EduTech Wiki:About

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1 Purpose and Scope of EduTech Wiki

By Daniel K. Schneider, "owner" of EduTech Wiki.

Welcome to EduTechWiki (also spelled EduTech wiki)! Of course, you decide what you can/will do with this wiki. Nevertheless I shall discuss a few use cases here.

1.1 For teachers in educational technology/instructional design

University teachers can use this wiki in two basic ways:

  • as a resource kit for educational technology and instructional design teaching;
  • to organize writing-to-learn activities with their students.

Several teachers from all over the world do assign this wiki as an open research tool for student projects (e.g. for finding initial definitions and pointers to other resources). Others assign a whole category (e.g.) or just a few entries for reading (make sure to control the quality first and fix things you dislike). With some additions, EduTech Wiki might become a light-weight cognitive flexibility hypertext. But for the moment, there is absolutely no built-in pedagogy!

If you plan to involve your students in wiki writing activities, please read Bringing classes to EduTech Wiki and send DSchneider a short mail. Typically, students are not used to wiki writing so you'd have to do a minimum of preparation. In addition, wiki cultures are different, e.g. our editorial guidelines are not the same as in Wikipedia.

1.2 For all users

This wiki can be used as a resource kit about educational technology and related fields. In particular students in educational technology and related fields as wells as researchers and practitioners (e.g. school or university teachers and designers) may use this place as a starting point for literature reviews. We try to include many on-line references, but some are access restricted.

There are some technical tutorials and resources of interest to a wider population. E.g. most of the most popular pages relate to Flash. Since I wasn't happy with Flash CS3 textbooks (too lengthy and not enough focused on interaction) I created my own lecture notes, but did not really anticipate that they should attract so many readers.

1.3 For active participants

I gladly see people contribute and some folks actually do. If you plan to contribute, please read the editing rules and the Copyrights page. As an author, you may sign pages and have opinions. Unlike Wikipedia, you can take all the credits you want. I am also open to helping you with more ambitious projects. Drop me a mail daniel.schneider at unige.ch. Finally, I also appreciate people fixing little things (like spelling or fixing bad links).

Some people also send me emails with various useful comments. However, if you want me to change an entry about one of your R&D projects, rather consider fixing the entry by yourself instead of asking me to fix it. It's not that difficult, and you will get what you want...

The main purpose of this wiki remains note taking in the sense that I and some other contributors write/or complete an entry as soon as we see something of interest. Wiki writing IMHO beats other easier technologies (e.g. weblogs) and special purpose software like Zotero. A well designed wiki forces to organize and to link ideas. And - last but not least - results are shared.

A wiki is an excellent medium for preparing research proposals in new areas, lecture notes textbooks, articles, etc. I used this wiki to prepare an introductory textbook to the field of educational technology for Fernuniversität Hagen ( outline ) and another one about research methods for Hamdan Bin Mohammed e-University.

I also started using this wiki as replacement for LMS technology (e.g. Moodle). Since I met the first of these systems in the mid 1990's, I am convinced that they stand for deficient technology and for various reasons. E.g. they don't engage learners as a community (look like dead places), they are really bad content management systems, they keep barriers between classes, and students and the real world, they don't respect the student's productions (as opposed to personal learning environment)s. I have been using such software since 1995 and still do because I actively have to keep in touch with all teaching technologies. However, to engaged power teachers I recommend to use portalware such as Drupal or a combination of appropriate web 2.0 services.

With the right extensions, a Mediawiki also can act as a learning management system. E.g. you may want to install forum extensions and blogs and you also may change permissions for given areas (e.g. hide pages from "normal users"). See for example my STIC III class or rather the STIC I/II in the french wiki as an example for "light-weight" use.

1.4 Internal, external use and governance

Both wikis (en/fr) are also used within courses of TECFA's MALTT MSc program in educational technology. In the french version, students do participate in wiki writing trough a formal courses. Others (but too few) prepare literature reviews for their master or PhD thesis projects (see the french version).

