Course Constitution


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1 Community Rules and Principles for Collaborative Online Learning
    1.1 DRAFT
    1.2 “The History and Future of (Mostly) Higher Education”
    1.3 Coursera MOOC, January 2014
    1.4 Who We Are
    1.5 #FutureEd: Massively Collaborative Online Learning
    1.6 Aspirations
        1.6.1 Principles
        1.6.2 Community Expectations

2 Categories


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

Who We Are

We are a community of participants from many countries, different socio-economic and political orientation and life experiences, with different backgrounds, beliefs, cultures, genders, ages, languages, personalities and levels of education. Our intention is to be sensitive, receptive, and supportive of one another while pushing each other to define, re-examine, and question our prior knowledge and ingrained beliefs about 21st Century education. The learning environment created for this MOOC combines a mixture of modalities including--video lectures, online forums, online essays, readings, and edit-able class wikis. We strive to examine and practice the power of collaborative learning. One of our guiding quotations for this class is by Alvin Toffler and states, "The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn."

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 learn about 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 especially in engaging with a future in which the current information age has redefined. This requires a rethinking of systems and 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. 


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 to enable the learner to be a lifelong learner able to engage in the future based on the latest research in cognitive science with regards to learning, memory, thinking, creativity, imagination, productivity, engagement, motivation, perception, attention and emotion.
    • 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, age, religion, sexuality,expertise 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 with different 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."
  • Create desirable, meaningful and reciprocal online social learning interactions.


We believe that:

  • Knowledge should be open and accessible to all people, whether in print or electronic format.
  • Education exists 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 purpose of education is to empower individuals to become enlightened of their own sense of moral purpose. Education is the process of expanding one's self and existential awareness in order to live a life of meaning and fulfillment. 
  • 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.
  • We all are intelligent and no one is 'second citizen' to another: we are created differently and shaped by different life experiences. So different perspectives help us to enrich our learning experience as it relates to the current information age and the future of global higher education. 
  • 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.
  • People have different amounts of time to dedicate to their self education, so opportunities should allow for varying levels of participation.
  • 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 experience and expertise to work towards achieving collective goals.
  • There is a difference between high standards and standardization, and it is our goal to discover the digital possibilities to support the former and to transform the latter.
  • No decision within a collective thread of discussion 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, social or learning skills to fully benefit from on-line learning opportunities.
  • We commit to applying the learning on to our job / day-to-day situations, to ensure the learning is complete (and become our body of knowledge) 

Community Expectations

We expect that:

  • Participants might join this learning community with a variety of personal learning objectives. All learning objectives are worthy of respect. Participants will attempt at all times to be genuine, to be accepting of other participants and to try as much as possible to accommodate and 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. Some see lurking as equally important with commenting. Others see active contribution to debate through commenting as requiring a higher level of on-line learning skill and perhaps even indicative of higher skill in collaborative learning methods.
  • 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.
  • Since peer assessment is a major component of the collaborative activities of the MOOC, a commitment to assessment response and the inclusion of a system enabling dialog with peers who assess each participant's work.
  • The participants will upkeep the spirit of peer evaluation by being as honest, insightful, flexible and open as possible while judging a fellow participant's work, with in the framework of course rubrics.
  • The participants will exercise appropriate discretion and assess their interest in the subject matter, time availability & their capacity to be successful before enrolment in / committing to multiple MOOCs (at a given point).
  • Successful participants, to the extent possible will rate / review the course for the benefit of future learners. If possible, MOOC platforms (e.g. Coursera) may provide mechanisms through which future aspirants are able to interface with successful alumni of a particular MOOC. 


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

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