Requests for comment/Consolidate language learning resources

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I've identified an area of overlap between Wikibooks and Wikiversity and I'd like to get some opinions on the best solution. The issue involves foreign language learning materials.

The problem[edit]

I've been planning to contribute to an orphaned book at Wikibooks (Wikibooks:Irish). In preparation, I've been looking around at Wikibooks and at Wikibooks:WikiProject Languages and at some of the more complete books there.

I've also recently discovered that there are many foreign language courses at Wikiversity, including an Irish language course (Wikiversity:Portal:Irish).

According to v:Wikiversity:Differences between Wikiversity and Wikibooks, the major distinction between Wikiversity and Wikibooks is that Wikiversity includes more types of pedagogic material, such as lessons, lesson plans, learning projects, exercises and quizzes, links to outside resources, as well as textbooks.

The problem is, most of the language textbooks on Wikibooks have all those things as well. They're organized into lessons, they include exercises and quizzes, they include supplemental resources like glossaries, etc. These are all necessary elements of a book designed for self-directed language learning, and they're all strongly encouraged by the Wikibooks:WikiProject Languages. A history textbook doesn't necessarily need to be studied in a certain order; a self-study language textbook--especially an introductory book--does.

There is always going to be some overlap between these two projects. But with language instruction specifically, the overlap seems to be almost complete--not just in theory, but in practice. Compare these two pages:

The two courses seem to be using the same tools and teaching the same thing, and neither references the other. They may not even know about each other. The same is true across Wikiversity:Portal:Foreign Language Learning. There's duplication of effort and dilution of the community depending on which site people happen across first. And language learning is one of the biggest candidates for self-directed study. Not doing it right because of something fixable seems like a serious lost opportunity.

Possible solutions[edit]

I'm not sure what the solution is, or if there is one that'll make everyone happy. I did have a few ideas I wanted to throw out there:

  • A dedicated foreign language wiki project (WikiLingo?) is the cleanest solution. It may be overkill, though--and it'd definitely involve the most work.
  • Pick a project and stick with it by making either Wikibooks or Wikiversity the designated home for language learning courses/textbooks. It seems to me there are arguments for either one--right now Wikibooks seems to have richer existing content, but it might fit better with Wikiversity's philosophy.
  • Engage both wikis to collaborate and avoid duplication. Make sure the foreign language portals on both sites, and the main pages for each language on each site, clearly reference the other and set clear policies for what belongs on one versus the other. This could mean Wikibooks keeps grammar reference books, while anything with sequential lessons goes to Wikiversity; or it could mean coursebooks stay on Wikibooks, and Wikiversity courses just link to them and add any supplemental materials and any relevant original research. It could even mean each language community decides on a case by case basis.

I look forward to hearing others' thoughts.

--Chapka (talk) 19:59, 16 June 2020 (UTC)

Discussion[edit]

I don't think any of these options will get much traction unfortunately. A new project is a major undertaking and without a dedicated community of editors it will not get off the ground - it is very hard to make new projects work. Getting two projects to cooperate is a nice idea, but most editors stick to one project only and each project defines its own rules based on what its own community wants to do. We are unlikely to get more than a small handful of editors interested in working together cross-project and you can see this in other areas (e.g., news on WP v's Wikinews). Saying only one project should have language learning is likely to be rejected by both project communities, although I might be proven wrong. I think it is an inevitable function of wikis that the scope creeps and whichever project does it most successfully ends up winning due to attracting greater numbers of editors and readers. That is, whoever does language learning better will ultimately end up with better resources attracting more readers and writers. QuiteUnusual (talk) 15:26, 17 June 2020 (UTC)

  • There are two references to Wikiversity at b:Wikibooks:What is Wikibooks (not including links at the bottom). My understanding of the relationship between Wikibooks and Wikiversity:
  • Textbooks go on Wikibooks. I've never really figured out what Wikiversity does, specifically, but What is Wikibooks names it as an example of a venue in which a Wikibooks textbook might be used, just as a classroom is a venue in which a Wikibooks textbook might be used.
  • Original research goes on Wikiversity. From what I've thought I was told over the years, Wikiversity was split off from Wikibooks because there was a desire to provide a project where OR would not be permitted and a separate project where it would be permitted.
--Pi zero (talk) 15:50, 17 June 2020 (UTC)

Update: I've posted notices on both projects' general discussion boards to see if anyone with more experience on either wants to weigh in. Also, I discovered that there was already a proposed new project, WikiLang (I still like my name better!), which was rejected and is now a sort of second language learning portal on Wikiversity.--Chapka (talk) 15:54, 17 June 2020 (UTC)

Comment Comment by Mrjulesd

  • A dedicated foreign language wiki project: definitely not, no good reason for forking that I can see.
  • Pick a project and stick with it: well possibly, but would probably be difficult to get consensus, neither project would probably be happy to see it go from them.
  • Engage both wikis to collaborate and avoid duplication.: I think this is the most feasible option. I've no experience of Wikiversity, but I would imagine that there is considerable overlap between them and Wikibooks, as well as Wikipedia to some extent. I think the best approach is to try to link the work from various projects together. Wikilinks is one way, but also work can be imported from other projects. But if too much importing goes on individual projects could end up losing their identity, and improvements would not be duplicated. So wikilinks is probably the way forward, I don't see enough of this going on really.

Differences in original research between the projects has also be mentioned, but with languages I can't really see that being much of an issue, its either wrong or right. Mrjulesd (talk) 20:07, 17 June 2020 (UTC)

  • FYI: Besides for Wikibooks and Wikiversity, there's a considerable amount of overlap with both Wiktionary's and Wikivoyage's extensive phrasebooks and associated materials. --Yair rand (talk) 06:12, 23 June 2020 (UTC)