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Our 2nd writing project is to respond to the current draft of the Course Constitution.

The document is CC NonCommercial, Share Alike. But on the Coursera wiki it isn’t accessible if you aren’t a logged in Coursera member. So I’ve decided to exercise that CC license and reproduce the document here.

The Ward Cunningham photos are not part of the Course Constitution. They’re just from me.

It’s the current version as of 15 February 2014. Probably soon to change. Now that it’s here, I’ll head off and write the actual project, which you can find at:

photo of Ward Cunningham
Ward Cunningham, inventor of The Wiki.

HigherEd Constitution

Return to History and Future of (Mostly) Higher Education main wiki page.

Return to History and Future of (Mostly) Higher Education main Coursera page.

NOTE: This page is a wiki, meaning that anyone can edit the page and improve it for all readers. Don’t be afraid to contribute and add to what others have already written on any page. If you make any mistakes, it’s easy to undo your changes. If you need help, please refer to the wiki help page, or post on the technical issues forum. Please make sure to indicate headings and subheadings in the text for main sections.

Please note: If you are an experienced editor on Wikipedia, you will find that this wiki portal is a bit different. Click on the “Edit” tab on the top right-hand corner to edit a page. Also, all editing is done in markdown.

Community Rules and Principles for Collaborative Online Learning

Below is a first draft of “Community Rules and Principles for Collaborative Online Learning” written by the Teaching Assistants and Community TAs to reflect some guiding principles, goals, methods, strategies, and rules for a massive online learning environment. We invite members of the Coursera MOOC on “The History and Future of (Mostly) Higher Education” to comment, edit, and add to the document in order to help make this not just a one-direction online course but rather a multi-direction conversation in an active, respectful community of learners.


“The History and Future of (Mostly) Higher Education”

Coursera MOOC, January 2014

We are a community of participants from many countries, with different backgrounds, beliefs, cultures, genders, ages, languages, and levels of education. Our intention is to be receptive, sensitive and supportive of one another. Each person in the community behaves in a respectful manner. Differences and disagreements are handled with a sense of camaraderie, mutual understanding, and respect without resorting to personal attacks or demeaning language.

To this end, this document establishes expectations for engagement in our online FutureEd community. Please feel free to edit, amend, or add to this draft.

#FutureEd: Massively Collaborative Online Learning

FutureEd constitutes an experiment in collaborative learning. Together, we commit ourselves to iteratively identifying, evaluating, creating, rethinking, and building solutions to [mostly] higher educational challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for all of us in the 21st century. We believe that the Internet and technology should be a collaborative tool to transform how individuals and communities interact with themselves and the world around them. Thus, this connected age offers a tremendous opportunity to make teaching, learning, and knowledge more accessible and more meaningful for everyone. This requires a rethinking of institutions of higher education and how we prepare younger students for matriculation to college or university, as well as rethinking the possibilities for lifelong learners who can now take advantage of this unprecedented access to continued learning. FutureEd aims to understand and learn from the limits imposed over the course of the history of higher education, so that we might explore the possibilities and opportunities that exist for its future.

photo of Ward Cunningham gesturing with his hands.
Ward Cunningham, inventor of The Wiki.


We have committed ourselves to:

  • Explaining objectives, goals, and methods in a clear and coherent way
  • Understanding the history, the “where we have come from” of Higher Education, to enable us to recognize, learn from, and do our best to avoid repeating past mistakes as well as retain the things done right and tweak them into new, more effective, best practices for learners
  • Building a culture of openness, access, and respect in the pursuit of creating and disseminating knowledge.
  • Implementing a community-based learning model that provides:
    • Spaces for knowledge (re)production
    • Pedagogy that reflects new ways of understanding learning and thinking in the Digital Age
    • New modes and methods for knowledge creation that engage with digital media
    • Definitions of, and opportunities for, advancing equality and access for all learners and educators regardless of socio-economic status, citizenship, gender, race, religion, sexuality, or other cultural identifiers
    • Collaborative and cooperative learning opportunities that go beyond the classroom’s physical boundaries
    • Collaborations that merge different preferences for learning, both old and new, that will bridge generational and cultural differences and create new learning methods
    • Spaces where more people from different backgrounds voices have a chance of being heard and incorporated as we access, analyze, create and produce applicable knowledge
    • Practice-based learning that is relevant in individuals’ lives
    • A dynamic setting that allows both theory and practice to continually evolve and improve
    • An understanding on how different cultures approach (higher) learning.
  • Promoting and sharing the aspirations for a humane education future as expressed in the “Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age”
photo of Ward Cunningham writing on a white board.
Ward Cunningham, inventor of The Wiki.


