WikiEducator (WE) began its life as the brainchild of New Zealander, Wayne Mackintosh, and grew and flourished while Wayne served as an Education Specialist, eLearning and ICT Policy at Commonwealth of Learning (COL) in Vancouver, Canada.
Recently, Wayne and WE have moved back to New Zealand, and WE is now operated under the auspices of the newly created Open Education Resource (OER) Foundation that was officially launched on 17 September 2009.
WE provides free training for its community members through a series of workshops and seminars conducted online using WE itself, Google Groups, and though live events using the WizIQ web conferencing system. I got a late start, actually 5 days late, but quickly got caught up with assistance from the workshop host Patricia Schlicht and encouragement from other participants.
What makes the WikiEducator training so convivial is its pace and usefulness in guiding novice wikinauts through the core principles of wikitext in a manner that allows them to demonstrate incremental skill acquisition using a graded certification scheme. WE participants can earn designations such as WikiApprentice and WikiBuddy and all the way to WikiMaster – in a simple but effective manner that builds skills and confidence. This approach made it easy for me to catch up five days worth of training in a few hours over the weekend and feel part of the group, a sense of belonging that is a vital link when you try new or hard stuff beyond your normal comfort zone.
I can’t help thinking that my experience with WE to date is certainly not unique. Thousands of others have registered for this training – 14,000 by the most recent count.
And, as part of the training program, WE participants were asked to start a Sandbox activity in their user space. I’ve begun mine with a view to examining an agile workflow for OER development and deployment – not agile from a tech-weenie perspective, but agile from a teaching-human perspective.
The big issue, raised at a live web conference event on September 27/28 (depending on your time zone), using a whiteboard onto which everyone was invited to scribble questions was, “What comes next for WikiEducator– or maybe more importantly, what comes after what comes next?”
In a WizIQ whiteboard question for Wayne Mackintosh last night I also asked what the conceptual map for WikiEducator was, and followed it up with a few other questions.
How will WE work beyond its community authoring roots to service actual use cases of teachers who may be bound to open source or proprietary delivery systems in K-12 or higher education environments?
How do we meet teachers where they are in terms of beliefs, access, tools and experience and provide them with an agile WE OER workflow that allows them to extend themselves without imposing a pain-for-gain threshold that is too high?
Further updates coming…