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Peer Review

Common Wisdom: Peer Production of Educational Materials

by Yochai Benkler


Overall Rating:

4.75 stars
Content Quality: 4.75 stars
Effectiveness: 4.75 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Mar 25, 2013 by Faculty Development
Overview: The subject of this essay is the transformation of information sharing using the Internet, open source software, and volunteers who champion a topic and gather sources at rates much faster than paid employees ever could. There are two benefits: information comes from a variety of sources, taking away the power of the few to dictate what is important or not, such as the textbook companies. The second is the ability of the Internet to bring information to those who cannot afford it under other circumstances.
Learning Goals: To illustrate how the Internet has brought information to the general public through the work of thousands of volunteers working in concert to publish this information on the Internet. To argue for the benefits of peer production of materials and the Internet as a source for teachers and students alike. To provide examples: Wikipedia, MIT Open Courseware, etc.
Target Student Population: Faculty and students in instructional design and technology.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: None
Type of Material: Open Textbook. This is an essay published and offered for a small price (around $5.00). That is ironic, in a way, as the topic is about sharing freely created and distributed material.
Recommended Uses: For anyone with a need to understand open source in education. Could be used as a critical thinking tool, offering the student a chance to support or refute the author’s claims through analysis.
Technical Requirements: None

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: The argument in favor of the Internet to provide information to the general public is well written and supported. People will find a great deal of information to use in a pro-argument for the use of peer-produced materials.
Concerns: Objections to the use of the material are not strongly identified. The quality of the material and validity of the material is not clearly identified in many instances.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: This essay is easy to read and accessible. It can be used as a source for the positive results of peer-produced materials.
Concerns: Again, it does not provide arguments against the topic, and must be used in conjunction with a rebuttal essay of some kind. It also costs money to purchase and is not available in electronic form.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: The essay is very well written. ts a short book, so even if you don't like reading pdfs online, it can be printed easily.
Concerns: None