Wikiversity:Creation of Free Online University

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This page has been created for discussion on turning Wikiversity into a "true" Free, Online University. Feel free to add your questions and comments, and use this as a hub to find other pages on Wikiversity relating to this issue. See University for discussion about universities in general - past, present, and future.


How does one go about getting degree granting acreditation? Someone has started a very interesting project, but has not written anything down about their ideas. I would like to hear more...

Isn't that.. what this is?--Rayc 04:35, 17 September 2006 (UTC)

If one school wants to be accredited, they must submit a request to an accreditation agency who can grant accreditation. It is my opinion that The Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) would be a good candidate for Wikiversity to pursue to obtain accreditation due to the global nature of Wikiversity. Here is a link to their FAQ's page. It seems to shed a some light on the process and the time table. For a better look at the process, DETC's Accreditation Process, very informative.

Unfortunately wikivesity is clear that they don't grant degrees. What Wikiversity is not. I would like to see this changed.

Being that the accreditation request requires the submission of course work, I dont think Wikiversity is ready to begin the process yet, but I would love to see this happen, quickly. Please lets talk about this. Also, should this page outline the process of creating an accredited Wikiversity and should there be a Talk page for this and future discussions? JaK81600 12:00, 21 September 2006 (UTC)

I would also like to see this happen, if at all possible. Jade Knight 07:12, 7 October 2006 (UTC)

Agreed, I think it's a real possibility that should be explored rather than flippantly dismissed before being truly explored. I have no idea where Wikimedia Foundation's responsibilities in such a project would come into play, that may hinder the possibility of becoming accredited RichMac 06:31, 10 October 2006 (UTC)


