User:Juandev/From the Wikiversity content to its conflicts

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From the Wikiversity content to its conflicts

  • Author: Ing. Jan Lochman and people
  • User: Juan de Vojníkov
  • Contact:
  • Date: August 6, 2011
  • Event: Wikimania 2011, Haifa, Israel


This presentation:

  • summarizes what is Wikiversity
  • sort its content by type
  • describes conflicts around the project
  • recommend some solutions for the future

About Wikiversity – short overview

  • founded in 2006 after 3 years of discussions; available in 13 languages, others in preparation at Wikiversity Beta
  • everybody is welcomed, there are no social barriers
    • Wikiversity is not a university (children, school students, adults, and university students and staff participate)
  • one person can have multiple roles – once you are a student, in other "project" you are a teacher (P2P education)
  • currently research is not peer-reviewed
    • in spite of this many teachers and researchers study, research and teach on Wikiversity
    • some are attempting to build a peer review process for research that is conducted and written up on Wikiversity (see PhD for example).
  • Wikiversity doesn't give certificates and assessments at present, nor are there any direct examination without revealing answers to students exists
    • However, some educational institutions are engaging with Wikiversity, setting up open access courses, and discussing ways to formally credit people doing those open courses. (See University of Canberra for example).
  • Wikiversity is compatible to other WMF projects by its software and copyright licensing (MediaWiki software, and Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike copyright license)
    • this software was considered by some people as unsuitable for Wikiversity, and they have suggested it would require extensions e.g. via MediaWiki extensions

Wikiversity scope

  1. Create and host a range of free-content, multilingual learning materials/resources, for all age groups and learner levels[1]
  2. Host learning and research projects and communities around existing and new materials[2] (e.g. Archive of Simulations and Games for the Enhancement of the Learning Experience)

Conflicts around its content

Two ways of Wikiversity evaluation
  • during the last 5 years conflicts around some content, some projects, and a seeming lack of coordination and clear purpose, has led to deletions, user blocks, and even suggestions of closure of the entire project. Outside perspectives include:
    • That it is a duplicate of Wikipedia
    • That it is a duplicate of Wikibooks
    • That the content is chaotic, messy or inconsistent
    • That some Users treat it like a hosting service
    • That some institutions use it for promotional purposes
    • That Wikiversity is an inappropriate space for original research

So what does Wikiversity contain?


A course is a unit of teaching where subjects or topics for learning are sequenced (e.g. ordering topics and activities from the basics to more difficult matters), and services are sometimes set up to support people undertaking the course.

Units point out to information and resources to assist learning (slide presentations, texts, videos, recordings); and assignments and activities are set to focus learning, and sometimes for use in formal and informal assessment and feedback of learning (writing essays, blogs, chat meetings, discussion forums).

These course units are designed for individuals or for groups, where communication and feedback can take place between students and a teacher, and sometimes so that assignments can be submitted.

Example 1: Composing free and open online educational resources


Scope: is to give participants skills to find, create and share free and open education resources (OER) online. It is focused on teachers and future teachers. Every participant create it own OER during the course.

Advertising: via IRC and maillist, participants have to sign down before.

Methodology: Course for more participants, who have to register before. Reading, listening and following other resources is followed by assignments. People meet via blogs, communication language is English. It needs about 4–6 hours a week of study. Course is divided into 9 weeks (units).

Lets have a look at it --> Composing free and open online educational resources

Conclusion: It was an experiment conducted by the University of Arts and Design Helsinki, Finland. Results were published in the peer reviewed journal First Monday. There were 70 participants on the begging and 19 of them have finished this course:

  • 15 participants passed,
  • 1 participant was not marked.

After the success of the last course in 2008, it inspired several similar courses on Wikieducator, and there are plans to develop more courses like it (such as the derivative course undergoing development Composing educational resources. In the previous one there were problems in communication via blogs, but participants themselves have designed some improvements.

Example 2: Basic filmmaking

Helena Lundvall Thumbnail tinycc.png

Scope: get participants to be able to make animated movies in (FrameForge 3D Studio).

Advertising: ?, on the Main page as featured content.

