Pilot Projects/Messages

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Amarok Society (Mothers of Intention

One of our projects is focusing on K-12 Open Education Resources in SE Asia (Bangladesh) is providing much needed literacy skills for low-income women and children – “Mothers of Intention”. http://amaroksociety.wordpress.com

(As these materials are being developed as OERs, others will be able to use these materials too, thereby increasing project sustainability.)

This innovative (and accelerated) neighborhood community teaching / learning model has achieved success by gaining the trust of local leaders, integrating cultural norms, and teaching mothers to teach their children (and their neighbors’ children), as a pilot project.

The project leaders are interested in scaling the teaching / learning model to reach 8,000 mothers and 40,000 children (over 5 years) – all of whom are too poor to attend traditional school programs.

Community Service Learning


I am writing to you on the basis of a CTV NewsNet clip I saw recently, about your National Service Learning motion, in the House of Commons. We are doing some really neat activities in the area of service learning and open education and I thought that there might be an opportunity for an open dialogue.

I am on the governing council of WikiEducator - a global open source, open education project (www.wikieducator.org).

We are a fast growing international community of educators, focused on developing a free and sustainable ecosystem for open education. (Think Wikipedia for Educators). We are nearly 8,000 users strong, with 7,500 unique visitors per day. One of our projects, to train 2,500 educators from 52 countries is well on its way, thanks to the generous and strategic support of the Hewlett Foundation - www.wikieducator.org/Learning4Content

We are currently a project of the Commonwealth of Learning in Vancouver, Canada - www.col.org, but are on the verge of creating an Open Education Foundation based in New Zealand, but open to membership around the globe. (Wayne Mackintosh, will be the Executive Director - http://www.col.org/about/staff/Pages/wmackintosh.aspx)

One of our projects is in the area of Community Service Learning --- as learners of all ages are interested in opportunities to learn, give back, build relationships, and in turn, learn from those experiences. NGOs also benefit, as you know, via a stronger connection with educational institutions, their communities and the students themselves.

One of our projects focuses on Community Service Learning, and in developing open education resources (OERs) – that can be shared, updated / revised and re-used, to develop a CSL learning program ~ in a way that serves multiple stakeholders.

An active cluster of educators (within the WikiEducator Community) is dedicated to improving the quality and effectiveness of the service learning experience. We have also received a significant donation of materials, forming the basis of a free course “Introduction to Community Empowerment” an online survey course that provides and overview of the the Community Empowerment guidelines for mobilizers for planning and implementing community-based projects http://www.wikieducator.org/Introduction_to_Community_Empowerment

Of course, a vital stakeholder in the service learning experience is the student – accordingly, student guidelines have also been developed on WikiEducator. http://www.wikieducator.org/DeAnza_College/CIS2/Community_service_learning_student_guidelines (Students' work - http://www.wikieducator.org/DeAnza_College/CIS2/Students_work)

We encourage exploration and experimentation with different educational approaches including blended learning), to facilitate greater learning, observation and reflection. As these are “open education materials”, others are able to use them too, thereby increasing overall sustainability and scalability and return on investment.

We are interested in opening a dialogue with like-minded people, and developing partnerships with individuals and organizations who see the promise and opportunities of open education, and in particular, service learning on a larger, albeit national or even international scale.

We are also open to pilot projects which build on the value proposition of WikiEducator, and serve the strategic interests of our partners. www.wikieducator.org/Pilot_Projects

New Zealand OERs

You might also interested in a pilot project we are conducting for the development of a national cluster within NZ for all schools - more than half of the schools in NZ are small rural schools and are challenged with providing local IT support. We want to establish a NZ cluster using the collaborative wiki model for replicating around the world. (Do you donate hardware for deserving educational projects?)

WikiEducator: Vital Statistics

(as of February 2009)

  • Founded in June 2006
  • 7800 registered members.
  • 70% of members are educators working in the formal education sector, with approximately half our members over 45 years of age. We have achieved an equitable gender distribution. FYI, I've attached a recent demographic summary of members based on our new account survey.
  • Wide international reach reporting over 200 national domain locations each month
  • More productive community than Wikipedia. 80% of our content is generated by about 10% of active users compared to 3% of active users generating 80% of Wikipedia's content. 
  • WikiEd has trained 2,000+ educators in more than 52 countries in collaborative wiki authoring since January 2008 under the Learning4Content project (see: http://www.wikieducator.org/Learning4Content ). This project is designed to scale and is leveraging the multiplier effect to extend capacity development by an order of magnitude in the next year. It is generously supported by a grant from the Hewlett Foundation.

