Clyde Street

Learning, Teaching, Performing


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HOPAU Update: 11 November

This week Tony Naar produced an update for his colleagues at the the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) on the The History of the Paralympics in Australia project  in Wikiversity.

He noted that “one element of the project is the use of Wikipedia and other Wikimedia products to ‘crowd source’ articles about the Paralympic Movement in Australia” which can then feed into the history of the Movement being written by Murray Phillips.

Tony reports that this has involved the creation of a project The History of the Paralympic Movement in Australia in Wikiversity. The Wikiversity site is a living record of the project which can be updated by anyone at any time. You can sign up to join the discussion or can ask to receive regular updates. There is a project blog too (coordinated by Leigh Blackall). The idea is to create a record of the project and its development which can be used by anyone to develop their own project.

Tony adds:

  • Since we started this part of the project – about three months ago – project contributors have created more than 350 new Wikipedia articles relating to the Paralympic movement in Australia.
  • This includes an article about every Australian Paralympic medallist.
  • Most of these articles are known as “stubs”. That is, they are very brief articles that need to be expanded.
  • The article about Tim Matthews is an example of a stub about an Australian Paralympic athlete.
  • Expanding the stubs is one of the next steps in the project. This is already happening, and the article about Elizabeth Edmondson is an example of an expanded, more comprehensive article.
  • Expanding articles is a lot of work, as information in articles must be verifiable and references to sources are expected.
  • Photographs also help, and another aspect of the project is to scan and upload images under a Creative Commons licence which can be used in articles and in the history project more generally.
  •  These include images to which the APC has the rights, but which have no other commercial value to the APC.
  • These are uploaded into Wikimedia Commons – a media sharing database. So far, we have uploaded 94 images, mostly from the 1996 Paralympic Games. We are currently scanning images from the 1992 Games and more from 1996 and these will be uploaded in coming weeks.

In addition, Tony writes:

“Within the Wiki community, we are promoting the project by seeking recognition for the articles that are being created. One way of doing this is to create an interesting “hook” about an article and apply to have the hook included on the home page of Wikipedia in the “Did you know…” (DYK) section. This is a sought after achievement within the Wikipedia community and we have been successful with 10 DYKs  so far. The latest is a DYK about 1996 basketball gold medallist and 2004 Gliders coach Gerry Hewson.

Laura Hale – a member of the University of Canberra team which works with us on this project – has written a very interesting account of the Paralympic DYKs, including the page view stats for each article.

The athlete profile pages on the APC’s website have always been the most popular pages. Articles about athletes on Wikipedia have the potential to increase this exposure significantly.

Laura is working to have one of our articles accepted as a featured article on the Wikipedia main page. That is a high achievement within the Wikipedia community and requires a comprehensive article, fully referenced and supported by good images, about a notable person or event.

We are currently considering ways to increase the number of experienced Wikipedians who are working on Paralympic articles. One suggestion would also incorporate a Wikipedian creating articles about Australian medallists during the London Games.

To help create the Wikipedia articles, we are working to build a pool of editors with an interest in Paralympic sport. To that end, we have held training days recently in Perth and Brisbane and we now have well over a dozen people, either from the Paralympic community, or from the Wikipedia community, who are editing and contributing to articles. These include Paralympians such as Elizabeth Edmondson and Peter Marsh, friends and partners of Paralympians and people who have just somehow gotten involved.

In the near future, we are looking to do something a bit unique for Wikipedia – to add embedded video and audio into Paralympic articles and also to record the subjects of articles reading the article about themself. Sources of audio and video will include the National Library’s Paralympic oral history project and interviews conducted by Shaun Giles with the oral history interview subjects, as well as other video footage to which the APC has the rights.”

Photo Credits

Elizabeth Edmondson

Louise Sauvage

Peter Martin


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Open Educational Resources: The Writing on the Wall

I admire immensely Stephen Downes’ work.

Each weekday and Saturday morning here in Australia starts for me with a read of OLDaily over coffee.

Each day I find something that takes me on a journey of the imagination and to new connections.

Today I have been reading Stephen’s post on Open Educational Resources.

Stephen defines Open Educational Resources (OERs) thus:

Open educational resources are materials used to support education that may be freely accessed, reused, modified and shared by anyone.

Stephen’s post elaborates how he came to define OERs. I noted in particular:

  • “it avoids needless redundancies. Specifically, it avoids phrases like “digital or non-digital’ which, on examination, mean the same as “everything”. It also avoids formulations like “OERs are resources that…” because this has the form “resources are resources”, which is not helpful.”
  • “What makes material used for learning an OER is not the license it carries with it, but rather, whether it allows anyone to access, use, modify and share the material.”
  • “the purpose of a functional definition – one based on the ability of a person to access, use, modify and share the resource – is that it enables a simple empirical test. Instead of metaphysical discussions about the nature of an object, we simply ask, “Can a person access the object, can a person use the object, etc.?”, and on being shown that they can, conclude that the resource is open.”
  • “The purpose of the word ‘freely’ in the definition is intended to stipulate that the resource may be access without conditions.”

With Stephen’s guidance and Leigh Blackall‘s help I have been keen to explore open sharing in my work at the University of Canberra. Recently, the #HOPAU project with the Australian Paralympic Committee  has given me opportunities to explore openness in a very practical way.

Stephen’s post today has helped me clarify the essential characteristics of this project. This is a writing on the wall time (about aspiration and country)!


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Open Language

UCNISS submitted an open tender to the Australian Paralympic Committee this week.

We submitted a proposal to produce A History of the Paralympic Movement in Australia, and to establish a repository of media and digitised primary resources to compliment the text.

The tender was written as a Wikiversity page.

The process of becoming open has been a great personal learning experience. I am fortunate to have had Leigh Blackall and James Neill as my guides and to access Stephen Downes’ OLDaily to extend my horizons.

Stephen has presented his ideas on The Role of Open Educational Resources in Personal Learning this week. I liked his discussion of a language of open learning:

  • We have to stop treating online resources as though they were ‘content’
  • The people who actually use them have moved far beyond that
  • These artifacts constitute a new language; they are a large, complex, post-linguistic vocabulary
  • That’s why they need to be open

Our open tender has received a great deal of interest and comment. The objections to the project we are proposing to the Australian Paralympic Committee underscore for me how important it is to revisit and develop the forms an open language may take.

I am still waiting for the arrival of Stanley Fish’s book in my local bookshop and hope the issues raised there will help me develop my open language and practice.

Advocacy of openness requires many literacies. I am keen to explore how the form of our writing contributes to the flourishing of a sustainable, collaborative approach to the produsing of open educational resources.