2010年10月27日 星期三

Week 8 Wikibooks

 I did not write a chapter of Wikibooks before. After reading some articles related to Wikibooks, I suppose that Wikibooks will definitely play an important role in the future online learning. I recall when there was no information technology available, a small group of scholars had to work on the paper-based book or encyclopedia. On top of that scholars had to spend a very long time to edit it. Nowadays, however, Wikibooks provides a platform for collaboratively writing and freely reading textbooks, and developing a more participatory learning environment. Moreover, Wikibookians viewed Wikibooks as a way to contribute and share their knowledge, to obtain personal growth and enrichment, and to learn new ideas from others (Sajjapanroj, Bonk, Lee, & Lin, 2008).

  In my opinion, it is very exciting for a book written collaboratively online by the Wikibooks community in which anyone involved will be able to play a distinct role, such as a reader, editor, and coordinator etc. Nevertheless, there is no denying that it’s difficult for a scholar to produce a high-quality book with comprehensive references and convincing perspectives, not to mention writing or completing a book by a group of people via Wikibooks. As a result, I think some points should be taken into consideration extremely carefully as to how a book is to be written in the Wikibooks community.

  First, because each chapter of the Wikibooks would be written by different people, I was more concerned about the consistency of the Wikibooks among different chapters. As we could imagine, a published book requires a coherent structure for readers to easily make information meaningful among the chapters. However, it usually takes time to edit and proofread the content before publication. As a consequence, Wikibooks may need more editors to maintain the quality of each Wikibooks publicated. Moreover, there would be a lot of incoming Wikibooks in different subject areas. A book about the calculus, for example, would be appropriately proofread by mathematic scholars before publication. However, it might be very difficult to find a mathematic scholar to do that online, which might just be the tip of the iceberg in the Wikibooks community.

  In addition to the consistency, Wikibookians were inspired to share knowledge and learn new ideas, and above all make a learning contribution to the community via Wikibooks (Sajjapanroj et al., 2008). From my point of view, being an active online navigator, I really appreciate those benefits offered by the Wikibookians. Wikibooks makes open educational resource available at no cost and, moreover, enables readers to edit, organize, and acquire the latest versions of the book. Thus, it allows everyone to be engaged in informal learning as well as formal learning.

  In the past, readers could not get the updated version of paper-based book very soon. However, for the Wikibookians, the situation is different. As long as they are interested in a certain subject areas, they in general will actively contribute their existing knowledge, even though it required them to spend time and energy. Also, digital learning participation is now a key factor for reaching readers at any age (Bonk, Lee, Kim & Lin, 2010). For instance, the development of Wikibooks may encompass experienced and young people both bringing their valuable ideas and knowledge into the book, which was not possible in the past. Furthermore, a central aspect of the Wikibooks is that anyone can determine where, what, when, and how much to contribute (Bonk et al., 2010), which means that Wikibookians are allowed to have more freedom to decide how much they are going to write. That indeed is the beauty of Wikibooks.

  However, I wonder when Wikibooks could be completed. As we know, Wikibookians are allowed to modify or improve the content of Wikibooks. Therefore, it still begs an inevitable question that Wikibooks may encourage abortive book projects (Sajjapanroj et al., 2008), because the completeness of Wikibooks all depends on the Wikibookians’ contributions. No one likes to read an incomplete book, but who will be in charge of the issue? How can you be sure that Wikibookians have enough enthusiasm for collaboratively completing Wikibooks together? As far as I am concerned, Wikibookians may just be interested in developing some chapters within Wikibooks. And, Wikibooks might thus be incomplete for a long time. Additionally, even though it is relatively easy for people to edit the Wikibooks, there still have been few females using Wikibooks. The lack of females contributing to Wikibooks will result in imbalance between the perspectives of female and male.

