I’ve been kind of perplexed by Wikiversity. What is it? Why do I feel it to be so important for us to use? Why don’t I like so many aspects of it? How does it differ from Wikibooks, Wikipedia, and Wikieducator? Why should we use mediawikis like these over wikispaces – which is after all, a bit easier to use and can have a more satisfying result in terms of multimedia content? Why are the staff I work with seemingly reluctant to use it? And a growing list of questions I can’t yet put words to.

I was reading through my wikiversity talk page – (a rather strange way in which communication happens between editors of a media wiki), and discovered a message from JWSchmidt that I had over looked. It points to MetaCollab wiki (sheesh! another wiki!!) where an explanation of Wikiversity is offered. It is a fairly informative article, but no where near as stimulating as the discussion page behind it.

In that discussion page is a point made by Lion Kimbro which blew my mind! I dunno if it answered many of my questions, but it certainly helped me to reconsider the questions I am asking and hopefully set me on a path towards asking better questions. A particularly enlightening exerpt is as follows, though I fear its impact will be lost by me quoting it out of context. I really urge you to have a read of the full article by Lion, and then the responses.

The idea is that people who are less knowledgable about a subject very much should be a primary actor in the authoring of the text. Not the sole actor- you need experienced people to perform correction, offer up alternative explanations, to make sure that it’s not wrong. But I think that beginners have unique advantages in teaching other beginners. Reasons: They understand their own misunderstandings. They have strong empathy with other learners, because they are at the same place, or just a single step beyond. The beginner is motivated by the need to make their understanding more concrete. (As different than the bored expert, (this is not a criticism, just noting a fact,) who has already covered the subject material a million times over.) It is conceivable that a vast lattice or network of beginners can, if properly made to understand what they are doing and why and how, and that there are people who will correct them if they miss-state a thing, that they could make far better artifacts for teaching, than the teachers themselves.

Side note: I think this is what edublogging was in 2005/06 – a sudden spike in beginners, all furiously working to concrete their knowledge and so created information for other beginners… But what is it now? why has that energy seemed to drop? I have certainly noticed it in me and the Australian network at least. Are we all now bored experts? Are teachers who do not maintain a sense for learning in their field, destined to become bored experts? I’m not bored by the topic, but I’m bored by the walls. And the 2nd wave I am experiencing are not nearly as energised..

Anyway, the point of this post was to point to that article by Lion.

I want a wiki called wikilearner. The names Wikiversity and Wikieducator are problematic. At the very least they reinforce the old power laws of institutionalised learning. Wikilearner helps to promote informal, socially constructed learning in my opinion. But that’s just a name, the trick is, as Lion puts so well, is how to build a community of perpetual beginners around it. A place where experts do not stagnate, become bored and inadvertently suppress new learning.Will it have to be a constant migration to “the next big thing, or can a communication platform successfully reinvent itself enough to give a strong sense of life long learning to all its participants… I guess this is the question facing more commercial domains like MySpaces at the moment. How do they sustain their social growth?