The Open Badges community has been crying out for a while now for a knowledge repository. You know, somewhere where people can go and find out about how other similar organisations have implemented badge systems, read interesting academic articles and whitepapers, and just discover what’s possible with the Open Badges specification.
That’s why I’m delighted that We Are Open Co-op, with the support of Participate, are building out Badge Wiki. This will be a community-powered project, meaning that it will only be as good as people make it. We’re providing the technical infrastructure and opportunities to pitch in, but we need people to write content, curate resources, and suggest updates!
Tomorrow is the first Badge Wiki ‘barn raising’ session, which we’re running in conjunction with the Open Recognition Alliance. Those who come along don’t need any previous experience with wikis. Nor do they need much knowledge about badges. All you need is a willingness to roll up your sleeves and get involved.
CC BY – we propose that Badge Wiki use a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license instead of the CC BY-SA license used on other wikis, including Wikipedia. Although we would encourage them to do so, we recognise that some people may not be in a position to share material they reuse and remix from Badge Wiki under an open license.
Register to edit – we propose that, in order to edit Badge Wiki, you must have a registered user account, approved by an administrator. This is to prevent valuable contribution time being taken up by wiki vandalism, trolling, and other anti-social behaviours caused by anonymous editing.
Real name policy – we propose that members of Badge Wiki use their real names on their profile pages, as well as provide a short bio. This is to prevent accusations of sabotage, given that the Open Badges ecosystem includes commercial interests.
TL;DR: I’m working on creating a Community Alignment model (name TBC) that sets out some of the ways I’ve had success working with diverse stakeholders to ship meaningful things. I’ve started work on this on my wiki here.
Just as my continuum of ambiguity is a fundamental part of how I approach life, so I’ve got a default way of working with communities. I’m working with City & Guilds at the moment and realised that it’s actually quite difficult to articulate something I take for granted.
As a result, I’ve started working on a guide to an approach that I’ve found useful for some kinds of initiative. It’s particularly useful if the end product isn’t nailed-down, and if the community is fairly diverse.
I’ve taken a couple of hours today to write the initial text and draft some diagrams for what I’m initially calling a Community Alignment model. Your feedback would be so valuable around this – particularly if you’ve been part of any projects with me recently, or have expertise in the area.
This is an ‘iterative’ e-book because people have been able to buy into it ever since v0.1. You can find more about this ‘OpenBeta’ model here. Fundamental to the process is getting feedback from readers. I’m glad to say that you haven’t let me down, and the book is better as a result. Thank you for that.
The aim is for the e-book to be practically useful while not being shy about theory. People have said that it’s proving useful for use with trainee teachers and other undergraduates, so I’m glad it’s already having the desired effect!
Release v0.99 of the e-book. This will be textually complete and form the basis of a crowdsourced copyediting process that will take a few weeks.
Release v1.0 of the e-book. This will have benefitted from more eyes than just mine in terms of coherence and copyediting. Should they agree, these people will be given special thanks in the foreword. It will definitely be available in PDF, and I’ll work with people to get it available in ePub and Kindle formats.
I’m not the only conduit for ideas in this space, so I’m planning to follow the lead of people like Yochai Benkler and create a wiki to accompany the book. This will be structured in a similar way to the wiki that is a companion to Benkler’s The Wealth of Networks.
A few points to finish off.
Now is be a great time to buy into the book. It’ll save you a couple of pounds compared to the price of v0.99 or v1.0 (you get the updates for free).
This was never about the money. Yes, I’ve been able to pay recurring digital subscriptions from my Paypal balance instead of my credit card, but that wasn’t the aim. The financial element here was to get people to buy into the process early. Once this happened, I could ask for feedback – which I’m delighted to have received on a fairly regular basis.
If you’d like to get involved with the launch, please do get in touch! Examples: the visual design of v1.0, translating the book into another language, or making Bitcoin payments a reality. I’m @dajbelshaw or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A special thanks once again to those who have encouraged me and provided feedback over the last couple of years. You’re all very kind. We’re nearly there – just this last hurdle to clear!
More on this next week with the release of v0.99. 🙂
I’ve been asked several times now how I created the clickable tag cloud on the OER infoKit. To save having to explain myself lots of times (and to make others aware that it’s possible) I created this guide (be sure to click Menu/View Fullscreen):
I’ll be running the session on Google Earth, one of my favourite tools for learning and teaching. I’ve set up a wiki in an attempt to not only provide resources for delegates, but for the wider community. You can access and contribute to it at:
I’m delighted to have been chosen as a ‘Lead Learner’ for the first-ever UK Google Teacher Academy on 29-30 July 2010. I’ve been asked to run the sessions on Google Earth and am very aware that whilst I’m certainly an enthusiast with some advanced knowledge, I’m certainly not an ‘expert’. Read more →
The above video is simply a rolling demo (no sound), but I’d encourage you to visit the OER infoKit itself. If you’re involved in education, you’re pretty much guaranteed to find something worthwhile in it! 😀
I’ve been studying towards my Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) qualification for almost 6 years now. My PGCE (teacher training qualification) at Durham University was the equivalent of the first year of an MA in Education. I thought it a waste not to continue with that on a part-time basis whilst I was teaching.
