The Wiki Quals proposition (August 2011)
WikiQuals is based on the Emergent Learning Model. This posits a 3-stage process of ‘learning’ built around the emergent and social properties of groups. In this model learning is built around a self-organised group that collaboratively identifies its learning needs and then both discovers and creates the resources it needs to meet their self-identified learning needs. We have identified a group willing to do this for the academic year 2011/12 and this blog will outline the issues we will be addressing in making the WikiQuals process work. More detailed information on the Emergent Learning Model is available in the outline table on slideshare and also in the blog post on Emergent Learning. I sometimes describe this as Smart Mobs + Everything is Miscellaneous means Here Comes Everybody
Building on the Emergent Learning Model the accreditation of learning itself will be a post-hoc process subsequent to the self-organisation and resource-creation carried out by the group. WikiQuals itself is an attempt to map out and test an agreed, negotiated post-hoc method of accreditation that will be completely visible and in the public domain. The proposed method of implementation during 2011/12, outlined here, will enable various approaches to be investigated and we will examine ways of using the accreditation process both to drive the learning identified by those involved in WikiQuals individually and collaboratively, and to review the accreditation process itself.
*Guild-based approaches; Initially WikiQuals will be based on a ‘Show & Tell’ process derived from medieval guilds using the WikiQuals website to show to the world what WikiQuals students have achieved. It will be “Open” and transparent model where learning will be negotiated and agreed, discussed, re-nogotiated, shared and built upon. Learners will “show” their work on WikiQuals, explain it and have it reviewed by ‘journeymen’ who will determine of the completed work matches to the earlier negotiated activities.
Underpinning concepts needed to make WikiQuals
WikiQuals builds on those concepts identified in the Craft of Teaching as being needed to enable the co-creation of learning to emerge. This suggests that the process should have a purpose, be self-managed, negotiated between learners and practitioners, use networks and enable the bridge of contexts between study and practical application which will be stimulated by the process itself being self-organised.
a) Purpose; This draws on the ideas of Mike Wesch, Professor of Digital Anthropology that any large group of learners needs to identify its purpose. This will be a discussion of what the group as a whole wants to do but also needs to allow for both group purpose and individual motivations to be expressed. Mike Wesch, like Dave Weinberger has also identified how the machine is us/ing us.
b) Self-managed; This draws on the ideas of Ian Cunningham begun at NELP in the 1970s on the BA in Interdisciplinary studies and now captured in the Self-Managed Learning work with, for example, South Down College who were part of the future of learning workshop.
c) Negotiated; This represents the andragogic aspect of the learning process where the learners negotiate with their WikiQuals guides on how to achieve what they desire in their learning and how to structure it. Guides need to act as brokers helping to both respond to learning needs and to shape them through a process of brokering.
d) Networked; The 21st century represents many challenges but a key aspect of that might be summarised as being part of the network society. Caroline Haythornthwaite has done a lot of work looking at the role of scholarship in the networked society in her Leverhulme Lectures New Forms of Doctorate. This challenges us to regard learning as the outcome of relations in a networked society. We shall use some of her topologies to enable organisation based on strong and weak ties between people.
e) Bridging Contexts; The 21st Century is not just characterised by the power of networked affordances but by the range of devices available for creating new patterns within those affordances. Thomas Cochrane has described this as Bridging Learning Contexts (pdf) and we will seek to both use the context of our learning, in partnership with the University Project (@dougald), and to open up possibilities and to transcend such limitations that are introduced by bridging contexts collaboratively.
f) Self-organised; historically learning takes place in a place which allows for a lot of organisational decisions to have been taken so scholars can focus just n scholarship. This is a political economy in itself and restricts the opportunities for learning that might emerge from the self-identified purpose of a group. Organising many of the aspects of learning beyond the concerns of subjects might not appeal to many, but are a key aspect of enabling both self-managed learning and work to happen, and some of the group are keen on engaging with some aspects of this, such as identifying resources and organising events. We also need to identify whether we should run on a termly or a semester basis and what accommodation we might use.
g) Success; This will need to be identified, discussed and agreed within the WikiQuals group themselves, in discussion with journeymen. We suggest that the parameters of success need to be owned by everyone themselves but the documentation of what they have done on WikiQuals will show to the world what they have achieved. And they will need to substantiate what they have done to the point that a ‘journeyman’ will provide a reference for them.
A WikiQual then will be achieved as the outcome of a collaborative process in which purposeful activities will be developed and proposed with a group, activities, contexts and resources identified, learning outcomes negotiated with journeyman and activities documented in order to share the learning. A WikiQual will show and tell whatever it is that a participant has undertaken both collaboratively and individually within the group.
For 2011/12 the following programme is suggested
September 2011; Planning Workshops with interested parties
October 2011; Learning Set-Up negotiated and recorded
November 2011; WikiQuals Outcomes Agreed
December 2011; Summative updates to WikiQuals
Outcomes will be reviewed and refined each term, or semester, so that the process is dynamic.
September 2012; WikiQuals Festival of Accreditation