Will Wikiversity Work?

How emerging open learning communities can develop into

a viable alternative to traditional education institutions

Final Research Proposal

Kevin Sharpe

EMAC 6300

University of Texas, Dallas

Nov. 11, 2010

Not only is Wikiversity  an example of a growing number of ‘online universities,’ it is also an authentic demonstration of an open learning community and resource (OER) that appears to be emerging as what might become  a viable alternative to traditional educational institutions and a preferred way of learning.  This research paper is intended to describe the current state of Wikiversity by including the site’s features as well as how it integrates basic principles and strategies of distance learning and open education.

Prior to reporting about the site’s basic traffic and users, the history and development behind Wikiversity’s founding and development will be covered in this investigation’s introduction. The description of the site’s current state will include a tour of the site’s features, tools, resources and other types of elements that provide opportunities for collaboration and instruction.  

The body of the research will continue with an explanation of how the site is administrated, from faculty to students. Requirements, qualifications, deliverables, expectations and deliverables will be covered during this portion. Comparing and contrasting “traditional” requirements and how they are integrated into this alternative approach as a way to illustrate how an open learning community is remediating traditional educational environments.

There is an opportunity in this project to address some of the concerns and issues regarding the hazards Jaron Lanier discussed in his essay, “Digital Maoism: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism.” This portion will describe the differences between Wikipedia’s “collective intelligence” and Wikiversity’s “collaboration.” A case will be made to demonstrate how concern of Wikipedia’s anonymous collectivism might be resolved by Wikiversity attempts to digitally emulate the infrastructure and elements of the traditional university environment. This approach provides elements of personality Lanier alludes to as a way to reduce the risks.

Reports regarding the effectiveness and success of learning through Wikiversity will conclude the body of the research. Feedback from participating educators as well as students will be able to anecdotally describe their experiences, results and recommendations. Analyzing these responses should help identify whether or not Wikiversity can be a viable and effective alternative to traditional methods of learning.

An overall summary of Wikiversity’s highlights, challenges to be resolved and recommended next steps will conclude the paper.

PROPOSED RESOURCES

  1. Dohn, N.B. “Web 2.0-Mediated Competence – Implicit Educational Demands on Learners.” Electronic Journal of e-Learning, Volume 7, Issue 2 2009, p. 111-118.
  2. Eagle, Claire. “Online universities challenge traditional schooling.” The Ubyssey, University of British Columbia,  November 2, 2010. http://www.excal.on.ca/?p=1827
  3. Friesen, Norm; Hopkins, Janet. “Wikiversity; or education meets the free culture movement: an ethnographic investigation.” First Monday, Volume 13, Number 10 – Oct. 6, 2008. http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/viewArticle/2234/2031
  4.  Huang, Wen-Hao David; Nakazawa, Kazuaki. “An Empirical Analysis on How Learners Interact in Wiki in a Graduate Level Online Course.”  Interactive Learning Environments, Volume 18, Issue 3 September 2010, p. 233-244.
  5. Kamenetz, Anya. “Who NEEDS Harvard?” Fast Company, Issue 138 September 2009, p. 84-89.
  6. Lawler, Cormac; “Action research as a congruent methodology for understanding wikis: the case of Wikiversity,” JIME, June, 2008. School of Education, University of Manchester.