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You’re absolutely right - academics find the work-in-progress a difficult concept yet its OK to have a work in progress model behind closed doors! Looks like an education task for us.

A very good point about guarantees of service. COL, of course, does everything it reasonably can to ensure this quality of service. That said, hardware does fail and the network can go down.

I’ve worked for Universities where the LMS was regularly out of service or shut down for regular maintenance - and folk used to accept this. However, when it’s an external free service - the expectations on service delivery seem to be far higher — go figure!

As you’ve pointed out - WikiEducator’s downtime has been far lower than industry standards for a comparable service of its size. I don’t have the figures with me - but in the last 18 mnths we’ve had about 8 - 10 hours total downtime including software upgrades. We run a LAMP configuration and these machines just chug away . Two of these downtime instances were out of our control. In one case hardware failure and another where problem with the German ISP network. Most CIO’s dream of this level of uptime! That said - it doesn’t remove the perception of the perceived risk of external free services.

mmmm this has got me thinking - I wonder whether a model of shared financial responsibility for infrastructure services might be the way to go?

This way local institutions can then take shared responsibility and ownership of the services they support on campus - almost a Web 2.0 model of financing ICT services.

COL is like any business we do a proper cost-benefit and corresponding risk analysis in the way we configure our WikiEducator service. Its conceivable to provide guarantees for 24/7 support with synchronized mirrors all over the world - but current traffic levels wouldn’t warrant the cost. Consequently shared decision-making over technical infrastructure — when folk are contributing real dollars to ensure their wish-list — may be the way to go here.

Great reflections and appreciate the candid reflections.

4. wikirandy - december 1st, 2007 at 2:36 am

Hi Leigh, I’m impressed by the breadth and depth of your contribution here, and your leadership within Otago, and the WikiEducator community.

Some observations:

  1. This is a great case study to kickstart a dialogue among and within educational institutions as to the merits of pursuing an open educational content strategy, and by extension using WikiEducator as a development platform. I really like what you’ve listed as the benefits of working with WikiEducator. There might be one other benefit worth listing, and that is the “inside track / being part of a community of opinion leaders related to discovering / playing with new models for educational organisations to cut costs, improve productivity, discover new markets - you get the drift….
  2. In the Vision for content developed on WikiEducator you mention….“Ironically, through developing curriculum and content on the Wikieducator platform, we are discovering more opportunities for local collaboration before realising benefits of international collaboration”…this is worthy of considerable exploration…another benefit to add to the list - breaking down of silos internally..increasing dialogue….maybe there’s an opportunity for a panel discussion here…bringing in some diverse viewpoints for consideration….even from other fields.
  3. Regarding who first - teachers or students…I’m of the view that you create a range of access points for people to become involved…and have each perspective inform the other - kind of like participatory action research…
  4. Otago as a leader in NZ and Australia - you forgot to mention: “The World” - Your leadership, in your institution, and within WikiEducator has helped catapult both you and Otago to significant prominence in many quarters. As a fellow WikEducator, I value your insights, dedication and active involvement, commitment to the open educational content march, and clarity vision!

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Source:  OpenStax, The impact of open source software on education. OpenStax CNX. Mar 30, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10431/1.7
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