WikiBooksLuminary, Bonnie Bracey, shared with us (one of the mailing lists I monitor) an article from ZDNet, Wikibooks takes on Textbook Industry. Wikibooks is an interesting development from Jimbo Wells Wikipedia project, especially when thinking back on the Downers Grove Summit. You might recall that selected educators from suburban Chicago attended two days of work on Web 2.0 technologies and then spent some time negotiating (Summit) how they might be leveraged for teaching and learning. The first quarter of the conversation centered on how these new technologies might become the textbook of the future. You can hear the conversation at Connect Learning, Episode 36 File 1.

I thought I would share my response here:

This is an exciting project, though I wonder if the textbook metaphor may be short lived. The model for learning in the 21st century should be life-long learning. It isn’t just that we are preparing children to become life-long learners, but that should be the model (with obvious exceptions).

Years ago, when I was forced by circumstances to move my web site from my Mac web server running Filemaker Pro, to a Linux web server running MySQL and PHP scripting, I went out and spent about $80 on some books. I almost never opened them up. I ended out researching on the Net to solve current problems, and keeping a notebook of common code modules.

I think it’s a great idea, asking people to contribute their knowledge for student learning, but the textbook may be an outdated model. Perhaps, create a different angle for WikiPedia, and ask people to contribute to that, and then ask students to use that content to create their own textbooks (or what ever you might call them — notebooks) with which they learn what ever the outcomes of the course might be.

How about creating a world wide web, within the world wide web that is explicitly designed to provide content (open source) for learners, and build it in a way that students can remix the content into their personal textbooks/learning networks/notebooks/whatever.

5 thoughts on “Wikibooks”

  1. To take your closing cent’s worth on the www within the www, where students can remix content into their personal learning notebook. In Scotland we’re already doing that. I am the Development Officer charged with creating the first support content for teachers on the Scottish Schools Digital Network, an intranet worth 37.5 million pounds ($50million approx?). Using this intranet pupils will be able to drag material off, add their own, use an intranet safe VOiP or messaging service to get extra help from any of the other 800,000 students or teachers who are online at that time.

    No longer is the textbook king, no longer is the four-walled classroom where learning stops. When the system is finally complete (in about 3 years time) your dream will be a reality in Scotland. It’s maybe easier for us because we’re a small nation of 5 million people. But surely this is what it’s all about regardless of a nation’s size? The teacher support that I am creating is specific to Modern Foreign Languages, but is starting the ball rolling by trying to educate teachers and provide resources that will allow them to take advantage of this great system we are putting in place: Modern Foreign Languages Environment.

    I give the occassional update from the “inside” on my own blog, too, at edublogs. Let us know what you think.

  2. This is fantastic, Ewan. I was entirely impressed with what I learned about education in Scotland at last year’s SETT conference. Part of it is your size, I believe. But there also seems to be a willingness to chart new paths in this new information environment. We (U.S.) seem only to want to look backward for solutions.

    I just listened to your podcast. Love that accent! 😉

  3. Some would disagree – a West coaster living in the East ends up having a fairly confused accent. Hopefully the ideas weren’t confused! The second part of the podcast, which is about the social software, specifically blogs, will be out tomorrow or the day after.

    While it is great to have these kind of national projects there is always a danger of making things too distant from the local, which brings me back to the point I make in the second podcast: every child and teacher could have their own blog (and podcast if they wanted to express themselves orally), connected by school-related tags and a blogroll. Over time other tags would be added to reflect interest groups (Highland schools, schools with lots of SmartBoards, schools with none but campaigning to get them….)

    By localising the intranet (and internet) further we have risked, in the past, of losing sight of the big picture. But with RSS, blog searches and links to our friends we can keep this big picture at the top while localising the content.

    Does that make sense??

  4. I’m not sure the word “book” does the concept justice. I like the idea of the freedom associated with the wiki book. How about a pun, like “libre,” i.e., livre for book and libre for freedom. My haypenny.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *