Wikiversity:Wikiversity project proposal

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This page contains a copy of the project proposal for Wikiversity. Wikiversity became a sister project of the Wikimedia Foundation after this proposal was reviewed by the Foundation's Special projects committee. The special projects committee submitted its Wikiversity Resolution to the Board and by vote of the Board, the project was approved.

This page has been edited to provide links to other Wikiversity pages. The original text of the Wikiversity project proposal should not be changed. An archived copy of the page is at Wikiversity:Approved Wikiversity project proposal. The original copy of the proposal is at the Wikimedia meta wiki.


Project proposal
Wikiversity:Scope
About Wikiversity (draft)
Wikiversity:Learning
Wikiversity:Online courses
What Wikiversity is not
Wikiversity subcommittee
Moving Wikiversity forward
Wikiversity overview
Wikiversity in Wikibooks
(originally at the meta-wiki)

The first section of this page ("Historical review of the Wikiversity project", below) contains a description of how the original Wikiversity project proposal was produced. The approved proposal was a modified version of the original proposal. The approved project proposal is in Part 2, starting with "Mission".

Historical review of the Wikiversity project

Wikiversity was proposed for deletion from Wikibooks in August 2005. Soon after that, there was a proposal to make Wikiversity an independent WikiMedia project. In addition to the information on the proposed projects page, information about the original proposal was described in a mailing list post and on the Wikiversity page of the WikiMedia meta-wiki.

An old proposal and discussion can be seen here : Original proposal.

A modified project proposal follows (Part 2)

Mission

Wikiversity is a centre for the creation and use of free learning materials and activities. Its primary priorities and goals are to:

  • Create and host a range of free-content, multilingual learning materials/resources, for all age groups in all languages
  • Host scholarly/learning projects and communities that support these materials
  • Complement and develop existing Wikimedia projects (eg. a project devoted to finding good sources for Wikipedia articles)

See more on Wikiversity:Scope and Wikiversity:Online Course. In the fulfillment of its mission, other tasks and goals may be initiated and developed by participants to support learning and the creation of new content. In particular, guidelines will be developed during the beta phase of Wikiversity's development on hosting and fostering research based in part on existing resources in Wikiversity and other Wikimedia projects.

Learning

The Wikiversity e-Learning model. Existing "bricks and mortar" universities began as meeting places for scholarly individuals seeking knowledge and those with mastery of a subject who could act as teachers to guide the learning process. Wikiversity will be a virtual meeting place for masters and scholars, a wiki that hosts and promotes a flexible online learning environment.

Conventional universities evolved to have classrooms, collections of courses, grades, fees for students, pay for teachers, the granting of degrees, the certification of teachers and accreditation of universities. That entire structure grew out of the need to concentrate expensive resources (people and facilities) at a particular location in the physical world. The Wikiversity e-Learning model abandons all aspects of conventional universities that arise from the need to focus people and facilities in one place and time. The Wikiversity e-Learning model grows out of the power of the wiki user environment to liberate learning from conventional constraints of time and place. See Wikiversity:Learning for more.

Learning groups

It is natural for the wiki format to develop "learning groups" (creating and maintaining learning trails; interest portals; project or task artifacts) where all participants can discuss and learn collaboratively. These groups/communities will be help desks, mentoring teams, cohort groups, debate clubs - practical applications might be in doing research for Wikipedia, or writing code for MediaWiki. This is peer-learning, learning through collaboration and discussion - the "wiki way".

Wikiversity participants will actively participate in online learning projects. As for any wiki, community participation involves the editing of wiki pages. Wikiversity learning projects will consist of collections of wiki webpages concerned with the scholarly exploration of a particular topic. Some Wikiversity learning projects will be oriented around existing needs of other Wikimedia projects. For example, a group of Wikiversity participants might engage in a project to find good sources for an existing Wikipedia article. Another Wikiversity project might involve exploration of an established academic discipline and the participants might decide to collectively assemble material that would contribute to a Wikibooks textbook for that subject. Thus, Wikiversity will naturally complement existing Wikimedia projects by providing an environment that supports and fosters scholarly “secondary research”. Wikiversity will begin with a bias towards learning projects that provide support for existing Wikimedia projects, but with time, Wikiversity will evolve to serve the needs of its community. Students will express their learning needs and the Wikiversity community will evolve learning activities and projects to accommodate those needs. Some groups could act more didactically - there is room for materials to be laid out as instructions or tasks to be followed. In any case, communities will exist behind the materials to support the ongoing use and development of the content Wikiversity hosts. See more on learning in Wikiversity and more on online courses.

Resources

Resources will include teaching aids, lesson plans, curricula, links, reading lists, etc. Each subject area (or 'course', 'project'), essentially, each community, creates a web of resources that would form the basis of discussions and activities within that field of Wikiversity, and that could be used by any other educators for their own purposes. Some of these will link up with other Wikimedia projects, such as Wikibooks and Wikipedia - a key to these resources should be that they prompt further work (practice/discussion/reflection/criticism etc).

Research

Wikiversity could act as a repository of research carried out by the Wikimedia Research Network or other people involved in wiki-based research, and could also host the proceedings of Wikimania. Whether or not Wikiversity will ever host original research in addition to secondary research is the subject of debate (see talk page) though original research could take place based on materials in Wikiversity (eg. materials on sociology prompt a survey research project). Guidelines for what would be appropriate research will be developed during the beta phase of the project through a community consensus process, and reviewed (by the Special projects committee) after six months. There will not necessarily be "approval" of research added to Wikiversity - though some sort of review process needs to be established which will deal with potential problems.

Scope of Wikiversity

What Wikiversity is

  • A repository of free, multilingual educational resources.
  • A network of communities to create and use these resources
  • A group effort to learn. Which may or may not be led by an instructor, who may or may not be an expert on the topic.

What Wikiversity is not

  • A duplication of other Wikimedia projects. While Wikiversity complements other Wikimedia projects, it will not simply duplicate their content. So, if you want to read about a topic, you may be better off visiting, say, Wikipedia or Wikibooks, but if you want to learn about this topic, you can do so at Wikiversity. Learning materials will be created and used on Wikiversity, but materials on other projects may also be used as learning materials themselves or even places to consolidate this learning, ie writing an article, manual etc based on what you've learned. There may be some overlapping, but each project will maintain its own focus.
  • A degree or title granting institution: Wikiversity will not confer degrees or any other academic qualifications, nor will it entitle people to call themselves "professors", if they are not professors.

Work done on Wikiversity will hopefully be useful to other projects. When participants have significant results they may be used to improve other Wikimedia projects, and indeed other online learning, reference and data sources.

Features Wikiversity will/might need in the future

  • Metadata - there is currently work on a Metadata patch, which will be able to be added to Wikiversity retrospectively.
  • Page protection - there may be a need to restrict editing of pages or groups of pages to within groups of people (such as a research community, for example). However, this needs to be done with care, so as to minimise the exclusion of people to the work of that community.
  • Software - there is currently no software needed to get Wikiversity going, but participants are welcome to experiment with additions to the source code which might help the work of Wikiversity in some way. Implementations of these ideas will have to be done through the appropriate channels (probably the meta:Special projects committee).

Additional discussion

There was much discussion of how to satisfy the Board's request for modification of the original Wikiversity proposal, which can be seen through these (and associated) pages: