Friday, December 14, 2007

Community of learners or community of educators?

There's a fascinating discussion occurring over on Wikiversity: Wikiversity is dead. Long live WikiEducator about the future of the two projects. It is a discussion that has spilled over from a UNESCO mailing list that is discussing the Capetown Open Education Declaration.

The conversation quickly turns to two apparently competing models for open education: Wikiversity (WV) and WikiEducator. Wikiversity has a culture that has come from Wikipedia and embraces openness. WikiEducator is primarily a site for educators. If you're at all interested in open education, or just wanting to get up to speed on the movement this is a great read. A taste:

WV should focus on building online learning communities, as I believe that this will become the most important feature in online learning as content continues to grow in every quarter... So, learning communities should be the focus and the university metaphor (schools, topics etc) should recede.

The argument goes that as educators begin to work in semi-open environments such as WikiEducator, they will become more comfortable with openness and will migrate to completely open environments. I totally buy this. WikiEducator will not survive in the long run. It's the wrong approach. I'm on board with Umair Haque, "Open beats closed...enormous structural pressures...atomization...markets, networks, and communities...you know the score."

The problem with walled-gardens is that the walls are always porous. No matter where you decide to erect the walls you'll be wrong. In the end, if you're really focused on learning communities you come to the only conclusion you can, you have to let the learners in. As Ronald Reagan said, "Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

1 comment:

Bud said...

I pretty much agree with the idea that open approaches will win. In some sense, they already are. They're just bypassing traditional academia.