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Seb Chan reports on how the PowerHouse Museum in Sydney is starting to consider how it can work with Wikipedia, starting off with a very interesting analogy of Wikipedia as being much like a city.

Am I breaking copyrights using this image?

Illawara Institute of TAFE has an open MediaWiki running for their course developments. Its looking pretty tidy, with some interesting uses of categories to manage the content. In a chat with Steven Parker, he told me that uptake by staff has been good, citing management endorsement, 1 year’s research and development time, use of the FCK editor, and the design sensibility of Jo Kay as the key elements for its success.

I have asked Sparker to cost the whole exercise up so far so that we can compare with other approaches to online learning developments, as well as the hosted / self hosted comparison.

How much does it cost to host and develop your own media wiki? What are the running costs? Are there efficiency gains developing online materials on an open wiki (as compared to a learning management system for example)? Has being on an open wiki helped to build awareness of work within the organisation as well as outside? (obviously I can see it, as well as anyone else with an Internet connection – which is far better than they used to have).

Unfortunately there is no indication of a copyright that enables re usability of the resources on the Illawara wiki. Seems Sparks needs to sit the bosses down and deliver the return on investment talk about adopting such a license.. ie.. it means you can start reusing all that Share Alike material which we estimate saves us NZ$10 000 per year.


More info

Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That’s our commitment.

Wikipedia is built differently from almost every other top 50 website. We have a small number of paid staff, just twenty-three. Wikipedia content is free to use by anyone for any purpose. Our annual expenses are less than six million dollars. Wikipedia is run by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, which I founded in 2003. Jim Wales in The Wikimedia Foundation’s appeal for money

Wikimedia Foundations budget

Wikimedia Foundation's budget

What do all those slices of the pie mean?

What expenses fall under the ‘Office of the ED’?

In 07-08 and 08-09, these expenses represent the cost of travel for the Foundation Board/Advisory Board/staff which is not covered by the sponsorship revenues.

In 07-08, the expenses of the Executive Director included the salaries for the Executive Director and Deputy Director, as well as miscellaneous costs including travel, some fundraising expenses and the costs of the annual staff meeting. In 08-09, the budget included those costs and increased spending for staff and volunteer development. (US$427 000)

What expenses fall under ‘Technology’?

In 07-08, the expenses of the Technology department included salaries for tech staff, an allocation for contractors, and bandwidth and hardware costs. In 08-09, the budget included those costs and increased spending for bandwidth, equipment and additional software developers. (US$2 705 000)

What expenses fall under ‘Finance & Administration’?

In 07-08, the expenses of Finance & Administration included salaries for all finance and administrative staff; the Chief Financial and Operating Officer, the Accountant, the Head of Business Development, the Office Manager, and the Assistant to the ED and DD. It also included staff development and staff meeting expenses, recruiting fees, the fees for the annual audit and some consultant costs. In 08-09, the budget included those costs and the salaries of the fundraising team as well as consulting costs related to donation record-keeping and streamlining the online fundraiser. (US$1 619 000)

What expenses fall under ‘Programs’?

In 07-08, the expenses of the Programs department included salaries for the Chapters Coordinator, the Volunteer Coordinator, and the Head of Communications as well as the costs for the annual chapters meeting in April and communication materials such as brochures and promotional products. In 08-09, the budget included those costs and funding for the Chief Program Officer, the Head of Public Outreach, outreach activities such as the Wikipedia Academies and volunteer development. (US$595 000)

What expenses fall under ‘Legal’?

In 07-08 and 08-09, the Legal expenses and budget include the salary for our in-house Counsel, business and legal-related costs for business registrations, state-by-state fundraising registrations, domain names, trademark registration and defense, employment and immigration support and external litigation fees. (US$357 000)

What expenses fall under ‘Wikimania’?
In 07-08 and 08-09, these expenses represent the cost of travel for the Foundation Board/Advisory Board/staff which is not covered by the sponsorship revenues. (US$97 000)

Screen recording on how to generate a PDF version of a wikibook, ready for printing.

Did you know the New Zealand Police Act Review is a wiki!? Nor did I, until Cathy Decker (a participant in the Facilitating Online Communities course) pointed to a very interesting video of Harold Rheinghold interviewing Mark Elliot about Stigmergy and citizen wikis.

It seemed timely that a few of us who have tried the Wiley Wiki model for running online courses came together and talked about our experiences. In this recording, Teemu Leinonen, Bronwyn Hegarty and myself talk about our various thoughts on the method of running online courses with a MediaWiki (pioneered by Dave Wiley) with insight and ideas sprouting along the way. See the following links for the examples we talk about. Sorry that Dave Wiley himself could not be there, but we hope the recording will put him in the picture, as well as offer George Siemens and Stephen Downes some food for thought as they embark on their mega course using something like the model.

jtneil’s alerted me to this excellent article on the academia vs wikipedia issues. What to do with Wikipedia is an article that truly gets it in every way. I could barely contain myself when reading through it! At last, a concise and easy to access summary and idea on how Wikipedia (et al) can and SHOULD fit into academia.

