Wikiversity:Colloquium/archives/January 2008

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Cut and paste wikis

I've asked this before, but I want to double check. What do we do with cut-and-paste wiki pages? I'm thinking about these. Many of them are copied from Wikipedia. --HappyCamper 17:58, 1 January 2008 (UTC)

Well, we haven't really talked about it much. Probably the best thing would be to import them, but AFAIK we don't have it enabled from Wikipedia. In theory, we could import to Wikibooks and then to Wikiversity, but for these pages in particular I actually wonder if they should actually be on Wikibooks anyway (looks like a textbook stub to me). --SB_Johnny | talk 18:34, 1 January 2008 (UTC)
Does that mean we don't need to delete the cut and paste pages? --HappyCamper 21:47, 1 January 2008 (UTC)
I try to contact people who cut/paste from Wikipedia and get them to provide a link to the original source, at the very least. Sometimes people copy some text from Wikipedia and adapt it to a form suitable for Wikiversity. Sometimes people just paste in content from Wikipedia and it sits there on a Wikiversity page with no those cases I think we can delete. --JWSchmidt 22:23, 1 January 2008 (UTC)

Spanish One

Dear friends of Spanish language and spanish culture. With the new year comming I refreshed Spanish One course. The former idea of J. Steinbock to use the textbook from Wikibooks called Spanish stayed. But of course, there is not so much grafical design as John was offering, but much more audio options. I mean course is based on audio communication with me and with other members of the course using the main methodology of the textbook and supplements from my site. I have chosen Skype as a way for audio communication. Well it is not released under GNU or simillar license, but it is free, easy to download and install and it offered in all languages. There is also a new feature: Forum:Spanish One. It is the site focused on comunication within people interested in Spanish studyes. Its opened to your questions and it is used to brainstorm your ideas.--Juan 09:26, 2 January 2008 (UTC)

You might be tired from more than one year incativity of Spanish courses, but I hope the last approach will take us to success. Former Spanish One course stopped, because J. Steinbock disappered. I can promise you that I will stay with you (you could have seen me here for the last more than one year). The other course we reached Spanish: An Introduction also fail you. I realized it is not possible to make a course of Spanish language like this just by me. We actually dont have enought interested participants to do it, so there was a need to find out a different method to teach Spanish. I was having an internal fight trying to find out an idea how to apply "a wiki way of collaborative learning" for several month.

Now on the beggining of the Year 2008 a course of Spanish language is opened to you. Within few weeks of January and February, there is a right time to start it. Than on the beggining of summer you might be abble general communication when visiting Spain, Latin America or talking to your neighbours. From October than, we might continue to give you intermediate knoweledge. So see you in Spanish One and good luck!--Juan 09:26, 2 January 2008 (UTC)

Wikiversity Statistics

With the new year upon us I thought it might be a good time to take a look at Wikiversity Statistics. Anyone know how to get the info updated? The data only goes to Sept. 2007. --mikeu 20:58, 1 January 2008 (UTC)

It always seems to be a few months behind. I'm not sure that there is much we can do about that....maybe start our own website statistics project? --JWSchmidt 21:01, 1 January 2008 (UTC)
Leave a message for this guy. He's the man in charge. --SB_Johnny | talk 22:57, 1 January 2008 (UTC)
I am using usually this: [1], but the problem is, that is usually missing data for the last few month.--Juan 08:26, 2 January 2008 (UTC)
A topic in wikiversity statistics is worthwhile. One may ask w:user:midom to add wikiversity to his hourly wikipedia traffic data at . Of course ome specific numbers (such as what kinds of new pages are created and how popular they are) can be obtained real-time by bots; others may require downloading the dumps (I haven't done that before.) -Hillgentleman|Talk 15:25, 2 January 2008 (UTC)

Random school

Would there be support for adding a link to Special:Random/School on the sidebar, or would that be too much? --Remi 23:46, 4 January 2008 (UTC)

More Wiki Campus Radio

With the new year (Happy New Year to all), brings the return of Wiki Campus Radio. We will be doing a few tests, and then hopefully some real shows. If anyone would like to host a show or even has an idea for a show, drop by Wiki_Campus_Radio or leave a note on my talk page. And if you'd like to participate (in either testing or shows), we need participants! --Historybuff 23:08, 4 January 2008 (UTC)

Personally, I'm tired of testing. Is there any way that we can get the Sandbox Server 0.5 to record VoIP conversations and then use that as a stable WCR platform? --JWSchmidt 21:26, 5 January 2008 (UTC)
To clarify (for JWS and everyone else) -- We can do tests that are actually recorded and published (if the participants desire), but what I'd like is to evolve a process where non-techs can manage their own shows, independent of me (to a degree). I've floated the idea of using the current sandbox for just that purpose, and would be thrilled to get it going. I have some time blocked off for this exact purpose, so we will be deploying this, once we get the bugs ironed out.
If anyone has a show idea, or just wants to chat and doesn't mind fiddling a little bit, let me know, either here or on my talk page. I'll post a time if no one else does in the next few days. Historybuff 19:08, 7 January 2008 (UTC)

Revising introductions to Wikiversity

Wikiversity currently has the following introductions (perhaps more):

The proposal is to revise the introductions marked with a ** by redividing material along something like the following lines:

and perhaps put some of the material into

Discussion is invited.

--McCormack 14:03, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
Note: we already have Topic:Wikiversity and Wikiversity:Introduction Overhaul Taskforce. --JWS 17:03, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps the asterisk'ed files could be duplicated and tailored rather than split so those newcomers who do not yet classify themselves as teachers or learners have a single set of files which provide an entire overview while the newly created materials allow people to start in their comfort zones by function. 21:00, 7 January 2008 (UTC)

Wikiversity based on real University

If you could advise what moments i should pay attention especially if im creating wikiversity based on real university? It should be just portal in wikiversity.beta(Becouse language is Russian) or better be self-dependent project based on wikimedia engine downloaded from mediawiki website? How to integrate my initiative of digitizing the real universtity courses to wikipedia format with main website For example history of computing course in our university is different from existed here already, so i should to do second version of it? --miostyle 14:12, 7 January 2008 (UTC)

The answer here lies within you - what does your stakeholders (if there are any) want ? Is a Wiki culture wished ? Nearly all pages here can be improved by mostly ANYONE and that means pages can get over time a new/better/improved face/character/content - merging content or creating content depends on the situation.
If you decide for wikiversity, the place to go is beta (since here English is used):
If you want to set up a new Wikiversity, you must have ten active participants who are willing to work on that language project. When you have this number you can request (at meta) for a new language domain to be set up.
Depending on the activity on beta there could be the possibility to create in the end a ----Erkan Yilmaz (Wikiversity:Chat, wiki blog) 17:16, 8 January 2008 (UTC)

New navigation templates

I've spent the last few days busily preparing and implementing Template:About Wikiversity and Template:Using Wikiversity. I've implemented them on about 50 of the most critical newcomer orientation pages on Wikiversity, with the goal of giving newcomers of all shapes and sizes a sense of organisation and consistency as they find out about Wikiversity. The templates are specifically designed to be prominent and of aesthetic as well as functional value. Prominence and aesthetics will make it easier for newcomers to rely on them and feel safe with them as they navigate. Wikiversitarians might like to think about things like: is the selection of pages right? do any of these pages need merging or wheeling into retirement? do any of the pages now become obviously in need of updating? and perhaps the potentially more painful question for me - does it all actually make the Wikiversity experience better, or was I barking up the wrong tree? --McCormack 16:56, 8 January 2008 (UTC)

Thanks, McCormack, for your efforts. I think we need more and better navigation templates and people need to work on making sure that all learning resources have links to them from the portals. Reading: Wikiversity:Templates, Intermediate Wikiversity, Wikiversity:Portal. --JWSchmidt 17:51, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Is there an existing resource that explains the basics of making navigation templates? I've been thinking of making some, but I don't really understand more than the basics of wiki markup. --Luai lashire 20:28, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
For me, I just put all the links into a page that begins with Template: and then find some template code that looks nice to format everything. --HappyCamper 04:36, 10 January 2008 (UTC)

Main Portal at

There are some ongoing changes to the main portal at, which some of us have been talking about on User:Hillgentleman's talk page. There are three main issues:

  • Removal of ambiguity over the role of the multilingual hub (misleadingly called "beta"); these changes are now complete.
  • Bugs in the tabs in IE7.
  • The greater issue of a redesign of the portal, perhaps to bring the portal design into line with the larger Wikimedia projects.

I'd like to stimulate some discussion here, particularly with respect to the last of these points. On the whole the Wikimedia projects have a very standard main portal design, but should we conform or be different? Compare: [2], [3], [4], [5].

--McCormack 06:08, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
I think the main portal should be designed for effectiveness for Wikiversity. Not mere conformity. Mirwin 07:12, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
Sounds great. So can you be more concrete about design suggestions? Perhaps the maturer projects have already hit on a design that maximizes effectiveness? Or is there a design that is better for us? --McCormack 07:16, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
The design of the other project pages is much better than the current wv page. Get rid of the tabs at the top, footer info at bottom, and the logo at top left. Move the search below the language links. Remove description from sister project icons. (I'm not sure if we want to include the page count per language just yet.) In other words, the other projects have a very efficient and stream-lined design. These pages are just a pretty alternative to a pull down tab to select language and should not try to do much more than steer someone to the appropriate version and provide a search box. If you try to do too much more than that it is no longer a multilingual portal but a project site. --mikeu 14:25, 7 January 2008 (UTC)

I like the current portal, however I've noticed two problems with it:

  1. The Wikiversity logo is too far to the right, its cutting off into the content area. It needs to be fixed to align correctly within the sidebar.
  2. The Go and Search buttons are not using the native style of the browser, unlike all other projects and portals. This makes them look wrong next to the search textbox.

