First at all, I highly appreciate Wayne’s, Brent’s and Leigh’s work and hope that this post is not considered as any kind of personal attack against them. I know that we have a similar thinking on many topic in the field, and hope that we will have fruitful cooperation in future.
Like Leigh, I also hope that Wikiversity and Wikieducator could join forces. I know, that in practice this is not very likely to happen, but we may dream. Both projects are based on the same idea of using wiki (Mediawiki) to facilitate collaborative authoring of free learning content. As I wrote already, in my comment, I am not sure at all if wiki is a good platform for this. However, it is an interesting hypothesis and should be tried out. Because of this I really admire both projects.
Still, I prefer Wikiversity basically because it is run by an international, non-governmental, non-profit and non-political organization, the WikiMedia foundation. By its nature and tradition – compare to Wikipedia – Wikiversity is a multi-lingual and multi-cultural project. You can’t say the same about the organization behind the Wikieducator, even that they do a lot of good things, too.
Wayne wrote: “Wikieducator does not have a political agenda – it is a website to facilitate collaborative authoring of free content. It was set up by the Commonwealth of Learning as a space for the 53 member countries of the Commonwealth to work collaboratively on learning for development. We welcome participation from anywhere in the world. English – by virtue of the Commonwealth is a common language in these countries and WikiEducator does not pretend to be anything it isn’t.”
Commonwealth is an international governmental organization. Governments are political. Whatever Wikieducator would like to be non-political, it is not. The language policy – use of English – is a concrete example of the political agenda behind the Wikieducator. In the 53 member countries of the Commonwealth there are hundreds of local languages. I think that to meet the needs of the member states the Wikieducator should, first at all, emphasize development of free learning content in local languages.
I also find the development of “a free version of the entire curriculum by 2015” (Wayne) pretty scary. Is the aim to have a single curriculum for all the 53 Commonwealth member states or for the whole World? This development is very different from the decentralization of curriculum planning taking place in many wealthy nations. In number of European countries (e.g. Finland), schools are asked to plan their own curriculum, in cooperation with teachers, students, parents, local business and local Government (btw: some of them are using wikis for this). The national curriculums are becoming just checklists for the local communities to make their own curriculum based on the local needs. I wonder why Commonwealth would like to standardize the curriculums of its member states? In who’s interest is this?
In sociology of education there is a set of questions one should always ask when looking for educational systems. The questions are: Who is educating Whom? On What, Why and How?
In the case of Wikiversity it is easy to answer these questions. The members of the Wikiversity are educating each other on topics they are interested in and want to learn about. They have found collaborative learning as the most suitable method to do this. This suits me, too. In the case of Wikieducator one should also ask who, to whom, what, why and how?
Disclaimer: My research group is developing LeMill.net. We share several objectives with the Wikiversity and the Wikieducator projects. LeMill is a web community (and open source software platform) for finding, authoring and sharing open and free learning resources. LeMill is developed in an European CALIBRATE project. Our aims are primary “scientific”, totally non-political and non-profit. We are experimenting how the optimal platform for collaborative development of free learning resources could be.