Archive for February, 2009

Wikiversity’s potential in global capacity building

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

homeHeaderTitleImage Wikiversity’s potential in global capacity building

First Monday is probably the first openly accessible, peer-reviewed journal on the Internet. Since its start in 1996 I have been a reader of the journal. In the First Monday’s archives there are several articles that really have shaped my thinking on the Internet and the Web.

The current volume (Volume 14, Number 2 – 2 February 2009) that was just published comes with an article I wrote with my colleagues, Tere Vadén and Juha Suoranta.

I would love to hear your comments on the article on this blog or somewhere else. Let me know, thanks!

The article is here:

Learning in and with an open wiki project: Wikiversity’s potential in global capacity building


There is a chance that Wikiversity will become the Internet’s free university just as Wikipedia is the free encyclopedia on the Internet. The building of an educational entity demands considering a number of philosophical and practical questions such as pedagogy and organization. In this paper we will address some of these, starting by introducing several earlier approaches and ideas related to wikis’ potential for education. We continue by presenting three commonly used metaphors of learning: acquisition, participation and knowledge creation. Then we will present the main principles of two existing alternative educational approaches: free adult education and free school movement. To test these educational approaches and practices on Wikiversity and increase our understanding of the possibilities of this initiative, in the spring of 2008 we implemented an experimental course in Wikiversity. We conclude with several recommendations essentially advocating for Wikiversity and the use of wikis in education. However, more than just presenting our opinions, as authors we aim to make an educated — traditionally and in the wiki way — contribution to the international discussion about the future of education for all in the digital era.

Teaching with blogs and wikis – basic tools for problem-based study projects

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

I just realized that in last five years I have not taught a single course without a blog and a wiki, except couple of courses were I have been asked (read:forced) to use the Moodle of the organization where I have been visiting.

This spring term I am teaching a course – or I actually call it study project – with the title: “New Media Concepts for WHO – Study Project Exploring New Media Concepts for WHO’s Health Action in Crises”.

For the project I set-up a WordPress blog and a workspace in Google pages. The Google pages we are using like a private wiki. For me these tools are not just “tools”. The decision to use these tools is based on the pedagogy I am trying to implement in the study project. The pedagogy is one kind of implementation of some of the principles of project learning and problem-based learning. I call it “learning in a problem-based study project”-

Project learning principles are: (1) setting ‘the driving question’, (2) investigations, (3) products or artifacts, (4) learning communities, and (5) use of cognitive tools (Bluemenfeld et all. 1991). Through investigation in a community by using different kind of cognitive tools to work out their own artifacts students will construct their own cognitive models and learn key concepts and principles and to communicate their knowledge to others.

Problem-based learning is another pedagogical approach. It does not emphasis the project or artifact creations similar way as the project learning. However, in both of them problems, challenges, and questions are central. Also in problem-based learning the study groups are working in a small groups … well to solve the problems. The groups meet regularly and between the meetings they work independently to search for information needed to solve the problems.

Why then a blog and a wiki?

When you have done something many times, it easily happens that it becomes “tacit knowledge”. This is a well-known phenomenon in studies of expertise. Experts often know what to do, even if they are not able to explain why their practice is good.

To make tacit knowledge explicit one must do some reflection. Ask why? Yesterday I did and wrote to the blog of the study project:

Here is a short introduction to our online working and learning infrastructure.

This blog is naturally the hub of the study project. Reading the posts in the archives you can track back what has happen in the project.

In addition to the blog we have Collaboration Wiki for internal collaboration.

Simple. A blog and a wiki. I was today thinking the different roles of the blog and the wiki in the project.

The blog is definitely the place to communicate on everything – I mean on everything. Basically there shouldn’t be any topic we could not talk to each other in public – on the blog. The possible add-value of communicating everything in public is that someone that has a solution to our challenge may hear us and contact.

The wiki is not a space for communication in a common sense. It is a place to keep larger documents and files that are still under construction. This way it is a more a warehouse, workshop and garage than a meeting room (that is the blog). Actually the wiki could also be public and open for anyone to follow and even participate, but this time we decided to do it this way.

Now I know why. If you are interested in to follow how the study project is progressing, please, add the blog in your RSS-reader. There will be nice stuff.