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Education

What If We Ran Universities Like Wikipedia? 380

Pickens writes "Do university bureaucracies still make sense in the era of networks? At the recent Educause conference, David J. Staley laid out the findings of a focus group he conducted asking educators what a college would look like if it operated like Wikipedia. The 'Wiki-ized University' wouldn't have formal admissions, says Staley; people could enter and exit as they wished and the university would consist of voluntary and self-organizing associations of teachers and students 'not unlike the original idea for the university, in the Middle Ages.' In addition, the curriculum of the 'Wiki-ized University' would be intellectually fluid, and instead of tenure, professors' longevity 'would be determined by the community.' Staley predicts that a new form of academic organization is emerging that will be driven by volunteerism. 'We do see some idea today of how "volunteer teaching" might look: think of the faculty at a place like the University of Phoenix. Most teaching faculty have day jobs — and in fact are hired because they have day jobs — and teach at the university for a nominal stipend,' writes Staley. 'If something like the Phoenix model is what develops in a wiki-ized university setting, this would suggest that a new type of "professorate" will emerge, consisting of those who teach or publish or conduct research for their own personal or professional satisfaction or for some other nonmonetized benefit.'"

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