User talk:Cormaggio/Issues for Wikiversity

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  • namespace: Is it useful to have different namespaces for different types of contents, which are subjected to different standards of rigour and require different care (e.g. raw data, discussions, lessons, questions, drafts, research reports)?
  • Contents - 1. The minimal requirement is legallity. 2. Further requirements-- we should wait for the result of the scope of research discussion on beta.
  • Teachers: (In the long run) The people who start a course can show their credibilities with a Curriculum Vitae, with contributions inside and outside wikiversity.--Hillgentleman 13:07, 25 October 2006 (UTC)

namespaces. By tradition, Mikimedia Foundation wikis have a mission that defines the main content of the wiki and that main content exists in the main namespace (and the main content wiki webpages have no prefix in the page names). If there are different "types of content" in the main namespace, portals and categories can be used to organize pages of different "types". By tradition, other non-main namespaces are for meta-content, that is, they provide pages where wiki participants work together to plan, discuss, organize, catalog the main namespace pages and content. Yes, we could have additional namespaces for different types of educational content. For example, I think it would be great if the MediaWiki software incorporated support for searchable, threaded discussions. Maybe someday Wikiversity can have a "LiquidThreads:" namespace just for threaded discussions if there are technical reasons (for example, to make searches of the discussions easier). Would it be constructive to place research-related Wikiversity webpages into a "Research:" namespace? I think Wikiversity should be a place where research can be fully integrated with education. I hope the Wikiversity community can walk away from traditional models of education that promote separation of education and research. Wikiversity participants should be free to experiment with learning models such as constructivism without being restricted by traditional biases that separate "learning of facts" from exploration of how people question existing knowledge and create new knowledge (research).

I was talking the other day about how learning "facts" is getting to be the focus of most schools,a dn learning how to learn was being left up to the students. It would be great if wikiversity could have a "learn how to learn" type department, talking about all the different learning styles and types. On maespaces, I think we should just list out all the potential namespaces we think we will need, elliminate the crossovers, and have them all installed at the same time. --Rayc 23:54, 25 October 2006 (UTC)

restrictions on content. I'm fairly fanatical about support for academic freedom, but responsibility is a key part of ethical behavior in any domain of human society. Legality does not automatically define the boundary between what is acceptable content and what is unacceptable. For example, Wikiversity participants need to recognize that they can make choices about content that will reflect how people outside of Wikiversity view this project and the Wikimedia Foundation in general. I think it should be possible to find ways for any topic to be included in Wikiversity, but in some cases we need to be very thoughtful about how we approach topics; we need to anticipate how our actions might be perceived and even mis-interpreted by outsiders. Example: recently someone came to Wikipedia and asked for information about how to painlessly and neatly kill yourself. Does Wikiversity need a how-to course on suicide? Now, for all I know this example might be covered under an existing law, but it is easy to imagine other topics that are not related to an existing law but that would need to be handled in a responsible way.
contributions outside wikiversity. The only "problem" is that the WIkiversity community has no means of verifying the "real world" identities of participants. The Wikiversity community really has to judge participants by their history of contributions to the project. --JWSchmidt 17:17, 25 October 2006 (UTC)

This is significant. Moreover, a person with a degree may contribute at a lower quality than one without. This is not an easily-resolved issue, I fear. The Jade Knight 18:03, 25 October 2006 (UTC)


I'm currently working on a better version of wikiversity "tests" (See:Template:Sampletest). One of the issues I haven't thought thru is how we can keep users from looking at other users answers. Probably will need some sort of hidden space someday. I also pointed out that if we wrote up questions and answers for teachers to use in class outside of wikiveristy, to comply with GDFL they would have to say where they got the questions from- making it very easy for the students to find the answers without actually doing the questions. Again, leading into a need for a hidden space for the answers. However, having a hidden space sounds contrary to the wiki philosophy--Rayc 16:45, 25 October 2006 (UTC)

I think it could be useful, but presents another challenge—what kind of material would be appropriate for such "hidden spaces"? How could its use be verified if the space is "hidden"? The Jade Knight 18:03, 25 October 2006 (UTC)
I saw that a user suggested a viva voce examination, and this would hopefully solve some cheating problems. It could likely be administered in "viva messenger" as well.--Dnjkirk 18:06, 25 October 2006 (UTC)
That's one possibility, certainly wouldn't stop students from cheating if they were determined to get answers from friends or what have you, but at least you wouldn't be publicising the answers. The Jade Knight 23:13, 25 October 2006 (UTC)
The only issue is making the hidden material easy to avoid until someone is ready to review the answers. What is the point of attempting to "hide" information from volunteer learners? You learn your way I learn my way should be incorporated into our culture not my way or the highway. Mirwin 04:09, 12 November 2006 (UTC)

Reply to User:JWSchmidt[edit]

On Research - learning Integration: Let us not confuse 1. Where we discuss and 2. where we store our information. Yes, there is no need to artificially seperate the research process and the learning process. But telling the beginner all the subtleties often confuse more than clarify. Cutting-edge information is usually rough and difficult to explain, and sometimes tentative. For information management, and the dreaded legal and no original research issues, it is better to put research material seperately from course material.

Everybody is still free to access, refer to (and put a link to!) research material. Some of the research information is not difficult, and anybody is free to digest them and rewrite them in the course material namespace/directory/category. There is no such seperation that John speaks of.

