Wikispaces and FDU


A bit of a rant yesterday born of frustration, but I did want to say more about Wikispaces, which I have been using for a few months. It's a good way for teachers & students to get into the wiki world without worrying about software installations and server space.

This post is actually prompted by the "public" version of the Guide to Quality Assurance for Online and Blended Classes that was created by Fairleigh Dickinson University. The original writing team of Catherine Kelley, Sandra Selick and Paul Younghouse are part of their Center for Teaching and Learning with Technology. After some of the Center staff & several faculty members in their School of Education had taken training to become certified Quality Matters (see below) reviewers, they decided they wanted to develop a "faculty-centered, peer review-based approach to encourage improvement and assure the quality of FDU’s online and blended offerings."

The Quality Matters program is sponsored by MarylandOnline, Inc., a statewide consortium of Maryland’s community colleges, colleges, and universities. In 2003, MarylandOnline received a three year grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) to develop a "replicable pathway for inter-institutional quality assurance and course improvements in online learning.”

The method MarylandOnline developed uses a set of criteria (the Quality Matters Rubric) based on the research literature and national standards for best practices. As a part of the QM project, MarylandOnline also developed a training program and a procedure for putting together review teams and conducting reviews. The result has generated worldwide interest and earned national recognition for QM’s benefits for individual faculty and institutions of higher learning.

Rather than just adopting the QM rubric for use at FDU, they decided to make adjustments-

"...to fit the specific mission of FDU and our experience working with online and blended courses... We also felt it needed some expansion, to make the underlying goals or values of the approach more explicit. Finally, we wanted to take into account some specifics of our local technical infrastructure, especially our use of the Blackboard course management system."

After a year of discussions, they basically had written a book. They might have published it in the traditional way, or distributed to their community, but instead decided to put it online as a wiki.

It's not only a useful resource for evaluating and improving online and blended courses, but I'm very encouraged by their willingness to "open source" the document.

They decided to use Wikispaces and opted for the paid version that allows you to do some customizing and drop the ads that sponsor the site. It's not totally open for editing - you need to request to "join this space" and create a Wikspaces account (free & easy). The FDU admin will "approve" you as a participant. If you do join, let them know who you are (school, position) and what your interest is in the wiki. (Mention this blog and get a free mug! No, not really. But you might mention it anyway. I know these folks and I'm a member of the space too.)

What they would like to see happen is that others will edit and use the wiki at their schools. There are guidelines (Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike Non-Commercial License version 3.0.) but they are quite liberal. Two goals of any public wiki are to share your information with more people, but also to get a wider group of people working on the document.

So what will happen in their space? Probably, at first, not much. I created a wiki about wikis more than a year ago just to see how much attention it would attract on its own without promotion. I have found that portions of it have been copied & used on other sites, and that's fine with me, but not much revision and editing happening there.

Wikis are still pretty new to education and I have found that teachers don't always get it at first. When my first wiki went up and I told participants at a conference to use it, the first 3 people who did sent me emails with suggestions of what to change! They didn't want to "mess anything up."

I suggest you drop by the FDU wiki and join up if you have an interest in their topic. If not, click on the badge below anyway and take a look at what Wikispaces offers. Create your own space. If you, let me know with a comment link below and the rest of us will take a look.

Wikispaces

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