Results from study on open authoring

In September of last year I ran a web-based experiment in open authoring of educational materials. The goal was to learn about the quality of the materials that volunteers can produce and how that differs across their expertise. I’ve since published the results at the International Conference on Intelligent Tutoring Systems, but I’m also blogging about it as part of my goal to do my research in a more “open” way.

Here’s a short summary (abstract) of the paper:
Open collaborative authoring systems such as Wikipedia are growing in use and impact. How well does this model work for the development of educational resources? In particular, can volunteers contribute materials of sufficient quality? Could they create resources that meet students’ specific learning needs and engage their personal characteristics? Our experiment explored these questions using a novel web-based tool for authoring worked examples. Participants were professional teachers (math and non-math) and amateurs. Participants were randomly assigned to the basic tool, or to an enhanced version that prompted authors to create materials for a specific (fictitious) student. We find that while there are differences by teaching status, all three groups make contributions of worth and that targeting a specific student leads contributors to author materials with greater potential to engage students. The experiment suggests that community authoring of educational resources is a feasible model of development and can enable new levels of personalization.

For the full details, there is a version of the paper is available on my own web site and the official version is available from Springer.

Also, I am conducting a follow-up experiment now on how people are able to improve the materials from the first study.

Questions or comments are wholly welcome.