About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN13 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Pages: 136-139
ISBN: 978-84-616-3822-2
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 5th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 1-3 July, 2013
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Inspired by the theory of The Long Tail and the book Free, both by Chris Anderson a group of education innovators and researchers wondered if the concept of Free education could be executed in a regular educational setting. Would it be possible to develop an online tool driven by contributions of anyone who was willing to contribute? Could we build a tool based on The Long Tail concept?
After a thorough design process and desk research a group of contributors decided to have a go. The group consisted of one of the largest schools for vocational education in the Netherlands, their innovation department; an it-company specialized in education; a research team; multimedia designers, an interaction design company, teachers and students.
The concept was brought to the attention of the ministry of education. To stimulate the development a subsidy from the ministry was granted. All set to start.
The concept of building this online community is based on participatory action research to investigate under what circumstances people are inclined to help one another in a learning process. We investigated real life (offline) processes and online processes. The idea of Stimmit is based on the assumption that people are willing to contribute as long as they get something out of it. A rather large amount of the development time was invested to identify the drivers for contribution as they determine the success factors of the online platform.
We distinguished, among others, the following factors:
The participation inequality in the context of the internet; often referred to as the 1% rule (the 90-9-1 principle). A small group will be heavy contributors, the majority is referred to as lurkers. Is the user population aimed at large enough to keep the community alive with constant feeds? We believe it is and have data to proof it.
The willingness to help, whether offline or online was determined to be positive. A research program proved that the hypothesis on community-collaboration was well enough supported to start the online community.
The cross-subsidy notions as to be read in Free made it plausible to develop a community on the freemium model; The Long Tail theory supported the constant contribution based on a different concept of payment. The contributors are rewarded not by money; we developed a different set of rewards.
Authors are to be found among our students, we have more than a million; among anyone who is feeling to be able to contribute. We base our concept on the theory as described by Charles Lead beater about professional amateurs. This concept and terms have been used, since 2004, as a descriptor for an emerging sociological and economic trend of "people pursuing amateur activities to professional standards", as described by Demos, a British think tank, in the 2004 book The Pro-Am Revolution co-authored by Lead beater
We like to share the results of the research, the status quo and an example of the online community. The engine behind the community platform will be part of the presentation. Research to work together with parties form around the globe and to develop the platform for further use are appreciated.
Calculus, Stimmit, ROC West BRabant, ITWorkz, participatory action research.