Motivation and emotion/Book/About/Collaborative online book chapter authoring using Wikiversity
A case study involving psychology of motivation and emotion
Target journal: International Journal for Students as Partners Section: Case study (maximum 3,000 words)
Wikis offer powerful platforms for online collaborative writing, editing, and publishing. This case study describes an online wiki-based book and multimedia project which is authored by undergraduate psychology students and freely available online. The project has produced over 850 unique, openly available chapters and online videos describing how psychological science can help improve people's motivational and emotional lives. Key theoretical principles are openness, guided experiential learning, and self-determination. Issues, conceived as educational opportunities, include negotiating privacy and anonymity, individual versus collective effort, and offline versus online engagement. This project provides an ongoing, working demonstration of how open, collaborative, online authoring about unique topics can be used as an innovative, challenging, and experientially engaging learning and assessment exercise. The methods are applicable and adaptable to a wide variety of disciplines and educational contexts.
(maximum 150 words)
collaborative writing, open education, psychology, wiki, wikiversity
This article describes an online collaborative book chapter authoring exercise conducted in the context of undergraduate psychology. The underlying experiential learning and open education principles and technical platform are broadly applicable to a wide variety of disciplines and educational contexts.
The real-world vision is to create a freely available online resource which provides accessible knowledge from psychological science, particularly motivation and emotion, about how individuals and communities can improve their lives, become happier, and achieve their dreams. The resource is developed using an open access, openly editable platform (Wikiversity) by undergraduate psychology students as part of their assessment in a core unit called Motivation and Emotion at the University of Canberra.
How it works: Book chapter project
In a nutshell, the project is very simple: Students each write on a unique topic in a collaborative, open, online space and are encouraged to contribute not just to their own topic, but also work being produced by others.
Everything else follows and is, in many ways, just excess detail. A collaborative online editing platform is needed. For this case study, Wikiversity is used because it is freely available, openly licensed, supported by a relatively large non-profit organisation, has an excellent track-record of platform stability and upgrade, and continues to improve the usability of the editing interface for novices.
The book project also needs a theme. For this case study, the context is undergraduate psychology, and more specifically the third-year unit titled Motivation and emotion at the University of Canberra, Australia. The learning outcome is for students to be able to "integrate psychological theories and research towards explaining the role of motivation and emotion in human thinking, feeling, and behaviour". Thus, the book theme is "Understanding and improving our motivational and emotional lives using psychological science" because it is part. The emphasis is on reviewing, synthesising, and summarising scientific theory and research about a unique topic, and communicating an accessible overview and explanation to the world. Each new enrolment period, the student cohort adds a new set of chapters to the project collection. Each student signs up to, or negotiates, a unique topic. Topics consist initially of a title and a sub-title in the form of a question. For example, "Empowerment and employee motivation - How does empowerment at work affect employees' work motivation?" and "Public speaking anxiety - Why do we get nervous about public speaking and how can it be managed?".
Participants create Wikiversity accounts using either real-names or pseudonyms depending on their privacy preferences. Many students start out cautiously and choose pseudonyms, but often realise by the end that there would be value in having their real name attached to evidence of their professional capability (in this case, usernames and associated edits can be renamed).
Participants are each primarily responsible for curating the content for a single topic, but are also encouraged to contribute to other chapters by commenting and/or editing. Collaboration on other chapters is incentivised by allocating 10% of the marks for the assignment to contributions to other chapters. These social contributions must be electronically logged and publicly available, as evidence. Bonus marks are awarded for exceptional contributions. Editing can occur throughout the teaching period, in real-time, with version control available to allow review and roll-back of any previous edit which aren't deemed beneficial. Participants can also continue to edit their work in perpetuity.
In addition to chapters consisting of written content, participants are encouraged to use features which bring online text to "life", including use of section headings which link to a hyperlinked table of contents, hyperlinks for key words and concepts to further information, inclusion of images, use of quizzes, and so on. Furthermore, participants create an online, publicly available, three minute multimedia overview of the topic.
Wiki as a platform
Similar collaborative writing projects could be a conducted using a wide range of server-based software platforms, such as wikis. Wikis offer some unique characteristics and benefits that make them particularly suitable to academic and educational collaborative writing projects.
Wiki-wiki means quick in Hawaiian. Wikis were designed to be the simplest possible web page that could be viewed and edited by anyone. Wiki-based websites exist for a wide variety of purposes. The most popular wiki ecosystem is provided by the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF). The WMF is a non-profit organisation which supports servers, software, and staffing to manage volunteer editing of wiki projects such as Wikipedia and its many sister projects, including Wikiversity for education and research, w:Wiktionary as a dictionary, Wikinews for news, and Wikispecies as a species directory. Whilst all WMF sister projects are of potential interest to educators, Wikiversity is of particular relevance because its raison d'etre is to provide a platform for developing and sharing research and education activities. For more information, see Wikiversity Welcome. All WMF wiki content is openly editable and openly licensed.
Theoretical principles for collaborative writing online, in the open
In the collaborative online book chapter authoring project, participants are invited, encouraged, and facilitated into developing a synthesis of scientific knowledge about a specific psychological phenomena related to motivation or emotion. Collaboration and publication takes place in an open, public, online, editable, collaborative, virtual space.
Three theoretical principles guide this project: openness, guided experiential learning, and self-determination.
A core principle of the collaborative online book project is openness, particularly open academia, open education, and open access. Access to closed content is restricted, whereas open content is freely available to anyone. The role of universities is to share knowledge with the broader community and to do so in many ways. Much university content that has been traditionally closed (such as student works), could usefully be made open. There is also a push towards providing students with more real-world learning tasks, such as work-integrated learning.
However, much student writing in tertiary education is individual and closed. Typically, a standard topic is set by a teacher and many students write individual essays or reports on the same topic (or a small set of restricted topics), being careful to keep their efforts largely hidden from one another (sharing is often actively discouraged). The teacher then reads, comments, and marks on the student work in a private manner. Then, chances are, the work never sees the light of day, lost to humanity as it collects dust under the bed, sits on a failing hard drive, or rots somewhere in the cloud.
Online connectivity is increasingly the locale for professional working collaboration, yet surprisingly few higher education learning and assessment tasks make meaningful use of real-world online environments. For example, virtual learning environments for educational institutions commonly use learning management systems that students are highly unlikely to ever encounter again, after they graduate. These systems are often little more than glorified drop-boxes for staff to share electronic notes and for students to submit assignments. Drop-in to most courses during a given teaching period looking for evidence of consistent, meaningful, collaborative, working interaction and you're likely to come up pretty empty-handed. On the other hand, real-world collaborative platforms are being rapidly taken up by organisations and companies of all shapes and sizes. Students would be better prepared for this working world if they actively tried, tested, and learned how to use real-world platforms to tackle real-world problems with expert tuition and guidance. For example, staff can actively partner with students to collaboratively and publicly author content about unique topics and make that work freely available for others to use and develop.
Guided experiential learning
In learning how to navigate, engage, and contribute to such a space, students are trained and guided, they must also take risks, experiment, and learn through experience, with support from fellow students, teaching staff, and the international community.
Pedagogy involves teacher-centered learning, andragogy involves student-centered learning, and heutagogy involves self-determined learning (Hase & Kenyon, 2000). The collaborative online book chapter project is conducted so as to encourage and facilitate self-determined learning.
The task of authoring a publicly available, professional synthesis of psychological science about a specific topic may seem daunting to the uninitiated and unworkable to the skeptical (much like riding a bicycle may initially seem impossible), yet it soon becomes an achievable challenge and rewarding challenge for self-determined learners.
Finding a balance between and blend of individual and group-based work in educational settings is a challenge. For example, some students prefer more individual work, whereas others prefer more group-based work. This is also a challenge in workplaces. Learning and assessment tasks which involve a blend, or even synthesis, of individual and group-work, with scope for individual customisation may offer an optimal balance, and help develop collaborative individualism (Limerick & Cunningham, 1993).
Issues and opportunities
The project uses a solution-focused approach, such that where any "issues" occur, they are treated as "teachable moments". Some examples are discussed below.
Privacy and anonymity
As students are editing in a public wiki space, they are encouraged to choose their desired level of privacy and anonymity. For example, they are encouraged to consider that:
- Attaching their real identity to their professional work can be advantageous (e.g., can be added to CV)
- Choosing a pseudonym is recommended if they do not wish for their identity to be associated with their editing. In this case, only the teacher would need to know the user's identity, for marking purposes
It is not uncommon for students to begin skeptically, by using a pseudonym, but subsequently developing trust in the process and pride in their work, and to longer wish to maintain autonomy. User names and editing history can be renamed in these cases.
Intellectual property and copyright
Staff and students as colleagues
Students are responsible for the primary writing, editing, and curation of content about a single topic, but are encouraged to contribute feedback, ideas, comments, copyedits, and so on, to chapters being prepared by others. Staff function as facilitators, editors, reviewers, and collaborators, working across all or many chapters.
Rather than "students" and "staff", we often prefer terms such as emerging scholar or participant for student and facilitator or academic for staff, to help create a more collegial and collaborative attitude and atmosphere.
Collaborative wiki editing projects are useful for both formative and summative assessment.
Scaffolding for post-graduate study
Some students have used the collaborative book chapter exercise as early foray into topics which they have then gone on to pursue in more detail in post-graduate research. For example, U944295 authored a 2016 chapter about grit, completed an Honours thesis entitled "Grit and self-control as predictors of academic achievement and academic satisfaction at university" in 2017, and is currently completing a Master of Clinical Psychology thesis about "*TBA".
First-hand accounts of student experiences of the book and multimedia project are welcome here.
Summaries and data: Motivation and emotion/Evaluation
What if we flipped the common practice of having many students write about the same topics in individual, closed manner to participating in a collaborative space to examine unique topics in a publicly viewable and editable space?
This Motivation and Book online student-authored book provides a working proof-of-concept.
The key principles are openness, guided experiential learning, and self-determination.
Note on contributors
... if you make significant contribution, please add your details here ...
Limerick, D., Cunningham, B., Limerick, D., & Cunningham, B. (1993). Collaborative individualism and the end of the corporate citizen. In Managing the new organisation: Collaboration and sustainability in the post-corporate world. Chatswood, New South Wales, Australia: Business and Professional Publishing.