--darkYin yang.svglama 14:32, 7 January 2008 (UTC)

  • New rumor: the Greek language Wikiversity may launch this week. --JWSchmidt 19:31, 7 January 2008 (UTC)

The text title for the main portal

All other projects have an image above the main circle with the title of the project in large letters. The fonts vary slightly, although the first and last letters are usually enlarged. Here is a possible candidate. Please either post your agreement or disagreement. If disagreeing, please, if possible, post an alternative. --McCormack 13:20, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

Wikiversity text logo 1.gif

Guys consider that in the design you should include the Greek Wikiversity which took final approval today!!!--ZaDiak 13:35, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

I did consider. You'll see, when it's online, that there are large white spaces above and below the main circle, for adding in the next 4 Wikiversities. Give me a shout when you're ready to be added. --McCormack 14:41, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

Summary of recent updates to main portal

The following changes have been made:

  • The general design now conforms to the standard for Wikimedia projects (that usual circle of links around a central logo, with the search box below).
  • The motto has been updated to reflect the outcome of the motto contest of 2006-2007.
  • The Greek Wikiversity has been included in the circle.

Comments, suggestions and criticisms happily accepted. Please add below.

--McCormack 13:16, 13 January 2008 (UTC)

statistics on Wikiversity

Hi! sorry I don't know if I'm writing on the rigth page but I need an information. I'm writing an essay on Wikiversity for my graduation an I would like to know if there is one page on Wikiversity where I can find statistics on how many people write on Wikiversity, how many page there are, etc. Thank you very much. Ilaria (The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 21:00, 14 January 2008)

This can be a starting point. For what do you need the info ? ----Erkan Yilmaz (Wikiversity:Chat, wiki blog) 21:03, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
Take a look at Special:Statistics There are links to more details at Wikiversity:Statistics Ask here if you need more information than that. --mikeu 21:06, 14 January 2008 (UTC)

That's what I need, thank you! I need this statistics because I would like to compare the development of English Wikiversity and Italian Wikiversity to see the difference of user activity. Thank you for helping. (The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 21:10, 14 January 2008)

and there are this statistics 21:22, 14 January 2008 (UTC)

English Wikibooks deletions

Tonight I cleaned out Category:Wikiversity pages to be deleted on en.wb - the deletion summary for all almost-400 pages is simply "moved to Wikiversity" - some pages are not under the same name here, but most have the appropriate redirects. I've put the log of my deletions at Wikiversity:Import/Wikibooks deletion log so WV users can check that the content is easily found, and create redirects where needed. If you need anything regarding those pages from us at Wikibooks (ie temp undeletion to see what the content was, or where it supposedly went off to when moved), I'm generally fairly available, but any admin would be happy to help you. – Mike.lifeguard | @en.wb 02:50, 10 January 2008 (UTC)

As a follow-up to this, could anyone with the inclination finish moving pages in b:Category:Wikiversity pages to be imported, or tagging if already imported? If there's anything I can do to help from Wikibooks' end, please ask. – Mike.lifeguard | @en.wb 19:07, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Speaking as a guy who has changed apartments numerous times (but not lately), it strikes me that if we haven't needed it after a year and a few months, we probably don't need it :). --SB_Johnny | talk 22:40, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

Wikimedian Demographics is up and running

Well, I had taken a stab at this a few months ago, but gave up on it to see what became of Wikiversity:Census. That project really never got going, so I revived the demographics project and added more of a graphical interface and easier instructions, using the template tricks darklama taught me for use in the Bloom Clock.

I'd like to invite everyone to try the new version out: directions are on the main page, or you can just add {{subst:wmdgs-preload/all}} to your survey page and follow the instructions provided by the templates.

I'm hoping to announce this on foundation-l sometime within the next week or so, but wanted some opinions first.

  1. Should there be some sort of approval process for adding new surveys to the preloads?
  2. Can we come up with a survey about Wikiversity itself which will both inform the respondents about what Wikiversity is, as well as seeing what people think about our structure/mission/policies/etc.?
  3. (Might add more questions later... gotta run!)

I think this could be very good content for our particular needs. --SB_Johnny | talk 14:08, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

In the context of surveys, what is a "preload"? Should we copy the existing list of questions to a survey subpage for further development? --JWS 15:44, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Oh sorry... by preload I mean templates like {{wmdgs-preload/all}}, which are substituted and add a collection of the currently available surveys to a page. They add headers and preset to show instructions, which makes things a bit easier to deal with, and I was thinking that a preload of new surveys could be made for each month with any new surveys that have been created since the last preload. The question is whether there should be some inclusion criteria for the new surveys (e.g., only if 3 or more people think it's interesting, based on a vote, etc.), in which case any surveys that didn't meet the criteria would just be listed somewhere else for people to add as they see fit (and perhaps request it be included in the next preload).
I'd say add any potential questions to Wikimedian Demographics/Wikiversity for now, but it looks like all of those questions could be easily included in a template. I'm working on making other templates to make survey creation easier, but for most of those you should be able to use {{Wmdgs-makesurveyquestion-2}}. --SB_Johnny | talk 16:06, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

Custodian as ambassador

Folks, Please notice that there is a discussion on the confirmation of user:countrymike as custodian at Wikiversity:Candidates for Custodianship/Countrymike. His principal platform is that he will serve as an ambassador to other educational projects, such as the WikiEducator. Since this is somewhat new to wikiversity and may affect the meaning[6] of the concept of a wikiversity custodian, please contribute your comments on this idea. Hillgentleman|Talk 15:07, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

I also encourage everyone to participate at Wikiversity:Candidates for Custodianship/Countrymike, but I think it is worth trying to have a broader discussion of outreach by Wikimedia projects in general and Wikiversity in particular. When Wikipedia started, there was no other existing wiki-based collaboration for the creation of an encyclopedia and so there was no need for outreach by Wikipedia to similar organizations. This basic reality has created something of a "blind spot" within Wikimedia with respect to outreach. The situation was different from the start for Wikiversity. There are other education-oriented wikis and it makes sense for the Wikiversity community to interact constructively with both individuals from outside Wikiversity and with other organizations that share our goals and and interest in using wiki collaboration tools. During its seven years of existence, Wikipedia has grown into the position of now being just one of many wikis devoted to producing and hosting encyclopedia content. The Wikimedia Foundation is still struggling to find ways to develop effective procedures for outreach (example). In general, it seems to be the case that the Foundation is ending up in the default position of hiring paid staff who will have responsibility for outreach. I have little confidence that Foundation staff will do much work for Wikiversity, so I'm interested in the idea that Wikiversity volunteers can constructively engage in outreach. In the case of Wikiversity, outreach to individuals and other organizations that share our goals includes the need to interact constructively with other wikis such as WikiEducator and with professional educators. This means interacting constructively with busy people who will only invest their time and resources when they feel that they are not wasting their time. Some "casual methods" of outreach by wiki volunteers have been pioneered by Wikipedia. These "casual methods" have resulted in public relations disasters such as a college dropout lying to a reporter from the The New Yorker and claiming to be a professor with two doctorate-level degrees. We are now in the position where many professional educators view Wikimedia projects as a joke, basically little more than a place for teenagers to write about their devotion to pokemon. In the past, Wikimedia projects have used community consensus to designate trusted community members to perform needed community functions. I think the Wikiversity community should think seriously about how to recognize its community members who have an interest in outreach and how to designate some of them as "ambassadors". Currently, when Wikiversity "ambassadors" are needed, people such as myself are contacted privately and the Wikiversity community is left out of the loop. I think the Wikiversity community would benefit from creating a formal and open process for supporting constructive "ambassadorial activities". A logical approach would be to use custodianship as a "gateway position of trust" to an "ambassadorial" position. Currently we have bureaucrats and checkusers as "functionaries" for which custodianship is the obvious gateway path (that is, first become a custodian if you want to become a checkuser). I think it is time for the Wikiversity community to think about the idea of creating new types of functionaries that can promote the Wikiversity mission.....the idea is to make use of community members who have experience and skills that can be put to good use for the project. This involves thinking for ourselves and not just muttering about the way things are done at Wikipedia. --JWS 17:10, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Hear, hear. I think we should remember why we chose to call custodians "custodians" in the first place: they're just trusted users who have keys to the toolshed, the janitor's closet, and the gates around the playground. --SB_Johnny | talk 18:44, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Comments on the fundamental problems of the Wikimedia projects: JWS wrote "where many professional educators view Wikimedia projects as a joke" as part of the problem behind the need for outreach. I think this represents a past problem rather than a present or future one. The quality of many Wikipedia articles has leapt astoundingly during the last 3 years. On articles I regularly visit I have seen an extraordinary professionalisation even within the last 12 months, where some articles have really grown to outshine even the most respected and venerable bricks-and-mortar sources. Of course, opinions lag, but present opinions about WP as a joke represent a past problem. The future problem (probably already present) will be entirely different, because once WP becomes regarded as a serious information source, then attempts to manipulate Wikimedia projects will come to the fore. The case of Microsoft trying to pay an admin to "correct" alleged bias against Microsoft is a good example, reflecting the seriousness with which Microsoft regards Wikimedia. The present and the future of Wikimedia is a world in which small companies grow up with "Wikimedia optimisation" programmes, offering hundreds of "bona fide" sock-puppet-like users organised like call centers, waiting to skew articles on any topic which their clients will pay for. We will see professional paid optimisers, organised into gangs, evading check user, against a thin line of volunteer admins/custodians with lower abilities and less time. The best optimisers will, of course, be those who have achieved admin status and are rewarded bonuses by their employers for doing so. I think defending Wikimedia projects against outside manipulation will be what the future holds. --McCormack 11:00, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
Well, there can be both upsides and downsides to that. An "ambassador" could also be involved in actively recruiting businesses, so if we're doing something on Microsoft, we can have people in "usergroup: microsoft employees" helping out and clarifying things. Heading them off at the pass might be just the trick. --SB_Johnny | talk 11:38, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
I hate this word "ambassador". Perhaps liaison officer? Liaison is respectable and unpretentious. "Ambassador" is a word for communications consultants and fashion designers, and embassies are usually places full of spies, cabals, backstabbing, commercial deals and meaningless parties. --McCormack 12:05, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
How about just plain liaison? Meaningless parties sound good though :). --SB_Johnny | talk 12:57, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
Fine :) But please check out first ;-) --McCormack 13:49, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
Heh. Too many meaningless parties :). --SB_Johnny | talk 14:29, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
  • "present opinions about WP as a joke represent a past problem" <-- Even if I were to accept your belief, which I do not (sorry, but it is contradicted by surveys I've read and my own experience of what educators think) it does not change the fact that there is outreach that can be done aimed at increasing the participation of educators at Wikiversity. We should be doing everything we can to support such outreach, not marginalizing and hounding Wikiversity participants who express an interest in outreach. --JWS 15:13, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
    • Thanks for your comment, JWS. I agree entirely that many educators still do have this opinion - but it is an opinion which derives from Wikipedia's past more than its present, I think. Wikipedia is increasingly becoming a serious force, and educators may be slower to realise this than corporate and political interests, so the opinions of educators may reflect the past, somewhat. --McCormack 16:25, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
    • "marginalizing and hounding Wikiversity participants who express an interest in outreach" --> I don't know if this comment is intended to be critical of me. Just in case: I very much support the extension of outreach, but I think this must be done carefully with an awareness on the potential for manipulation by any outreach site. In the debates with the candidate in question, I have been the first to suggest and back his involvement in Outreach, and I have continually sought to refocus his interests more logically on this task. I will actively support anyone who builds outreach, but at the same time, it should not be a backdoor for manipulation. --McCormack 16:25, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

