Wikiversity:Some ideas about Wikiversity

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Wikiversity is a project to build a free, open learning environment and research community. Online courses are being created. Wikiversity is still being designed and discussed, and you can help set the bounds for this project.

The Scope of Wikiversity[edit]

Despite the tremendous contributions of educational content from the Wikibooks and Wikipedia projects, there remains much that universities and schools can offer students and researchers, but which is outside the scope of these other wikimedia projects. Previous wikimedia projects, taken together, constitute a totally new kind of library. Wikiversity is a project to supply additional material or capability -- to make a totally new kind of school.

There are many ways, besides the delivery of textbook and encyclopedic content, that universities empower their members. They provide:

  • projects and activities, and means for their coordination, for those who learn best by doing things like fieldwork, design, construction, experimentation, the invention and defense of hypotheses, etc; as well as those who learn best in groups.
  • a culturally "blessed" opinion of which skills and what knowledge is necessary to fulfill a culturally-defined role (e.g. doctor, anthropologist, linguist, etc) so that the student can monitor their own progress in attaining that skillset
  • a social environment for learning, including:
    • classmates and TAs with which to discuss the subject matter and the process of learning
    • experts of various kinds of which to ask questions
    • experts that are well-connected in a field and who can oversee a student's entry and acceptance into it
  • an evaluative mechanism and certification process which lessen the graduate's need to establish their knowledge, skills, and work ethic at every job interview or other opportunity

It is fairly clear that none of the above capabilities are impossible to coordinate online or using open content and tools, and if it is ever to serve as an alternative to traditional universities, the wikiversity will likely need to assume all of these functions eventually. Whether we get there one subject at a time, one function at a time, or indeed whether we get there at all is still a matter for debate, as the project is in its infancy.

History[edit]

Wikibook discussion in the Staff Lounge questioned the intent and content of that project. While Wiki community methods might be used to develop traditional textbooks, the Internet and Web facilities could also be used to support new or different models for delivery of educational material.

One of the goals of Wikibooks is to support the use of resulting books through related materials that would help an instructor to tailor the book to a particular course, or provide additional exercises and answers, drill material, etc. The discussion then went in several directions, some of which addressed an environment for organizing and supporting learning in ways other than textbooks. After several proposals and discussion the name Wikiversity was selected to describe this environment.

There have since been several issues of contention, including:

  • whether wikiversity aims to be a supplement or an alternative to the traditional classroom approach to learning.
  • whether or not to include ideas of accreditation, degree-confering, or evaluative methods in general
  • whether or not to model the general organization of the site around the concepts used in organizing universities (e.g. departments, courses, etc)

Please see the talk page and break-out pages for more information.

There has also been some agreement about what the wikiversity is not:

  • A collection of high-level links to training resources. But, of course, there should be such links if they serve for educational purposes.
  • A collection of one year or one semester increments in skills or abilities.
  • A collection of How To Books; that domain belongs to Wikibooks.
  • A collection of tutorials, books, or on-line reference material; although some of these will be included in supporting material or related Wiki projects.
  • A blogging site with individual subject or topic rants.
  • A chat room or Usenet group.

And what it is:

  • a free, open learning resource, in the sense that other wikimedia projects are free and open
  • a resource that embraces a plurality of learning styles and teaching methods
  • a global community effort
  • A collaborative, bottom-up project to create the platform, methods, and content of the Wikiversity.
  • A learning resource for the subject areas addressed.
  • An experiment in the application of computers and the Internet to learning.
  • A collection of free and open-source learning resources.
  • The Community will attempt to limit material based on accuracy or validity, and some limits are imposed based on their utility for a reasonable size of audience, or to support community standards or decency and politeness.
  • The Community does not limit material based on approved methods or the popularity of either subject matter or approach.

Proposed Guidelines[edit]

Supporting materials[edit]

It is obvious that the visions cannot be accomplished without access to a tremendous store of material. Wikibooks and Wikipedia are good resources, but they don't cover everything. The Internet itself can provide many of these resources, but we must address the question of persistent resources.

A suggestion here is to archive any material referenced through an external link, for use if the Internet resource is removed. We then face licensing and permission issues, but these should not be insurmountable. Many excellent materials of this kind have been created in student or faculty areas on the Web sites of schools. These pages are removed after graduation or when that faculty member moves on. If the original author can be located and given appropriate recognition they would frequently be delighted to find that someone thinks their efforts worth preservation.