And for an example to lead the way – see Brian Lamb’s reviews of Professor Jon Beasley-Murray at University of British Columbia doing exactly what William Badke suggests.

Dave Bremer, a colleague at Otago Polytechnic criticises my interest in using MediaWikis for online learning.

My problem with this is that Wiki’s are just textbooks…

It is true that in the past, and the vast majority of wikis today are primarily reference materials or text books. But over the past 2 years, a few individuals and institutions have been exploring the use of wikis to develop and manage courses, hoping to leverage the benefits of collaborative editing and open access.

Some examples:

Harvard, US: Law and the Court of Public Opinion. An early example of an open access course that uses a course blog, email forum, Second Life meeting spaces, and a course wiki.

Utah State, US: Introduction to Open Education. Inspirational in its simplicity, and a proven success through its primary use of a wiki that blogging students use as a course schedule.

Media Lab, Finland: Composing Open Educational Resources. Inspired by Intro to Open Ed, this course has been developed on the Wikiversity platform that follows the same simple course schedule format for blogging students to follow. Note the numbers of people in the edit history and discussion page, demonstrating the benefits of collaborative course development.

Otago Polytechnic, NZ: Designing for Flexible Learning Practice. Also following the simple schedule format for blogging students to follow, but on the Wikieducator platform. This course uses a course blog for announcements and weekly summaries, and will be using web conferencing for lectures. Note the use of the Wikieducator Liquid Threads (a threaded discussion feature on the discussion page for the course). Also note the Print to PDF feature which came in very handy on the course orientation day.

Otago Polytechnic: Horticulture. This project mainly uses the wiki as a storing house for lesson plans and activity sheets for use in class or by distant learners. It follows Otago’s development structure based around competency units with a library of resources page and activity sheets set as sub pages to each unit.

Otago Polytechnic: Travel and Tourism. This project also follows the Otago development structure of unit pages with library and activity subpages. The teachers in the course are using course blogs for each of the subject areas and simply point to activity sheets on the wiki depending on the needs of the classes.

Otago Polytechnic: Massage Therapy (link to Programme Manager’s blog post update). Uses the wiki as a storage bay for resources and activity sheets with course blogs announcing new things to the students. Has an interesting use of RSS to a start page to bring together all the different courses to create a course hub.

Otago Polytechnic: Anatomy and Physiology of Animals. A text book developed in Wikibooks, with lesson plans and activities developed in Wikieducator for use in different contexts including face to face classes, or courses within the learning management system. The text book has been picked up by eLearning designers in Vancouver and will be developed further on the open licenses, integrating the activity sheets as well.

In all these examples, I think it would be a stretch to call them simply text books (apart from Anatomy of Animals which is quite deliberately a text with activity sheets to support it). It is difficult to avoid creating texts while creating courses however – as evidenced in just about any LMS course development. This is why some of the wiki courses listed here are using the Otago development structure. The structure encourages the separation of information and other reference materials from lesson plans and activity sheets firstly to maximise re-usability, and secondly to assist teachers who are developing there courses on the wikis to think more deliberately about what it is they want their students to be doing, and to create a variety of different activities around a single learning objective for use in different contexts.

More info about Otago’s exploration of wikis for developing and managing courses on Wikieducator.

I’m waiting enthusiastically for Dave Wiley’s summary of his Intro to Open Education course. Dave has given us a brief update just to remind us its coming…

I was quite inspired by the simple and familiar layout of the course outline, and the obvious and understated requirement for participants to maintain a blog in the course. I should have set my news reader onto all the participant blogs and watched the progress more closely, but hopefully Dave’s summary will represent the good bits…

Dave’s course has clearly inspired the Fins with their own course in Composing Open Educational Resources on Wikiversity – which looks to be another very useful course. And I think I’ll encourage the teachers here who are working on Wikieducator to develop their course pages in much the same way.

I know we in EDC have been needing to rejig our own wiki course outlines, and I’ve been wanting to do something like Dave’s design since I saw it. We are also requiring participants in our course to maintain blogs while in the course, but boy it can turn into a heavy workload.

I quite like the stand off, low key, high expectation style of Dave’s approach and am hoping to learn ways to better manage my time coordinating and facilitating our courses that use blogs and wikis… so, waiting for Dave’s summary 🙂


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