Social and Cultural Foundations of American Education/Development Process

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The WikiText Development Process in ECI301 at Old Dominion University Darden College of Education, Fall 2006/Spring 2007/Summer 2007/Fall 2007

This WikiText, The Social and Cultural Foundations of Education, is the combined effort of a dedicated group of professional collaborators, faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students. The course was planned over the summer of 2006 by Dr. Patrick O’Shea, Adjunct Faculty Member, who had the original idea for a WikiText, Dwight W. Allen, Eminent Scholar of Educational Reform, Peter Baker, Coordinating Graduate Assistant for ECI301 where the WikiText has been developed and used, and Douglas Allen, Associate Professor of Human Resources Development at the University of Denver.

In the fall they were joined by two other senior researchers, Kevin DePew, Assistant Professor of English, and Danny Curry-Corcoran, Director of Evaluation for the Newport News Public Schools.

The senior research team also offered an applied research course in the fall semester, paralleling the development of the WikiText. The major objective of this course was to plan a series of research initiatives to study the outcomes of this unprecedented, innovative approach to the introduction of students to the profession of teaching. Preparation of the WikiText and the evaluation of learning associated with that text comprised about one half of the total introductory course which also includes traditional lectures, both online and in a face to face format. The course materials and syllabus can be found at:

Though the idea of WikiTexts is new, others have developed texts with the cooperation of students, often though not always graduate students. (See, for example, the developing student-written text about educational psychology, as well as the online Wikibooks version called Contemporary Educational Psychology). We decided to take a very different approach taking advantage of the large numbers of students enrolled (about 225) in this introductory class. First of all students were asked to produce a relatively brief (1,000 words) and very narrowly focused article on one of about 75 topics selected by the professional staff as representing a “typical” mix of topics for comparable courses. With about 225 students in the class, we created a “sign up page” in the WikiText which allowed as many as three students to sign up for each topic. In most cases we had two or three student-authored versions of each article.

It was not expected that they would “cover” the topic, but rather would select two to five major concepts they felt would be of value to them as teachers in training. Students were also required to write five multiple choice questions, applying the concepts their article to real life situations, and one essay question. In addition they were asked to find a “sidebar” something that would make the article more interesting – a quote, a video clip, an illustration or cartoon, a chart or graph.

The “book” was written during the first four weeks of class, and the balance of the semester was spent reading the text they had written. Each student was assigned to read and rate only one version of each article, about ten topics each week. Typically we received about 50 ratings of each article. The highest rated article by students was selected as the “official text.” The other articles, some of which were also highly rated are shown as supplementary materials.