  When it comes to Wikibookians’ standpoints, I wonder how we could deal with the objective and subjective opinions in Wikibooks. Besides, there still have been some issues to be dealt with. For example, abiding by copyright laws may require more time and skill than a traditional course paper, the direction of the project confusion, definitions and terms used (Bonk et al., 2010). Therefore, a comprehensive standard must be needed, because creating Wikibooks is not as easy as creating Wikipedia, for a book is expected to have more comprehensive and serious knowledge and information as well as objective perspectives. And Wikibooks is not the same as Wikipedia, as it is not just the definition or introduction of one term or topic, but it has to be written by more critical thinking and independent thinking.


Bonk, C. J., Lee, M. M., Kim, N., & Lin, M.-F. (2010). Wikibook transformations and disruptions: Looking  back twenty years to today. In H. H. Yang, & S. C-Y. Yuen (Eds.), Collective intelligence and e-learning 2.0: Implications of Web-based communities and networking. Hershey, PA: IGI Publishing.

Sajjapanroj, S., Bonk, C. J., Lee, M, & Lin M.-F. (2008, Spring). A window on Wikibookians: Surveying their statuses, successes, satisfactions, and sociocultural experiences. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 7(1), 36-58.

2010年10月9日 星期六

the open-source softwares- Apache, Linux, my own servers....

  First, I am a heavy user of the open-source softwares, including Linux, Apache, and Moodle. Last year, I just developed the interest in building up server due to a friend of mine who has been teaching management information system for more than ten years. I installed Apache on my computers myself and connected to mypage server(welcome: http://mypage.iu.edu/~linji/) via putty. And, those open-source softwares are very convenient for me to store the data and immediately show my friends photos taken on campus no matter where they are.  In the past, however, I have never thought about where these softwares come from; in other words, it seems to me that I am supposed to download them at no cost. It wasn’t until this semester that I begin to realize the importance of the development of open-source softwares in American, China, Taiwan, and elsewhere.   

  What are the advantages of the development of opens-source softwares? According to the technical evaluation report in China, the reasons included lower cost, benefits to the local industry, and cultural and political reasons; interestingly, distrust of American imperialism was also included. The free use of softwares, as far as I am concerned, may be the most important to the citizens who get used to using private softwares. China, however, hasn’t done well so far in developing their own information industry, especially in eucation-related open-source sofewares, partly because  the development focuses on technical skills and distribution of softwares. Moreover, China scholars use the term Localization to implicitly describe that they just develop their own open-source softwares by simply modifying western.   

  Apache Software Foundation (ASF), supporting the open-source softwares movements, has developed serveral rules for protecting the copyrights of peer production and sharing. ASF also authored the Apache License for preservation of the copyright. Take one of my favorite servers as example, apache server has been released under the Apache License. The original spirit of open-source is that, in fact, people who are capable of modifing the source code of software program could devote themselves to making the programs better in order to meet people’s certain needs. At the same time, the distribution of the extension of open-source softwares should be taken into consideration based on the “openness”. As a result, following the rules of open-source, you should provide people with both your original and derived source codes. On the other hand, if you made efforts to successfully achieve others goals people will appreciate what you did for them; in other words, this is called gift culture in which people are motivated to do others a favor.          

  Furthermore, when it comes to the share, we can offer any information we want to share on the Internet. Yochai Benkler, for instance, professor at havard law school, presents networked information economy that  we are capable of distributing, producting information by decetralized individual action without depending on market strategies. Perhaps,  there was a debate about whether the networked information economy threatens the current proprietor-like regulatory structure. As far as I am concerned, on the one hand, proprietary production could make the software more stable and reliable, as it takes responsibility for the product whenever users have difficulties or problems of using it (Kapor, 2005). For example, Who will be helping me solve the problem as I use Photoshop? Of course, Adobe. because I paid for it. Peer production, on the other hand, like the open source software should continually be supported, because it could uphold the spirit and freedom of sharing and improving the product within the community for no cost, and it could also satisfy learners' futher educational needs through self-selected, decentralized individual actions.