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My General Motives[edit]

I am strongly attracted to autodidacticism, something I have worked at trying to figure how to maximize for myself. I don't know how unusual this orientation is so I am assuming it is not unusual.


My more developed interest is in computer programming. I am currently working on an undergrad in computer science with an emphasis on information. I see education as a domain of interest in this field, in particular computer-enabled consumption of information whether for education, or greater participation in a democratically organized group model. I have been doing amateur programming off and on for years but never formally switched to a programming job nor ever taken on an open source project. That is something I have now found personal motivation to do, especially now that I have become more multidisciplinarian.


My early phase (investigative) interests include the potential for "design patterns" of learning, serious games for democratic collaboration, personal computer adaptive testing, visualization work along the lines of Edward Tufte, the reduction of information asymmetry in everyday consumer and citizen life, the potential for vastly more cross-disciplinary knowledge, Fractal analysis in information absorption (if I can hope to learn the subject), and cognitive science topics that pertain to learning such as the spacing effect. Naturally, the execution of even a single one of these interests in this range of subjects begs for competent self-educating skills. It also means I will be very interested in preexisting projects on any of these subjects.

I recognize the grandiosity of maintaining such a diverse range of research interests. I think I'll be very lucky to see just one come to fruition. On the other hand the internet community is such a magical migratory thing that in a few years time, I may see them all come to fruition through well organized collaboration.

In short my vision for the future is one of greater (more effective) information management and consumption by the general populace and I aim to achieve this for myself foremost.

Material Value[edit]

I am also looking for a self-sustaining career in computer programming of an intellectually stimulating type. Hopefully work here may make me a good fit for opportunities of that sort.

I'm even hoping to create a portion of this proposal as a Google Summer of Code proposal.

Google Summer of Code 2010 Proposal[edit]

Google Summer of Code 2010 Proposal: GIFT Conversion

Other Notes[edit]

Currently I am at the drawing board working on a proposal, or a multiphase program of proposals. This subject space literally represents that drawing board.

The proposal I am working on is for an information system that aids a self-learner in his/her effort to achieve a well defined education goal. At the heart of the potential proposal are a number of improvements to the quiz extension, a page/object for community designed curricula in a subject or across a range of interrelated subjects, and ultimately, with the assistance of community of professors established by University of Minnesota professor David J Weiss, a Computer Adaptive Testing system for placement within a curriculum of lessons.

The proposal is grand in scope but contains plenty of useful intermediary steps that are useful in their own right thus alleviating some stakeholder risk.

Before I make this an actual proposal I would like make sure it solid and well-defined in terms of its function and design. I feel as though there is a bit of research to be done before it all can come together. Therefore I am setting it up here in my personal space first.

External Context[edit]

My philosophy about the identity of Wikiversity may seem to diverge from the established wisdom about the project. It is primarily described as constructed around the premise of "Wikiversity:Learning_by_doing, what I will call LBD. However the alternate objective of having a community developed learning space is broader than the promotion of one type of "learning by x" statement. I believe the full potential of a Wikiversity contains many learning/teaching methods. I believe that LBD is promoted as a motto because it does double duty as content development, an obvious need for a collaborative content community and I fully support that. However, I am looking at Wikiversity in relationship to Wikipedia and Wikibooks as complementary forms of content similar in relation to how the suffixes inter-relate (encylopedia to books to university). Each form of content, in my mind, is equally subject to democratic interpretation and therefore, Wikiversity in turn, is not necessarily bound to LBD.

I have the following definitions of the content of each of these websites:

1. Wikipedia represents discrete bits of information. It is centered around a discrete subject.

2. Wikibooks represents a collection of related but discrete subjects that fall under a broader subject heading. I would go so far as to say that it is, at least in abstraction, a collection of Wikipedia articles.

3. Wikiversity represents a collection of subject headings that create a curriculum. In other words it is a container for books, parts of books, discrete articles, and repetition and assessment devices.