Another possibility is the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. Many sites are already crawled by it; in the case that the referenced material is suitably archived there (the Archive does not always capture all the images and certainly does not cover many filetypes) one possibility is that this material instead be linked to from the Archive whenever possible, as this leaves both the archiving process and the burden of permission entirely with the Archive rather than on Wikiversity.

A Catalog of Subject Areas[edit]

The Wikiversity is organized into broad subject areas, and these are further divided into subjects and topics. The first two levels of this broad domain organization include:


The community page where we may:

Ask, discuss and expose any policy related with the Wikiversity.
Coordinate the different Wikiversities Wikiversity:Multilingual coordination.

Similar Work[edit]

The following samples of courses, books, tools, and methods have not been reviewed for public availability or copyright. Their listing here isn't an endorsement, but just for consideration as potentially useful techniques.

Textbook examples[edit]

An example of a full textbook based on a course expanded from Web resources. Source is an Introductory Biology course by M. Farabee at Estrella Mountain Community College, Avondale, Arizona. Biology Table of Contents
An example of textbook material using HyperCard concepts for presentation. Source is HyperPhysics from C. Nave at Georgia State University. Hyperphysics top contents Page

Web examples[edit]

An example of indexing a mass of technical material, not a linear textbook. This is a broad set of fundamental material, to show indexing and other techniques. Taken from Wolfram Research Company, it is called Weisstein's World of Math. Mathworld Start Page
An example of a tutorial style and the use of Java Applets for interactive parts. From a Physics course at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Sample Page
An example that uses tutorial method intermixed with textbook style material. Taken from the Physics Classroom, support material for a high school Physics course. Tutorial Top Page
An example of Programmed Instruction that uses a program to explain what PI is. This is NOT a good program, but does give an overview of the method. The site is the Center for Programmed Instruction. What is PI?
A fairly large set of free tutorials on Internet and Web technologies from a corporate source: Refsnes Data, a Norwegian Web consulting company. It has good content but shows the limits of a no cookie or user ID system. Contents page.
A website devoted to teaching Esperanto: [Lernu!]. It has courses with small sets of vocabulary, flash card systems to practice, and assignments that are sent to volunteer readers who return them with comments. Sometimes live classes are held, and there is a real time chat room. w:User:JesseW 01:17, 19 Nov 2004 (UTC)
An example from the web of an open-source online classroom format: "Moodle is a course management system designed to help educators who want to create quality online courses. The software is used all over the world by universities, schools, companies and independent teachers. Moodle is open source and completely free to use."
 URLs: http://moodle.org/ or http://moodle.com --balTHOMore

Supporting Material[edit]

A traditional University's approach to on-line education resources. The material is all organized based on MIT's course catalog. (MIT is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology). MIT Open courses experiment
A general, public site with sets of Flashcards (for summary review, memorization, or testing) The Flashcard Exchange Home Page.
A free, public site of study tools. Enter data once and it is presented as flashcards, matching, word search, hangman, and crossword puzzle. Data can also be exported to PDAs, cell phones, and iPods. StudyStack

Mathematics[edit]

Visual Calculus is a very good introduction to single variable calculus with explanations and exercises made with flash.

An Idea[edit]

(I apologize for posting this twice) I almost hate to suggest this, but I wonder if it's time for a sort of governing body of Wikiversity. I agree it sounds sort of stupid, and I realize the idea is to move away from the traditional format, however, I feel like there's no direction. There's no vision, it seems, and I feel that perhaps forming even a temporary leadership body to the entire Wikiversity might not be a terrible idea. Although it maybe, but I wanted to share it. Atrivedi

(I hope this comment is not misplaced) Comment about the idea: I think that the wikiversity should include a graduate system. These graduates will have more colateral when it comes to updating course information and even working as administrators or heads of wikibooks projects - depending on which courses they've taken. Then the purpose of wikiversity will become to create an army of graduates that will further benefit the development and CREDIBILITY of wikipedia as a whole. Hopefully this potential goal will give wikiversity a vision. AdamGuy

A conference in South Africa: looking to a possible implementation of Wikiversity[edit]

Those who dream with this project becoming reality may have a look at http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Conference_reports/FLOSS%2C_South_Africa_2005

--Javier Carro 13:31, 24 Apr 2005 (UTC)