Open Educational Practices (OEP) are teaching techniques that introduce students to online peer production communities. Such communities (for instance, Wikipedia, YouTube, Open Street Map) host dynamic communities and offer rich learning environments.
Although casual engagement with this sort of community may not always be beneficial, many educators have found that prepared class activities and assignments can yield a variety of substantial benefits.
The Wikipedia Public Policy Initiative is one example of an effort to develop OEPs. That initiative produced a document (“Best practices in assigning Wikipedia articles as coursework to students”) which identifies a number of educational benefits:
- exposure to a global audience; students put more effort into the assignment
- seeing that others will build on their work, some students continue work after assignment’s end
- students learn the difference between fact-based and persuasive writing styles
- critical thinking and evaluation of the quality of source material
- valuable experience working in a collaborative environment
- insights into Wikipedia’s production model, informing judgment about use of its content
- experience using wikis – an increasingly important skill in the modern workplace
- students develop fluency in simultaneously consuming and producing knowledge