the WWILD Team
Team Concept Paper
Email Lloyd Rieber if you have questions or comments about this web site.
Most instructional technology programs around the world offer courses on multimedia design and development in which talented graduate students develop interactive software individually and in teams. Although rarely reaching the level of commercial quality, many outstanding projects are produced every semester at each university. These projects often represent hundreds of hours of work on every conceivable topic. Unfortunately, these projects are rarely used by more than a handful of people during the development cycle itself and then they usually find final resting places in file cabinets or closets. We think this is a waste of talent and a waste of good software.
At the same time, there are hundreds of people who could benefit from these projects if they only knew where to find them. Interestingly, many schools, universities, and companies are turning to distance learning technologies to serve their constituents at a distance, or to serve populations traditionally underserved by traditional educational opportunities. Among the most compelling reasons to take online learning seriously is that the Internet offers the chance to truly democratize education by giving everyone equal access to information and knowledge. The Internet offers as many advantages for a ten year old struggling to learn fractions as the executive needing to learn about tax law changes. Fair and equal access to educational opportunities remains one of the most significant problems facing the United States today (Berliner & Biddle, 1995; Kozol, 1992). The Internet has the potential to "level the educational playing field" by allowing anyone to tap its vast electronic information resources regardless of the quality of the one's local schools. Of course, access to this information assumes an individual has another kind of access, that to a computer, a modem, and an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Unfortunately, the most recent data indicate the division between those who have and do not have access to these technical resources continues to increase. According to the report "Falling through the Net II: New Data on the Digital Divide", issued through the U.S. Department of Commerce (National Telecommunications and Information Administration, 1998), although there have been significant increases in the overall access to computers and Internet, the disparity between rich and poor, urban and rural, and various ethnic and racial groups has increased in the last 5 years. These data should be both alarming and arming each of us needs to look for ways to influence policy makers (especially in our local arenas) to ensure that the democratic potential of the Internet is realized. The most obvious places to lobby for increased access are our schools, but all forms of community access should be supported (e.g. one's local library). Despite these problems, it takes little vision to imagine that access to the Internet could soon be as commonplace as telephone access.
The purpose of The Best Archive is to use the Internet to mount an organized effort to recognize, organize, and make accessible the largely unused source of quality educational multimedia represented by the best of graduate student projects completed as part of instructional technology programs. The current partners are issuing a general Call for Participation to all instructional technology programs in the world to collaborate in a partnership which will make our student's best work available to all non-profit groups.
Faculty at four major instructional technology programs at the University of Georgia, University of Minnesota, Virginia Tech, and Texas A&M University form the nucleus of this partnership and are committed to showcasing our students best work through this effort. These four universities, like any other university that seeks to join this partnership, commit to the following:
1) Maintain a reliable web server at the host institution which houses that institution's best student work (the URLs in the WWILD Team database simply point back to their own servers).
2) Participate in the definition of "quality" work, such as by helping to define an evaluation scheme (examples of this can already be found at the WWILD Team site). We believe that the criteria could also remain "local", that is, each institution could just decide for themselves which of their students' work gets honored on the WWILD Team site.
3) Continue to participate in the development of the WWILD Team concept, mission, and implementation.
It is our goal to eventually have all other instructional technology programs around the world to join us in this effort.
Berliner, D. C., & Biddle, B. J. (1995). The manufactured crisis: Myths, fraud, and the attack on America's public schools. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Kozol, J. (1992). Savage inequalities: Children in America's schools. New York: HarperPerennial.
National Telecommunications and Information Administration. (1998). Falling through the Net II: New Data on the Digital Divide [On-line]. Available: http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/net2/falling.html