Talk:Special projects subcommittees/Wikiversity

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Initial questions[edit]

Do we need a separate page to Wikiversity/Modified_project_proposal? It may just be confusing for everyone else who wants to remain involved. (I don't want this committee to just take all the work away from the community).

My thinking was not to take away from any of the work being done as really to begin pulling it all together into a concise document. It seems we have so much spread out of a number of pages, we needed something that could be a reference point.--Mfinney 19:43, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
I say we keep on refining that document (ie Wikiversity/Modified project proposal) and add good content from the other pages there. Creating another page is just going to create yet another page :-) Cormaggio @ 09:23, 1 April 2006 (UTC)
I say we acknowledge we are an experimental project which will drift with the interests and abilities of new participants. The soon to be arriving thousands or millions will surely influence what the initial few tens or hundreds identified as potentially fertile experimentation and methods of endeaver. Send in the current proposal with an appendage noting exceptions if necessary with links back to the actual discussion and request the specific stable community URLs be activated. Lazyquasar 23:19, 2 April 2006 (UTC)


Related to that, where do you want to work? Is it here? Or a subpage of this one? Or another subpage of Wikiversity?

This seems to be a good page to work on... again someplace to pull it all together.--Mfinney 19:43, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
As above, but maybe we need a subpage of this one in order to organise our thoughts? Cormaggio @ 09:23, 1 April 2006 (UTC)


We should organise a list of work to do - actually, here's one I prepared earlier

  • Clarify the scope of the project - does it include original research? What are "activities" and "courses"?
  • Outline how this will differ from, but also fit in with, other Wikimedia projects.
  • Research what has been done in the field of online learning materials/courses provision. Outline successes and failures, and recommend a workable project framework.

How are we going to answer these questions? Should we break them down into smaller research projects and each take responsibility for each part? (Maybe that's not necessary, I don't know.)

Should we set ourselves deadlines or milestones? How do people feel about that? Personally, I think this project has been going for so long that it shouldn't take us too long to put together a good proposal, backed up by literature and a motivated community. But we obviously need to be realistic - so, what's realistic?

Well, that's just putting down my initial thoughts and questions. They don't necessarily all need to be answered now of course.. Cormaggio @ 19:09, 31 March 2006 (UTC)


I like the idea of adding the original research component, but how will that fly with the board? I know that seems to be a sensitive issue and wasn't sure how it would be recieved. It looks like we have a good list to work from here. What we could do is set these up as projects with a place for everyone to provide feedback and findings. As far as deadlines and milestones, I think we should (kinda keeps us moving.) What would be considered realistic goals with this?--Mfinney 19:43, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

Research should definitely be part of the project scope, in my opinion. "How will that fly with the board" is the wrong attitude. It's up to you to make it fly. Write what you think the project should be and justify it. I made original reporting part of the Wikinews proposal from the beginning, I communicated in clear terms that this is essential for a project like Wikinews to be more than a mere aggregation of news from external sources. Similarly, for Wikiversity to develop into a truly unique global resource, allowing for research (and in my opinion, research in progress should not be excluded in the project scope definition) is absolutely essential. Communicate clearly and precisely, and the Board will accept that. I'm rather sad that certification models are likely to be explicitly excluded; hopefully, that discussion can be revived at some later point.--Eloquence 00:12, 1 April 2006 (UTC)
I don't think research is a problem at all (the board didn't make any statement on this, which I presume to be a "silent blessing"), and I would very much see it as part of Wikiversity. I'm not so sure about accreditation, but I would see it as not an issue now and, yes, revivable later. Cormaggio @ 09:05, 1 April 2006 (UTC)

"Teaching and learning"[edit]

I think we need to keep in our minds that the board have already said to "exclude online courses". The debate on what this means and what to do about it has been ongoing at Talk:Wikiversity/Modified project proposal. This subcommittee needs to define what Wikiversity should be and to make clear justifications for this. I, like many others, remain confused about what exactly that directive meant, but I still think we should take it seriously. Cormaggio @ 09:05, 1 April 2006 (UTC)