We believe that:

  • Knowledge should be open and accessible to all people, whether in print or electronic format.
  • The purpose of education is to enrich lives; to prepare people to contribute intelligently, critically, compassionately, and empathetically within their communities and societies; and to help people achieve their individual, professional, civic and collective goals.
  • The atmosphere of the learning environment should emphasize the joy of learning and provide the opportunity for creating and learning together, including learning from mistakes
  • Designing opportunities for meaningful learning and increasing accessibility and usability of those learning opportunities are fundamental components of 21st Century education.
  • Individuals should have options to shape their own educational experiences, based upon their preferences about how they learn.
  • All of us are smarter than any of us: different perspectives can enrich learning experiences.
  • Curation (the finding and sharing of learning materials) is a function of any and all willing members of the learning community, not the sole responsibility of the teacher.
  • Free and open source modes of learning promote the availability of knowledge as a public resource while open exchange of ideas enhances knowledge value.
  • Online learning is self-directed and self-motivated learning.
  • Statements of Accomplishment and free and equal access to education are not mutually exclusive. We recognize that the circumstances of individuals’ lives may prescribe the value of Statements of Accomplishment. We respect the right of each individual to place meaning, or not, upon SOAs. The opportunity to earn an SOA will not be proscribed.
  • Transparent, community-based processes promote participation, accountability, and trust.
  • Educators must develop methods of assessment that fit learning in the digital age by allowing space for lifelong learning; such assessments need to be done with tools known and practiced by the students.
  • We should design different methods of assessment to suit different kinds of learners.
  • Peer assessment and external assessment can help teachers learn what is working and where they need to change their methods.
  • A model classroom environment draws on every participant’s unique expertise for the greater good of collective goals.
  • There’s a difference between high standards and standardization, and it’s our goal to discover the digital possibilities to support the former and to transform the latter.
  • No decision within a collective needs to be unanimous, but every final decision regarding overarching goals and final learning outcomes should be reached through collaborative deliberation, supported by good reasons and accepted by a majority of learners.
  • Learners will be clearly notified of any use of student data in any way by Coursera so that they have the opportunity to opt out of the research or data use.
  • Support should be made available to learners who are motivated but may lack the technical skills to fully participate online.

Community Expectations

We expect that:

  • Participants will attempt at all times to be genuine, to be accepting of other participants and to try as much as possible to empathize with their world-view.
  • Participation will be informed by preparation and be time-limited.
  • We will collaborate in a constructive manner as we assign, guide, and assess the work of peers.
  • Someone who promotes discord in our community by intentionally upsetting others through inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic expression will be considered a “troll.”
  • There will be no tolerance for trolls in the FutureEd community.
  • Community members will neither practice, nor promote discrimination of any kind, nor any other behaviors counterproductive to the fostering of a learning community together.
  • The community will be open to dissenting voices and seek to engage with dissenting opinions constructively. A dissenting opinion is not a personal attack. Reciprocal respect is required when responding to a post.
  • Even as we discuss and learn, we can also agree to disagree and that personal opinions should be given space and expressed in courteous manner.
  • Being part of a community requires interacting with other members in the best capacity possible.
  • Listening (otherwise known as lurking) will be respected as a valid and active form of community participation and of learning, equally important with commenting.
  • The community will seek consensus on any changes in the Constitution once it has been generally agreed upon.
  • The Course Constitution, drafted as a wiki, will remain true to the open philosophy of wiki: created without any defined owner or leader, open to alteration, allowing structure to emerge over time according to the needs of the users.
  • Peer assessment should include a system of being able to dialog with the peers that assess your work.

This document may be used as a template for other documents. It is released with a Creative Commons License designed for non-profit sharing.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 444 Castro Street, Suite 900, Mountain View, California, 94041, USA.

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  1. Pingback: FutureED Project 2: Class Constitution | Medici University

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