Collaborative courseware development
So I did pick up Wealth of Networks yesterday, and got through the introduction on the train. Before doing so, I took a peek at the index to see what if anything Benkler had to say about MIT OCW (ah, vanity). In a brief mention, he says essentially “It’s great but networks probably provide even greater opportunity for collaborative creation of courseware.” Fair enough.
I always have an innately skeptical reaction, though, to the issue of collaboratively created courseware, and I felt it again in reading this. I’m completely open to the possibility that it’s simply a failure of my own imagination, but I’ve heard about it on the IIEP forum, and in various discussions with colleagues, and I keep having the same reaction.
In part it may be that I’ve never seen a good example of it having worked. I know of no case in which a group of faculty, even at the same school, came together to create a common set of courseware that they all taught with. I’ve seen a common set of tools created (slides for a media studies class, exercises that by rule or consensus were used in a set of introductory essay writing classes) but I know of no good examples where a whole course–or even major units of courseware–were co-created and co-taught with great success.
It may be because I find the creation of course materials to be in some ways similar to creative writing (as I practice it, anyway), a process of developing an extended argument (in the case of teaching, usually a logical one; in the case of creative writing, more often an emotional one). Creating the product is part of the process of understanding the material, and while I can certainly draw on the work of others for inspiration and include elements of it into my own work, I can’t imagine actually co-creating it.
This is why I can more easily imagine the creation of course materials with OER as a reference, not rip-mix-burn, process. Anyway, I’m sure there are examples out there, and it would be great to see a few. In the mean time, I’m going to assume it’s a matter of my own misanthropy.