Methodology: Work on assignments and send answer to teacher via e-mail.

Lets have a look on that --> Basic filmmaking

Conclusion: The teacher left in 2008, but it is still listed as a Feature Content on Wikiversity. 26 participants have started by no one have finished it. Most of the participants passed just a few classes and have left – that is strange!


Example 3: Bloom Clock/Kvetení rostlin

Scope: participants look for blooming plants in their homeplaces each month around year. Plants are categorized by color of flower, leaves and other botanical characteristics. Afterwards keys are being made for each locality and month or year. Statistical data of this research project could be used in gardening or phytogeography. On Czech Wikiversity connected with foreign language education.

Advertising: via Wikiversity. On the Main page as featured/Presented project.

Methodology: Participants creates new herbaria units and write down signatures at the time they saw a plant in flower. Before they have to say where is their locality. Keys are being established by moving templates of herbaria units. There is also a help for those participants, who are not able to determine plants species. Project is connected with Wikipedia and Wikibooks. Than comparison of the blooming time of one plant with the same plant in different regions is being done. Other projects such Pest Clock are connected.

Lets have a look on that --> Bloom Clock (Czech)

Conclusion: Czech version was not developed - no participants, probably because of the lack of advertising. In English version, there are participants from whole around the world (Austria, Czech Republic, USA, GB, Australia, Sweden, etc.). There are 834 herbarium unit and tens of keys. This project need to continue for some years to get enough data.

Example 4: Pračka (Washing machine; problems!)

Uzavřené čerpadlo pračky Romo.JPG

Scope: there are more scopes, but in general it is about understanding how this washing machine works and be able to repair it. In the future write an book about this topic. Get value images for Wikimedia Commons.

Advertising: none

Methodology: set the hypothesis, proceed solutions and see if results support on disprove hypothesis. Repeat it till problem is resolved.

Lets have a look on that --> Pračka

Conclusion: this method works and sometimes there is a feedback from other users. There is a need to get in touch with more washing mashines and more problems to be able to write a book about it.

Wikipedia guy.JPG

Example 5: Doctors of Philosophy

A small network of people using Wikiversity to develop and write up the PhD work.

Doctor of Philosophy

Community hosting

Example 6: Technical writing (Sitronics Telecom Solutions)

First graduates from Technical writing course, Prague, Czech Republic, September 2007

Scope: Teach participants to write technical documentation in to courses. Wikiversity participants will add more information to the course and make it better.

Advertising: companies recruitments, at the Main page as featured content.

Methodology: every course has it "instructor" and Wikiversity pages probably serve as complementary material to real time education. On the end of each course there are exams held in the company office. Course is divided into different units connected with study materials.

Lets have a look on that --> Technical writing

Conclusion: participants were probably just people from the real time course held in Prague. It is not known if the course is ongoing and if there were participants, who reach it via Wikiversity..

Example 7: Prof. Loc Vu-Quoc (University of Florida)


Scope: get in touch with Wikiversity, use it to set assignments. Students than place their homeworks at the Wikiversity.

Advertising: at University of Florida Quoc clases.

Methodology: students have probably their assignments on the course page (which is in fact user page) and than they user their user pages to deploy homeworks.

Lets have a look on that --> Prof. Loc Vu-Quoc (University of Florida)

Conclusion: Prof. Quaoc uses Wikiversity via this way since 2008. Out of UoF participant cant get in. Course organization is for out-of-Uof participant chaotical, there is a use of user name space, which is not standard, pages are not categorized, uploaded pictures are deleted after some time, etc. But it is probably good enough for prof. Quoc an his students!

See other communities: Wikiversity:School and university projects/List of projects

Manuals/notes/original research (problems!)

The most pages in Wikiversity look like small manuals, essays or books, but in fact they are notes, original research or students assignments.

If it is not indicated on the page itself, it is difficult to find out what is it. It is also difficult to figure out if notes doesn't violate license or law.

This kind of pages of Wikiversity, were from the begging criticized by users of Wikibooks saying that this kind of content is a duplicate of Wikibooks. They also proposed Wikiversity for deletion several times.

