Wikiversity:Alternative Theory

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WikiVersity seems to be a little bit stuck. And the reasons seem quite obvious:

  • It is tougher to develop a flexible Meta-structure than a great though relatively limited catchword structure like Wikipedia.

Finally Wikipedia will be only a tool for Wikiversity like a “classical” Encyclopedia for a “classical” university.

The like will be Wikibooks. Therefore Wikiversity does not fit into the Wikibooks section nor its structure.

  • There is no need for copying structures of the “book-world” to the internet. Books are built on a couple of limitations that the internet doesn’t have:
    • Mainly one categorizing structure
    • Limited space
    • One (or a very limited number of) point of view(s)
    • Limited format --> This point is crucial actually as we have transferred most of this limitation to our digital output architecture

So the catchwords for general philosophy are multi categorization, intelligent linking and great variety of aspects, view on limitations of theories, practical application, historical development etc. for each topic.

Especially one fault should not be made: Transferring the current structure of scientific subject groups (which have developed mainly due to certain – historical – limitations) to a 21st century education resource. They should only be a comparative part, one of many categorization possibilities. Having multi-aspects at hand will be the MAIN ADVANTAGE of the future Wikiversity.

Let me give a striking example of what I mean:

* For a person like Freud, sexuality is the main reference point – everything 
is  a sexual act: Communication is sexual, Social Organization bases on 
sexuality etc.
  
* For a pure capitalist, the market is the sole driving force and regulates
everything, especially the Social Organization.
Therefore Social Organization can be looked at in a Freudian way or in a 
capitalist way or in many different other ways, which should all be shown.  
Only then critical comparison will be possible.

So for this point I suggest that the courses should not be structured like a book but rather like a Matrix. Books should only be used as references.

  • Developing own aspects of a topic will be an important part of the learning process.
  • What has been said for the book structure is even more true for the content. There is no need for a single scientific style and its dry theoretical texts. Wikiversity learning should be fun, fun, fun and expanding the horizon – for both, the teacher and the student.

Anyway, the line between those two will be floating – interaction and role changing will evolve.

  • Before we think about grades and marks etc. we have to build up the world’s best educational material: interdisciplinary, interesting, understandable, vivid. Example

Everything else will develop :-).

The wikiversity should specify prerequisites for learning course material. For instance, if you are studying Calculus there should be a prerequisites section with links to various other material you should have already mastered. Also there should be many different methodologies and ways of teaching the same ideas and there should be alternate routes for learning things. For instance a person learning complex analysis could decide to take a more visual route, a more mathematically rigorous route or an more engineering like route. The wikipedia should offer many different pathways to reach from one point of knowledge to a higher point. One of the problems with making the wikiversity too interdisplanary and reducing the barriers between subjects is that it makes courses less modular. As courses become less modular the prerequisites for each course increase and it becomes harder for a given person to meet the prerequisites. The course also becomes longer and teach a lot of stuff the learner does not really need to know. This is why it is probably in many case better to have discrete learning units and also to have books. They increase the modularity of knowledge, decrease the prerequisites and thus reduce the barriers to knowledge. Thus the wikiversity community should be very careful before we dismiss the traditional ideas of displines and books completely. I think there should be several possible options a person can take. For instance if a person is learning calculus, there could be a very mathematical path like what would be seen in Spivak's Calculus, a more engineering oriented path which focusses on calculations and using calculus to do engineering type problems and finally an extremely rich and beautiful path which covers everyting, the math, the engineering/physics applications, the history the interconnections etc.

Anyway, I am not saying that a more radical interdisciplinary approach with fewer barriers between subjects is a bad idea. I am just trying to approach things from the learners point of view and his/her individual needs which will require different emphasises, different pedogagical styles and as few prerequisites as possible.

- Please check out alexevasion and his ideas at [[[b:Wikiversity:School_of_Social_Science]]]