current and doing so with others who have similar professional interests. This task is not just authentic and of high value, it often involves a team of people; most of whom one will never meet. The fact that they are collaborating on an online resource like a Wikipedia page is enough justification for professors to adopt this task in their classes. Students have to discuss and negotiate content, make decisions, share opinions and resources that they find to back up any changes in the content, contact other experts, engage in project management, etc.
4. Learning: In the midst of such tasks, they learn the material at a deeper and richer level. And they can reuse what they have created in other courses or projects. They can begin to realize the value of shared online content, knowledge management, collaborative problem solving, etc.
5. Creation, Refinement, and Changeability of Knowledge: Students who edit a Wikipedia page or wikibook will appreciate not just the refinement of knowledge, but also the fact that as research in an area expands and knowledge bases grow, what was held as truth one year or decade might not be in the next. In many ways, knowledge is socially constructed. Those who help in the quality assurance of Wikipedia pages will play a role in that social construction process as well as come to appreciate it. They will realize that there are always choices made in knowledge representation, organization, and dissemination.
Dr. Mimi Miyoung Lee at the University of Houston and I had students in our learning theory classes a few years ago critique chapters of a wikibook on learning theories created at the University of Georgia, then they edited one on learning theories that was initially created at Indiana Wesleyan University, and then they created their own wikibook on "The Practice of Learning Theories." Dr. Nari Kim, now assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh, did her dissertation on part of this project. What was important is that instead of reading and lecturing as a way to obtain knowledge, they were editors, reviewers, and creators of it. It was a unique process. As we note in a recent book chapter, this was not particularly easy to coordinate across institutions; see Bonk, C. J., Lee, M. M., Kim, N., & Lin, M.-F. (2009, December). The tensions of transformation in three cross-institutional wikibook projects. The Internet and Higher Education, 12(3-4), 126-135. In a recent book chapter, we offer much instructional advice to those attempting such tasks: Bonk, C. J., Lee, M. M., Kim, N., & Lin, M.-F. (2010). Wikibook transformations and disruptions: Looking back twenty years to today. In H. H. Yang & S. C-Y. Yuen (Eds.), Collective intelligence and e-learning 2.0: Implications of Web-Based Communities and Networking (pp. 127-146). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.)
6. Content Creators: Such a project lies at the heart of the land of the Web 2.0. Students are no longer passive consumers of information, but, instead assume roles of content creators, editors, and remixers of it. Students participate in learning or contribute to a growing knowledge base. Such an approach springs to life a thirst of learning and motivates students to understand a discipline at a deeper level than previously possible. Clay Shirky from NYU discusses this in his new book Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age. We are living in a unique times—this project from the Wikimedia Foundation is just one way in which it we know we entered a new age of learning; I call it “the learning century.”
7. Training of Future Instructors: This is a project that exemplifies problem-based learning. As such, students in public policy (or other) courses who engage in it, appreciate the empowering aspects of such a task. There should be extensive transfer to their own classrooms after they graduate. In effect, we need more such projects and partnerships with places like the Wikimedia Foundation. Hopefully, this is just a start.
8. International Service: Students as well as faculty members are providing an international service. Given that, this has the potential to explode. It might soon become as common to be a Wikipedia ambassador as one who presents at national and international conferences or reviews papers, agrees to be an external reviewer of dissertations, and writes recommendation letters. In fact, one might be justified in claiming that service on a few Wikipedia pages is more important than giving 2-3 papers at well known international conferences. Think about it!
9. Mentoring: A form of mentorship or cognitive apprenticeship is a stated goal of this project . My colleagues, Grace Lin from the University of Hawaii, Mimi Lee from the University of Houston, and Suthiporn Sajjapanrov, one of my doctoral students here at IU, and I have been researching the support structures in the sister project to Wikipedia; namely, Wikibooks (See: Sajjapanroj, S., Bonk, C. J., Lee, M, & Lin M.-F. (2008, Spring). A window on Wikibookians: Surveying their statuses, successes, satisfactions, and sociocultural experiences. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 7(1), 36-58. Available in HTML and (as a PDF). Despite numerous book project successes, there are many challenges and frustrations experienced at the Wikibooks website. Few book projects actually find completion. There is limited mentoring and support and few tools to help in the planning and completion of a wikibook. Of course, writing a wikibook is much more difficult than generating a page for Wikipedia. Expert mentoring and other forms of support that are promoted by this new initiative were highlighted. That is distinctive and definitely needed.