This is not a comment on Countrymike's custodianship, but on outreach, and how it can be facilitated. I am, and always have been, an advocate of outreach - and I speak as one of the "ambassadors" John mentions that people tend to direct queries to. Obviously, there are outreach functions that can be done by anyone, with community approval or not, and this can be done anywhere people discuss interests - from IRC, to discussion forums, to university, or even otherwise meaningless parties. :-) But does someone need to be approved to talk about Wikiversity? I wouldn't say so, though the question of honesty comes up - i.e. if you are talking about a project, and proceed to an area with which you are not fully familiar, it would be better to disclose that any opinion you have is possibly misinformed. (This is a pretty obvious caveat for life, but anyhoo.) In such a case, it would be worth raising the issue at your next opportunity with people you think might have some relevant information and perspectives on the matter. In this way, representing Wikiversity (ie outreach) is something we all can do to various extents - and is an explicit opportunity to learn about Wikiversity. This said, I would not say that the best opportunity to learn about Wikiversity is through making a "blooper" (embarrassing comment) on national television :-) - so obviously there does need to be some process for nominating representatives for certain types of representation. I'm still unsure that custodianship should be viewed as this process - even though it does indicate a degree of trust. But by this measure, would custodianship also be seen as a pathway towards something like the proposed research review board? Or are we to develop a number of pathways (and criteria) for different sorts of activities? Cormaggio talk 19:03, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

  • Hi Cormac. You may have missed part of the issue here. The critical question at the moment, I think, is not "who can represent Wikiversity?", but "if someone represents another site as an ambassador, what limitations should be placed on their advocacy role under NPOV?". Someone wants to come here and advocate their interests elsewhere, and at the same time feels that custodianship is appropriate for this advocacy/ambassadorship of external interests. --McCormack 19:18, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
In this case, the stated goal is, "to strengthen relationships between the two projects" (Wikiversity and WikiEducator). I suppose this kind of outreach must inevitably involve some "advocacy" but I believe that advocating constructive interactions between education-oriented wikis is a good thing for Wikiversity and supportive of the Wikiversity mission. --JWS 20:44, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

Case study

Okay, let's consider how custodianship could help with doing outreach, using a thought I've been bouncing about:

I listen to NPR pretty much all day while I'm working (I have headphones which both protect my ears from the machinery I use, and have a radio installed). One of my favorite call-in shows is "Science Friday", which runs some sort of simultaneous web chat in "Second Life". I have only one problem with that: second life is (as far as I know) something you need to cough up $$$ to be part of, and that doesn't seem to me a very "public" medium for public radio to use.

We also have a local call-in show on my local station, which doesn't (yet) have a simultaneous web conversation. It's a pretty serious show too: today the first hour was about the history of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and the second hour was about how musicians and bands are learning how to get around the music labels.

One of these days (maybe even soon) I'll work up the nerve to suggest Wikiversity as that online compliment. We could add links to Wikipedia articles and other web sources in real time, and perhaps even invite people to the IRC channel for open discussion. But if I did that, I would be putting myself on the line to either monitor that progress, or at least recruit my mentor (JWSchmidt in my case) and all the other Custodians I've gotten to know to do it on my behest (after all, the first thing we'd get from that would be contributors, but the second thing we'd get would inevitably be vandals, and some of those vandals might be undesirably lewd).

To put all that in a nutshell: you really do need to be a custodian if you're going to do effective outreach, for 3 bvery real, good, and noble reasons:

  1. Custodians are by definition trusted members of the community.
  2. If you're doing outreach, it helps if you can say, "don't worry, I'll watch out for you and your friends."
  3. Custodians, in going through the mentorship process, will be connected to other custodians in whom the people we are reaching out to can trust too.

I hope that all makes sense. --SB_Johnny | talk 21:32, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

Wikiversity to be mentioned at Davos

Hi all, just got (Google) notification of a pretty exciting talk by Wikinomics author Don Tapscott at the World Economic Forum, in Davos, which will explicitly discuss Wikiversity. This will be attended by leaders on the global stage (politics and business), so it's pretty significant. Might be worth keeping an eye on the WEF's site and any blogs who are covering it (I'm not sure if it will be recorded and streamed-or-archived - Davos tends to be a bit of a 'closed room', from what I remember). Still - good news! Cormaggio talk 10:26, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

  • This is great. I think it shows that we need to continue making a big push on organisation and introductions to the content of Wikiversity. --McCormack 11:24, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
Agreed! Cormaggio talk 11:33, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
It seems that Wikiversity is mainly used by Tapscott to talk about new developments that are possible in education. The actual institution Wikiversity is not being considered. Tapscott gives 10 possible future scenarios of which the Davos conference will talk, of which only one is called Wikiversity. Those who fund the education systems are the ones who will decide how education will be changed. Wikiversity at the moment is too small to be able to represent a significant number of common people. I am thinking about millions. They need to be doing something usefull with Wikiversity. Learning skills and knowledge that can be appealing to employers or business partners, for instance. Only then, Wikiversity will be an institution noteworthy for Davos to consider.--Daanschr 12:46, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
Nonetheless, if Wikiversity is even mentioned, important people may take the initiative to have a look around, so we really need to continue the re-organisational drive. --McCormack 12:54, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
What did you have in mind?--Daanschr 14:36, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
OK... :)
--McCormack 14:45, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

Some of these things need to be experienced yet in practise. Afterwards it is possible to analyse the best uses.--Daanschr 15:01, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

  • What if some of us have already been experiencing them in practice? :) --McCormack 15:05, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
Then it would be possible to analyse it.--Daanschr 15:12, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

Daanschr, it's true that the Wikiversity part of Tapscott's talk is only one part of ten, and that it seems to be a wider look at education in the networked world, rather than a "hey everyone, look at Wikiversity, it's so cool, go sign up". :-) But isn't it significant that the changing world and model of education is summed up in at least the word "Wikiversity"? Perhaps we've just hit on a succinct name - but, hey, I think we can live with a bit of luck. :-) And in response to the questions of practice and research - isn't that precisely the point of Tapscott's talk? Here at Wikiversity, we are figuring out, from the bottom up, what a model of education looks like in a online-networked, 'wiki' way (with all the affordances and constraints that involves). This has always been one of the most challenging questions about Wikiversity's identity - but probably the one to capture people's imaginations. I'd like to perhaps capture Tapscott's ideas here in Wikiversity (maybe by beginning a text dialogue, or by phone interview), and for anyone interested in the wider picture, I think John Seely Brown's ideas are very useful... But yes, I think McCormack's suggestions above are rock-solid - and will help address the perennial confusion that Wikiversity seems to provoke whenever people get past the name, and ask "yes, but what is it actually for?" :-) Cormaggio talk 18:05, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

I don't think it is a coincidence that Tapscott names Wikiversity. Wikiversity is a prominent part of the Wikimedia Foundation and is always present at the Main Page of Wikipedia. Inviting Tapscott to Wikiversity would be a good idea. Hopefully it would be possible to talk with him before the Davos conference.--Daanschr 12:04, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
I agree that it's probably not a coincidence. I've messaged his executive assistant to ask about the talk, whether there will be a more detailed report about the educational angle somewhere, and whether we might continue a discussion here on Wikiversity, via email, or Skype. If anything comes of it, I'll be sure to post details here. Cormaggio talk 15:35, 18 January 2008 (UTC)


Via a message on Foundation-l, I see there is a plugin to run a slideshow from a gallery of images on Wikimedia - see commons:User:Dschwen/Slideshow. Has anyone tested this - and is it up to, say, a virtual presentation of slides on Wikiversity? If not up to all our needs, could the plugin be extended? Cormaggio talk 15:32, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

It sounds like an interesting idea. I cannot get it to work. --JWSchmidt 17:31, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

JWSchmidt bureaucratship

Hi all, I'd like to revive JWSchmidt's nomination for bureaucratship. I seem to be either away or occupied a fair bit of the time, and I feel Wikiversity needs a bureaucrat who at least checks in once a day! (I'm not sure if Sebmol does any more.) Since there is such overwhelming support, might it be better to say "any objections?"? How about giving this a period of two weeks - here, or on the nomination page? (I should also say, I haven't checked this with JWschmidt, and will leave it to him to decide if reviving this nomination is ok.) Cormaggio talk 10:45, 8 January 2008 (UTC)

