User:Mu301/Learning blog/Archive

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Sunday's learning project image

Lunar effect

"The Nativity of a dumb Lunatic and Ideot" according to an astrologer who describes how the positions of the planets Saturn () and Mars () with respect to the Moon are the cause of "diseases of the mind." (1792)


February 2018

Fizzled

One of the ambitious projects that I followed when I first came to Wikiversity was BoomCode. This is an open source project to simulate a supernova using a computer program. The resource was created by User:Roadrunner in 2006. It never really developed; the main contributor moved on, creating QuantLib and other projects, before leaving Wikiversity about 5 years ago. The external links to the BoomCode source code are now broken. There's very little that can be done with resources like this. Not only is it abandoned, but it is impossible to resume the project without the missing pieces that have succumbed to link rot. --mikeu talk 15:47, 5 February 2018 (UTC)

Ancient Egyptian language

I recently stumbled upon Pre-Late Egyptian Reconstruction which contains "some notes of the Ancient Egyptian verbal system as well as research on other pertinent grammatical information and vocalizations that have been gathered together" by User:Danielito el traviesito. We also have a project created in 2009 called Ancient Egyptian vocalization project which is "dedicated to researching and teaching the vocalization of the ancient Egyptian language" by User:Hakseng. Both are part of Portal:Egyptian language. There is also a page on Ancient Egyptian literature created by User:Pablomr84 in 2011. This is some fantastic original research and a welcome addition to Wikiversity. --mikeu talk 16:40, 2 February 2018 (UTC)

Ancient Egyptian papyri
The Edwin Smith papyrus containing a surgical treatise on trauma  
The Ipuwer Papyrus containing the Admonitions of Ipuwer  
The Papyrus D'Orbiney containing the Tale of Two Brothers  

January 2018

What I learned this month...

  • We can include interactive maps in a wiki page. --mikeu talk 12:05, 16 January 2018 (UTC)
Rhode Island Observatories
  • How to render page view graphs. Here are dynamically generated results for User:Mu301/Learning blog during the previous 30 days. --mikeu talk 08:37, 16 January 2018 (UTC)

Google analytics

I've been interested in the topic of Google Search and Wikiversity for some years now. Periodically I've looked at the Google Search Console data for en.wikiversity.org and summarized the results in two reports: 2009 and 2015. The prior results were not too useful to me. I didn't see any actionable items that we could use to improve our prominence.

Last night I took a look and discovered something that is very troubling. Google has cut the number of our pages that it is indexing to ½ of what it was just one year ago. If we extrapolate this trend forward it looks like we'll hit zero sometime around the middle of the fourth quarter 2018. Please join me at Google/Search and Wikiversity to discuss the topic. --mikeu talk 14:44, 8 January 2018 (UTC)

The total number of URLs from en.wikiversity.org that have been added to Google's index. (with extrapolated trendline) Learn more

Public humanities page

I finally followed up on my two year old pledge to organize some wonderful resources that have been developing here. I've created a landing page for the group at Public_humanities. There is still much work to do. These projects have accumulated many pages over the years with little attempt to work them into our category structure or link them to our other resources. --mikeu talk 03:01, 7 January 2018 (UTC)

This page now uses dynamic content to highlight featured resources within the topic. The stories rotate each day. See the wikicode at Public humanities/Featured. --mikeu talk 15:21, 10 January 2018 (UTC)

"A rose by any other name..."

"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet is a popular reference to William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet, in which Juliet seems to argue that it does not matter that Romeo is from her family's rival house of Montague, that is, that he is named "Montague". The reference is often used to imply that the names of things do not affect what they really are."

How should we name and organize pages? Should we adopt some form of Wikiversity:Naming conventions and what would that include? Below are some initial thoughts where I will examine some of the pros and cons of various schemes.

Example page titles

I'm going to pick a couple of pages to use as a case study to muse about the ramifications of choosing one page title over another. I'm going to pick a couple of pages that I started to avoid sounding critical of the choices that others have made. I'll also be picking a rather uncontroversial topic to begin with. The pages I'll use for this example are one new learning project and two resources on the subject:

Often we structure our resources using subpages like this:

That could be a logical and convenient way of organizing the materials, depending on how the project develops, and renaming at this time would be unlikely to disturb incoming external links.

Contrast this with the Wikipedia:Article_titles:

Note that there is not an exact correspondence to our local resources as VAX-11/750 is a subtopic of the larger topic VAX-11. FYI: the names VAX-11/750, VAX-11/780. etc. (including the "/") are manufacturer part numbers and not a subpage demarcation (though it might make sense if we had multiple pages to organize resources about the topic this way.)

There is no right or wrong way to organize material and choose resource titles. There are, however, consequences that we might want to consider. One is how Wikidata: cross-links our Wikimedia sites:

How data models deliver benefit

The name of these items are, of course, in part due to Wikipedia's choice of article titles, but it also reflects a broader attempt to create and organize structured data:

"A data model is an abstract model that organizes elements of data and standardizes how they relate to one another and to properties of the real world entities."

If someone is searching for information to learn about a topic they are going to naturally use search terms of the type that are described at Wikipedia:Common names. Our resource on the topic comes up as the fifth hit in a Google search using the common name. Our local resource is also linked to in the Wikipeda article (via an entry in Wikidata that I updated.) I imagine that in the future this process of cross-linking resources on multiple wikimedia project will become increasingly automated.

What point am I trying to make here? None, at the moment. I'm simply w:Thinking Out Loud about how we find information. --mikeu talk 19:21, 6 January 2018 (UTC)

The World Wide Wikiverse

Interconnections

Wikiversity and its place within the circle of Wikimedia projects.

Wikimedia projects are becoming increasingly interconnected. Wikidata assumes that W:cold fusion and V:cold fusion cover the same subject matter and treat the topic in a similar manner. It then cross-links the resources (on numerous multilingual projects) together because they have the same title. Every other project treats this subject as a mainstream physicist would: a research area that has produced few results and is primarily known for a spectacular failure to replicate. Our resource never clearly disclosed that it was original research that treated the topic from a decidedly enthusiastic POV.

The interlinking of dissimilar content becomes especially jarring when you compare W:fringe science and V:fringe science. These pages have nothing in common except the title. Numerous pages here are damaging to the wikimedia foundation's attempt to cross-link similar resources. Even pages like V:plants could be damaging because wikidata incorrectly identifies wikiversity as a site that hosts a learning resource on this topic, but when we don't. For these reasons I am going to strongly advocate for the deletion of minimal stubs and a policy that "prime" page titles (those found in a library subject classification system) be required to adhere to a neutral point of view and present the material from a mainstream perspective. Minority POV interpretations should not be given such prominence to cross-link to mainstream counterparts at wikipedia and elsewhere. The "prime" titles should treat the subject consistently across the world wide wikiverse as wikidata sssumes. --mikeu talk 07:01, 3 January 2018 (UTC)

Example

The relationship between topics within a single project. Multiply the complexity by the number of all interconnected wikis.