Internal Context: The Tools I Want, I Must Create[edit]

Obviously I can create the lesson I want to learn and thus LBD. However what I would prefer to do is create more structures within which a person can LBD by contributing content to. I am historically a consumer on Wikipedia. I have never contributed to an article, always seeing them as complete enough for my purposes, but I do read articles all the time. My ambitions come from now wanting to organize this information into lessons that could help me reach my learning goals. You can look at my list of my investigative interests here and see that for example I would like to understand "Fractal analysis in information absorption". While the example article is not well established, consider it a good example of a subject for which I would like to know what I need to learn first in order to get to, and to know what I need to learn in relation to what I already know. That type of fundamental self-learning problem is at the heart of my proposal process.

Proposal Workspace[edit]

In pursuit of the aforementioned CAT system, I have the following sub-proposals in mind.

Title: "Use Signatures"[edit]

Description: Similar to the signature system of 4 ~'s, a user can put a box-encapsulated "use signature" on their user page that will describe the subjects and lessons a user is involved in as well as quiz scores.

This Application's Dependencies: This doesn't depend on creating a preceding app so far as I know. I don't know yet the mechanics of allowing the user to capture this data. The mechanism may create project dependencies.

Dependencies on This Application: An self-assessment app will require one or more multi-session variables and this can provide that type of variable. CAT is one type of self-assessment app that would require collecting many quiz results. Also any apps that look for one or more multi-session variables in regard to lesson/subject participation, such as an app to find fellow learners, can look to this box on the user page.

Algorithm: As far as making the box appear.. the user saves a page with the new "use signature", which calls a function registered to the ArticleSave hook. This will work if there is a way to test that the page saved is the user page.

As far as extracting test scores, and subject involvement, a solution is still required.

As far as updating the content of the box the hook should possibly be ParserBeforeTidy.

Title: "Learning Goal" Objects[edit]

Description: These are content objects that make up a lesson. They already exist in principle, but by defining them with pretty boxes they allow a learner to focus on learning a goal and on categorizing them based upon personal criteria (importance, difficulty, etc).

This Application's Dependencies: This should be easy to implement. It is simply a matter of creating the means to manufacture a "child" pretty box for a "subject" pretty box.

Dependencies on This Application: Quiz Group Objects would use these to build an exam from multiple quizzes. These would refine the scope of virtually any content that describes a subject.


A few things I've noticed since writing this down. One is that there was in 2008 some discussion about having a diversity of teaching methods in response to a page, Wikiversity:Learning_resources, written about coming to a learning resource standard. There is also a subsection called "Learning Goals". For me, following the methodology of many courses and textbooks I am thinking of a learning goal as a targeted subject for each subsection of a lesson. I am inclined to propose "Learning Methodology" project boxes for the sake of organization. Mbrad 18:00, 28 December 2009 (UTC)

Another distraction is my growing concern that unless the creation of a traditional structure is simple (read: automatic) then the drop-off point for users leaving unfinished and structurally unsound lessons will be much more frequent. This would require an additional application and proposal. I am not inclined to put this in front of my project track so it must be a version 2.0 feature, unless it is revealed to be very easy to implement. Mbrad 18:00, 28 December 2009 (UTC)

I have looked at the project boxes (what I had previous erroneously called "pretty boxes") and I see that it is simple to create one's own, and without mucking the meta-data system so I am very happy to see that. The instructions are found at Help:Project boxes. Mbrad 18:00, 28 December 2009 (UTC)

Title: "Quiz Group" Objects[edit]

Description: This is a structure that can hold groups of quizzes. For example it can take a group of "learning goal" that make up a broader subject and then test on them, creating an "exam" from multiple quizzes.

This Application's Dependencies: It may be arguable, but a "learning goal" content system may be helpful. The concept of a "learning goal" is that of mini lessons. Quizzes that have been tagged via pretty boxes as belonging to "learning goals" can be grouped into a lesson "chapter", then a user can self-assess their weakness in a subject.

Dependencies on This Application: The CAT assessment exam is dependent on being able to collect a group of quiz objects along a spectrum of a learner selected curriculum. Exams, Final Exams, Reviews, and trivia games are all also dependent.