Info about OER Foundation

from Wayne's post on WikiEd Google Groups

OER Foundation Hi Simon,

Appreciate the constructive inputs --- you're right building a sustainable ecosystem for Open Education should not be limited to the web stuff and we need to explore multiple avenues.

Apology for the long response -- but I thought it would be better to keep the all these points relating to our emergent strategy together in one post.

I must stress that the OER Foundation and WIkiEducator is (and will always be) a NON-PROFIT entity committed to charitable educational purposes and the essential freedoms (http://www.wikieducator.org/Wikieducator_tutorial/What_is_free_content/Freedom_as_concept ) --- This is a core value on which our collective success is founded  (Rest assured - We will not permit advertising on the WikiEducator site as a vehicle to generate revenue -- this does not fit in with the values of our project.)

The Third phase of the WikiEducator strategy focuses on the implementation of sustainable OER development (see: http://www.wikieducator.org/WikiEducator:WikiEducator_3.0 ). In other words -- prioritising activities which support and promote the implementation of OERs into mainstream educational system as our contribution in achieving a sustainable OER ecosystem.

Think of WikiEducator as one of many nodes in a larger OER system.  Examples of these nodes within the eco-system include: Educators: The success of WIkiEducator is first and foremost attributable to the thousands of teachers, lecturers and trainers around the world who through a culture of gifting donate many hours of their professional and personal time to the vision of developing free content resources in support of their respective national curricula. Software developers: WikiEducator relies on the ongoing developments of the Mediawiki software engine. Any improvements commissioned by WikiEducator will always be released back to the wider Mediawiki community.  Already COL has contributed to the development of the wiki ==> pdf feature in collaboration with the Wikimedia Foundation and Pedia Press (http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Wikis_Go_Printable ) Community website administrators who donate their time in supporting the WE servers and software infrastructure. Educational institutions, development agencies and national chapters who allocate staff time to the WikiEducator project. Examples include, The Commonwealth of Learning (http://www.col.org/resources/knowServices/Pages/wikieducator.aspx ), Otago Polytechnic (http://www.wikieducator.org/Otago_Polytechnic:WikiEducator_helps_advance_open_learning_at_the_Polytechnic), University of Education, Winneba (http://www.wikieducator.org/UEW ), the India Chapter of WikiEducator (http://www.wikieducator.org/India ) etc, Open Access publishers, who in the future can assist with print-on-demand publishing of open textbooks thus widening distribution of OER at cheaper prices for our learners (see for example:  http://www.wikieducator.org/WikiPublishing , and Athabasca University Press - http://www.aupress.ca/ ). Professionals who provide educational services , for instance, leaning design consultants who assist academic authors in developing high quality OERs. Other OER projects like those administered by the Wikimedia Foundation, Connexions, the Community College Consortium for OER etc.

We're very fortunate --- WIkiEducator is a very low cost and efficient system.  We use free software and currently COL only funds the equivalent of about 0.6  staff who work full-time on the project. This is possible because of the thousands of people who donate their time to the project :-D. (For instance - I don't spend all my time working on WikiEducator as I have numerous other responsibilities at COL -- although I must concede that I spend lots of my free time working on WE :-) .) 

The purpose of the OER Foundation is NOT to make profit -- it will be a charitable foundation. We will need some money to pay for the servers, and a very small full-time staff to support the project during this next phase of growth.

Initial thoughts on a prospective business model

We envisage an institutional membership contribution model as the main source of funding to expand and improve operations. 

We estimate a break-even of 30 contributing institutions. All surplus funds will be reinvested in OER development --- that is all funding in excess of the first 30 contributing institutions. Surplus funds will be used to commissioning academic authors, multimedia developers, learning designers, editors etc to develop OER courses and resources according to the needs and criteria established by contributing members.  Tentative calculations suggest that an institutional contribution of USD7500 per annum could conservatively generate a savings in direct course development costs in the region of USD250 000 for the institution concerned assuming that 10% of courses are developed as OER. 

WE also recognise that many institutions in the developing world may not have the funds to invest as contributing members. The OER Foundation is planning to implement a FTE4WikiEducator project whereby institutions can allocate, for example 2 FTE working days per week as part of the official duties of selected staff member(s) to work on WE related projects.

We will also be sourcing funding from the international donor community for strategic projects -- for example software enhancements required for educational development. We do not wish to create a dependencies for ongoing operations from donor funding. In addition, we will be working with governments to assist with funding for the establishment of national OER collaborations.

If you have any thoughts or suggestions for improvement  --- please post these to the list. We need your inputs and experience to contribute to our ongoing success.

Also - if there are any institutions on the list who are interested in joining us as founding members --- please get in touch :-). 

Cheers Wayne