I suggest a further waiting period of two hours. I think 16 months is already sufficient. --McCormack 10:52, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
It is clear that the community values his contributions and strongly supports his nomination. I suggest we wait only as long as it takes for JWSchmidt to accept (and I hope he does.) --mikeu 14:42, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
If he accepts, I'm happy to promote him. That's the only thing that has ever stopped me. He had said in the past that another bureaucrat is not necessary. I do not know what his current opinion is in that regard. sebmol ? 14:53, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Spare tire.
  • Maybe once a month we have made use of Sebmol to activate a new custodian. Sebmol responds quickly when notified by email. I think it works well to have active editors mentor probationary custodians while having someone like Sebmol who can look at candidates with full objectivity. If I were a bureaucrat, I would still want to have Sebmol (or Cormaggio) be the one to make people custodians in most cases because I am often involved in recruiting people to volunteer to be custodians in the first place. Since I'm usually something of a friend to candidates, I'm not really an objective judge when it comes time to flip a bit for a custodian candidate. Also, as a believer in checks and balances, I'm not sure it makes sense to have CheckUsers as bureaucrats. In my view, bureaucrat work related to custodianship is under control. For a long time I have looked upon my bureaucrat candidacy as a "spare tire" that could be used in an emergency. Since there has been no emergency, maybe the Wikiversity community should think long-term. I've been concerned about the bot situation. In addition to activating new custodians, Sebmol has also been granting bot status. However, I wonder if Wikiversity might benefit from having a more active bureaucrat with an interest in bots. I went out and tried to find people with some useful bots (such as for signing discussion pages when people forget to sign and checking newly added text against existing web content for apparent copyright violations), but those bots do not seem to work now. I do not know much about bots, so I'm fairly useless. Maybe the community should try to find a bureaucrat candidate who would have the time to take an active approach to managing bots for Wikiversity. --JWSchmidt 15:50, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
    • Wise words, as ever, from JWS. Perhaps a compromise solution, as he vaguely suggests: keep him on the backburner as a bureaucrat-in-waiting who can quickly be appointed if the need should arise. As the community has overwhelmingly supported him, in enormous numbers as well, over a long period of time, there would be no need to repeat the process if we did need a bureaucrat suddenly. Perhaps we can call him a "bureaucrat-elect" (elected but not in office)? It's a nicer word than "spare tire" ;-) --McCormack 16:13, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
    • I'm happy to manage the bot situation without a bcrat flag on my account. I have the technical know-how and understand the sort of procedures we'd need in place after my experience reviewing bots on WP (and running a couple of my own). I don't think the current community knows me very well, however, due to my prolonged inactivity from core WV tasks; as such, it would not be appropriate for me to have a bureaucrat flag unless the community is prepared to monitor my sysop action log and user rights log closely. --Draicone (talk) 13:28, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
It would be great if you can help with the bots and I agree that doing so would not require that you be a bureaucrat. So far, we have always been able to get action from one of the two existing bureaucrats. I suppose if you make a bunch of good suggestions for new bots and for getting rid of old ones that do not work anymore, sebmol might decide that it would be easier to just make you a bureaucrat rather than have to flip the bits himself. --JWS 16:44, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

IRC unavailable?

Is it just me, or has IRC been absolutely unavailable for the last 12-16 hours? --McCormack 16:16, 8 January 2008 (UTC)

I've been in #wikiversity-en for the past couple of hours. --mikeu 16:18, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps it's just the CGI interface that's down. --McCormack 16:22, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
User:Historybuff was in #wikiversity-en yesterday via the cgi-irc and he suddenly got disconnected. He quickly came back by way of a standard IRC client and said that from his end it looked like the cgi system suddenly crashed. --JWS 16:33, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
I have occasionally been disconnected rather suddenly as well during the last few days, but never had much difficulty getting back. I must have tried 50 times today - mostly because I've been intensely editing just about every critical page on this site, and reckoned I should try to make myself "accountable" for my actions by being vaguely present on IRC! --McCormack 16:40, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
I recently switched irc clients due to trouble with cgi-irc. It would hang, and I would get strange error messages when I tried to reconnect. I am not able to load the webpage right now. --mikeu 16:46, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
IRC has been unavailable for the greater part of 6 months for me, but I think I finally found a client (chatzilla) that works.--Rayc 06:27, 20 January 2008 (UTC)

Comment on Wikiversity

I am at a loss to understand ow wikiversity is supposed to work. there appears to be many schools and faculties, but little actual learning matearials. surely the best way of going about a wiki-versity' type project would be to have people concoct a course by recommending a series of links to articles in other wikimedia projects and providing essay titles for the students to attempt throughout their reading. i cannot see how the students are meant to learn in this project. --

You can think of the school and topic pages as content development projects where Wikiversity participants can work together to plan and develop learning resources. If you are trying to find existing learning resources, make use of the content directories. In general, Wikiversity is a work in progress and most learning resources are still under construction. --JWS 13:23, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
Note to the community - we may want to look into making the front page a little more descriptive. We shouldn't have to answer these questions; the initial messages we give to newcomers should be self-explanatory. I'll try and take a look at this later. --Draicone (talk) 13:32, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
I'm not sure what you mean by "making the front page a little more descriptive". I think the main page should make the point that Wikiversity is not Wikipedia. There is much more work to be done in creating learning resources than there are existing learning resources. Rather than directly address this important issue, the main page pretends that Wikiversity is like Wikipedia and only it only has a few links to pages that discuss content creation: "create" and "create content".

upload wikiversity instead of wikimedia common ?

When i see the RC, i'am a little suprise because you upload some media (image, video, wave) in the wikiversity. Why don't you upload them in wikimedia common ? 20:05, 14 January 2008 (UTC)

I have noticed that a number of new users will copy an image from wikipedia to wikiversity - images that are not on commons. Some have also resized images from commons and then uploaded them here. In a few cases I have changed the links and deleted the copy here. Wikiversity:Notices_for_custodians#images_and_copyright Some images might be more specific to wikiversity and not of general interest at commons. Redlinksexample.png Others can not be uploaded due to license restrictions (ie. Commons:Template:Screenshot) I have only just recently started using commons myself, but I do see the advantage of uploading there. I have also moved a couple of images from wikipedia there so we can interwiki link from here. But, IMHO, not all uploads should go to commons. Are there particular files that you think should be moved? --mikeu 20:19, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
To resize, mediawiki do it on the fly.
If it's specific for wikiversity, how do the another (ie. wikiversity or other project (wikibooks or wikipedia)) which want also the image ? 6 wikiversity, so 6 times on the server ?
Yes, some seem to be exclusive to the english-speaking wikiversity.
Commons was created precisely to prevent the images are multiplied by the number of projects existing.
Perhaps should be reviewed page Special:Upload precisely for directing people to go to commons rather than load 20:47, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
There have been several discussions about changing the instructions at Special:Upload so as to encourage people to upload at Commons. If someone wants to propose the wording for such instructions, maybe we can add it to the upload page. --JWSchmidt 20:48, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
There are examples of why some images can be uploaded to Wikiversity - like explanatory screenshots, or unidentified plants in the Bloom Clock, which, when identified can be uploaded - appropriately named - on Commons. But really, I reckon everything else should be on Commons... Cormaggio talk 10:40, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
Unidentified BC plants are usually added to commons these days actually... they don't really need renaming on commons as long as they're categorized and/or in a gallery. Supposedly one day commons will be able to rename files without re-uploading, but with emphasis on "one day" (like how SUL will be enabled "soon").
I changed the instructions on Special:Upload... needs work of course. See also Commons:Upload, which is the page linked from the toolbox on commons. We might want to do something like that here, which would send people straight to the commons upload for free images, and to Wikiversity upload for fair use. --SB_Johnny | talk 11:27, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

A bot on the server can easily transfer images that can go on Commons wikimedia : . But see before if this image can be upload (Licence restriction in Commons) 17:19, 20 January 2008 (UTC)

Messages bounced by the spam filter

I tried to send some messages to the talk pages of Mike and Erkan, but these are bounced by the spam filter.--Daanschr 11:13, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

Try posting to mine. I'm around now and can look. Mike and Erkan are away. I'm also on IRC now. --McCormack 11:23, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
I can't be on the IRC, because i am at work. I don't have internet at home, since i have just moved to a new home.--Daanschr 12:24, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
You can also log on to IRC with just a browser. Anyway, I tried posting to Mike's page and had no problem myself, so this is a weird one! --McCormack 12:53, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
  • I recently started the Wikiversity spam blacklist by copying over everything on the Wikibooks spam blacklist. If we find that any of the URLs that were blacklisted at Wikibooks is a problem at Wikiversity then we should remove them. In particular, it looks like URLs containing any plain IP with the form h t t p:// is blocked. --JWS 14:35, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

I've fixed up the problem on Mike's talk page. An offending link in the page had been caught by the spam filter and whenever you update the page it scans the entire page for bad IPs. As the blacklist was updated while the IP was already on the page, trouble ensued etc. etc. The fix is to edit the page and remove all offending IPs / URLs. --Draicone (talk) 13:37, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

The new Wikiversity Maintenance Hub and training new custodians

The background to the new Wikiversity Maintenance Hub was that I had decided to spend a lot of recent time improving navigation, and slowly migrated from introductions to other materials in the Wikiversity namespace. Finally I got into all the pages which were of use to custodians, and eventually all this evolved into something called the Wikiversity Maintenance Hub. So it was rather an accident. While doing this, it occurred to me that what was emerging would be excellent training for custodians.

The basic idea: It has occurred to me that the current custodian training programme (which we call "mentorship") is a little thin. So far as I know (correct me if I am wrong), mentors usually adopt an extremely laissez-faire approach. In general, this might not be a bad thing, but it really lets down the well-meaning candidate who lacks knowledge about where to start. Having castigated a probationary for his lack of effort myself, it then occurred to me (far too late) that it's probably our own fault for failing to show candidates where to make their efforts. The Wikiversity Maintenance Hub is an accidental and belated answer to this problem, which might help us in the future. The maintenance hub offers a great place for probationary custodians, experienced custodians and ordinary users to all get involved in Wikiversity maintenance. It pulls the whole system together so that it makes it easier and more obvious to people how they can help. You'll never run out of a task.

Custodial learning projects: the maintenance hub is not yet framed as a learning project, but that would be the next step.

First Wikiversity, then Wikipedia: following evolution into a learning project, we could then begin to offer our training programme to other Wikimedia projects. Admins on other projects could practice maintaining Wikiversity as part of (only part of) their adminship training. We would provide other wikimedia projects with training, and in return they would provide their people and some of their time, for the duration of traineeship.

And finally, the world! MediaWiki is used by lots of outside organisations. Generally visitors to such sites expect the same standards of courtesy and culture of editing as they would find at Wikimedia projects, but in practice they rarely find it. The self-appointed admin (I was one, I know!) of a self-installed MediaWiki site has no idea how to be the same as a proper Wikimedia admin. So there's a real training potential here.

So much the plan. Comments welcome. --McCormack 13:50, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

  • Comments. I think it is useful to have a learning resource about maintenance tasks at Wikiversity. Sometimes people show up in IRC #wikiversity-en and want a task that they can work on for a short time. In the past I have usually told them to look at Template:Opentask. My main comments (below) are my reaction to the part of the page that is described as "a quick how-to" on how "to become a custodian" (the version currently at Wikiversity:Maintenance). In my view, the "quick how-to" does not place enough emphasis on the existing policy for custodianship which says, "Custodianship is not a big deal," and, "If you have a record of good editing then you are likely to be trusted and be granted the privileges custodians have". I suppose different people have different ideas about what constitutes "good editing". A few days after the launch of Wikiversity I made a short statement of my thoughts about what constitutes good editing and what indicates if someone should become a custodian. The key elements of my views, which have not changed are: "Wikiversity mainly needs people who can contribute to building Wikiversity content; for example, by working on learning projects," and, "custodian candidates should demonstrate (by good editing) their commitment to the Wikiversity project". Of course, the word "mainly" leaves room for other ways that custodian candidates can demonstrate commitment to Wikiversity, and I have supported candidates who have demonstrated their value and commitment to Wikiversity in a variety of ways. I think Wikiversity should make use of the available diversity in what people have to offer to this project. I am not comfortable with the idea of adopting a Wikipedia-like approach which puts an emphasis on vandal fighting or "maintenance jobs". I do not agree with the idea that, "before you even think of applying, get stuck into a lot of the maintenance jobs below which anyone can do". If we pushed this approach it would be a radical change in the nature of Wikiversity custodianship. It would shift Wikiversity towards the approach used at Wikipedia, an approach which selects for many administrators who have no interest in supporting the mission and goals of the wiki project where they have the sysop tool. The Wikipedia approach selects for people who will do a bunch of mindless tasks and then become a mindless administrator. Many such administrators have ended up disrupting the project and they have to be de-sysoped, often following ugly fights that go all the way to the ArbCom. Yes, doing "maintenance tasks" is one way to demonstrate commitment to Wikiversity, but I do not view it as the preferred way. I agree with the idea that evidence of willingness to do some boring wiki-jobs is a good trait in a custodian candidate. There are boring tasks that are a normal part of creating useful learning resources and good editors who show attention to those details of good editing demonstrate their commitment to Wikiversity. There is a range of behavior patterns among sysops from 1) sysops who use the sysop-tools as part of their routine editing to create and develop useful learning resources and 2) sysops who do little to create and develop learning resources but spend a lot of time looking for messes to clean up. Wikiversity should respect this diversity, not pretend that custodians have to adopt one specific pattern of editing. In particular, I reject the idea that Wikiversity should start following the methods of Wikipedia where good editors are not allowed to become sysops because they do not meet arbitrary requirements for participation in particular categories of "maintenance jobs". --JWS 16:28, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
It's really great to have this hub, and I thank McCormack profusely for his tireless work. :-) I would also like to endorse the learning aspect of custodianship - Wikiversity has explicitly adopted an apprenticeship model, which is entirely appropriate to its mission - so I would like to see this hub broadened from a set of resources to become a learning community around custodianship, where custodians and aspiring custodians can discuss common interests and current and past issues in order to help aspiring custodians figure out what happens/works/is required etc. However, I am interested in the evolving definition of [[custodianship - am I right in perceiving or framing the definition of custodianship as, on the one hand, a maintenance-focused role, and on the other, an indication of community trust? I know these are not really on opposite hands (as it were), but are obviously interlinked - we need to trust people to give them the custodian tools (eg. page deletion, user-blocking). But it is significant, I think, to see custodianship as more-than-maintenance - I think the renaming from "admin" to "custodian" was an indication that the role was about maintenance, rather than anything else. So, this discussion does seem to be heading towards a definition of custodianship - what it entails, the kinds of things they do, and, of course, the limits of the role. I would be keen to further this, and to start making explicit descriptions of what "custodian" means in Wikiversity - building on what John has just posted. Cormaggio talk 20:38, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
"the renaming from 'admin' to 'custodian' was an indication that the role was about maintenance" <-- I was just trying to refresh my memory about this and so I looked at Wikiversity talk:Custodianship. There is some interesting stuff there. In the beginning, there was an effort to steam-line the process of creating new custodians. In fact, I'd say that a significant number of custodians have been "rushed" into "office" out of fear that we did not have enough eyes watching for vandalism. I recently saw a statement of concern about how quickly probationary custodians can be created, particularly the fact that this can involve no community discussion. Maybe it is worth looking again at the old idea that new candidates for custodianship should be subject to 5 days of community discussion before they become custodians. As I recall, a significant part of my own motivation for wanting to use a term different from "administrator" was that "administrator" has a particular meaning within formal educational institutions. I did not want people seeing the term "administrator" in the context of a website called Wikiversity and jumping to the natural conclusion that "administrator" had its conventional meaning as normally found within an educational institution. It is fairly common at Wikipedia to speak of getting access to the sysop tools as being "given the mop", meaning that you have tools that make it easy to clean up messes (in particular, rolling back or deleting vandalism). The term "custodian" seemed suitable for describing someone who has a mop. I think the choice of such a term was made in an effort to promote the idea (originally from the early years of Wikipedia) that "adminship is no big deal'. --JWSchmidt 21:47, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
I could hazard a guess, but just for the sake of clarity, what is the particular meaning of "administrator" for you in formal educational institutions? Cormaggio talk 03:45, 21 January 2008 (UTC)
The description provided here corresponds to my understanding of the term. --JWSchmidt 04:32, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

quote of the day

There is a quote of the day that appears on the Main Page, and there is a Main page learning project/QOTD to discuss and select quotes to appear on the main page. Please take a moment to participate and suggest new quotes or comment on the currently selected quotes. --mikeu 17:34, 15 January 2008 (UTC)

I have boldly updated the Template:QOTD because of miquotes and/or misattribution. If you see any problem with the new quotes, please leave a message at WV:RCA since the quote template is protected from editing. See Main page learning project/QOTD and related talk page for details, and please join the dicussion. --mikeu talk 15:25, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

are search engines and subject directories the same thing

-- 14:09, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

Wikijunior namespace

From some discussion concerning having learning projects aimed at children it has been suggested that maybe Wikiversity should have a Wikijunior namespace in order to provide a specific namespace for writing such learning resources. The name Wikijunior is borrowed from the Wikibooks project, but would have an entirely different purpose on Wikiversity compared to Wikibooks, with the only similarity being for children. Like any learning projects now though, one could use material from either Wikijunior to create learning projects or books. What do people think of this? Should a Wikijunior namespace be created on Wikiversity? --darkYin yang.svglama 01:04, 1 January 2008 (UTC)


Symbol support vote.svg Support62.56.75.239 01:09, 1 January 2008 (UTC)



I think all learning resources should go in the main namespace. If we are going to take some Wikiversity learning resources out of the main namespace there has to be a reason. What is the reason? --JWS 01:16, 1 January 2008 (UTC)

It would provide an easy way for educators to identify learning projects intended for children and for writers to insure learning projects they start up remain focused on children's education. By having an additional namespace it will also make it easier to have two learning resources on a subject one for children's education and one for adult education. I propose this be considered a reasonable experiment that can be developed over time by those interested, with its own set of policies developed as needed while still sticking to Wikiversity's mission. --darkYin yang.svglama 01:42, 1 January 2008 (UTC)
The obvious alternative to creating new namespaces for related groups of pages is to make use of the category and portal system. We have a long standing proposal at Wikiversity:Pre-tertiary portal that explores ways to move us towards the goal of making Wikiversity more welcoming to learners of all ages. Right now, our portal system looks like a college course catalog. Since the name "wikiversity" can be interpreted as implying that only university folks are welcome, maybe we should make a serious effort to make the Wikiversity main page more welcoming to learners of all ages. --JWS 17:08, 1 January 2008 (UTC)

I tend to agree with JWS here. --McCormack 14:51, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

While I see a possible need for something like the namespacing of Wikijunior in the future, I would say having two resources with the same name and different intentions is asking for trouble. For those of us "in the know", all of this might make sense, but too much jargon/division confuses newcomers. We would need a substantial amount of material to consider this, and I would hope that WB and WV could co-operate to facilitate what works best for the overall community, rather then considering each project in a vacuum. I do have the sense that we have good co-operation between WV and WB, and I hope that we can continue down this path (and expand it with other projects). Historybuff 20:38, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
Echo Historybuff. On Wikibooks, Wikijunior is in many ways its own project, with its own community and its own set of rules. Wikiversity itself was once in that position, and frankly we're not nearly "mature" enough to start breaking up into subprojects in that manner. On Wikibooks the Cookbook and Wikijunior split off from the community at large because the contributors to those subproject wanted to apply a separate set of standards and policies than those adopted by the community at large, and the separate namespaces serve to "write in stone" the differences. While we might choose to go that way some day (personally I hope we don't... I think it was a mistake on WB as well), we're nowhere near ready to even consider breaking up the community into smaller communities. --SB_Johnny | talk 23:05, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

Please join in the discussion over at The Neurodiversity Movement

So far, this learning resource has not got a lot of attention. Before now, that was OK because it did not have a lot to offer, but today I have made significant changes to it and now it needs participants or it will fail. I am hoping to make this resource largely discussion-based and, in its current incarnation, it cannot really move forward unless people participate. So I am asking all Wikiversitans, please, if you are interested and have the time, to come and take a look. Thank you. --Luai lashire 20:15, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

The current hierachy is illogical

Portal pages function like directories to provide user-friendly access to large numbers of related pages. The Main Page and the Browse link in the the left side-bar navigation box provide access to the major portals. If you are interested in content development, follow links from portal pages to content development projects in the School and Topic namespaces.