This Wiki is open to larger public for writing in any form you like (as long as it relates to edutech and related fields like education, psychology and computer science), but we will keep control. However, there are less constraints than for Wikipedia. E.g. you may sign your contributions with your name and organization or you may contribute an article that uses a different copyright. There are no requirements about article organization, use of links, opinions and quality. Also, overall organization (e.g. the main page and the categories system) will be adapted to emerging uses. Nothing is written down in stone, but please have a look at editorial guidelines.

2 History and origin of this Wiki

Originally, this Wiki has been created in 2006 as support for a course on "Virtual Projects" (project-oriented pedagogies) by a team from TECFA in the framework of eTech-Net, a joint "Swiss Virtual Campus" project involving 9 higher education institutions in Switzerland.

For several reasons, we then made it an internally funded long-term open-contents project with much broader aims ...

2.1 The eTeach-Net Project

This Wiki was initiated within module 7 of eTeach-Net, a Swiss virtual campus project that ended by March 2007.

eTeach-Net was a joint project involving 9 higher education institutions in Switzerland (UniGE, UniSG, UniBS,USI, ETHZ, SUPSI, BFH, FHNW, ZFH) and also training organizations. The major objective of the project was to develop reusable teaching modules about technical, pedagogical and didactic concepts of e-teaching. These modules are mainly integrated into the curricula of postgraduate studies: For example a sequence of five modules are part of a course for the International Engineering Educator Diploma (ING-PAED IGIP). Some of the materials/activities developed in the overal project are also used for faculty development (in particular by partners from support structures).

Module 7 "Virtual Projects"

This Wiki has been set up for the Module 7 "Virtual Projects" course. Projects have become the common element of almost any work activity. The module introduces methods and tools for the efficient organization and management of project-based teaching. The principal role of this Wiki initially was to support writing-to-learn teaching scenarios we use with our students, i.e. although we did write pieces on project-oriented learning ourselves, other pieces are added by students and existing content is altered and/or annotated by students.

Module 7 team members were: Daniel K. Schneider (eTeach-Net and module 7 project leader), Roberto Ortelli (eTeach-Net coordinator, left project in June 2006), and Stephane Lattion (left project in Dec 2007) and Kalli Benetos (from Jan-March 2007).

2.2 Towards a global resource for edutech research, development and teaching

While this Wiki has been initiated through the eTech-Net project, DKS decided in Feb. 2006 to expand the scope of what was inititially planned within the framework of module 7 to the whole domain of educational technology. This move was initiated by a contract from a distance teaching university to write an introduction to educational technology.

Therefore we also changed the name of this wiki from "eTeach-Net Wiki" to "Edutech Wiki" at some point and finally to EduTechWiki to have a more unique name.

3 Objectives and outcomes - December 2007 view

This part has been presented as EduTech Wiki - an all-in-one solution to support whole scholarship? (PDF) at EdMedia 2008 in a best practice session.

One of the greatest challenges to educational technologists is to apply our research to ourselves, e.g. use technology to enhance our own intellectual development, as well as the way we teach and interact with others. There are many explanations why technology is underused, even by educational technologists. One can be found in the uncomfortable relationship between research and teaching. Boyer (1997) distinguishes between scholarship of discovery, integration, application and teaching. At least in European research universities only the first one (research) is relevant in terms of career planning. In other words, it is a bad strategy to invest in time-consuming technology-enhanced pedagogies, in collective knowledge building/integration or in application activities. However, I believe that most academics still would agree that these would be "nice to have".

EduTech Wiki is an attempt by an educational technologist to lower the cost of engagement in Boyer’s "lesser" scholarships though using the same medium for multiple purposes, e.g. preparation of literature reviews, integration of ideas, teaching materials preparation, activity-based teaching (writing-to-learn), tutoring and finally sharing and co-constructing with others. I will report on some outcomes, both measurable ones and subjective impressions. We suggest that some of this work can be considered domain independent good practice.

3.1 Edutechwiki

I started working on EduTech Wiki about 2 years ago in order to create a support tool for a course on project-oriented teaching. At some point, I decided to turn it into a multi-purpose tool. Currently the two wiki versions (English and French) include over 800 articles of various length (between one and 40 pages). Entries cover various subject matters related closely or loosely to the field of educational technology. I wrote about 80% of the contents and did profit from other’s contributions.