Take a look at the left sidebar for V:Observational astronomy. It contains links such as:

In other languages

In other projects

Where do these links come from? A long time ago we had to manually insert [[fr:Département:Astronomie d'observation]] in the local page, though in practice this was often maintained by a WV:BOT. Now, these are automatically generated and updated by the properties defined at Wikidata:observational astronomy. I just discovered an error in this link to Wikimedia Commons and fixed it.[1] After purging the cache for our local page the correct link to commons then appeared. I suspect that in the future such corrections will be automated. --mikeu talk 18:38, 3 January 2018 (UTC)

February 2016

Promoting and improving Wikiversity

Note: this started as a discussion on my talk page. I've copied it here to continue the conversation. --mikeu talk 21:23, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

Guy vandegrift

{{ping|Dave Braunschweig|Mu301}} In retrospect, I think I should have answered Miked's comment about "promoting" WV's tolerance for weirdness here and not on the Colloquium. My father was a writer, not a great one, but good enough to coach my mother who wanted to write a book about my autistic brother. I grew up hearing about what makes for good writing, even though I myself struggled with all my writing courses. The collaborative writing on Wikipedia is at best mediocre, and almost always lacks focus. The articles are encyclopedic. Wikiversity does tolerate parallel efforts, forking, POV and in the past, so-called "research" that is unrefereed.

But let me come to the point and argue that you and I are almost certainly in agreement on the important points. You and Dave want a cleaner WV, with less attention to the clutter and perhaps even less clutter. Let me pose and answer number of questions about your efforts:

  1. Is it harmful, even if it means deleting pages? ... I say no (and you say no).
  2. Is it necessary? ...I don't think so (and you perhaps you think it is).
  3. Is it sufficient? ... I say no (and perhaps you say yes or maybe).

Even if we disagree, none of our disagreements have any relevance because I have no intention of interfering with your efforts, which I consider to be unambiguously beneficial. Now let's reverse roles. I want to do two things: (1) organize student writing on Wikiversity and (2) establish an online refereed Journal that credits authors.

  1. Are my ideas harmful? Not unless I promote them with too much hyperbole (which I probably do on occasion).
  2. Are they necessary? I think so, but I am not sure. I just can't think of how a smaller version of Wikipedia can do anything Wikipedia can't do (unless your goal is to make WV "ultra-organized", but good luck with that!)
  3. Are they sufficient? I have no idea.

A couple of details:

  1. Most WV resources have single authors, which make the bylines easy to write. This is not the case with the WP articles. Refereed Journals all have this problem. We can attribute the editor who condenses the WP article, gives it focus, and submits it to the Journal. People can argue and complain about how many original authors deserve to be mentioned. If the Journal is a resource page equal to all others on WV, the complainers can create their own Journal.
  2. Of the three wikis (WP, WV, and WBooks), WV seems to make the least effort to highlight quality resources. I just say we do this democratically, in keeping with the sole wiki that permits POV in mainspace. In other words we make the Journal an ordinary resource page, creating an environment where anybody can start a journal.
  3. I'm still struggling with how the referees will "vote". Perhaps it needs to be secret and off wiki. Don't forget that if people don't like it they can create their own journal.

--Yours truly, Guy vandegrift (discusscontribs) 04:59, 9 January 2016 (UTC)

Mu301

@Guy vandegrift: and @Dave Braunschweig: - anyone/everyone else is also welcome to jump in

Re: clutter. Yes, I do feel that there are some important reasons for managing, reducing, or otherwise placing constraints on the "clutter." The first reason is to optimize the functionality of our internal search engine. It does little good for a new user trying to find a resource to get pointed to an empty page with a note that says "welcome, please help us create a resource about this {{topic}}." It is human nature to get frustrated and give up when the results are unhelpful. There are even objective (scientific) studies of how to improved the usefulness of a website's search and/or navigation. I'll look into a {{cite}} about that to inform our efforts. But, my gut feeling is that "we've been doing it wrong." (See my blog post about the wormhole page, which may have even damaged our Google search ranking. It certainly didn't help.)

Kipple drives out nonkipple[2] is a phrase used to describe how clutter attracts more clutter. While Wikiversity is perpetually a work in progress... we really need to do more to highlight our Featured resources and improve the Initial experiences that visitors have here. One possibility is to identify a carefully curated short list of the best recent resources and use templates on wikipedia to direct users here. Think of these efforts as an attempt to flip the kipple quote to "quality attracts more quality." But, it's difficult to find quality learning materials when there is an overabundance of kipple flooding the search results.

These are just a couple of my thought on this, I'll write more about it as I think it is an important topic to explore. --mikeu talk 22:17, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

Guy vandegrift (redux)

Comment added after I wrote this: Oops! I somehow found myself on this page and noticed the January 8 date. I failed to note the year. I have accidentally continued with a discussion we had almost exactly one TWO year(S) ago!!! Sorry. --Guy vandegrift (discusscontribs) 02:46, 8 January 2018 (UTC)