I wish to suggest that 'Schools' should be a higher category than they are at present (e.g. School of Social Sciences) and that the current 'Schools' should actually be labelled as 'Departments'

In almost every other major academic institution websites that I have examined, in the past few hours, a School is a collection of subjects (e.g. Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, Humanities). The Schools in Wikiversity are the equivalent of Departments in real-world universities. I would argue that the convention should continue to be followed as an informal standard.

For instance, most universities have a "Department of Economics". There are exceptions, e.g. has a School of Economics. (However, this is actually because the University does not place Economics within it's School of Social Sciences - it still does not use the category at the same level as Wikiversity).

Furthermore, the 'Departments' in the Wiki's School of Economics (e.g. Energy economics, Entrepreneurial economics, Environmental economics, Feminist economics, Financial economics, Green economics, Health economics...) seem of very limited practical use (IMHO) - the Course list suffices in providing the structure required (see for an example). Each Course can have it's own pages and works fine in that way (as Learning Projects currently work AFAIK)(incidentally, what was wrong with Course or Module or Unit anyway? - rather than Learning Project, which is a bit of a mouthful and does not immediately mean much to most people?).

As you can probably tell, I am quite frustrated by this layout. Why is it set up like this? Any chance for a modification to something a little closer to what most other academic institutions use?

Sincerely, --MKarl 16:15, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Sorry about the frustration. The "school structure" as it exists here at this website originated at Wikibooks: Wikiversity originally existed as a set of pages at Wikibooks. While at Wikibooks, the hierarchy of pages that was created included schools at the top, departments in the middle and actual learning resources at the bottom. When this website started, the "school" pages were all put into a special namespace, and the departments were put into a "topic namespace". The "topic" and "school" pages function as content development projects, similar to Wikipedia's WikiProjects. After this website was started, we also made it possible to use portal pages. Portals serve as directories of learning resources. The top level portals also serve as directories of the major content development projects. If you find the school and topic pages to be confusing, you do not need to visit them. They exist as workspaces where Wikiversity participants can collaborate to create, organize and develop learning resources for particular subject areas. The school pages are for broader subjects and the topic pages are for more narrow topic areas. Different bricks-and-mortar educational institutions categorize and organize academic subjects in different ways. I'm not sure that any particular method is more "logical" than any other...they all seem to include arbitrary elements....rather like the choice of driving on the left or right hand side of the road. --JWSchmidt 17:30, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for the reply. I definitely agree that the portals are a really useful concept. I'm not overly worried about the schools thing from a practical perspective - it is just illogical after going through the conventional university system.

-- MKarl 17:45, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Try to think of a Wikiversity school as a broad content development project such as an effort to organize a group of related university departments. Topic pages can be more than just the equivalent of a department; a topic might be like a university "division", a department or a course. Each topic page defines what its scope is and provides a place for collaborative creation and organization of learning resources in that topic area. We need this kind of flexibility because Wikiversity aims to provide learning resources for all ages, not just university-level content. --JWS 17:58, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
Ok, I think I can live with this by just focusing on the topic concept. The age range is certainly an important point. Thanks. -- MKarl 18:17, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Main Page - el interwiki

Please change the Latin "K" in [[el:Κύρια Σελίδα]] with the Greek one. Thank you. -- 09:40, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

done, ----Erkan Yilmaz (Wikiversity:Chat, wiki blog) 09:57, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

Bulgarian Wikiversity request - just a heads up. ^^ --Remi 08:14, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

extension:ISBN list ?

It would be useful to know "Which courses are using the book ISBN... as reference?". That is, to have a special page list of pages referring to ISBN....". I would like to know if there is such an extension already; if not, it may be an interesting project for the sandboxserver. Hillgentleman|Talk 14:58, 15 January 2008 (UTC) Of course, there may be technical difficulties, such as different editions having different ISBNs. We may instead use internal links. But still it should be useful. Hillgentleman|Talk 15:01, 15 January 2008 (UTC)

I have some interest in doing something with ISBN's. I have fiddled with them a bit in the past, and know a bit about how they work. I can't commit to writing any code in the near future, but I'd be willing to look into it in a month or so. Historybuff 05:27, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

Plagiarism a concern in the UK

This link is a story about new problems of plagiarism from the Internet. I'm not sure colloquium is the most appropriate spot to have a discussion of this sort, but I encourage you to read the story and comment. If need be, we'll find a spot to move the discussion to. Historybuff 20:30, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

I think I find the bit at the end most interesting- that students who are taught about plagiarism and how to cite properly mostly stop doing it. Maybe wikiversity should have a resource aimed at helping teachers stop this problem? --Luai lashire 23:55, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
We have Plagiarism, which could be developed. It does contain a nice quote though - under the heading "How Widespread is Student Plagiarism?", the curt answer is: "It is a global cancer." :-) Cormaggio talk 19:15, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
The end is very naive. Students will continue to plagiarize. A solution could be to let students write papers at school, but then school hours have to increase. Another solution is that teachers make a couple of specific requirements, like writing something about a very obscure topic.--Daanschr 08:39, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
They could just have the students write articles for wikipedia. We'd catch the plagiarism quick enough.--Rayc 20:31, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for all the comments so far.
Daanschr, I don't think supervision is the answer. Some people just don't write well under pressure or under observation. There have been "Essay services" aimed at University Students for 20 years, at least. I think we should be trying to get the message across that you can use resources without copying them, and you can even use other people's essays as a starting point -- but in the end, the product should be your original work, not someone elses.
I think Rayc's comment is interesting. It would be interesting to see if we could encourage proper use of Wiki resources to help educators and learners. Historybuff 03:36, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
I am not a teacher, so it sounds good to me. It is something where teachers have to be involved in, otherwise our advices would not be practical.--Daanschr 09:40, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

Radio lectures

An idea I've been bouncing around for the past week or so is to use radio programming as "lectures", which we could annotate with wikilinks and external links as both a learning resources and outreach projects. In particular, I was thinking about Public Radio programs in the US, but also BBC in the UK (as well as the world service) and ABC radio in Australia (no connection to the "ABC" in the US).

For example, we could link in resources about each topic (and even each speaker) for any number of programs like

Some radio shows already have online discussion groups, but many don't. Anyone want to annotate a show with me and see if it works? --SB_Johnny | talk 14:37, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

I might be interested in helping out. BTW, next week Living on Earth is visiting Ladd Observatory to do a story... --mikeu talk 14:53, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
OK, let's give it a whirl :). Maybe call it Radio Discussion/Living on Earth/January 25, 2008 for last week's show? (I have no idea whether "Radio Discussion" should be a topic, school, or wikiversity namespace thing :-|. ) --SB_Johnny | talk 15:17, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
Could we pick Jan. 11th or 18th instead? I just downloaded those two podcasts to my iPod ;) --mikeu talk 15:23, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
Sure :). Let me know which one.
Just some thoughts on a boilerplate (I don't have time until lunch):
  1. Have a section for each radio segment
  2. For each section have links (wiki and otherwise) and images related to the topic of the segment
  3. Maybe even have some "survey questions" on the topics too (I would need to make a slightly different template), for example: "do you use <polluting product>?" "would you support banning <polluting product>?" "Did you find the wikipedia article on <topic> to be informative/well-written/biased/etc.?" so we could have some equivalent to the "show of hands" in a classroom.
  4. perhaps also link to a discussion forum page where we could bounce ideas for related Wikiversity resources
I'll be back at the keyboard in an hour or two. --SB_Johnny | talk 15:53, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
Just here for a minute again (stepped in a pond and need dry boots). Lets do Radio Discussion/Living on Earth/January 18, 2008. The "toilet to tap" discussion looks like it would make for juicy survey questions :). If anyone wants to join in, see here for podcasts, or get it on ITunes (that's how I get it). --SB_Johnny | talk 16:22, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
Ok, I listened to the Jan. 18 show on the way to/from work today. I might be interested in doing something on Wireless Science or Geophonic Works and just generally helping out with getting the project page started. I'll go ahead and download the Jan. 25th episode. Maybe we should start with just Radio Discussion/Living on Earth and then we can split off sections to subpages as it grows. We might only need /January etc. --mikeu talk 02:57, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

I would like to join someday, but i have a very old computer without sound at the moment. I will probably get a better job this year, but it will take a while before i can join.--Daanschr 08:48, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

There are full transcripts at the website, plus images and links to related websites. We are starting with the Jan. 18th program. So just read along, and you can still join in without sound! --mikeu talk 13:14, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

Where is the place we can discuss/write our opinion about the topic? Under the "questions " section, like here? Or on discussion pages for each topic? This could be a good chance to pull some people over here to discuss (maybe even from WP), and it should be clear, where to leave comments. Controversial topics always attracts people, what is our advantage now :). These pages are meant as "standard" discussion pages, like here at Colloquium, about specified topics, right? --Gbaor 11:27, 2 February 2008 (UTC)

I'm not entirely sure how to do the "long form" discussions, but I'm trying to work on a set of templates and DPL interpreters for "show of hands" questions (I tested one yesterday on this page), but I haven't worked out the kinks yet. On the other hand, any reason we couldn't just use the discussion page for discussion? --SB_Johnny | talk 16:22, 2 February 2008 (UTC)

I started the discussion about cloning. Also left a quick note (advertisment if you wish) at WP. ;) --Gbaor 06:56, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

Problems and actions

Hi all, I'd like to revive a research project I started a while ago - Developing Wikiversity through action research. It has generated some interesting and varied ideas so far - but little concrete action - which, as the name suggests, is its focus. In order for such a project to work, I think it will need to have at least one clear problem which it will try to address. I asked for feedback here last March (see here), so I'd like to revive and continue that discussion, and hear from anyone (active participants/casual readers/confused onlookers) of a problem of any kind/magnitude that is in need of addressing. I'm hoping to get some discussion and actual action going soon, so I'd appreciate as many comments as soon as possible. I'm also going to leap in and make my own suggestion below - but please don't hesitate to add yours... Cormaggio talk 20:51, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Suggested problem from Cormaggio

Wikiversity has been set up as an educational space (as well as a repository), but its model for learning (or should that be models for learning?) are not so apparent in its materials. The exception is the model of Learning by doing, but this does not seem to be widely understood (though this is itself worth exploring), nor is there an example where the model is inscribed into concrete steps that the learner can undertake in their path of learning. The proposed action would be to clarify the model of learning by doing - perhaps through setting up a reading group on "learning by doing"/"experiential learning" (Dewey, Kolb, etc); and/or perhaps constructing a few clearly delineated courses of action in learning about a given subject through "doing" it. This project could also explore whether other learning models could work (or are working) in Wikiversity, and how materials can be constructed with this question in mind. Thoughts? Cormaggio talk 20:51, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

I have no formal training in education theory so I have no idea what existing ideas are already available as possible reading material for such a reading group. I have no objection to reading about other people's ideas that might be useful to us here at Wikiversity, but I'd actually like to do something beyond just reading and theorizing. Can we identify two or three likely ways to build fun and productive learning communities here at Wikiversity? The default approach is what we have mostly been doing...keep editing and waiting for more like-minded people to show up and join in. There are things we could do to facilitate this process such as increasing the available tools for communication between Wikiversity participants. I'd like to see a Wikiversity community blog that could feed into Planet Wikimedia, a threaded discussion system for Wikiversity (we should be able to do these on the sandbox server) and promotion of text and voice chat. In the short term, I'd like to see a "chat" button at the top of every Wikiversity page that guides Wikiversity participants to IRC. I hope we can also get a voice chat system running on the sandbox server. A second approach has also been taking place already: teachers from bricks-and-mortar schools bring "ready made" classroom communities to Wikiversity for projects. There are things we can do to facilitate this such a improve our existing support pages for teachers and make use of tools like our new Moodle site to ease educators into Wikiversity. A third available approach would be to become aggressive about getting Wikipedia participants to take notice of Wikiversity. Wikipedia has the world's largest array of wiki editors and many of them run up against the limits of what can be done at Wikipedia. We could take on the task of identifying communities of editors at Wikipedia who could be served in their learning goals by the greater flexibility that we have here at Wikiversity. This could be facilitated by studying Wikipedians and identifying groups of editors who need something we could provide, making Wikiversity pages that would take Wikipedians beyond the limits imposed by the Wikipedia mission and guiding Wikipedians to those Wikiversity pages. --JWSchmidt 02:26, 29 January 2008 (UTC)
Agree with JWS. I also thought about the aggressive approach (ad3), so I put an "advertisement" to Wikipedia. We will see the responses :) --Gbaor 07:10, 29 January 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps my suggested approach above is a bit heavy on the theory side - though it's worth quoting Kurt Lewin, who said "there's nothing so practical as a good theory". :-) I still think it would help us to clarify what our (the Wikiversity community's) existing ideas are about education (whether based on formal theory or not), and to then use an activity like reading and discussing to clarify the basis of what we're doing here. Essentially, I'm very interested in constructing theory out of or through our own practice. That would be one of my own aims in what I've set out above, and I'd still like to pursue it. However, you have framed a different question around creating learning communities, and have offered a number of approaches or actions to take. I agree that the sandbox server provides us a number of possibilities, which are now more "in our own hands" than before - and that we should explore these to the full - but I'm wondering how we would make it an object of research. The second two seem to be sub-projects of "outreach", which has been discussed recently. I'm very much interested in both outreach projects, but the 'Wikipedian' one might be the easier one to instigate and follow through as an actual research project. Let's see what comes of Gbaor's initiative (Gbaor - thanks! so, are you saying this is your third ad?), but also start building and expanding on what John's posted. But there can be multiple projects here, so if anyone wants to develop or critique anything above, or add something new, please feel free to do so. Cormaggio talk 10:01, 29 January 2008 (UTC)
No, actually this is the first one, but I plan more (perhaps also anyone else?). Ad3 meant to point at JWSs "third available approach". :) But I thought about a similar way to recruit new wikiversitans, especially those who want to contribute. I think we definitely should take advantage of the large user base and general fame of Wikipedia.
Both ideas (JWSs and Cormaggios) makes sense, but I think we also need more contributors (professionals and non-professionals) to clean up the mess and to create useful content. Along the way we should create a practical and "hi-tech" user interface (voice chat suggested by JWS), which is in line with education theory (Cormaggios suggestions). Imagine weekly on line voice, perhaps video conferences between university students arond the World... It will be fantastic! --Gbaor 11:22, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

An essential aspect for making this work is to set tasks. What will someone do at what moment. Tasks could be to reach out to Wikipedia, to do a learning activity on Wikiversity or to analyse the progress. We could set an agenda and have regular meetings to discuss our activities. There are management terms, very popular with buzzword bingo (called bullshit bingo in Holland), like growth management and commitment, which describe the need to enlarge the number of participants or to keep participants with a certain level of activity.--Daanschr 14:40, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

"heavy on the theory side" <-- I was not trying to detract from "the theory side". By introducing an emphasis on strategies for building learning communities I was just trying (above) to suggest how to make the "action side" of the proposed project more dynamic. In my suggested emphasis on exploring strategies for creating learning communities constitutes I was not trying to introduce "a different question". In my view, most people learn best when they participate in the types of social interactions that arise in normal daily living. In a wiki-based project, "learn by doing" fundamentally involves "learning by editing". Wiki editing works best when there is a dynamic community of editors who share common interests and goals. I think that having viable methods for building communities of like-mined editors, "learning communities", is a fundamental part of "learn by doing" at Wikiversity. Gbaor: I see that you visited Wikiversity:Sonic user interface. I think we can work towards voice and video by starting with IRC. The Foundation Office is again bragging about how they are using Asterisk technology. Maybe we can shame them into actually spending some Foundation money to support Wikiversity....we have been trying to integrate Asterisk into Wikiversity for the past year. --JWS 15:28, 29 January 2008 (UTC)
Daanschr, you're absolutely correct in that we'll need concrete steps, and the next step from this discussion is to turn it into a plan of action, with concrete action steps (including meetings etc) - you can see a basic (abstract) sketch at the top of the research page I linked to above. John, thanks for clarifying. (Though, just a quick side-note on theory: action research strives to generate theory through its action, rather than keep theory and practice as separate entities. I suppose I saw the action of reflecting on theories of education as a way for this community to construct its own theories/models of education.) However, I agree with a dynamic component :-) and I think it would be a really concrete type of activity to build an active learning community (do we have any good examples yet?). In fact, I think a reading group and a learning community-building project could be very productive as counterparts. So, would we include Gbaor's suggestion of "cleaning up the mess" in the activity of building a learning community, or is it a separate kind of development? Likewise, getting the Foundation to spend money on Wikiversity? Cormaggio talk 16:58, 29 January 2008 (UTC)
"cleaning up the mess" <-- always a worthy goal. One of the problems we face is that Wikiversity is a place for experimentation. Participants are free to explore in many directions. Experimentation and exploration can be messy. We might end up with hundreds of different types of learning resources and approaches to learning that correspond to different learning styles and goals. Wikipedia is a one trick pony and there might be an optimal way to organize a million encyclopedia articles. However, that organizational strategy might not be suited to Wikiversity where we have no encyclopedia articles. While "cleaning up the mess" at Wikiversity, I hope we can respect diversity and avoid trying to cram everything into one organizational mold. The clutter of a research laboratory might look like a mess to an outsider, but an intrusive custodian who tried to "clean up the mess" would probably disrupt the creative work that is being done. --JWSchmidt 20:17, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

Those who want order could start a guild with own templates on articles, or an own portal. There is no need to have the whole of Wikiversity cleaned.

I like the idea of using video. I emphasized books in the reading groups, but i think that video would be more appealing to a wider public. We could discuss documentaries and movies and make our own videos.--Daanschr 09:44, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

Cormac, i left some ideas on the research page.--Daanschr 10:04, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

I fully agree that cleaning up the mess is a worthy goal, but I think that this project would get out of hand if we were to include every worthwhile aspect/activity of Wikiversity. (Unless we turn the whole of 'developing Wikiversity' into an umbrella action research project, which includes several sub-projects, such as clarifying its model of learning.) However, I think the proviso of being sensitive to different types of learning communities with different senses of order is an important one, and should be borne in mind when building a space for learning communities. Daanschr, thanks very much, and I encourage people to be similarly bold. :-) Cormaggio talk 10:16, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
This discussion became quite board, so I will try to write my opinion/suggestion in few points, including also of Daanschrs suggestions on the research page:
  • Cleaning the mess - I want to clarify that I didn't want to offend anybody, nor WV as a project with this term (I know, that this is probably not the case, just on second thought this is a quite rough expression). The situation is not catastrophic, but there is lot of things to do (I meant mainly categories and stub sorting). It couldn't be done by a single (or very few persons) especially in the later stages of WV developement. This is the place, where the non-professional contributors (i.e. students, didn' want to or not able to create learning materials) could help
  • video - this could be the future, BUT we need to do the first things first > content development, maintance, IRC meetings, voice conferences
  • uniformity (by JWS) - I also didn't want to make all schools and topics "uniform" somehow like in the WP articles. I just wanted to point out that there should be at least a category, and a link from/to a portal/school/topic
  • guilds (by Daanschr) - I don't think it is necessary to draw a thick line between people and separate them to guilds (did you mean guilds like Deletionists and Inclusionists at WP?)
  • regular meetings and deadlines (by Daanschr) - meetings OK, but the deadlines could be problematic. At least I am working with WV in my spare time, and I think this is the situation for most users. And the amount free time is always varying. Additionally one also need a responsible editor for keeping the deadline...
  • more marketing (by Daanschr) - definitely agree with this --Gbaor 11:51, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
The guilds were intended only for those who want a secluded space for their own sake. Deadlines only for those who want to live up to them. If nobody wants to live up to deadlines, than the policy of making deadlines simply will not be implemented. If there are guilds, than people can be part of Wikiversity without being forced to be part of a guild and if there are deadlines, than people are not forced to hold on to them. Guilds and deadlines could be instruments to ensure a minimum of quality and commitment.--Daanschr 12:46, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
Gbaor, I for one certainly don't take offence that there's mess-cleaning to be done on Wikiversity! And I warmly welcome your point that there are a range of tasks to be carried out - and that can be carried out by different people with particular interests. And just a general point on groups ("guilds") and deadlines - I think they should be flexible for people to join/leave and participate as and when they like, allowing for input at any stage. Cormaggio talk 16:54, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
I was jumping into conclusions. What i am concerned about is the expert attention. Many experts wants to participate in a secluded zone. Also, people might turn their backs on Wikiversity when there is too much chaos. Introducing some guilds could be a solution to this problem. Than people with certain ideas and habits can get together, while others will spend their time in another place on Wikiversity. There doesn't have to be a conflict, though. An example of a guild could be a group of university teachers. That would exclude me, because i haven't got a phd and am not planning to get one. Having a guild like this on Wikiversity could atract many non-university teachers and would ease contact between common people and learned people. For the moment it is something for the far future. It is better to concentrate on building up learning communities which are open for everybody.--Daanschr 09:00, 31 January 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for clarifying - and you've raised a particular type of what we might call a "user scenario" (ie "experts"). There's long been a discussion about whether we might set up semi-private groups (previously, I've thought about this for a research group who might want a bit of 'privacy'). I still don't know if this is a good idea - and I agree that we should be focusing on what we're set up to do (foster open learning communities) - though I wonder if we could at some point compare open and semi-private groups in a kind of quasi-experiment? Cormaggio talk 09:56, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

