Wikibooks – Notes on the project


wow… January is supposed to be involve painful attempts at exercise and sneaking christmas chocolats… not this wicked influx of work. It’s good fun though, and, after taking a couple of hours to chill out and play a little crochinole, i thought i’d post a few notes from the show last Wednesday. The wikitext project may have some legs at this point… just depends on whether or not we get some more involvement.

Things we all agree on.

The technological changes in our society require us to adopt a more flexible and updatable platform for textbooks.
Technology, in and of itself, solves nothing.
This is a social justice issue.
We need validation.
We need a certain amount of control over the content.
A solid, defined plan is needed.

Is it about access to better content?
We were approached by the Nord Family Foundation to start a discussion about wikibooks we started in the position of delivering more current uptodate content. The wiki, then, would be a repository of current updatable information. It would mimic a classroom textbook except that it would, if you had right of access, be updatable with more and more current and accurate information.

Is it about access to better teaching styles?
As a repository for lesson plans and teaching methods, a wiki would be more of a training tool for teachers, so that they could be kept uptodate on the latest ‘best way’ to teach a given subject.

As in the following by Jim Gould…
We have the infrastructure to effect change, and that is lesson study. In a word, lesson study is an ongoing process where a team of teachers teach a few key lessons over and over to different groups of students. The teachers watch each other’s teaching—and the students’ responses, including the extent to which they learned the content being taught.

The result is a collection of a few critical and essential lessons that teach students vital math and science content knowledge. The upshot is that the students become empowered to continue learning at higher levels and have the confidence and desire to stick with a rigorous math and science course of study.

Wiki could be the medium to present these lessons so that affluent schools, poor schools, private schools, public schools, and charter schools could all benefit equally from such a project. After all, the future points to worldwide collaboration between knowledge workers, all of whom are players who know how to take a project apart, distribute the parcels to the best resources, and assemble the completed parts to create new material and non-material goods in demand throughout the World market.

Is it about building better textbooks?
A wikibook could also be about a different kind of textbook. An interactive textbook that students could actually be involved in the creation of. This textbook would have a solid core tied to state standards and then an expanding shell that would be adaptable and would develop according to the needs of the users.

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3 Responses to “Wikibooks – Notes on the project”

  1. ‘Wiki’ Textbooks » mrbelshaw.co.uk/teaching Says:
    […] Edit: I’ve just come across Dave Cormier’s (one of the hosts of EdTechTalk) blog entry about wikibooks. […]
  2. sean lancaster Says:
    from what i’ve seen of wikis, i have trouble conceptualizing a textbook that would be useful to other instructors. a wiki tends to have a “page” that is edited and perfected by the community for each individual topic. so, i want to have a unit where my ed tech class places our attention on distance learning in the k-12 classroom. a wiki would be set up to have a page devoted to each specific category, but not the whole chapter that i currently can assign to my students.

    so, with a wikitext, would i just go through the various pages and try and pull together all that apply to the unit i am teaching and just provide my students with a whole list of related, but not connected wiki entries for them to read to help understand the topic? that seems discombobulated to me.

    on the other hand, finding a way to have “chapters” instead of individual “pages” might work, if that is possible with a wiki. then again, the more we decide what those chapters are, the less appealing we make the text. for example, i might want to teach a chapter on issues in educational technology. another person might have a different conceptualization of the issues that i include and might add many others. so now, i am assigning only parts of the chapter to my students, but maybe i want some of those other issues included in another chapter.

    i guess i need to see some examples of a wikitext before i can jump on board. i coordinate an undergraduate ed tech course for future teachers. we have about 20 sections of the course each semester and 4 instructors wrote the textbook we use. i get paid 50 cents a copy, so this was really done to provide our students with a very affordable textbook that meets all of our teaching objectives. i could easy give the textbook up and shift to a wikitext with the same 4 authors. unfortunately, we’d have to start over because our publisher owns what we’ve already written. i am still intrigued with giving this a try for our program. i just wonder how it translates nationally or internationally.

  3. Josh Loewen Says:
    Hi Dave, I just came across your site. There are few Math teachers here in BC who are in the process of starting up a wiki site similar to what you are discussing. I haven’t read all your entries here yet (I have a class in 20 minutes), but I will be reading further soon. We aren’t so much focused on the business model just yet, nor on replacing existing textbooks, but are hoping that collaboration will create a reliable source of supplementary information for our high school Math students.

Author: dave

I run this site… among other things.

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