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See wikibooks:en:User:Boud.

useful wikiversity links[edit]


SR/GR course[edit]

As of 00:57, 5 February 2011 (UTC), i'm converging on preparing the basic elements of an SR/GR course in a bricks-and-telescope university that will start within about 10 days. The course will be primarily in English, with Polish as a backup language. Since there's very little time left, i don't know how idealistic i can be in using/supporting wikiversity/wikibooks/wikipedia resources. i've spent several hours browsing through Wikiversity introductory pages, and i suspect that Wikiversity is maybe not too far off from heading in a viable direction, but that the main barrier to gaining a critical mass is the en:complexity (probably computational complexity more than Kolmogorov complexity) of the task.

Hypothesis: physical science courses using pdf (or openoffice etc.) projector presentations + WIMS:en: exercises + further reading list from Wikipedia and/or Wikibooks might be "hard core" enough to attract editors/teachers/students, with the benefit of allowing exercises + exams to be done using WIMS in "brick-and-telescope" universities for formal credit. WIMS itself also needs some more good developers before usage can grow exponentially IMHO.

Worry about wasted resources: there are journals devoted to physics teaching (i don't remember the names offhand) in Europe and the US, all probably closed access. It's a bit of a pity to have to rediscover principles of good teaching particular ideas, but probably we have to live with closed access journals for still some time yet.

GR/GR course northern "summer" semester feb-jun 2011[edit]



  1. done. tidy existing resources, learn terminology/structure at Wikiversity.
    1. i've done some cleaning up of School:Physics and Astronomy. From the page Topic:Special relativity now seems to be clear that although we have a Study_guide:Special relativity, we don't know what a Help:Study guide really is. We have some Help:lectures on SR. So what i want to put in place is most likely a Help:Course, and the Study_guide:Special relativity is probably closest to that. Topic:General relativity shows that there are very few Wikiversity resources at all. i suspect that people with good intentions interested in contributing have difficulty understanding the complementarity of roles between Wikipedia, Wikibooks and Wikiversity. Boud 13:29, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
  2. done. pdf
    1. ask for help at Commons about uploading Boud 11:16, 29 June 2011 (UTC)
    2. list the images that are not already on the Commons and upload them individually including source code - most are .fig files, and so can be posted as verbatim text
    3. full source package for pdf: how? .tar.gz file? includes:
      • 1 latex source file
      • images presently as .eps as in arXiv - should there be a script for downloading and converting them from the Commons?
      • script for doing latex, latex, dvips, ps2pdf etc
    4. compiled pdf file
    5. Workable pdf's with full source code and semi-readable svg versions available at Special relativity and steps towards general relativity.
  3. wims
    1. convert source to a "module" (?). done.
    2. need to contact WIMS people to find out how to contribute as GPL + CC-BY-SA + GFDL triply licensed (but apparently CC-BY-SA-3.0 implies GFDL automatically? TODO: check this).
      1. Explained briefly (in French) on the Wimsedu wiki. Messages sent. July, especially le 14 juillet, is not a period to expect fast replies.
      2. The GFDL CC-BY-SA relation is a time-limited to 2009 mass transfer operation. Probably GFDL can be safely left off. Is CC-BY-SA really needed?
        • The number of authors of a given "official" WIMS module is likely to be small, so getting all their agreements to add CC-BY-SA licensing in the moderately near future (2-3 years) should be less difficult than for e.g. Wikipedia articles.
        • Correcting bugs or improving the quality of WIMS source question is probably closer to software development than to wiki-text development: introduction of a tiny error can lead to dramatically wrong results of the code. In that sense, maybe the software style of development, with the GPL, makes more sense than CC-BY-SA for wiki-text.
    3. link to some of the main WIMS servers after the course becomes accepted and distributed in mainstream (e.g. debian stable) distributions?

Preliminary thoughts for developing a wikiversity course this way[edit]

  • uploading the course itself "live" during the semester when it is first being developed is probably overambitious as of Wikiversity's state in 2011
  • the required critical mass of editors is likely to be much more difficult to achieve than for Wikipedia, and will require more geekiness - e.g. editing a latex source file and WIMS source file (more or less = html + latex with random variables defined)
  • preparing the course with the intention of it becoming CC-BY-SA on Wikiversity is definitely a good idea so that you are careful to avoid any non-free material in your pdf and wims exercises (or something like flash that requires a non-free plugin), and in principle you could just upload a big .tar.gz file, even though few people would use it
    • uploading files directly to Wikiversity IMHO seems to me to be unwise:
      • Commons has an active user community, so that there is a reasonable chance of care being taken regarding copyright issues, moderate levels of tech help, help with categorisation, etc.
      • files that are usable on at least one WMF project are accepted there, including in some cases "non-standard" formats; image files exported to .svg and documented with source code can be posted, e.g. Xfig .fig files or Commons:Category:Created with GNU Octave, so that what as of July 2011 is a better format file in postscript can be created directly from the source code
      • if a file is only available monolithically, so that its parts are not useful on other WMF projects, is it really a useful educational resource? and does it comply with the spirit of free licensing (the practical ability to modify the file and redistribute modified versions)?
    • file issues - software evolution questions:
      • Will more recent versions of Xfig than 3.2 - see e.g. Commons:File:Rotation_Euclidean_basis.svg - GNU Octave than 3.0.1 - see e.g. Commons:File:Scalar_fields_theta.svg - have the equivalent of being able to use LaTeX specials when exporting to svg so that the svg exported files are at least usable directly, rather than having to be bypassed by using the source code directly?
      • Could a freely-licensed script for viewing mediawiki-text pages give the equivalent of the pdf slides files? It seems from this D'Arcy Norman blog post that this 'Wikipedia Presentation' script can be installed for use with greasemonkey, and then be used for viewing a mediawiki-text page as a fullscreen presentation. However: the script seems to be non-free, since no licence is stated, there seem to be some bugs, it doesn't seem to have been updated for five years, and it's not clear if it includes all the useful commands in prosper (which became powerdot) like untilSlide and onlySlide etc. This is probably doable, but someone/some developers have to do the work and users have to debug it.
  • present Wikiversity guidelines about forks being likely are a good idea - it's unlikely that two different lecturers will wish to present material in quite the same way to two different classes of students with different levels, in different countries, etc.