D6.2 Appendix Taking the wiki forward
Appendix: Taking the wiki forward
The brief for this Appendix (originally an Annex) was as follows:
- An Annex will report on how the wiki should be taken forward, in the light of other projects and developments relevant at the time the project finishes.
Similar material to what follows can be found in the Final Public Report (section 7) and Deliverable 2.1 Edition 2, Transversal and categorised inventory of OER Programmes and Initiatives – on maps.
A.1 Some history
When the POERUP bid was being planned, and indeed when the POERUP project started, the VISCED project was under way. This used a wiki hosted by the University of Leuven (KU Leuven). However, KU Leuven were not a partner in POERUP and at the time it was felt unwise in branding terms to use an existing wiki used by another LLP project, as it could be hard to disentangle the contribution of POERUP from that of VISCED. There was also a desire by the VISCED bid team to use a wiki that had more functionality than the basic MediaWiki software in widespread use on VISCED, Wikipedia, WikiEducator and many private wikis.
The Referata hosting service http://www.referata.com had been used by Sero staff on some small projects and seemed suitable, with many sophisticated features available beyond the basic wiki functions. Thus this was chosen.
In reality when POERUP started the demands of the project meant that the sophisticated features of the Referata software were little used except for some minimal semantic functions. However steps were taken to ensure that cross-linking between POERUP, VISCED, English Wikipedia and some other specialised wikis ensured a relatively seamless user experience - and in particular the country report pages routinely linked to the corresponding VISCED and Wikipedia ones. The user experience was made even more seamless by POERUP adopting the various naming schemes built up over 5 years of Re.ViCa and then VISCED experience.
There the situation stayed for many months, despite the occasional experiment - in particular the Thailand POERUP page was deliberately created on the VISCED wiki, and the VISCED wiki was enhanced by a number of OER-related entries.
In fact in December 2013 discussions had taken place with MENON (facilitated in the context of the eMundus project) and the OER Foundation about the long-term home of the POERUP pages being the WikiEducator wiki where MENON country pages are to be found (see for example http://wikieducator.org/Emundus/Mexico). There was general agreement that this transition would be manageable.
The situation was transformed in 2014 when the demands of database collection and mapping came to the fore, and attention at some partners turned to issues of exploitation. This change of focus was reinforced by the gradual acceptance by the OER community in Europe (much more so than in the US) that OER had to be seen in the wider context of what in Europe was increasingly called Opening Up Education, so that there was a seamless path in one direction from pure OER to high-fee online Masters courses, and in another direction (at right angles, not opposite) from Open Access towards "educational" OER.
All of the 2014 partners in POERUP had a strong higher education focus (it is a key line of business for Sero) so that although POERUP deliberately covered all sections of formal education, the HE space was seen as most conducive to further projects and commercial activities.
The mapping and database activities also reminded people that there was much content on the VISCED wiki that had not been exploited in POERUP. In particular, VISCED had useful sets of pages on regions (states, provinces, länder) in the main federal countries - Germany, US, Canada, Australia, India, Brazil etc.
In addition, VISCED (largely dating from the previous Re.ViCa era) had over 500 entries on universities (as well as many on colleges and schools), many of whom were now hosting OER or MOOC activities as well as more commercially-focussed programmes.
Thus in the last few weeks of POERUP activity prior to reporting, much of this material was loaded on to the POERUP wiki, incidentally providing a much fuller user experience with far fewer "red links" (an earlier criticism of the interim evaluator report).
Finally, the demands of mapping and import made it very clear that the POERUP wiki could make good use of the advanced level of reporting tools now available in the Referata suite. The Main Page of the wiki now links to a plethora of mapping, search and reporting screens.
Thus the discussion which needs to take place is not now “where will the POERUP material migrate to?” but rather "what might be a useful common hosting solution for the various educational wikis?"
The POERUP wiki has demonstrated the added value of the Semantic MediaWiki tools hosted by Referata in mapping, reporting, searching, import and export. It is no longer feasible for POERUP to revert to "vanilla" wiki hosting. Moreover the hosting costs of the POERUP wiki are nil, provided it remains active and public.
The expected announcements by Hewlett on a global mapping approach for OER initiatives are likely to engender wider discussions about common action in the overall OER domain. POERUP looks forward to these discussions.
More information can be found in related Deliverables. One extract is given below and further information is available in the Project Final Reports.
An extract from Deliverable 2.1 Edition 2
Sero is familiar with the Semantic Wiki approach as it is used in the POERUP wiki it runs for the POERUP project, hosted on the Referata wiki farm - http://poerup.referata.com. While there are performance issues for semantic wikis as volumes rise, these were not expected to be severe for the relatively low volumes of traffic from the group of OER specialists dedicated enough to make updates. (The situation is quite different for massive user searches from across the world - hence our use of Stand-alone Map Tool for Search.)
There is now a Create/Edit Open Education Initiative summary entry page on the POERUP wiki which allows input of the same fields as on the Sero OER Map tool - http://poerup.referata.com/wiki/Form:InitiativeSummary - but behind the scenes builds semantic information.
A bonus of using Semantic Wiki is that geocoding can be done within the system and that one can output geocodes to maps. A proof-of-concept of geocoding input is at http://poerup.referata.com/wiki/Form:Location - this has been used for the creation of a number of "city" and "region" pages on the wiki.
These tools are available to all registered users of the POERUP wiki. Interested parties not authorised as POERUP wiki editors but wishing to try this now that the project has ended should contact Paul Bacsich for registration.
To support the user editing phase on the POERUP wiki, the wiki was populated from MongoDB by using the ImportCSV Extension available in the wiki, driven by a suitable Template. For an entry point to this data, see http://poerup.referata.com/wiki/Category:Open_Education_Initiatives