Much of web 2.0 content is peer reviewed, but certainly not in the traditional sense. In academic circles, the “peer review process” is highly regarded as a means for filtering out sloppy research and bestowing prestige on the “best and the brightest” in the academic research community. Traditional peer review of research has been around a long time, but new challengers are emerging that embrace a more organic vision of the review process. Yesterday’s article “Online journals threaten peer review system” discusses several emerging websites challenging traditional methods of research assessment and publication. I love the following quotation from Linda Miller, the U.S. executive editor of Nature magazine:

If we don’t serve the community well, we will become irrelevant.

I think many in schools should adopt this same attitude.

Academic researchers (especially young ones seeking to “join the tenure club,” it could be argued) may tend to have their eyes more focused on “getting published” rather than “serving the community.” This is a natural dynamic, unfortunately, because this sort of focus is what is rewarded in many tenure systems at universities. The SITE Early Career Mentoring Network was created in part to address some of these dynamics affecting aspiring academic researchers, and help connect researchers to more experienced mentors as well as valuable research topics that need further exploration to advance particular fields of inquiry.

I have written a couple articles in the past few weeks on the topic of “open content” that will be published in upcoming months. (I have also incidentally been tagging sites on this subject with the del.icio.us tag “opencontent”). I really think this issue is a critical one for education advocacy. New tools often threaten existing paradigms, and the use of new tools can frequently be “messier” than known tools and methods. In our continuing quest to improve and expand opportunities for teaching and learning, however, I think everyone in the education space should keep an open mind about possibilities. Whether in higher education or in elementary school, the prospects for idea sharing within paradigms of “open content” are very exciting. As I’ve said and written before, I think the future is open ended, and to a large degree (perhaps more than any of us realize) we’ll be the ones “writing the future” of education together with our students.

Via Will Richardson’s del.icio.us links.

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