Every group has its own inner crowd. A deliberately secluded group would only be usefull when people actually want that. At the moment there is nobody who wants to be secluded in a special group within Wikiversity. I merely pointed at the possibility that it might be usefull somewhere in the future, but only if there is enough participation at Wikiversity.--Daanschr 13:30, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

I wonder if instead of a simple "reading group", if we could get some kind of interactive discussion going. I'd like to see something audio-based, whether it's real time interactive or not. Would that fit with the general idea of this discussion? Historybuff 03:41, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
There is a lot of interactive discussion going on already, for instance on the chat channell. What could be done is that regular meetings are arranged with special topics, in order to get more structure to Wikiversity.
Reading groups were intended as a new institution within Wikiversity. It was not meant for general policy. There are several kinds of institutions possible, which can all be discussed about at general meetings, or on this colloquium.--Daanschr 09:43, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
Well, a reading group is simply a discussion group about a particular reading (or group of readings) - there can be other kinds of discussion groups, and they can of course take place within any medium (bearing in mind of course that not everyone will have access to audio/visual or even text-based chat, so having a wiki accompaniment is, I think, a necessity). However, Daanschr, I don't know what you mean by "it was not meant for general policy". Cormaggio talk 12:02, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
My remark wasn't very good. What i meant was that the reading groups are supposed to be about one certain topic for each group with a participants who want to be part of it, like in the Thucydides reading group. Historybuff didn't like a simple reading group, he said. And i supposed that he presumed that Wikiversity would only be about reading groups, which isn't the case in my view. A reading group can be a part of Wikiversity, just like there can be other kinds of groups. Instead of "it was not meant for general policy" i could have used that "Wikiversity isn't a large reading group".--Daanschr 12:35, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
I like Historybuff's ideas. Whatever became of the audio sessions that we were doing based around the IRC channel? Did those things get moved back to the sandbox server?--Rayc 23:21, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
As far as I know, not yet. I'm glad to assist or facilitate in getting this going -- I think this would really help move Wikiversity forward on a number of levels. Historybuff 06:19, 21 February 2008 (UTC)

Content, Content, Content

Yep, I'm a broken record :). I rather think that our problem of recruiting stems from not having enough recruiting materials: it may be true that "if you build it, they will come", but you can't test that axiom without building something first. No offense because I know it's well meant, but general "requests for contributors" are'nt going to be effective unless people find something here that they want to contribute to, and our "wide open" mission and scope don't always point someone towards what exactly they should be contributing to.

The "recruiting tool" I've been using lately is Wikimedian Demographics, which has attracted a handful of contributors. I'm hoping that one purpose it can serve is to help organize <double entendre> "classes" </double entendre> of people who share common interests in topics we could study here. I think some political questions in particular (such as climate change policy, international trade, war, and human rights) could lead to discussion groups either aimed at brainstorming policies and lifestyle changes, or even creative visions similar to what's being done with Lunar Boom Town. In general I think large, broad-based projects that have a good potential for "spinning off" more focused and deep projects will be our best way of getting more people involved. Wikipedia, for example, has articles on everything, which means it has something for everyone. The question for me is how can we create such structures, resources, and usergroups. --SB_Johnny | talk 13:30, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

I like the idea of discussion groups to deal with climate change, international trade, war and human rights.
  • Climate change groups could focus on consumers cooperating with producers, or becoming producers themselves, with the aim of making production more climate neutral. Something i would gladly want to join in. A tricky idea would be to invite business. It could lead to too much commercialisation, but at the same time
  • Dealing with international trade would make a global communication necessary. We could try to make contact with political groups and with grass roots organizations around the world. That way rogue business people can be circumvented by consumers who directly communicate with decent producers far away. Problem is that many consumers want the cheapest price and don't mind how the products have been produced.
  • Dealing with war and human rights is tricky, since there are so many people who are in favour of war and human rights abuse. We could cooperate with Amnesty International which has 45 years of experience.--Daanschr 14:22, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for this Johnny. :-) However, it seems to me that you're talking about the creation of content in order to build learning communities, and that you're not talking about simply creating educational content that can be printed off and used in classes, but creating a rationale or, if you like, an architecture for participation. As you've indicated, the "build it and they will come" ethos clearly requires more than simply Wikiversity existing and having a page about Foo (though this works to some extent, and some people will always jump in), but rather having a clear means for someone getting involved and/or building a learning experience around it. If that simply requires us to have better tutorials for Wikiversity newcomers (even if they are not new to wiki), then so be it - but I think you're absolutely right in setting up stimulating spaces for particular kinds of work. Still, to my mind at least, this is a part of the "building learning communities" agenda that John posted above. Cormaggio talk 17:17, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
Well, that's where I get a bit confused. "...creating educational content that can be printed off" sounds like Wikibooks to me, unless you're talking more about syllabi and other materials for class instructors. If that's what you mean, then you'd need to concentrate directly on building relationships with institutions that have instructors available to create and use those materials, and outreach to Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia projects is unlikely to get those people. However, I do think that the sorts of things that "learning communities" come up with might attract academics over time (i.e., when someone wants to know what something is, they often pop into Wikipedia as the obvious first stop, so maybe class instructors looking for idea would eventually come to wikiversity for ideas as an obvious first stop). Wikis work best when there are massive amounts of contributors poking around looking at and working on the subjects that interest them. The demographics resource might give us hints at who is interested in what, and the Radio Discussions and Reading Groups can serve to build up content on a wide array of subjects. --SB_Johnny | talk 17:29, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
I think being confused about the relationship between Wikiversity and Wikibooks is a good example of a problem that exists to some extent between both communities, and most definitely in the Wikimedia and wider world. Personally, I see other examples of materials "that can be printed off" as being valid for Wikiversity - such as quizzes, cheatsheets, reading lists, and generally 'smaller-chunked' materials that don't necessarily compose a textbook. However, if this question could be turned into a project that both communities could participate in, then I think that would be a worthwhile project in itself. Cormaggio talk 10:08, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

...and Action!

This has been a very interesting and, I think, useful discussion so far, and I'd like to thank everyone who has contributed to it. As Gbaor said, it has become quite broad (a good thing, I think!), so I'm listing here the actions that people have suggested (here and on the project page) by way of improving Wikiversity:

  • starting a reading group on clarifying model(s) of learning
  • building learning communities
  • outreach - to teachers, Wikipedians..
  • improving user interface through software tools, and using them to improve and enrich communication
  • developing content - creating rationale for participation
  • cleaning up and structuring content
  • starting 'special interest groups', building understanding between groups
  • clarifying relationship between Wikiversity and Wikibooks

It's a very interesting list - broad, but also internally consistent. Something I take from JWS's posts is that the building of learning communities would be a means of exploring the model of learning in Wikiversity. Adding tools for communication is also proposed as a means of building learning communities - as is setting up engaging content and activities, and inviting people into Wikiversity (outreach). Thinking about user scenarios (teachers, experts) and providing for their needs is perhaps more abstract until those users get involved (ie build learning communities) - but they are useful contexts for us to at least think about (and hey, we have a few teachers and experts here already :-)). Helping to structure and clean up content is a useful and continuous task, especially in such a messy space as this one. ;-) And finally, understanding Wikiversity's place within the context of other Wikimedia projects is an essential part of the project's identity, scope and rationale - and would give Wikiversity more meaning, and probably help other Wikimedians get involved.

So, for me, all this rests on a two-way interaction between "getting involved" (in an activity, community..), and setting up a rationale (or model, or architecture) for getting involved. This is not a "which comes first, chicken-or-egg" scenario, but rather these activities are fundamentally interlinked. (Or, if you like, the theory creates the practice and the practice creates the theory - both the 'wiki way', and the way of action research. :-)) So, making this concrete, I'd like to keep a focus on building learning communities, and exploring how to build learning communities. I think a reading group or two would be a useful component of this. I also agree with Historybuff's idea of a more broadly-defined discussion group - perhaps we could start by discussing our own conceptions and experiences of learning and education in order to clarify why we're doing what we're doing? And we can continue trying to develop engaging content/activities, and collectively identifying what is engaging, or fun, what isn't, and how activities can be made more engaging. How does this sound? Cormaggio talk 13:25, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

I've started a reading group and a discussion group on the Wikiversity learning model (which I page-moved). I've also done some work on refactoring the project page - please keep the comments/ideas coming. Cormaggio talk 09:44, 7 February 2008 (UTC)

Further update: I'm trying to develop the above (and some below) discussion, specifically around building learning communities. This is at Wikiversity learning model/Discussion group#Viable methods. I'm also trying to build an agenda for the research. Cormaggio talk 16:17, 11 February 2008 (UTC)