  • Your concern about Google search is correct. That is how I search the wikis, and I have noticed a distinct prejudice against Wikiversity, even though some of our resources are better than their Wikipedia counterparts. I am too busy to find a specific example, but if you ever need some, I can find you several in the field of physics education.
  • The idea of highlighting quality resources is good, but only if we think strategically. Our goal is to impress the maximum number of potential "customers", and focus on what they call the "high-end" customers (i.e. those with good taste.) To maximize this impact, we should keep in mind the following:
  1. Most of our these high-end customers won't go to the Main Page or any similar resource because they will not expect to see anything of interest. Is it possible to put a banner announcement at the top of each page they see, not unlike those used by Wikipedia requesting donations?
  2. Our target clientele consists of specialists in wildly diverse fields. There is little chance that we will pick something of interest to any given reader. Therefore, a mathematics resource needs to look attractive to history buffs, and vice versa. I once heard that the friendliest referees of a submitted paper are those who are close enough to the field to partially understand the paper, but not so close that they can see the faults.
  3. While we want to impress our readers with the fact that we recognize the need to clean up, we should present only one or two of our best resources. For that reason, I suggest only one or two links. One would be sufficient, but two would emphasize that there is more than one quality resource. The links need to be rotated as often as possible, but not so often that we display anything but the best and most attractive. But, let's not burden them with a long "reading list".--Guy vandegrift (discusscontribs) 02:30, 8 January 2018 (UTC)
Welcome back! Let's continue the conversation that we started so long ago.
Total Google indexed URLs for en.wikiversity.org with extrapolated trendline
No one but The Google truly knows exactly how their search results get ranked. But, I suspect the so-called "prejudice" that you've noticed is a direct consequence of the large quantity of low quality pages that we host. I'm simplifying it a bit, but that is basically how site ranking works. It ain't rocket surgery to make that connection. You keep asking "what's the harm of those pages?" The answer is right in front of us. See the graph at right? I just downloaded those datapoints from the Google Webmaster dashboard. Google has cut the number of our pages that it is indexing to ½ of what it was just one year ago. I project we'll hit zero sometime around the middle of the fourth quarter 2018. How much longer do you want to continue debating value of these pages to our mission?
We had about 225 clicks to our entire site from Google search in the last 90 days. That is a rather pathetic average of 2.5 per day. Ohio Youth Problems, Functioning and Satisfaction Scales (Ohio Scales) appears to have shown up the most in search results with 250 something impressions, but with only 47 clicks during that time frame. Our other pages don't come close to that. That one page accounted for 1/5 of our incoming search traffic. Google doesn't even register any external links to our site. Apparently there are too few for Google to even bother counting them. It's like we've been sucked into a wormhole where no activity can reach us.
As to your bullet points:
  1. That is probably true, but still our main page should be up to date and showcase our best work. Someone landing at Parkinson's Symptoms (one of the most linked to pages[3] last time I checked in 2015) might then click on the Main page to learn about our site. At some point we're probably going to need to make some changes anyway. There are a couple of things that break on mobile devices.
  2. Thinking... I'm not sure this is an urgent consideration.
  3. I've been playing around with generating dynamic content. See "Today's featured resources" in Public humanities for an example. There are seven sets of three quotes which rotate depending on the day of the week. Instead of flooding the reader with two dozen examples it selectively displays carefully choosen puil-quotes . This is one way to address your last concern and it also "spreads the load" of page views across multiple pages. I used the same {{tl:switch}} function that the Main page uses to rotate Featured content.
Any ideas on bringing our featured resources to the front of the store would be greatly appreciated. --mikeu talk 07:16, 8 January 2018 (UTC)
Update: in 2009 no resource on our site had more than 400 hits. The Main Page was an order of magnitude more popular.[4]
  • 40,581 [32.98 %]: Special:AutoLogin
  • 4,465 [3.63 %]: Wikiversity:Main Page
  • 1,043 [0.85 %]: Special:Search
  • 392 [0.32 %]: Favicon.ico (incl. icon requests)
  • 315 [0.26 %]: Wikiversity:Browse
I don't have more recent data, but clearly it is a high priority given the attention it receives. One out of every 30 page views hit the Main Page. --mikeu talk 17:08, 8 January 2018 (UTC)
More recent update from Wikiversity:Statistics/2017/12.
  • 112,704 - Wikiversity:Main Page
  • 52,907 - Special:Search
  • 22,971 - Special:CreateAccount
  • 19,280 - Principles of Management
The main page is still getting an order of magnitude more activity than any other page. --mikeu talk 00:40, 11 January 2018 (UTC)
  1. With those hit numbers on the Main Page, we definitely need to ensure that that page is of high quality, no argument from me there. I surmise that your interest in Wikiversity is not based on what Wikiversity is today, but what it could be. That certainly describes my interest. If that is true, our goal is not so much to promote Wikiversity, but the use of wikitext in a manner that extends beyond its use Wikipedia.
  2. As you do your Google investigations, you might want to compare Wikiversity with the w:Wikipedia:Education_program. It seems to be a parallel effort that is aimed exclusively at Wikipedia. I do not see them as our competition, but a collaborators working to achieve the same goal, which IMHO is to promote wikitext. My semi-humorous reference to "Making Wikiversity Great", actually referred to a strong belief that the academic world should be largely based on wikitext. The ability to store all edits, include sister-links to vocabulary (and perhaps someday to quality focused articles on any given subject) is only part of my enthusiasm for wikitext. I also like the convenience with which the CC licensing and the simplicity of its markup language permits one to recycle and reuse the work of others. My (and possibly your) goal is to "Make wikitext ubiquitous" (link to wiktionary not intended to help you with your vocabulary, but to emphasize how wikitext permits us to write in higher level prose that does not require us to stop and explain every word or topic to which we refer.)
  3. I see our poor Google stats as more of a symptom than the disease itself. The disease is that we have failed to make Wikiversity useful. That is why my initial interest in the "cleanup" was based more on dividing Wikiversity into useful and useless portions. I am, however coming around to the idea of simply cleaning it up.--Guy vandegrift (discusscontribs) 02:09, 11 January 2018 (UTC)

┌─────────────────────────────────┘
Yes, I've been in some contact with WikiEd, but we really should collaborate more with them. They are very focused on wp, specifically getting students to write about topics that most regular contributors don't, like women in science or the history of third world countries. I wholly agree that the Google statistics are a symptom, rather than the problem. However, improving our visibility with search engines could draw more attention and participation on our site leading to growth. The current situation is detrimental to that. --mikeu talk 04:20, 11 January 2018 (UTC)

I agree, but have inserted a much needed comma , into your nearly flawless prose because I believe they do like women ; ) Guy vandegrift (discusscontribs) 09:33, 11 January 2018 (UTC)

January 2016

Wikiversity:Year of Science

Announcement

The Wiki Education Foundation is about to launch Wikipedia Year of Science 2016. This could be a great opportunity to expand science resources here at Wikiversity. Please share your thoughts at Wikiversity:Year of Science 2016. --mikeu talk 14:05, 2 January 2016 (UTC)

Update

See projects and events at Wikipedia:Year of Science to get a sense of possible activities that we could work on during the year. --mikeu talk 12:22, 31 January 2016 (UTC)

Welcome and expand considered harmful

The template was called {{Whas}} which was short for "Welcome Header And Search." There was once a trend here that our greatest weakness was a lack of pages. Thus began a movement to bulk generate a very large number of stub articles. Most of them only contained a couple of links to Wikipedia and maybe a sentence or two. A very large number were empty, containing only the template and no content. There were a number of people who argued that if we just had enough of these it would be so enticing to new users that they would edit the stubs and flesh them out. Here's the complete listing of edits made to a typical example called Wormhole:

Wormhole, black hole, or rabbit hole?
  1. 2 September 2008
  2. 2 September 2008‎
  3. 10 January 2009‎
  4. 17 June 2009‎
  5. 15 July 2009‎
  6. 25 August 2009‎
  7. 15 December 2009‎
  8. 27 December 2017 deleted (No educational objectives or discussion in history)