The wiki is open for writing to everyone. Only one out of the other top contributors was from outside my direct circle of influence (i.e. co-workers or paid graduate students) and this gave me the idea to focus on an individual’s return on investment (myself).

3.2 Purposes and outcomes

Over time, a whole set of use cases (purposes) for scholarly activities emerged. Some now can be considered interesting practice, some are yet open and some are a failure. Below is a provisional summary of purposes and direct outcomes (for me as author/user) and indirect outcomes (for others).

Purposes Outcomes (personal) Outcomes (what other say) Comments
A tool for note taking and mapping out ideas: I used this wiki to prepare a 200-page textbook for a distance teaching university.
I now have the subjective (sorry) impression to have gained a good understanding about the various strands that make up the field of educational technology.
Only occasional contributors from "outside". Most contributors fix little mistakes. I did not actively try to find contributors or even encourage passive use of this web site, except once at the Dallas AECT Annual conference. Only elder accomplished instructional designers showed interest in the concept. The younger population didn’t show interest.
A medium for writing-to-learn activities: Implemented in 2 of my courses. Students had to write and complete entries. Results were satisfactory and students were motivated. Implemented by one co-worker and so far only in one class "from cyberspace" (see Guth, 2007). Some student contributions turned out to be useful to me as researcher and developer.
A resource kit for educational technology teaching Implemented in 2 of my technical classes, as well as workshops. I found some links to EduTech Wiki in other teachers’ course pages Extent of external use is difficult to measure, given the locked nature of today’s learning management systems.
A medium to prepare structured teaching materials (alternative to Word or IMS CPs) I wrote a quickly made introduction to Flash (about 200 pages). I got very good help from a person I didn't know before. Marielle Lange found the project interesting and started to produce nice ActionScript tutorials and more to come :) Since these lecture notes are of mediocre quality, it is very useful to be able to fix them in real time. In addition, students in principle can fix things and comment.
A replacement of LMS technology (e.g. Moodle) In one course, I successfully used the discussion page as "anchored Forums" (STIC I) Others can and do use tutorials (access statistics) However, I did not see any progress in terms of student participation What I gained was mainly speed.
Putting myself and our unit on the "map" - Edutechwiki gets many top 20 hits on Google. Given the poor quality of some articles, this is quite amazing. It also could be interpreted as testimonial on the quality and richness of alternative open resources on educational technology…
A resource kit for researchers to prepare literature reviews and such This wiki did become my "external memory" for all sorts of scholarly activities. No data Back links can be found on bookmarking sites like del.icio.us, on blogs and web pages of academics.
A resource kit for practitioners, e.g. teachers and designers: I sometimes can use the wiki as reference, e.g. there are some installation notes or models to plan instructional activities Same as above, I don’t have data, only indirect evidence that people are using it There are some articles for "just-in-time open" learning, e.g. instructional design models or technical mini-tutorials.
Quality: So far, most wiki entries lack content, depth, style, authority or all four together. However, summarized concepts, ideas, quotations and references turned out to be valuable for my personal use (textbook writing, teaching, literature reviewing etc.) No data, except some positive comments here and there on the web. As I said above, my personal main goal was idea management. It remains to be seen if I will be able to manage both volume and quality, and to what extent there will be more contributors who will help at least a bit.
A tool for our PHD and Master students to prepare literature reviews. Unless they were paid or had to do class work, they not only failed to contribute, but they also progress much too slowly with their thesis projects… A few references to EduTech Wiki entries in student papers. This must be considered a real failure …

3.3 Wiki design

A related, but different outcome concerns wiki design. We believe that such spaces need to be carefully designed and that this process needs time. Indeed, from related experiments with other wikis we found that unorganized wikis quickly could turn into an unmanageable space that badly supports knowledge building. The main page should emphasize important entry points for navigation and clearly state the goals of this "space". Entries’ titles must be short and meaningful. The category system, which allows multiple tagging of articles, should reflect the domain: in our case, educational technology and related fields. Additional categories can be created to help students navigate through pages that are related to a course. Special banners on top of each page define their status (e.g. incomplete or stub). Editing and copyright rules clearly tell users and potential contributors what they can do with contents. E.g. we define both a default copyright and accept other copyrights in order to deal with various needs. It also was essential to add some extensions, e.g. links visualization, semi-automatic author insertion and generation of PDF "books" for lists or articles or categories.