Title: "Curriculum" Objects[edit]

Description: This object contains Lessons. It can be comprehensive (such as an introduction to postmodernism), or it can be specialized (such as math for computer graphics), or it can be viewed with a specific end goal (ie. a learner's project involving learning to use a comparator).

This Application's Dependencies: Need More Definition I don't know exactly how to design this. I would like it to be dynamic enough that it doesn't presume a learner's prior knowledge but rather represents a potentially everything that needs to be learned from kindergarten to graduate school. That would make this tool much more useful to alleviate information asymmetry among world classes, particularly for poor third world citizens that have limited education but adult ambitions. I think lessons will have to be nodes that contain information about it's own prerequisite node/s, and the node/s that directly hold it as a prerequisite.

Dependencies on This Application: The CAT assessment test is the only application I can think of that will need this. The Curriculum object would otherwise typically be of a more direct use to the learner.

Dependency Map[edit]

I'm not sure how accurate a tree is for this but it is a quick look.

Use Signatures
Learner Goal Object
Curriculum Object
Quiz Group Object
Learner Goal Object


I begin my next semester on the week of January 18th, 2010. I would like to have a comprehensively designed plan worked out before then. After which I can, ideally, follow the breadcrumbs I left behind and implement items off of a list when I have free time. I won't have the capacity to do much large scale organizing nor much work involving a steep learning curve after this date. The CAT proposal is the exception. I am leaving this for the summer, during which I will have some design time available.

This design deadline must include understanding the code conventions involved in implementing the aforementioned sub-proposals, even before the proposals are made.

To become more acquainted with WV, I am evaluating setting up a course based on pre-existing material. Im not sure if thsi makes sense but it is on my mind. Mbrad 18:26, 28 December 2009 (UTC)

Stardate 00:37, 13 January 2010 (UTC): I just finished reading and annotating "Designing and Assessing Courses and Curricula", in order to A)Get some scope on the curriculum phase of my proposal B) Gain more knowledge about designing courses. I have to say, I have learned so much that I feel compelled to share everything I have learned. If I generate this knowledge as a course, I will have the additional benefit of being able to subsequently use it as a reference for individual information architecture proposals, as well as a design path of proposals.


  1. colloquium assessment talk
  2. timer parser
  3. WikiBooks: Education
  4. WikiBooks: Learning Theory
  5. WikiBooks: Instructional Theory
  6. WikiBooks: Educational Psychology
  7. WikiBooks: Educational Technology
  8. WikiBooks: Alternative Education
  9. WikiBooks: Self Education
  10. 50 Best Open Courseware
  11. Course: CFAOOER
  12. Course: CER
  13. Course: Syllabi
  14. Course: LTEAW/LPA
  15. Course: Instructional Design
  16. Assessment of Wikiversity
  17. Help: Creating Educational Content on WV
  18. Help: Lesson Plans
  19. WV: What is a Study Guide?
  20. Classifying Educational Resources
  21. Help: Resource Types
  22. WV: Action Research
  23. WV: Collaborative Research
  25. Paper: Education and Collaboration
  26. FLOSS?
  27. Networked Learning
  28. School of Education
  29. Portal of Education
  30. WV:Scope
  31. WV: Online Courses
  32. MediaWiki: Parser Functions
  33. MediaWiki: Parser Functions in Templates
  34. MediaWiki: Templates
  35. MediaWiki: Magic Words
  36. WMF: Assessment Content
  37. formative assessment

The curve[edit]

There is no question that amongst the various sister projects of WMF, WV's curve is the steepest. That however is precisely the point.

Brand New Ideas[edit]

  • Quiz Extension - Crowd Logic Gates: One vote per user per time period on simple binary votes that mirror logic gates. It is conceived as a review system that might mirror the review system that one educator might use, for example, to evaluate another educator's course as fulfilling a prerequisite for her own course. The difference is that this decision a crowd-sourced decision. Decisions can age to prevent obsolete perspectives.