Wikiversity attempts to provide for broad and open-minded thinking, and so its mission is akin to Wikipedia's in the sense that it will strive towards the concept of neutrality, or "NPOV". However, since neutrality is not always (some would argue, ever) possible, or even desirable, we will need to develop a system of disclosure of biases. In particular, when academic freedom leads Wikiversity participants beyond the restrictions of the traditional Wikimedia Foundation Neutral point of view (NPOV) policy, the Wikiversity pages that are exempted from NPOV must be marked as such and include a disclosure of the limitations on perspective and points of view that are being explored. Only Wikiversity participants who have explicitly affirmed their personal commitment to the Wikiversity Scholarly ethics policy are allowed to edit Wikiversity pages outside of the restrictions imposed by NPOV policy.
Biases should be disclosed. The developers of any stream, unit or learning resource should disclose their bias at the head of each learning resource. Some streams and units will encompass multiple biases; they should state all encompassed biases in their Disclosure. Developers of a resource need not disclose all their biases, merely the ones that they present in the coursework. Wikiversity pages that do not explicitly disclose their biases must be edited according to the restrictions imposed by NPOV policy (all significant points of view must be described).
The disclosures floating on the right will be the default disclosures for Wikiversity:
NPOV was selected as it is what people expect from Wikimedia projects.
See below for interpretation of these
POV: Point of View
Wikiversity has different goals than Wikipedia. Wikiversity main namespace pages are devoted to the goal of supporting online education and the learning goals of Wikiversity participants. The traditional Wikimedia neutral point of view policy might not always be important for some Wikiversity pages - though, it does indicate the "iterative" (and, therefore, wiki-like) process of developing towards a compromise common ground, which could have relevance to a style of learning on Wikiversity. Many Wikiversity main namespace pages will strive to follow the traditional Wikimedia neutral point of view policy.
Wikipedia’s policy on maintaining a “neutral point of view” serves the goal of producing encyclopedia articles that have a limited amount of bias. Some Wikiversity pages are functionally similar to encyclopedia articles in that they should present an unbiased account of a topic. For such Wikiversity pages (for example, a Wikiversity page that describes the benefits and limitations of some learning materials) the Wikipedia policy for keeping a neutral point of view should be applied. Wikiversity pages in the wikiversity namespace should strive for NPOV.
In contrast, other Wikiversity pages might be devoted to the study of a topic from one particular point of view. Such Wikiversity pages need not strive to present to the world a neutral and unbiased presentation of the topic. Sometimes learning is advanced by asking new or unpopular questions that fly in the face of conventional thought. Wikiversity readers should not expect all Wikiversity pages to follow the neutral point of view policy. In order to help Wikiversity users distinguish between NPOV pages and other types of pages, pages that do not follow the traditional Wikimedia NPOV policy should be marked as such. Pages that do not attempt to follow the traditional Wikimedia NPOV policy should clearly indicate what they are trying to accomplish and why that does not involve adherence to the traditional Wikimedia NPOV policy. When members of the Wikiversity community excuse pages from the traditional Wikimedia NPOV policy, those community members take on the responsibility of making sure that they adhere to highest standards of scholarly ethics.
Examples of exceptions from traditional Wikimedia NPOV
example Scholarly study of topics can sometimes be advanced when a scholar adopts a particular point of view with respect to a topic of study. A famous example comes from attempts to understand the cause of acquired immune deficiency syndrome. Starting in 1987, soon after the discovery of HIV, Peter Duesberg systematically questioned the role of HIV as the cause of AIDS. Duesberg adopted a minority view, has published articles describing that point of view and has participated in discussions of the merits of his adopted point of view.
lessons Wikiversity allows scholarly investigations of individual points of view with respect to a topic of study. During the course of such studies, Wikiversity pages can be created and maintained that do not present a balanced (NPOV) discussion of the topic. These pages should contain a prominent section that describes why editors are departing from NPOV. Good scholarly practice is to be aware of and open to other points of view and to engage in scholarly analysis of each point of view. Each and every Wikiversity page need not present an NPOV account of topics that are under study, but each scholar needs to honestly portray the nature of their work within the Wikiversity community. Wikiversity editors can create and edit pages that deal with topics such as AIDS reappraisal, but these pages need to be scholarly analyses of ideas. Such pages can seek to be persuasive because of the merits derived from careful reasoning and intellectual honesty, not from deception or use of irrational arguments.
example Some advocates of Intelligent Design aim to scientifically study creationism or some variant of the idea that there are aspects of the natural world best explained in terms of intelligent design. Intelligent Design is often described by its supporters as a scientific alternative to evolution. However, creationism is considered by most biologists to be religion not science, and the legal status of Intelligent Design as public school educational content has been the topic of legal dispute (see: Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District).
lessons A learning project about Intelligent Design could be included in Topic:Evolutionary Biology and designated as being outside of traditional Wikimedia NPOV policy. This would allow a scholarly scientific exploration of the hypothesis that life on Earth has features best explained by an intelligent design process. Some advocates of Intelligent Design explicitly abandon the scientific method. A learning project that does not use the scientific method should not try to include itself as a topic at a science page such as Topic:Evolutionary Biology. Studies founded on religious convictions should be explored at School:Theology. Further discussion of this example is at Creation science and NPOV.
studying bias itself A project studying e.g. how scientist that happend to come under the political regime of nazi terrorism bent their published views away from what they published before and after that time period, will most naturally have to use, present, and analyse historic scientific resources with zeitgeisty nazi bias. While those documents may, or may not present biases of various kinds, they need to be on the wikiversity web site in part or toto, providing evidence backing the project teachings, or as working materials for learners.
There are many other historical examples of scholarly departures from unbiased study of a topic. (add more...)
Neutral point of view in interactions
The neutral point of view policy is not intended to restrict ideas expressed on Wikiversity to those which are neutral - for example, participants are welcome to express emotions which are representative of their internal state. For example, a participant (a Wikischolar) can express delight in acquiring a new concept.
NPOV addressses primarily that scholarly material written to exemplify competency in a particular topic is neutral. It should come across as a balanced, mature, and moderated.
Case in study
Wikipedia's reference desk is the largest and most popular collaborative page which deals with any topic. It exemplifies how collaborative learning can occur in a "neutral" environment. The ratio of edits to vandalism on that page is the highest on Wikipedia when compared to any other project page.
Current POV Biases
Other possible biases
- Christian conservative
EP: Educational Philosophy
Likewise, different educational philosophies will be selected by those who develop the Learning Materials. These should also be disclosed.
Current EP Biases
- Direct Instruction
Example Bias Disclosures
It doesn't show here, but the "Disclosures" heading links to this page.
Some biases that might apply to a traditional Physics course are floating on the right.
Some biases that might apply to a left-wing political course are on the right.
The following could be useful article(s) about the notion of disclosure:
- Newman, Judith M. (1987). Learning to teach by uncovering our assumptions. Language Arts, 64 (7), 727-737. Available online at http://www.lupinworks.com/article/learn.html