10. Expert Review: Millions of Wikipedia pages have been crafted in English alone but many call into question the review process of a Wikipedia page or any content generated on a wiki. This new initiative is a process for beginning peer review. It could start in public policy today and extend to tens of other disciplines by the spring of 2011 and more than 100 within a year or two. Imagine if there were thousands of professors teaching master’s and doctoral courses who attempted such a task. This is a key benefit for the Wikimedia Foundation but also for all users of its content.
11. Communities of Practice: When involved in creating or refining a corpus like Wikipedia, we enter into an established community. There already are people have “watch pages” over the content. This project will bring in more such experts to the review process. Students and new Wikipedians will be apprenticed into this community.
12. Time has Come: Given the millions of people who use Wikipedia, it makes sense to partner with those in higher education. That is a key part the mission of all of us in a higher education setting—to generate as well as disseminate knowledge in different disciplines. Given that Wikipedia is now central to the knowledge dissemination process as well as the linkages between content and fields, such partnerships are make sense. How many thousands or millions of K-12 teachers, college instructors, and corporate, government, and military trainers will find Wikipedia content more credible in a few years if this movement finds traction and grows.
Steven's Second Question.
Is it something that you think could actually gain traction, or do you think professors will decide that authoring and editing Wikipedia pages is not worth their or their students' time?
Definitely! I mean, here is one of the most used information resources in the history of humankind. Why not elevate it? Why not play a role in it? Why not become authors and editors of knowledge, instead of just passive consumers of it? Some graduate level classes are already creating textbooks for those in the developing world as part of the Global Text Project which originated at the University of Georgia (http://globaltext.terry.uga.edu/). If book creation is catching on, certainly Wikipedia editing will too—it is much easier to perform a Wikipedia editing project in a 15 week course than write a complete book or book chapter.
Keep in mind that if this is already happening in public policy, it will soon extend beyond it. Such activities will also make sense in schools of education. And without a doubt, medical and business schools will also find such projects attractive. Students can review and extend their learning, engage in new forms of collaboration, appreciate the digital world as a source for information resources, learn mentoring and tutoring skills, have a voice in the knowledge promoted within one’s field of study, etc. Wow, this is exciting to be sure!
...Ok, what do you all think of my response to Steven Kolowich from Inside Higher Education? Do you agree or disagree? Take a look at his full article (Wikipedia for Credit) which has mostly highly positive quotes from those he contacted. Then read the comments--they tend to not be so positive. So what do you think now?
In addition to the above, during the past weeks, I have been quoted in several otherr places (as I said, it goes in steaks):
First of all, I was interviewed by Jamal Eric Watson from Diverse Issues in Higher Education in the following article, “Indiana Launches Western Governors Program.” In Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, August 9, 2010. Available: http://diverseeducation.com/article/14023/indiana-launches-western-governors-university-program.html. Jamal wanted my take on this news as the state of Indiana adds a public university to its list of choices. Seems that many people are wondering what this means to the adults of Indiana who have perhaps completed some college courses but not a degree. I think it means a whole lot. Read the story. Jamal actually interviewed me back in July when I was in Sydney, Australia.
A few days before that, I was quoted by Bridget McCrea from Campus Technology Magazine for an article on how colleges and universities are building campus structures from a more student-centered and technology-rich perspective. This interview took place a few months ago (you never know when these things might appear). You are read the story here: “Remaking the College Campus.” In Campus Technology. August 5, 2010. Available: http://campustechnology.com/Articles/2010/08/05/Remaking-the-College-Campus.aspx?Page=1 (3 pages) or get the full (more printable) version
This is just one such article on how administrators in K-12 and higher education settings are now having to rethink the design of their buildings as learning becomes more active, continuous, nontraditional, online, and student-centered. Many other such pieces have been appearing lately. In fact, back in June Campus Technology had another highly interesting article that was more comprehensive. Some of the things I discussed with Bridget McCrea a few months earlier may have found their way in there.
Matt Villano (2010, June). “7 Tips for Building Collaborative Learning Spaces.” Campus Technology.