Personally, I think that degrees and such like should be left to the current universities, and that Wikiversity should serve as more of a learning resource for students currently in education, or for those that want to gain knowledge.
There exists the moment already a university which specialises in distance learning. The Open University in the United Kingdom (Great Britain).
If Wikiversity was to get degree granting accreditation, it would be considered nothing more than a diploma/degree mill, in most countries.
I say leave current universities to give out degrees, and leave Wikiversity as a learning resource. -- fattony_4001 01:28 30 March 2007 (BST)Wikiversity could get around the problem of accreditation by choosing to offer degrees in an area that it is the world leader in: online communication. It could be done by simply looking at the amount of interest a persons web content gets. This would then build up and be turned into credits. If you have enough credits you get a degree. I envisage the degree being like a creative writing degree but marked on popularity. After all the current system of creative writing and similar degrees being based upon the marks that a largely unpublished lecturer gives is flawed. Where as a mark being given on popularity would be far more useful and accurate. After all if the degree was online creative writing then it's model of granting degrees based upon peoples popularity would be groundbreaking and superior to all others. It would also give a was whereby published authors could use their out of print books to get a degree in writing: by putting them free online. This would increase the status of the graduates from wikiversity greatly: they would have more famous successful writers than any other university. After all how could any bodies claim that a wikiversity degree in an area they are the world leader is not as good be taken seriously. They would then lead the way.
The Open University is anything but free. And Wikiversity would not be a degree mill if its standards for granting degrees was on par of that of other universities. This may not work in all nations, but in the US, at least, we have a capatalist system and if those who graduate from Wikiversity are students on par with those who graduate from other (non-free) distance learning institutions, people would quickly learn to respect Wikiversity degrees. The Jade Knight 11:30, 30 March 2007 (UTC)
Please note I did not say that the Open University was free. As taken from Wikipedia on Universities: “A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees at all levels (bachelor, master, and doctorate) in a variety of subjects.” Also, on Wikipedia’s article on academic degree, it says: “As with other professions, teaching in universities was only carried out by people who were properly qualified.” In the United Kingdom (and German based university system) “properly qualified” refers to those that have at least got a Doctorate (refer to the European understanding of the word).
I therefore find it hard that properly qualified persons to, for free, prepare, teach, maintain, mark, regulate, and give account for the course they teach. Furthermore, projects and dissertations currently at universities are marked by the supervisor and one other, consuming two persons time, but getting nothing in return.
Wikiversity would also have a problem getting an external examiner system off the ground, as it would not offer any money to get external examiners in, reducing the value of the awards in a number of countries and in major orginisations.
Wikiversity also does not offer a stable environment for academics to teach or do research, for example, a used could just delete pages, ideas, or spam ad hominem arguments. Material Universities offer things such as libraries, super-computers (testing of algorithms), unique enviroments for proving things a posteriori, e.t.c.,. Saying that Wikisource is a good substitute for a library would be incorrect, as it can not contain material which is protected by intellectual property rights (e.g., recent publications and academic journals).
Also, for Wikiversity to give out the numerous number of degrees and qualifications, then there would have to be an administrations office to ensure that deadlines are kept, and a personnel office to maintain people running and maintaining degrees and records, e.t.c.. This means that there would have to be a system of non-teaching personnel, all willing to provide their services and expertise for free. I cannot see this happening.
I also wish to draw your eye to the [[[Foundation:Wikimedia_Foundation_bylaws#ARTICLE_II_-_STATEMENT_OF_PURPOSE|Wikimedia|Foundation’s Statement of Purpose]]] which states: “The mission of the Wikimedia Foundation is to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally.” It does not state clearly anything about giving out qualifications.
I therefore urge the policy deciders to ensure that it clearly states that Wikiversity will not accredit or gain the ability to accredit qualifications that would be gained at tertiary and quaternary levels of education. --fattony_4001 13:50, 30 March 2007 (BST)
At the present moment, Wikiversity is not close to granting university degrees, nor are all of the problems you mention relevant. In some fields and nations, Wikiversity degrees would be more problemsome than in others. In the United States, for example, in the field of Computer Science, if Wikiversity graduates could program as well as graduates from accredited universities, they would get jobs and Wikiversity would eventually be recognized as on par with other universities (or technical schools, at least) in that field. Clearly, if we get to the point where we're issuing certificates/degrees, we need regulatory measurements to ensure quality—this is far from impossible. Also, it is anything but impossible for Wikiversity students to receive feedback from professionals, nor is it impossible for Wikiversity people to work on copyrighted materials together (the materials being worked on would just need to not be published on a normal Wikiversity page).
Before we get to this point, however, I am recommending that a high school equivalency program be established—accreditation would not be an issue; if the program is good, people (in the US, at least) will pass the GED examination and receive their degree from the government. For this step, there need be no talk of accreditation, no professional peer-review, and very little bureaurcracy. All those who go through the program will be able to get fully-accredited degrees which are granted by their passing a single government-issued examination on their own. The goal of Wikiversity's GED program would be to fully prepare the student for this examination, giving them the equivalent of a High School Education.
When we move to trying to establish a university, we may be able to make an arrangement with other universities, as has been mentioned, or our students may simply speak for themselves. Another option is CLEP testing, whereby Wikiversity students could earn actual, accredited college credit for material they have learned at Wikiversity by taking an externally administered college examination. It is likely that a university could be found that would grant an Associate's or BA of General Studies to students who have 100% CLEP credit; as such, Wikiversity could create a university degree program accredited by another school, if desired, without receiving actual accreditization, itself. There are many other creative options that could be explored, as well. I highly recommend you peruse some of the discussion at the links provided below. The Jade Knight 20:21, 30 March 2007 (UTC)
I like your optimism, using "when" where it is more appropriate to say "if", (no offence intended, just moving back to the current situation).
I like the ideas such as CLEP testing and the high school equivalency program. I do not disprove, and I have no problems with your last two paragraphs, it is just your first.
My concern comes when Wikiversity attempts to become a university, teaching and saying "This person is qualified". Foresight is not a disability, and in this case, I am just stating the inevitable. If Wikiversity was to become a university, it would have to have a well run (possibly better than most land-based universities) administration team, to ensure that courses where being taught, deadlines where kept, the number of teaching hours of new material kept down, etc, all the things that a good university needs. The other bit of administration I am worried about people forgetting is something similar to an “Examinations Office”. Those people who look at scripts and draft-examinations, and say “that is suitable” or “that is unacceptable”. This office would also be needed to look into plagiarism and cheating, and also state what degrees people will be getting at the end (doing enough credit points in one year, for example). The people who make sure that people learnt something on their degree.
I care far less for technical subjects, as you said, “if Wikiversity graduates could program as well as graduates from accredited universities, they would get jobs”. This is true, and will probably happen like this. It is the non-technical subjects I am more concerned about, like Philosophy, Mathematics, History, Social Policy, Economics, etc. where, knowledge alone is not enough to achieve good marks, but also understanding. This is where things like tutoring, contact time, seminars, etc., are important, and I cannot not see Wikiversity providing these in adequate supply.
You are right, it is not impossible for Wikiversity people to work on copyrighted materials together, as pointed out, and thank you for that, but the point preceding that one, I do have trouble with. I would like to know of any professional willing to give their services for free to people when there are 1) positions which mean they do less, but get paid, and 2) the people that can benefit from this service at university level have access and the ability to go to university anyway (those people who have internet access or access to internet access). Point two could exaggerated as “the selfless helping the greedy”.
I hope that you can see where I am going, and what particular aspects of the "wikiversity ==> universty" problems I am homing in on.Fattony 4001 12:58, 31 March 2007 (UTC)
I think you are imagining Wikiversity to be exactly like a normal university (except free) if it is accredited. If/when Wikiversity reaches such a point, I do not think at all it would be just another online university, but free. Many of your concerns really may not materialize; they deal with day-to-day issues which come up with dealing with the particulars of running an established university. We are not remotely close to dealing with such specifics right now, and my expectation is that it will not be exactly like (or particularly close to) another university. Wikiversity is not limited to courses (indeed, some users think they should be deemphasized!) It needs no deadlines (unless there are practical considerations that require them—mostly unnecessary, especially at this point).
Clearly, if Wikiversity is to ever award degrees or certificates of any sort, a method of verifying skill level would need to be created. I think that when it comes to verifying and certifying skill, Wikiversity should definitely follow a cautious path, and not just throw certificates at everyone who claims to have followed a program (I'm understating for effect).
I am particularly interested in History, English (lang and lit), and Language. With language, competency is fairly obvious, at least in its communicative form. With History, there are issues of understanding that are important to consider, and I have a vested interest in ensuring that the School of History can resolve these issues. However, this is something the School of History has to come up with—what's good for another School may or may not work at all for History. However, these areas I expect to be the last to be able to offer any sort of certificatory matter, for reasons which you have already vocalized.
Not everyone can afford university. You seem to have forgotten this. Additionally, all the tutoring and service provided here at Wikiversity is already free. I have personally tutored students in English for pay. I am willing to do so here for free in several subject areas to a limited extent. The key is that here I can tutor in whatevery way or subject I desire, not in whatever subjects I can find people willing to pay for. I have spent countless hours tutoring individuals in Jersey Norman for free because I am passionate about the language—I am less willing (but not entirely unwilling—I've helped out in the English department at the French Wikiversity) to tutor individuals in English for free (though there may be others who are totally willing). The French department already has a list of 10 proficient/fluent/native French speakers willing to help teach others the language, and we're just starting. A German individual gave me introductory lessons in German in the Wikiversity chat room not long ago. The world is full of people who are willing to teach without getting paid. I believe one of the users in the History department who has put together a great course on World War II (Hitler's Germany) is a professional educator.
I think you're worrying about many things that really aren't issues at this point. At this point, we need to jump in, help out, and work on the short-term goals—things like GED or CLEP coursework would be great, or just Wikiversity content in general. In the French department, I'm planning on putting together an organized Mentoring program soon. Let's take it one step at a time, eh? The Jade Knight 07:47, 2 April 2007 (UTC)

