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Wikiversity is a proposed project of the Wikimedia Foundation which would serve as a resource specifically focussed on education and learning. There would be a repository of learning resources or "teachers' materials" - activity sheets, slides, posters, etc., and lesson plans for how to incorporate these resources - as supplementary matériel to the text books developed at Wikibooks. Some project members hope it will eventually become a fully-fledged e-learning resource, but the wider community is as yet undecided on how this will be managed or whether it should exist.
History of the project
Wikiversity's concept - one of an augmentation of the text-books to aide learning from them - was initially developed by the writers on Wikibooks, and the project's proponents started small-scale attempts there, resulting in a number of example course materials with a variety of styles currently exist on Wikibooks. Examples of subjects include:
- Cell Biology
- Ancient Greek Philosophy
- Introduction to programming in C
- Media literacy
See here for a more detailed history of the Wikiversity concept.
In August 2005, the Wikibooks community became dissatisfied with the placing of Wikiversity within Wikibooks, feeling that the creation of accessory learning materials wasn't in-line with the project's goal, and some moved to have it moved elsewhere. A Wikimedia-wide proposal was then put forward for Wikiversity to be created as an fully-fledged project, in which about 300 Wikimedians took part. This gathered a large range of opinions, with over 2/3rds of the participants in favour of going ahead with Wikiversity as a full project. Since then attempts have been made to identify a viable project identity or timeframe for moving Wikiversity forward towards a full project.
What would Wikiversity do?
As previously mentioned, Wikiversity would develop and host learning materials and processes for general educational use. These will be multi-lingual, free to all, and will be developed collaboratively by the community, which is open to anyone, worldwide, with an interest in creating or using these resources.
How would it work?
Wikiversity would work alongside the other m:Wikimedia projects, including m:Wikipedia. Wikipedia is already the world's biggest encyclopædia and aims to be the world's best. Large learning communities have formed in the larger projects (like English, French, German, Japanese) and these are all engaged in the production of resources which are free to be used in a variety of ways. Wikiversity would be similar, both in consisting of and being based around a community of people interested in learning, and also in working to complement Wikimedia projects, ie. develop articles for Wikipedia, books for Wikibooks, media files for Wikimedia Commons, and so on. In this sense, participants of Wikiversity would be engaged collectively in a learning process, developed according to their own needs and interests.
For further insight into the state of Wikiversity, see the Wikiversity discussion page and a workshop/presentation by Board member Florence Nibart-Devouard at the 2005 FLOSS conference in South Africa.