One of those discussions that weâ€™re hoping to have is about wikibooks. There are many schools around the world that donâ€™t have access to updated textbooks, and one of the solutions that has been put forward has been the creation of wikibooks. The wikimedia foundation has been going on with the creation of wikibooks for a few years, here is the free high school science text: physics It isnâ€™t finished, or particularly visually compelling, but it is a start i suppose. At first blush people seem to react one of two ways, â€œwow, great ideaâ€ or â€œwhat a really dumb ideaâ€. Iâ€™ve heard both, and argued both, in different circumstances, but here I will lay out a few ideas and some of the issues that have come up in my past discussions with smarter people.
I would see a well funded wikibook project as a viable alternative to the current publisher textbook hegemony. With the work done at wikimedia as a backbone, the right input, enthusiasm and knowhow, a full wikibook science program could be up within a year. The key to the success of such a project would be getting â€˜everyoneâ€™ involved. Not just science people and curriculum designers, but teachers, science institutions and students as well. A solid organizational structure, a place for debate and disagreement, as well as areas for student input. It has all the potential for being a real turning point for education.
Imagine an assignment in a biology class that includes the drawing of a biology cell. A particularly successful student might get their drawing included in the wikibook for everyoneâ€™s future reference. There could be 20 left on file as alternatives to the standard version of the textbook that teachers or students might choose to use as a reference. They could do audio or video projects. A nice, big, learning community.
Here are some quick pro/cons.
How do we know that the information in the textbook is â€˜trueâ€™?possible response
A good wikibook project would have validation built into it. There are several ways to go about doing this including paying section editors, encouraging a wikipedia style editing structure and encouraging students and teachers to be involved in the fact checking/development process.
how do we know that current textbooks are â€˜trueâ€™
A wikibook would allow teachers to choose the portions of the science curriculum that they want to use out of a larger library of information and activitiespossible response
This could mean even more work for teachers than they are doing now
A wikibook is uptodate. It is not a one-time investment like a textbook that needs to be repurchased every yearpossible response
the wikibook project will need to be fundedâ€¦ this too will cost money
It fine to have the â€˜newâ€™ textbooks on the internet, but how will the students access it if they donâ€™t have access to computers in the home or even in their classroom.possible response
Print off the textbooks every few years.
Look for funding for computers and LCD projectors in the classrooms.
Not a complete discussion by any means, but hopefully a place to begin a debate that will allow us to make better choicesâ€¦
cheers allâ€¦ and happy new year.