Monday, February 21, 2005

About Wikiversity 

Part of my work is to report on new trends in education and training in general, and also more specifically for community colleges. I’ve been saying for a while now that the value of educational content is going down as more open material gets freely available. MIT Opencourseware was the first spectacular demonstration of this a few years ago. Now initiatives such as Wikiversity bring a lot of people to question the value of what is being sold in higher education.

I’ve been asked by a number of people (often jokingly) if Wikiversity is something serious, if I think it can succeed. My answer: “I don’t know if this particular project will succeed, but the concept certainly has potential. After all, Wikipedia has now become a comprehensive encyclopaedia, and it’s free.” It’s usually the moment when I see the laughs fade away. “What! An encyclopaedia has been written following this principle? In only a few months?”

A critical question for higher education institutions is then to determine what it is that they are selling. If it’s content, they are in big trouble. If, it’s something else (certification, experience, social learning environment, reputation), they might be better equipped for what’s coming. In any case however, current educational business models will need to be changed.

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