Wikiversity users doesn't see here a problem – additionally these pages can be moved to Wikibooks. Do teachers write textbooks in libraries and editorials or more like at school (their work) or at home?

Wkikibokian crowd.JPG

Lets have a look on that -->

School structure

Some Wikiversities like Russian, Portuguese or Spanish has several pages, which copy brick and mortar school structures (faculties, departments etc.). Sometimes these structure content is preferred from other content at first.

These pages might have a function or look like disambiguation or portal.

On English Wikiversity these pages are also present, but in lower ratio to other content pages. E.g. Czech Wikiversity doesn't include them at all as Czech Wikiversity intended not to copy these structures nor Wikipedia.

Lets have a look on that -->

So look at: number of pages on different Wikiversities.

This might be Wikiversity in Portuguese or Russian


Like this page. Now lectures are done via changing the user skin (this requires knowledge of CSS). This can only be done, when a person is logged in.

Chats and discussion forums

As there are just LiquidThreads – only stable extension to MediaWiki – people make specific discussion on IRC and/or on normal Wikiversity pages, which they call Discussion pages, Colloquiums etc.


Quizzes used on Wikiversity are only for self-assessment: they cannot be used for examination, as the answers are available to the student – they are not communicating with the server technically.

Some communities test students via their own ways like e-mail or other Internet tools. Some courses use traditional methods of assessment, but make their resources openly available on wikiversity.


Wiki Campus Radio

  • What is it about: Formaly the project of English Wikiversity aiming to found a radio.
  • Scope: Scope of this project is to study all activities, which are contected with running a radio station. Afterwards it should bradcast news (from Wikinews), education programes, music etc.
  • Actual state: After years the project is still on the beginning.

Solar system (for children)

  • What is it about: interactive course for children about the solar system.
  • Scope: prepare a flight thru the solar system. Children can click on different parts of the images. These are combined with recordings, with other pictures which clearly describe facts which are being presented. Older children can also read the texts. If you want to fly away from solar system you have to answer correctly 5 questions. If you pass you can discover deep space, otherwise you are taken back.

Lets have a look on that -->

The Solar System

An interactive (audio-picture) study module for young students
SkySkySkyAstronomy Amateur 3.jpg
About this image

  • Actual state: still not finished after 4 years.

What is next

  1. tidy up the mess = categorise pages by content type
  2. encourage people to categorise the content type of each page when it is created
  3. create and customize namespaces for different content e.g. portals and schools
  4. change the skin of Wikiversity
  5. deploy WYSIWYG editor
  6. ...after some time make evaluation

Other conflicts


In 2008 user:Moulton came to English Wikiversity. he had been blocked indefinitely on English Wikipedia. He was researching whether there is a cabal on en.wp. There were also some theatrical poems and plays developed by him and touching on some en.wp members. After a while, steward Jimmy Wales blocked Moulton from Wikiversity indefinitely. In protest about 10 very active users left the project – 7 of whom were administrators. This somehow paralyzed the project.


Some pages called Ethical Breaching Experiments were deleted on English Wikipedia. Then a research project was opened on English Wikiversity about this topic, leading to a discussion. After some time all related pages were deleted by a founder Jimmy Wales. After this was reverted by user SB Johnny, Jimmy Wales desysospsed him and warned "all" the Wikiversity community that he is having a discussion with WMF members about closing Wikiversity project.[3]

The community was divided into 2 groups and most of the core members become inactive.

-->after some weeks follows petition for Wikiversity shut down

How to deal with that?

As Wikiversity is 50 % content-focused project (creation of OER) and 50 % people-focused project (hosting learning and research communities), participants think it is open by the means of editing and by the means of thinking.

Unfortunately open thinking might brake polices of other project and disturb their users from fulfilling their scope. On the other side, open thinking is on of the two principals of Wikiversity itself. Thus it seems to me, that Wikiversity would develop better outside of Wikimedia portfolio.

Possible solutions to this problem

Deploy below your solution, please.


  1. Cited from: Meta
  2. Cited from: Meta
  3. Wikiversity:Community_Review/Wikimedia Ethics:Ethical Breaching Experiments#Summary and meta:Talk:Wikiversity/Problems.