Most of the edits are wikignome maintenance like adding a category or removing a broken link. There's about 100 pages using this template that contain very little except for boilerplate. There are hundreds more that use {{we}} "Welcome and Expand" like Topic:Metaphilosophy. These pages haven't been edited since about 2009. The presence of these pages really didn't do much for development of content here and it makes searching very difficult. cf w:GOTO Considered Harmful --mikeu talk 02:14, 3 January 2016 (UTC)

Notes --mikeu talk 16:26, 5 January 2016 (UTC)

Wiki participation by experts and academics

Scholarly work need no longer be written in stone

Survey

I really need to reexamine Why academics do and do not participate on wikis. There are slides from a presentation describing the results of a expert participation survey but it is a bit lacking in detail. --mikeu talk 23:59, 4 January 2016 (UTC)

A medium for scholarly publication

I found an interesting reference to the use of a wiki as a medium for scholarly publication. I've also been updating User:Mu301/Refs which lists research on or about wiki use. --mikeu talk 00:25, 31 January 2016 (UTC)

Public humanities

It was a pleasant surprise to (re-)discover The Crafting Freedom Project. It is a wonderful exercise to introduce teachers to the public humanities and involve students in discovering the relevance of history to their own lives. There are at least a couple of resources that fall into the Category:Public humanities but there is no organizational structure to bring them together. I'll need to put some thought into creating an introduction to the topic. I also learned that wikipedia:Public humanities is in sad need of references, so I've decided to adopt the article. --mikeu talk 21:27, 25 January 2016 (UTC)

Pending changes

A satirical cartoon from 1882, parodying Charles Darwin's controversial theory of evolution

I'm now a Wikipedia:Reviewer so I'm familiarizing myself with Wikipedia:Pending changes. The FlaggedRevs extension to MediaWiki could be very useful here to give stability to resources created by educators. For example, a grade school teacher who does not want to risk a student seeing age inappropriate vandalism. Another instance would be controversial topics like politics, sexuality, or religion which are frequent targets of vandalism. Unlike a permalink the "safe" reviewed page would be the default landing for any visitor until a reviewer approves the recent edits. (A click on the "View history" tab shows edits that are pending review.) Currently I'm watching some biographies that include:

Also w:Milky Way (the galaxy, not the w:chocolate bar). I'm guessing these are "test edit bait" given the prominence of the subjects in elementary education (or interest among students of that age for the last one;) Do school children look up the articles and scribble on them??? Other articles are an obvious source of contention such as w:Climatic Research Unit email controversy and w:Creation–evolution controversy. The system works quite well and is a better tool than semi-protection in some cases. --mikeu talk 22:48, 25 January 2016 (UTC)

An essay on the philosophy and practice of the "wiki way"

Chiodini wiki.jpg

I feel like we need to have a conversation about anti-vandalism and the tools to prevent it. There seems to be some misconceptions about the use of page protection and other features.

The basic design of mediawiki software includes features like Undo and Rollback for occasional vandalism, and the Block for repeated vandalism from a single source. This is the appropriate response in the vast majority of cases. I've had unprotected resources that have only seen 3 vandalism edits in 9 years. The number of productive contributions to the same page from anonymous editors was greater than that. Should that page be protected just because I'm annoyed by pushing the rollback button once per three years? We have Curators, Custodians, and many other members of our community (both at Wikiversity and globally throughout the WMF who watch our recent changes) that look for this activity and remove it. The system works very well.

Page protection is primarily intended for situations where vandalism is high profile (like the Main Page) or where a single edit could affect a large number of pages (like a heavily used template.) Wikiversity does have some unique needs that differ from other projects. I can see a final accepted paper to one of our journals being "frozen" by page protection, perhaps with a second editable copy that is not marked "reviewed." This could also be accomplished by uploading a PDF file stamped "reviewed" and leaving the wiki page unprotected... There are a variety of ways this could be accomplished. Suggesting page protection as the first, and only, mechanism seems IMHO to embody a lack of imagination.

When I hear contributors casually suggesting page protection on a routine basis I shudder. This runs contrary to our WMF approved mission statement:

"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." Approved Wikiversity project proposal, 30 July 2006

The Wikiversity Proposal (which btw is indef protected as it is both an historical page and in a sense a kind of legal document) places great emphasis on Learning groups and cautions against excluding anyone from joining these groups. The creation of Wikiversity was conditional on this premise. The WMF core values include the idea that the best way to generate knowledge is to ensure that participation is as broad as possible. You might be able to convince some of the local community that this is a good idea, but trying to sway the members of our governing Foundation that we are on the right track is like handing out panda sandwiches at a PETA convention. Many of them (myself included) are fanatically committed to the radical notion that "Information wants to be free" and that everyone can contribute to creating a world "in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge."[5]

I've been investigating the FlaggedRevs extension to Mediawiki. This solution could be the best of both worlds. Anyone could edit a page but the edits are held in limbo and not visible by default until a Reviewer approves or rejects the edit. There are a number of details that we need to work out before requesting this extension. There are certain switches that determine default behavior and we would need to define how we want it to work before submitting a request. I would like to suggest that others try out Wikipedia:Reviewing to learn the details of how it works. The page also has instructions on how to request Reviewer status at WP.

One other note is that Page Protection and Flagged Revisions are not an all or nothing solution. Both include an expiry time which should be used if we expand the use of these tools. There is no reason to indef protect a typical lesson beyond the term of a semester or school year if it doesn't repeat the following year. I can see indef protect on quiz questions or an exam study guide as this has real world consequences. In many other cases a temporary Flagged Revisions setting might be better suited to these tasks. Keep in mind the "indef" mean "for all of eternity." In essence you are protecting the page for a duration of decades or centuries. Is this reasonable? I've seen pages where an instructor swore that indef was necessary only to see them leave the project after 5 years.

On a personal note: as a scientist I find the idea of Evidence-based policy very appealing. Start with an objective look at the problem that we are trying to solve. Is there evidence that it really is a problem? How big of a problem is it? What methods have a proven track record of solving similar problems? Tossing out solutions that are in need of a problem (the shotgun approach) is an inefficient use of our time. --mikeu talk 19:22, 26 January 2016 (UTC)

Comment by User:Guy vandegrift

I am coming around to your viewpoint, and certainly retract the suggestion that we use "page protection" as a selling point to bring in Curators. At the time, I was looking at it from the recruitment angle, which asks, "Is there anything about new Curator status that will bring teachers into Wikiversity". The answer was page protection, and in retrospect, I overplayed that card.

I also explored page protection as a way to introduce a bit of "individualism". After you (User:Mu301) convinced me that page protection was an inappropriate way to achieve this, I decided to create an online journal. Then, I was delighted to see that Wikiversity Journal of Medicine had already pioneered exactly how to create such a journal. The Second Journal of Science has only one protected page, and if the community so requests, I could unprotect that page.