When it came to write the dissertation for my MA it wasn’t the greatest period in my life. I was told by my MA supervisor that I had the grades required to transfer to the Ed.D. if I wanted. At first I couldn’t see her logic; if I wasn’t in a position to complete my MA how would I be in a position to move up to a doctorate? But then she explained. If I transferred, I’d be able to take higher-level modules the next academic year rather than having to churn out a dissertation that academic year. I’d always had at the back of my mind that I’d like to do a PhD and so this made sense!
Tool choice: wiki
All of a sudden, then, I was a doctoral student. I didn’t quite fall into it, but even so it was going to take a step-change in attitude and organization. Going to get my Durham University student card replaced I laughed at it’s new expiration date: July 2012. That seemed a very long way off!
Up until starting my Ed.D. I’d had a fairly ad-hoc way of organizing my academic work. After all, although I’d written 20,000 words for my MA in Modern History in 2003, I’d organized my notes chiefly on paper – using my chunky (although at the time, stylish) laptop merely to write. I could see that this approach was going to change. Thankfully, when in 2006 I wanted to change programme, blogs, wikis and podcasts had just become all the rage.
I’ve used a wiki and a blog with my Ed.D. from the start. After toying with various wikis courtesy of the comparison at wikimatrix.org I decided it was important that I owned my own data. In effect, I sacrificed a little bit of ease-of-use and prettiness for speed, functionality and full control of my data. Whilst services such as Wikispaces, PBwiki and Wetpaint would have done the job admirably, they didn’t quite fit the bill.
I came across TiddlyWiki via Lifehacker. It’s an extremely lightweight wiki designed primarily for personal use. There’s a learning curve in terms of the syntax used to create, for example, things in bold and italics but once you’ve got used to this it’s second-nature. The standard version of Tiddlywiki is merely an HTML file. The massive advantage of this is that you can put it anywhere and it ‘just works’. Put it on a USB flash drive and you can work on it from any machine; put it on your website and you can read it from anywhere.
Although you could download the HTML file, work on it, and then re-upload it, I found this a little clunky in practice. After all, I wasn’t always in a position to fire up an FTP client to do so. On top of that, sometimes I would forget and/or have multiple versions of my wiki. Looking around, I came across ccTiddly, a server-side implementation of TiddlyWiki. In layman’s terms this meant that, upon installing it on my webhost’s server, I could not only access it from anywhere, but edit it from anywhere. In addition, clicking on a link means I can take it all offline quickly-and-easily when I want to. 🙂
Tool choice: blog
It’s amazing how quickly things change. At one time, the obvious choice for anyone creating an education-focused blog was Eduspaces. This aimed – and succeeded, to a degree – in creating a ‘community’ feel to blogs surrounding educational practice and research. You can still see the original blog I created there at eduspaces.net/dougbelshaw/weblog although when the owners announced it was shutting down, I transferred the posts first to teaching.mrbelshaw.co.uk and ultimately to here, dougbelshaw.com/blog.
I enjoy the amount of control that WordPress, my blogging software of choice, gives me over what I do with my thesis. More recently, I decided that having a separate category for my thesis-related posts here wasn’t enough; I went ahead and created another blog at dougbelshaw.com/thesis. WordPress is easy to extend and customise through the use of themes and plugins. One extremely useful plugin is digress.it (formerly CommentPress) which allows commenters to easily comment on particular paragraphs in addition to the whole post. 😀
Tool choice: mindmap
After doing a great deal of reading on the ‘literacy’ aspect of digital literacy (the construct which I’m analysing in my thesis) I realised that I had no real idea how to start to put it all together. I needed a visual way to represent what I’d learned and to plan out what I was going to say. I looked at various options for mindmaps but found the online ones (such as Bubbl.us) a little clunky and the offline ones inflexible.
I was delighted, therefore, when I came across XMind. The beauty of XMind is that not only is it free and Open Source, but the offline program allows you to put your mindmap online in an embeddable, zoomable way. Perfect! You can view the mindmap I created for that digital literacy overview here.
My studying, then, tends to go something like this:
Skim-read article or chapter in book. Attempt to the main arguments to myself.
Go back through article or chapter with sticky notes, adding them at quotable/important parts.
Add relevant sections (highlighted with sticky notes) to my Ed.D. wiki, commenting on them as I go.
Come up with idea for synthesis/analysis of what I’ve been studying.
Write section/blog post.
It seems to work fairly well for me, but I’m always looking to improve! Recently, I’ve stuck a pinboard to the wall next to my desk. It allows me to keep those important, but sometimes fleeting, ideas buzzing around.