A few weeks ago I hinted at something big that would be happening on the blog entitled Using Wikis in Education. Today, blogger Stewart Mader is announcing his book of the same name, Using Wikis in Education. The book contains 10 case studies written by teachers that describe how they’re using wikis to transform courses and engage today’s students in a range of environments including high school, small college, major research university, online/distance learning and research lab.
Full disclosure: last May Stewart blogged about Confluence. I thought his blog was interesting and blogged about that. He emailed me a few days later and that turned into a conversation that continues to this day.
Turns out, Stewart is a big fan of our wiki, Confluence. Brown University, where he works and teaches, has been a customer of ours for over a year. When he told me he was working on this book I started introducing him to a few of our other academic customers, and some of those dialogues made it into the book.
Now available, the book itself is interesting because it’s published using a wiki (you can also download it as a PDF). To quote from the website:
Why publish a book this way?
To set information free.
- To test a new digital publishing model.
I think the wiki is the ideal tool for developing, publishing, then further developing a digital book. Traditionally, publishing signals the end of work on a book, and then it sits static on bookstore shelves for a significant period of time. By contrast, publishing using a wiki means opening the project up to a larger community who can further its development, and the extremely simple nature of the wiki means anyone can contribute without being distracted by complicated technology. This sets the stage for quick, constant construction and refinement of knowledge. to smooth the peaks and valleys in knowledge construction
- To make information more accessible.
By publishing online I can set a price that’s more reasonable than print because basic expenses like an address (wikiineducation.com) and web hosting are much, much lower than paper & link. It also saves trees, because readers choose whether to print, and can print individual chapters.
- To give chapter authors ownership of their own work.
The publishers I considered working with have stipulations in their contracts that require exclusive publishing rights for print, electronic, and “any other form or media now known or yet to be developed”. This just doesn’t leave room for the kind of experiment I want to conduct with this project, and it would reduce the rights each author has to their own chapter. Instead, I’ve adopted a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike License so that, “Authors retain copyright to their intellectual content, with Stewart Mader owning copyright to the collected publication.” This allows chapter authors the freedom anyone should have to use their own work, regardless of whether it’s part of another, larger project.
If you’re at all interested in wikis, especially how they’re used by students, teachers, and staff across the curriculum from grammer and middle school through higher education and academic research, I strongly encourage you check out the book today.