I like your essay, and think the next step is to categorize instances where page protection is required:

  1. High volume pages where even a few minutes of vandalism would do harm, and where it is plausible that page protection is a higher risk. (I emphasize plausible because I have no evidence in this regard).
  2. An active course where disgruntled students could use vandalism to hurt their fellow student's education in order to cover their own inadequacies. This is something Wikimedia should take seriously because there is no evidence that this won't happen (except that it hasn't happened to me in the past 2 years).
  3. Sensitive data where there is no need to ever edit. I am speaking, for example about this steam table This and the next item clearly represent weaker claims. In the previous two, harm was done by not protecting. But in this case, the argument is that since there is no reason to edit, we should forbid editing. This is a weaker justification than one that points to actual harm (because I believe that steam tables are a low traffic item).
  4. Another "debatable" reason to page protect involves large amounts of text that the writer is too busy to watch carefully. I am trying to write an open source Quizbank of exam questions. Let's consider the extreme limit: Suppose, hypothetically that it was necessary for each question to have it's own page. That would place almost a thousand of pages on my watchlist. In the case of Quizbank, the solution is to many questions on each quiz, which can keep my watchlist to a managable size.

It is highly likely that I left out essential examples. For example, both of our Wikiversity Journals (WJM and SJS) store permalinks to the checked (accepted) versions of the submitted article. It would be tempting for a contributing author to make a well-intentioned edit to "upgrade" a checked version with corrections. But routinely allowing such practice could hurt the journal's reputation.

Another example of using page protection against well-intentioned edits involves my current effort to have students improve the quality of my exam questions. I have invited students to submit corrections, not to the current version of the quiz, but on a special subpage devoted to each question. With 65 students making such corrections, it is inevitable that one of them would get confused and edit the actual question. For an example of this, see question 7 of this page-protected quiz, and this sample of a recent student's effort to improve the quiz.

Recommendations:

  1. We need to carefully vet candidates for Curator status to verify that they understand that routine page protection needs to be avoided.
  2. Curators and Custodians who page protect should welcome audits of their protection policies. Looking over my pages, it would be possible for me to reduce the number of pages that I protect. I only recently realized that [[Special:Permalink/####]] permits permalink addresses that are easy to edit. It would be possible for me to unprotect every quiz in Quizbank and secure my versions of them with a single page-protected page full of permalinks. In fact, this index page could be in my userspace. Updates are as simple as updating the permalink "oldid". I would like to first beta-test having 65 student editors on Wikiversity using protected pages before I open everything up to edits.
  3. Keep in mind, that we at Wikiversity are following the spirit of Wikimedia's "make information free", but at the same time are exploring new ways to do it. It might be necessary to alter the traditional approach to page-protection, just a bit.

--Guy vandegrift (discusscontribs) 00:38, 27 January 2016 (UTC)

I'm the fanatical open source zealot that your mother warned you about ;) But, I'm also very open to new way of doing things. FlaggedRevs is the tool of a Wiki Wizard. Not as clumsy or random as a permalink; an elegant tool for a more civilized age. I'm very interested in discussing ideas as to when and how certain tools can benefit the development of learning resources. I am in agreement that quizzes and raw data really shouldn't need to be edited, and the consequences of a student using incorrect information in an exam are serious. I'll discuss this at length later. --mikeu talk 03:03, 27 January 2016 (UTC)

Evidence that Wikipedia is loathe to page protect even when is is "reasonable" to do so

Both your "fundamentalist" open source viewpoint, and my "liberal reformist" take on this issue can be seen in the fact that Wikipedia routinely bypasses the issue with educational dashboards like w:Wikipedia:Wiki Ed/Wright State University/Introduction to Astronomy (Spring 2016). They do not page protect these educational pages. Instead the dashboard routinely uploads a refreshed version from wikiedu.org. There are many pages that use this backdoor approach. See: w:Special:Prefixindex/Wikipedia:Wiki Ed

I did a harmless test edit on my own page, and there really is no page protection. This refusal to protect essentially uneditable pages shows how much they are loathe to page-protect. I am not fond of this because you need to do "markdown" on the website, which then "marks up" to wikitext, and the markdown is just one more skill I wish I didn't have to learn. My favorite way to page protect is now that extension you propose which allows edits to be first checked and approved (forget what its called) --PS: My calling you a "fundamenatalist" and myself a "liberal reformer" is meant to be taken very narrowly. I was not speaking about politics, of course.--Guy vandegrift (discusscontribs) 13:06, 2 February 2016 (UTC)

I also feel that the FlaggedRevs extension could be an optimum solution. It was specifically created for Wikipedia articles that are not watchlisted by very many people and are at risk of test edits or vandalism going unnoticed for a long while. Many of our older resources fall into this category. I don't see any point in protecting resources that are actively being worked on as any unproductive changes (and they are few and far between) will get quickly noticed and reverted. There are exceptions, of course. Some of the Main Page linked pages are such frequent targets that it is a burden to revert often. In general I am quite surprised to see how rare vandalism is on this site compared to just a few years ago. Wikimedia seems to have taken some significant steps in squelching this activity globally which reduces our burden. Yes, I got the sense of the terms you used ;) --mikeu talk 15:29, 2 February 2016 (UTC)

Comments by User:Marshallsumter

I agree generally with a low need for protecting resources or talk pages. The Victor Hugo quote which was receiving spamming, apparently induced by a link from our main page, at a rate of about 1 every 3.6 months, was stopped by protection. Our Physics lecture was receiving IP vandalism requiring 3 reverts per hour. This persistence was stopped by indef protection for some months and has not reoccurred with protection removed. Indef is not infinity. From a negotiation point of view, a persistent vandal will use a def protection as a point of return, unless distracted in some other way. More importantly are tools for "educational moments" such as w:WP:AGF and not w:WP:BITE'ing the newcomer to turn uncivil, persistent, or deletionist IPs into positive contributors. I hope this helps. --Marshallsumter (discusscontribs) 21:21, 1 February 2016 (UTC)