3.4 Conclusion

Personally speaking, we consider this wiki to a success. It became an instrument of synergy between several activities and a good example of how a single university lecturer can combine several kinds of scholarship with the help of a specific medium. It however, remains to be seen whether there will be a net gain for research (I "lost" more than 6 month), but I am satisfied with this wiki’s usefulness in teaching, integration of ideas and (some) application. My point is not that wikis may be useful in education (there are many papers about this), but that wikis can be multi-purpose systems that offer enough return on investment. I also believe that the principle could be applied to most other academic domains. Indeed, from my extended inventories about the pedagogical use of technology I get the impression that innovation is as much driven by the field (ie. by all sorts of curious researchers/teachers from very different fields) than it is by our research...

So far, EduTech Wiki is not a best practice case for knowledge community building. This may never happen because of the public goods dilemma: "It does not follow, because all of the individuals in a group would gain if they achieved their group objective, that they would act to achieve that objective, even if they were all rational and self-interested" (Olson, 1971: 2). Indeed, most academic wikis are rather poor in content and this will not change, unless some researchers/teachers can find very personal reasons to engage in such an endeavor. I hope to have identified a few.

4 Objectives and outcomes - 2009 view

Flash PediaPress Book

At some point I decided to start creating tutorials series that can be assembled into on-line open-contents "textbooks". A first example are the Flash tutorials. One can create / or order any pre-assembled collection from PediaPress. Quality/price relationship is still debatable (e.g. you will pay Euros 25 for a 500p. book that hasn't been properly edited). But sometimes before summer 2010 we probably can offer some collections that are worth ordering. In any case, you always can download a free PDF version. If you are happy with its contents, then consider ordering the PediaPress print version. It's almost as cheap as printing.

We also started working on a "real book", and that will take materials from two study books produced for distance teaching universities.

Finally, for Daniel K. Schneider the main purpose of this wiki remains a note taking tool and therefore for most people: a "literature and definitions" resource tool. In other words: EduTechWiki is a starting point that can help you get going.

The initial project of making this wiki into a larger collaborative project utterly failed (have a look at the statistics. This and my diversification of how I use Edutechwiki (and associated wikis) led me to formulate the concept of Personal research and teaching environment. That's what this wiki is to me now. Of course, other users and other active participants (e.g. you) can come up with their own list of purposes this wiki is good for.

Anything is always open to change ....

Daniel K. Schneider 16:45, 28 July 2009 (UTC)


5 Bibliography

5.1 Articles about EdutechWiki

Also includes articles that study students' interaction with EduTechwiki. Articles that just cite EduTechWiki pages are not included.

  • Every, V., Garcia, G. & Young, M. (2010). A Qualitative Study of Public Wiki Use in a Teacher Education Program. In D. Gibson & B. Dodge (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2010 (pp. 55-62). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.
  • Schneider, Daniel (2008). Edutech Wiki - an all-in-one solution to support whole scholarship ?, Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2008 (ed-media 08), PDF pre-print (a wiki summary is above in the this text).
  • Schneider, D.K., Benetos, K. & Ruchat, M. (2011). Mediawikis for research, teaching and learning. In T. Bastiaens & M. Ebner (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2011 (pp. 2084-2093). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. wiki version of this article
  • Schneider, D., Class, B., Benetos, K. & Lange, M. (2012). Requirements for learning scenario and learning process analytics. In T. Amiel & B. Wilson (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2012 (pp. 1632-1641). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Wiki version of this article
  • Daniel K. Schneider, Barbara Class, Kalliopi Benetos, Julien Da Costa, and Valérie Follonier. 2014. Learning process analytics for a self-study class in a Semantic Mediawiki. In Proceedings of The International Symposium on Open Collaboration (OpenSym '14). ACM, New York, NY, USA, , Pages 20 , 4 pages. DOI=10.1145/2641580.2641605 http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/2641580.2641605

5.2 Other

  • Boyer, E. (1997). Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate. Jossey-Bass.
  • Olson, Mancur (1971). Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups, Harward University Press.