And another such article came out just last week. In it, my good friend, Les Watson from the UK, was interviewed. Les has led many interesting projects, including one on the Saltire Centre at Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland (see below for a link to a YouTube video on this very stunning learning environment; YouTube video #6 below). I got a tour from Les when the Saltire Centre was just being completed. What a place! Different types of learning taking place on every floor. If you need inspirational learning environments, Les is your man! Les is a God in this space. Perhaps someday he will push out a book that summarizing what is happening in this field.
By Bridget McCrea, September 1, 2010, Campus Technology, Remaking the College Library.
There are also some universities that offer YouTube videos of their cool new campus spaces:
1. Virtual Tour of New Grand Valley State University (GVSU) Library.
2. JISC - Designing Spaces: A campus for the 21st century: City Campus University of Wolverhampton.
3. tlc@bedford library - Royal Holloway, University of London, UK
4. The remodeled Ohio State Thompson Library (where I presented in early July). According to May 30, 2010 Chronicle of Higher Education, this was a $109 million dollar project that help renovate some 300,000 square feet of space in a library that was over 100 years old.
5. Yonsei University: The New Library (I visited this place in May of 2009. What a fabulous library. Yonsei is known as one of the most prestigious universities in Asia and perhaps the best in Korea. I saw different types of learning each place I walked, from social gaming to learn English to students hitting touch screens for events on campus to collaborative team labs to individual work stations to watch lectures or do work. An amazing place! This second YouTube video on the new library at Yonsei that I just found with less viewers is perhaps even more impressive. Watch this one and you will agree that the Koreans lead the learning technology world. It is a place unlike no other in the world.
6. JISC - Designing Spaces: A social and collaborative learning space: The Saltire Centre Glasgow Caledonian University. Now this one is another definite see. Such a unique place, the Saltire Centre at Glasgow Caledonian University. Wow. Wow. Wow.
Ok, that is enough YouTube videos for you to get a sense of the massive scale of these changes. Those wanting more information on building redesigns should read this report from the UK (in which Les had a hand or 2 in it), "Learning Landscape Report on Building redesign." Report. Or try out these tools.
In addition, those into K-12 spaces might check out the Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning which my good friend Gary David told me about 2-3 days ago. I just visited Gary in Sydney back in July...wish I had gone there to visit it now. Cool place.
Pushing on to still more news...The president of Boise State University, Robert Kustra, offered some very kind words about my book (The World is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education) in his state of the University Address a few weeks ago. It is a very energetic, thoughtful, and timely speech. So much is happening at one institution. Boise State seems to be preparing for the future of academia, not just heading up the football rankings as they have done this past week. If I was a new faculty member or recent Ph.D. graduate, BSU would be circled on my map as a possible place to go. I wrote to President Kustra and he asked me to be on his radio show in early November. Cool. There is a chance that I will head to Boise sometime later this year for a talk or 2.
He is his entire talk in the form of a blog post, “Read President Kustra’s Remarks from State of the University Address,”
President Robert Kustra, Boise State University, August 18, 2010
His speech is also available as a PDF document and you can download some of his slides:
1. A PDF of Address
2. President Kustra's Slides from his talk.
And Just Yesterday:
Yesterday (September 7, 2010) was also adventurous since I had to fly to Houston and back (same day) and speak at the University of Houston to accountants, finance, and IT people from the Chinese National Petroleum Company (the largest company in the world apparently) about e-learning stuffs (see slides). Had a blast. This was the 2nd time I have done that for them in the past couple of years. All 30 or so execs were under 40…they get over age 40 and it is difficult (if not impossible) to be promoted in China. Strange for those of us in North America to consider. But fun time anyway especially since I am a former accountant. (Sidenote: My World is Open book is currently being translated into Chinese by people at South China Normal University while East China Normal University will publish it.)
Tomorrow I speak via videoconferencing to people from the IU medical school (mostly in Indianapolis) about blended learning. Color PDFs of my slides for this talk are already posted as are the ones I did yesterday. Just visit my archives of my talks in TrainingShare.com.
I also plan to watch the Vikings play New Orleans with my Brett Farve #4 Vikings jersey on. My friends and family up in Wisconsin may not like that too much. Smile.