Thank you for joining the conversation.
Victor Hugo is part of the Main page learning project/QOTD which I have recently sought to revive. The idea was to create a kind of Honeypot to deflect vandal prone editors to a safe space that was on the watchlist of a number of contributors who volunteered to keep up with the traffic. This lapsed while I was on wiki break as no one else was watching it. The original plan was to engage anons in the way that I've been describing to educate them about what we do and entice them to make positive contributions. I won't claim that the success was overwhelming, but overall I was pleased with the contribs and it wasn't much work. There's no longer a need to protect those QOTD pages as I'm again watching them closely. As a precaution I've redirected (and protected) the mainspace pages to the talk to prevent search engines from indexing test edits or spam.
Slight point about wording. "3 reverts per hour" implies an average over a sustained period of time. I only see a total of 3 incidents of vandalism in 8 years which averages about 1 revert per 2.3 years. (not counting page protected time.) All 3 edits occurred within an hour indicating that the ip should have been blocked. I would've expected that to stop disruption to the resource without a need for protection. It is disingenuous to claim that the page protection solved the problem when it is obvious why the vandalism stopped; a single day block did the trick without the need for "some months" of protection. There were no vandalism edits here or globally from this ip after the block expired. Many vandal edits, like this example, are "drive by" scribbling. While there are some persistent attempts that I've seen it is more often the exception, than the rule.
I just don't see compelling evidence in the revision history or logs that support the idea that protection is necessary or useful. The examples that I've looked at indicate otherwise. --mikeu talk 22:48, 1 February 2016 (UTC)
Just FYI but the Victor Hugo quote resource page (now a redirect to the talk page) is still page protected like my Ice cores resource page (now a redirect) was. --Marshallsumter (discusscontribs) 03:24, 2 February 2016 (UTC)
As I have already explained in detail above the QOTD pages are demonstrated to be at high risk of vandalism. To prevent spam or test edits from getting indexed by search engines I have redirected to the talk page and protected the redirect from editing by anons. The QOTD pages were created specifically to attract vandalism in a central location where it could be dealt with. Ice cores is not linked prominently from the Main Page, so it is not even close to being at the same level of risk as is evident by looking at the page history. Also, please include an edit summary when using the page protect. It make it difficult for others to review actions later if there is no rationale for why it was done. --mikeu talk 15:21, 2 February 2016 (UTC)

Real-time wiki data

Version 1.0

The white cylinder contains a sky brightness meter and the gray box a sky camera

I'm experimenting with a system for automatically uploading scientific data in near real-time to a wiki page for use in exercises where students analyze the data. The project uses a variety of instruments mounted in weather proof enclosures on the roof of Ladd Observatory:

  1. Davis Weather Station; live data at http://thuban.physics.brown.edu/weather/
  2. Boltek Storm Tracker for detecting lightning strikes; live data at http://thuban.physics.brown.edu/wasp.shtml
  3. SBIG All Sky "meteor" camera for monitoring sky conditions such as cloud cover or haze; live data at http://thuban.physics.brown.edu/skycam/
  4. Unihedron SQM-LE sky brightness meter for measuring urban w:light pollution; live data at http://thuban.physics.brown.edu/sqm.shtml
Graph of sky brightness at Ladd Observatory, Jan. 27-28

In the past I've manually uploaded some of this data to SkyCam or other pages. Now I'm trying to include dynamic scientific data into lessons. To implement this Mu301Bot runs on the same webserver that collects the data from these instruments and stores the images or generates real-time graphs/maps. I'm currently running a test where hourly samples of sky brightness measurements are added to User:Mu301Bot/nelm when new data is available. I'm also looking into the possibility of formatting the uploaded data points in mw:Extension:Graph format.

It is also possible to add image files from the sky camera automatically, perhaps for a special event like a Lunar eclipse or the May 9, 2016 w:Transit of Mercury. This could be used for a "real-time lab" where remote students work on the data while it is being collected or analyze it afterwards. Current images of the transit of Mercury could also be incorporated dynamically into a wikinews: story or a wikipedia: article.

Another possibility is weather events such as a severe thunderstorm. When a storm is detected the bot would edit a page that interested students have on their watchlist to alert them to a live data upload such as a map of lightning activity or a graph of wind speed during a hurricane. These meteorology uploads would be triggered by a threshold such as the w:Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale.

There are a number of possibilities that could be implemented. This could be of use to schools or colleges with limited resources to teach lessons using data from instruments that are too expensive to purchase for student use. It could also be used more generally for astronomical or meteorological w:Template:Current events. This is an extension to the Observational astronomy project that I started many years ago. --mikeu talk 19:36, 28 January 2016 (UTC)

Version 1.1

A recent image of the sky above Providence from Ladd Observatory. A new image dynamically appears here each day. The timestamp below shows when the current version of the image was taken.
Last image filename: 00000950.FIT
Exposure started: 2018-08-02T03:31:43.433 UTC
Exposure time: 10 seconds

I've rewritten User:Mu301Bot/nelm to include an image that is dynamically updated once per day. I'm not sure what the ramifications are for a File: that will eventually have 365 revision updates per year. I'm not sure if anyone has ever dealt with this issue in wikimedia before. Another option, for a different purpose, would be to encode the timestamp with a prefix in the filename. But, here I want the page to automatically show the latest image and caption without editing the file link. I'm conducting a live test of near real-time uploads of images from a telescope. (Note: Check back tomorrow to see the most current image taken at about 2 a.m. local time. It will either show stars or cloud cover.)

I've also encountered the issue that appending data points to a file grows without bound. Currently the data in the subpage Mu301Bot/nelm/data only includes the last 50 measurements and is overwritten each hour, but only when new data is available. A possible solution is subpages of the form PageName/YYYY to create multiple archives by date. The Mediawiki graph extension is complicated. I'll have to rewrite the scripts to parse the data into the correct format.

Bot generated dynamic "stencils"

I'll need to be careful with the particulars of lessons that use live data to take into account that there might be an interruption of uploads or long gaps where there is no new data. It is important to phrase the captions to avoid language like "today's image" given that for any page view the data might be stale. It will also be tricky to write lessons where I can't know ahead of time what the correct answer to an exercise is.

I'm also trying something new with my User:Mu301 page which now incorporates the "switch" feature used by {{QOTD}} to rotate a different image once per day. This could be used to feature one of 7 different learning projects that I'm currently working on each day of the week. Currently it just shows a gallery of images that I've contributed to Commons.