In my opinion, official accreditation should be pursued via another way. Wikiversity should first become a self acclaimed official institution (and maybe change its name to reflect its basis on the ideas of a certain historic figure?) and then rely on the very people who add content to it to give it a significance in work places and official classrooms. Of course, a system of level analysis needs to be formed and much more content should be added in the form of courses structured as degrees. The people themselves should assign value to Wikiversity studies and not seek the approval of the presently existing, capitalist corrupted academic systems. EugenSpierer. 10:58, April 4th, 2008 (UTC)


Furthermore, rather than concentrating on adding content, I think wikiversity should concentrate on building the infrastructure for a university system, whose main pillars would be, in my opinion, a system of student level assessment (how would you go about doing that is an interesting topic) and a system of peer reviewed articles. EugenSpierer. April 9th, 12:10 GMT


Honestly, I Believe this is a great idea, however there are legal issues with the wiki-media foundation issuing diplomas. I Relive If this is to go through and be a stable, reliable degree program wikiversity and the wiki-media foundation must first official become part of the California State University System, as they are based in San Francisco, CA. This Would Also Mean More Possible instructors as the word spreads, and also some educational funding being directed to the wiki-media foundation. The Possibilities Are endless a student would be able to anted a CSU such as UCLA or SDSU via the internet. Link together all with open source learning content. Also Having A CSU Seal On A Wikiversity Degree Would Make it more "Official" and Not Make this a degree mill program.--Koman90 02:07, 13 April 2009 (UTC) Apprentice Editor On The English Wikipedia

Wikiversity back end, traditional university front end[edit]

On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog. Physics/astro courses: a well-developed Wikiversity course that is improved and used by lecturers in several real brick-and-telescope universities for lectures, exercises and exams may de facto become accredited in the sense that universities X, Y, Z and W would de facto become perceived as "giving credit for that Wikiversity course", even though in reality the filter of a lecturer making pedagogical decisions and identifying and communicating with students face-to-face would remain a critical "front end" to the courses, and the universities would retain their own names for the courses. This is more or less what is said in Wikiversity:Scope#Earning_Degrees: "... the materials available at Wikiversity can definitely be used by students and instructors at accredited institutions as a basis for the partial fulfillment of examination requirements for an accredited course." Boud 21:54, 23 June 2011 (UTC)



Relevant discussions on Wikiversity[edit]

References[edit]

Wikipedia Article about School Accreditation

The Distance Education and Training Council