In short, everybody, student or expert, is free to do whatever she wants, but the materials should be stored according to its nature, new and tentative or well-known.--Hillgentleman 19:20, 25 October 2006 (UTC)

Restrictions on Contents: There is one must not and one should not:

  • Wikiversity must not break the law
  • The wikiversity should not do anything that the hurts more than benefits the public. (difficult to define)

Is there anything else? I do not see.

  • In some universities, there are strange people, who say and do strange things. Some people are attracted to them, others learn to avoid them. They may be misguided or ingenius; we cannot know for sure. Yet they contribute to the diversity. The existence of bogus groups in wikiverity will not imply that wikiversity endorse whatever they say. Wikiversity is just a forum, until somebody submits a report to be approved. It is then, and only then, that we need to scrutinise their studies. Otherwise, so long as they obey the law, (and do not hurt the society), let them be free. ---Hillgentleman 19:32, 25 October 2006 (UTC)

"telling the beginner all the subtleties often confuse more than clarify" <-- There is a pedagogical spectrum from teaching the "facts" without having to be bothered with explaining where the "facts" come from or why they are important (often by a teacher who cannot explain such things) to the other extreme where you make sure that the learner knows where the "facts" come from and is self-motivated to explore them, question them, and participate in efforts to move beyond them. Yes, exposing a learner to too many details too quickly causes confusion and I've never seen anyone advocate doing that. But we should not forget that when we fail to explain to students where the "facts" come from and when we prevent students from questioning and exploring, we also create confusion. And on top of the confusion we also teach that students need not question, that they should just memorize the "facts" because they are told to do so. I hope that Wikiversity does not impose artificial organizational structures for " information management" that hinder our ability to explore the use of wiki technology for creating a collaborative learning environment where students are encouraged to participate in all aspects of learning, including original research activities.

"the materials should be stored according to its nature, new and tentative or well-known" <-- I agree that a vast amount of Wikiversity content can and should be edited according to the traditional Wikimedia Foundation NPOV policy. Educational material that is "well-known" can be supported by citations to reliable and verifiable sources. But what happens if Wikiversity allows original research? Should there be a new namespace for Wikiversity webpages that include new and tentative information? If there is one new and tentative idea placed on a Wikiversity webpage do we suddenly stop what we are doing and move that page to the "Research:" namespace? The other alternative is to make use of templates to mark "new and tentative" ideas and categories to categorize and organize pages that include original research. If Wikiversity does have a "Research:" namespace, I think it should be used to hold meta-webpages that would function to organize the activities of Wikiversity participants who take part in research projects. In my opinion, if original research is going to be allowed in Wikiversity, the data, research reports and mention of original research results as part of lessons should be in the main namespace.

"there are strange people ….. they contribute to the diversity. The existence of bogus groups in wikiverity will not imply that wikiversity endorse whatever they say. Wikiversity is just a forum, until somebody submits a report to be approved. It is then, and only then, that we need to scrutinise their studies. Otherwise, so long as they obey the law, (and do not hurt the society), let them be free." <-- I am a strong advocate of learning to make the most of human diversity, but there is no way that we can responsibly hide from the fact that "trust" is an important aspect of any social construct. Trust is very easy to lose. Wikikiversity, in the name of diversity, cannot allow anti-social behavior by a few " strange people" that causes other Wikiversity participants to lose trust in Wikiversity as a safe, reliable and productive learning environment. Here is a specific example. At the university where I was in graduate school there was a homeless person who would sleep in his sleeping bag in lecture halls on nights before lectures by famous visitors to the university. His goal was to ask the lecturer long, rambling and semi-coherent questions. In a university setting full of adults, this person was shown a lot of tolerance, but most schools would rightfully never tolerate "strange people" hanging around until the day they finally cause a problem or break a law. For example, Wikiversity has had to crack-down on people who have used Wikipedia pages for social networking and posting page content that has nothing to do with the mission of the wiki. In general, it is better do take care of these "harmless" situations before they grow out of control and people feel that since they have been hanging around and "doing their thing" for a while they should be able to continue to do so. --JWSchmidt 22:16, 25 October 2006 (UTC)

  • New and tentative labelling/category is fine.
  • homeless person... whose goal was to ask the lecturer long, rambling and semi-coherent questions:
    • On wikiversity, long and semi-coherent questions can be easily ignored. If he comes to wikiversity, he would take up a few kilobytes of computer memory, and not much more.
    • However, anybody who breaks the code of civility, and thus hurts the community, should not be here.--Hillgentleman 05:24, 26 October 2006 (UTC)

"teachers" and "students"[edit]

"differential login for 'teachers' and 'students'" <-- What does this mean? It sounds like a system in which 'teachers' would have access to some Wikiversity features that 'students' would not have access to. If so, what features would be involved? --JWSchmidt 17:34, 28 October 2006 (UTC)

It has do to with the "cheating" concept. --Rayc 20:12, 11 November 2006 (UTC)
It's an idea that's been mooted to me by many people when they think about their own vision of wikiversity - most recently by members of the KDE community who now want to move all their training material here to Wikiversity. To do this, they had the idea that it might be helpful if a teacher could somehw track how a student was progressing through a learning trail. I have very scant idea of how this would work - it was just one of the ideas proposed. It was also on the minds of several people I talked to at Wikimania. Mirwin actually made quite an interesting suggestion that this "status" would be specific to particular topics and would also be a completely voluntary label, ie someone would describe themselves as a learner of German, but a teacher of PHP. However, these are still just very initial ideas to be brainstormed, discussed, and dealt with appropriately. Cormaggio 00:56, 12 November 2006 (UTC)