I'm excited about the possibilities of near live data in science lessons. We've come a long way since the w:mimeograph handouts of my childhood. Today's generation of students expect more from educational activities and we now have the technology to aide us in generating richer and more ambitious educational content. --mikeu talk 19:14, 1 February 2016 (UTC)

Version 1.2

The local copy of the image has been temporarily deleted to allow a Commons version of the file to appear here live. I've requested the bot flag there and I started running some automated upload tests today. The skies are clear tonight so I'm uploading twice per hour instead of just once per night. --mikeu talk 03:29, 10 February 2016 (UTC)

Version 1.3

The camera is currently offline and needs some work. It might be time to consider replacing it with a more modern camera. The images are showing artifacts such as "hot pixels" probably from exposure to the elements. Overall, I consider the project to be a success. I've learned a lot which will allow me to design a much better system the second time around. --mikeu talk 00:23, 3 January 2018 (UTC)

December 2015

Many of the Observational astronomy resources are in need of update. There are many broken links and unfinished lessons. They are also somewhat lacking in clarity. I'm a bit disappointed that just about the only activity after all these years has been vandalism. I'll need to rethink the participatory aspects of these projects when creating new resources. --mikeu talk 14:52, 27 December 2015‎ (UTC)

August 2009

  • Time to give this learning blog thing another try. There have been many delays, but things are finally in place for me to move forward on the SkyCam project. That will be a high priority for this coming semester. There is also the citizen science project to observe the eclipse of epsilon Aurigae that I'll be working on during the next two years, both on and off wiki. --mikeu talk 00:03, 24 August 2009 (UTC)
  • Very interesting results from a citizen science project called Galaxy Zoo. --mikeu talk 17:30, 29 August 2009 (UTC)
Galaxy Zoo Hunters Help Astronomers Discover Rare 'Green Pea' Galaxies
Galaxy Zoo Green Peas: Discovery of A Class of Compact Extremely Star-Forming Galaxies

January 2009

September 2008

  • At the bottom of every page there is text that reads: "All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License (see Copyrights for details)." The page that gives details, however, is a proposed policy. We might want to change the link to a WMF copyright page until we make our own policy official. It doesn't look good to link to a copyright page that basically says "maybe this is our policy." --mikeu talk 00:04, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Thought for another day... --mikeu talk 21:19, 25 September 2008 (UTC)
Philosophical Question #3: Is the individual greater than the community?
That depends on the nature of the community. In a combat unit fighting for material gains, it is customary to sacrifice a chess piece for the sake of winning the game. In a spiritual community, saving the individual is an overarching goal. In an educational community, the dilemma is comparable to the one faced by Mrs. Zajac in Tracy Kidder's book, Among Schoolchildren. In that story, the teacher spent an enormous amount of time and energy trying to save two problem children (Clarence and Robert). In the end, Mrs. Zajac failed to reach them, and so everyone lost, including the other children in the class who were neglected while Mrs. Zajac spent so much time on a futile effort to reach Clarence and Robert. [7]
  • Reminder to self: check the links in Special:Statistics and find the MediaWiki: page to edit it. --mikeu talk 23:39, 26 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Handy wikimedia tools: [8] --mikeu talk 17:11, 27 September 2008 (UTC)
  • Reminder to check up on students who appear to be creating a project at wikipedia. --mikeu talk 17:36, 29 September 2008 (UTC)

March 2008

  • I have been rather busy with real world projects lately and have not done as much editing and content creation here as I would have liked. The projects that I have been working on involve education and outreach through the observatory. There are a number of programs that include teacher training workshops and bringing science into the classrooms of local schools. Once these projects are underway I intend on using wikiversity pages to develop and distribute lesson plans and activities. There will also be some online collaborative learning. Here are some of the projects that will soon be developed: Weather station, new pages related to Observational astronomy, http://skycam.sandboxserver.org and SkyCam. Hopefully I will be able to start working on these within the next few weeks. Things are starting to come together and will probably develop quickly once they get off the ground. I have also been confirmed as custodian and recently nominated for bureaucrat. --mikeu talk 15:07, 9 March 2008 (UTC)
  • Next week I'll be attending a workshop on wiki and education. Here's the description:

Enhancing Student Engagement: the WIKI Collaborative Workspace

"Wiki software is a powerful yet flexible communication tool for collaborative work. A wiki website can be viewed and modified by anybody with a web browser and access to the internet. Its ease and flexibility has resulted in broad adoption. Wikis can address a variety of pedagogical needs such as student involvement, group collaboration, and asynchronous communication. Since wikis reside on the internet, students can access and participate from any location. Faculty and students can engage in collaborative activities that might not be possible in a classroom. The following faculty panel will share with us what they have learned from their experiences and help us formulate best (and worst) practices."

--mikeu talk 21:33, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

January 2008

All sky image from the CONCAM at the European Northern Observatory


December 2007

  • It has now been one year since I started editing here at Wikiversity. I've done some minor cleanup and organization of the astronomy topic pages. I also created a few activities on observational astronomy. This seems like a good time to reflect on the pages that I've been working on before deciding how to proceed. I share the vision that a wiki can be a place where collaborative learning takes place. My first attempt at pursuing that vision was the "build it, and they will come" stategy. I hoped that by creating a well defined activity it would attract the attention of someone interested in learning the topic and they would then participate in the expansion and growth of the lesson. I did not expect this to occur overnight. I waited several months to see if anyone would participate or ask questions. If anyone is doing the activities, or even just reading the pages, they have not made themselves known. This could be due to my picking topics that are too narrow to attract interest. It could be that the structure of the lessons or the instructions do not make it clear how to get involved. It could just be that the community here is too small to include learners who are interested in astronomy projects. I would be most interested in hearing feedback on the pages that I've been working on and ideas on how to get people involved in the projects. Feel free to add comments to this page.--mikeu 16:58, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
  • The two main stated goals of Wikiversity are to "Create and host free content, multimedia learning materials, resources, and curricula..." and "Develop collaborative learning projects and communities around these materials." [9] The few pages that I've created are a decent start at working towards these two goals for the topics that I decided to pursue. The question is how to build a community. How do we attract people to participate in a collaborative learning projects? I'm now begining to think that my first approach (build it, and they will come) is a bit naive. Or maybe I'm too impatient to give it time to work. In any case I've decided that it is too frustrating to develop a collaborative learning project when I have not been able to find anyone to collaborate with. Perhaps I need to pursue a new strategy. Something along the lines of "bring them, and show them how to build it." My next project will involve recruiting teachers who I'll be meeting with in person and then getting them to participate in a learning project to create activities for use in the classroom. I'll be planning the project here and documenting the progress as it unfolds.--mikeu 18:35, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
....how to build learning groups at Wikiversity? There are technical (software) issues....I think it is a fact that Wikiversity could benefit from better communications tools such as an embedded threaded discussion system....flat talk pages are ancient and limited technology if you are trying to support collaborators. Wikipedia is the world's largest source of wiki editors. I think we can do better at making Wikiversity resources that would be relevant to Wikipedia editors....resources that would attract Wikipedia editors to also edit at Wikiversity. We could also help ourselves by making Wikiversity a great place to learn about Web 2.0, copyleft, wiki in general and how to participate in Wikimedia projects. Too many people come to Wikiversity and never edit...here at the start we need people who will click the edit button. I think the WIkiversity main page should be completely re-done to better attract participants (new editors). I think Wikiversity:Community Portal should be entirely devoted to helping create and perfect ways to build communities of learners at Wikiversity. In general, in order to start to build community here it may be that we have to identify those topics that have the widest potential "audience" in order to maximize the chances of establishing lasting communities of learners who will be wiki editors. This is the way Wikipedia has developed....the more arcane topics have to wait until the community grows and people become aware of a wiki and what can be done there. Of course, there are many possible ways to advertise a specialized Wikiversity topic in the real world beyond Wikimedia projects...I think such advertisement is needed at this time to attract participants to specialized Wikiversity projects. "Build it and they will come" does not work....at least, it does not work very fast if you are building learning resources of interest to only a narrow target audience. --JWSchmidt 18:50, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

February 2007

  • The Systemic project now includes a wiki at 207.111.201.70 At the request of one of the admins there I created a Wikiversity stub article that points to the Observational astronomy/Extrasolar planet page here.--mikeu 01:44, 4 February 2007 (UTC)

January 2007

The star HD 209458
  • Take a look at the image at right. The bright star near the center goes by the rather unimaginative name of HD 209458. There is something about this star that is quite remarkable. You can't tell by looking at the image, but this star is home to a planet {which goes by the even less imaginative name of HD 209458 b.) It is one of more than 200 planets that have been discovered outside of our solar system. These distant planetary systems are the subject of one of the observational astronomy subpages that I recently started. The first activity encourages someone interested in learning about this topic to participate in the systemic research collaboration and join a learning group here. Learning projects like this bring up an interesting question about the role of research here at Wikiversity. Since many of the projects that I'm working on or planning involve some kind of research I'll need to address this question. In the next few days I'll start by writing up some more detailed descriptions of the projects that I have in mind.--mikeu 20:30, 27 January 2007 (UTC)

December 2006

First thoughts (mostly on astronomy learning)

Note: the contents of this section have been copied to Observational astronomy/Planning to encourage participation in the development of these ideas.

  • First, a little background... I used to work at a planetarium and I now work at an observatory. One of the problems at an observatory is that a public education program requires clear skies to see objects through the telescope. (There are always clear skies in a planetarium :) I decided to create an activity that uses computers as a sort of virtual observatory. This would not only create a rainy night activity but it would also bring astronomy to a larger group of people who don't have the chance to visit an observatory. I started the Observational astronomy activity to try out these ideas. I'm familiar with other virtual observatory learning activities. (For instance, the Hubble FITS Liberator.) One thing that will distinguish this learning project from others is that it is hosted on a wiki which will allow the students to interact in creating the lessons. I have no idea how that will play out or where it will lead, but I suspect that the results will be interesting.--mikeu
  • The idea that I would eventually like to pursue is to allow students to do "real" astronomy. Students usually learn by solving "toy problems" where the only goal is to learn, and the results of solving the problem are then only given to the teacher for the purpose of getting a grade. I'd like to give the participants original data to analyze such that their results are of some use to professional astronomers. This is similar to ongoing projects such as the American Association of Variable Star Observers in which amateur astronomers who own a telescope contribute observations which are then analyzed by professionals. (The National Science Foundation refers to people who do this as "citizen scientists.") However, most of these amateurs are working individually or in small groups that only include those who have reached a certain level where they have the experience and knowledge to make a contribution. I'd like to create an environment where it is easier for someone with no background to get involved and walk them through that first, steep, part of the learning curve.--mikeu
  • One example of a citizen science project is Stardust@home. It has a low threshold for getting involved and uses a slick tutorial and interface to train participants and get them started. However, this project is more busy work than a learning experience. The results make a valuable contribution to processing the science data but the only thing the person invlolved gains is a sense of satisfaction at being a part of the project. They really don't learn much about interstellar dust. My contributions here at Wikiversity are an experiment to determine how to create a more meaningfull learning experience while doing real science.--mikeu
  • The learning curve for doing astronomical data analysis is very steep for the uninitiated. For example, go through the short tutorial on astrometric calibration with Aladin to see the steps involved in processing a raw telescope image. Is it reasonable to expect someone with no background to go through a complicated process like this as part of a lesson? Probably not, but I plan on creating activities here that will involve doing that.--mikeu
  • I'll start by creating some simple lessons that show how to use the software tools that astronomers use to analyze data. The main focus, at first, will be on learning basic concepts in astronomy while getting familiar with these tools. I hope that the wikiversity community can help me learn how to implement the ideas that I have described.--mikeu

(The preceding unsigned comment was added by Mu301 (talkcontribs) 12:50, 27 January 2007)

Wikiversity random thoughts

  • Many pages are created from templates, but the templates are so complicated that very few bother to fully fill them out. This leads to the creation of a multitude of pages that contain more boilerplate text than real content.
  • A long list of subjects that don't exist is an impediment to growth. It might entice the ambitious few to expand the content, but it probably turns away the majority of people. There is too much clutter to attract new users who would be willing to do casual editing. New users are going to be confused trying to find content that exists, and it preimposes a structure for the future growth of what will be covered rather than just letting it happen naturaly. These lists need to be checked to insure that they follow established Wikiversity:Naming conventions.
  • I was working on the astronomy pages and had some confusion about namespace, problems with searching and a few other things. See Topic_talk:Astronomy#Cleanup_needed for the details.

(The preceding unsigned comment was added by Mu301 (talkcontribs) 22:06, 27 January 2007‎)

Other

Supernova 2006sr
  • I decided to change the format of this page. I had originally intended to use this as a scratchspace to jot down my thoughts and then edit them into something more coherent. I was also thinking that this could be a place to collaborate on planning projects. That is different from a blog, and I probably should have created the content outside my user space to encourage participation. This new format will be a log of things that I'm thinking and working on, with links to other pages.--mikeu 13:29, 16 December 2006 (UTC)
  • I started to cleanup the astronomy related pages. Many of the pages contain a lot of confusing clutter and things are so disorganized that it is difficult to find what little content exits. I added all of the existing pages that I could find to the main Astronomy category. This is not really the best way to organize things, but there is so little content that it will have to do for now. I moved the index of content that does not yet exist from the main page to a new page and added a welcome section. This needs to be expanded. I doubt most new visitors have much idea about what to expect from wikiversity.--mikeu 16:56, 19 December 2006 (UTC)
  • My attention is now on creating specific content. Observational astronomy contains a couple of activities for getting started. The focus is on learning basic principles for someone with no background in astronomy. This page requires cleanup to make it more user friendly. Some ideas for expanding the topic are described at Observational astronomy/Planning. The hope is that others will provide input on the direction the project takes. Observational astronomy/Supernova is an observing program to collect and analyze telescope data.--mikeu 15:50, 25 December 2006 (UTC)