It is unrealistic to expect to define precisely what an experimental community is or will be or will produce or methods of production a priori. URLs are not an irrevocable committment to the future community. The Board can always refuse to renew the URLs, advise the abandoned community that they are inappropriate for Wikimedia Foundation support, give reasonable notice to have the applicable data archived elsewhere, and offer to sell backup DVDs to future forks or reinstantiations of the Wikiversity community. The proposal has been artificially matured beyond the available data and participants. The subcommittee needs to address how the initial community can be reestablished to begin evolving itself and get out of the community at large's way as it arrives. There is no advantage to absorbing the leadership efforts already available in the biological, educational, and emergency response area in attempted bottlenecking of other schools or approaches. Only disadvantage. I suggest we encourage the committee to manage the Wikimedia Foundation "leadership" effectively to gain initial stable URLs for Wikiversity learning communities to coalesce at and leave the soon to be arriving Wikiversity participants to sort out their own efforts as mandated by local environmental issues to related to fields of practice or learning. Lazyquasar 23:33, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
A wiki is an inherently experimental process, but the board isn't going to set up a wiki for any old thing. It will set up a wiki with a clearly outlined mission, and that's what we're here to bring to a conclusion - that's all. Then we will actually see what happens :-) Cormaggio @ 09:01, 3 April 2006 (UTC)

What ambiguity remains that can be resolved by current participants?[edit]

What part of our initial/current Wikiversity mission statement (A) is unclear, ambiguous or controversial compared to stated goals of the Wikimedia Foundation used when soliciting public donations (B)?

(A) Wikiversity is a centre for the creation and use of free learning materials and activities
(B)Current solicitation on Wikipedia's donation requested page:[1] Imagine a world in which every person has free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That's what we're doing.

And we need your help.

Further, what portion of the currently articulated set of initial goals (C) is outside the scope of the implied committment (B) to free worldwide access to all free human information that is made when soliciting funds for expenditure on servers, bandwidth and supporting staff of Wikimedia Foundation?

(C)"Its primary priorities and goals are to:
   * Create and host a range of free, multilingual learning resources, for all age groups in all languages
   * Host scholarly/learning projects that complement existing Wikimedia projects (eg. a project devoted to finding good sources for Wikipedia articles)
   * Host and foster research based in part on existing resources in Wikiversity and other Wikimedia projects (such as Wikibooks, Wikisource etc.)

Other tasks and goals will be initiated and developed as articulated by participants according to their self-organised efforts and priorities."

You say the Board is not going to approve "just any old thing" and yet the leader of the stacked Board is soliciting funds to be utilized in delivery of all available (presumably free as in FDL'ed) human knowledge freely to all accessible human beings on the planet.

What any old thing did you have in mind that would be outside of the scope of the god-king's solicitation of funds from the public?

It has been months since we heard formally from the Board. Perhaps you should mark a concise summary of the existing proposal as a "final draft" and request activation of our wiki so that we can attract initial experimenters sufficient to finalize our initial project direction. As proposed Wikiversity is going to require a cast of at least thousands (and possibly tens or hundreds of thousands) to prototype, not ten, twenty or a hundred enthusiasts pontificating about possibilities.

It might be instructive to consider how many user accounts were active at the time Wikipedia English passed its hundred thousand article milestone and compare the policies and procedures in place there on that date with the policies and procedures currently being used there to expand and polish the knowledgebase. Lazyquasar 01:47, 6 April 2006 (UTC)

Oh, I agree that the scope of Wikiversity is entirely within the scope of the Wikimedia Foundation - I don't think that's ever been an issue - but it's always good (and necessary) to keep this in mind. But even still, the board clearly wants a proposal that either A) takes away the things that they were nervous about in the first place, or B) justifies the use of some of these things (like, say, courses) through reference to literature and/or expertise within the Wikiversity community. Both the board's directive and the previous community vote were generally positive, but cautious - that's what I think we need to address. Clearly, simply requesting a wiki for us to play with isn't going to work, and we just need to give a bit more information - based on reason, not on speculation - that addresses these ambiguities (like "what is a 'course'?"; "what materials do we host?"; "how does this differ from Wikibooks?"). I think, with justification, we are not far off requesting Wikiversity be set up, but yes, an indication of initial experimenters and maybe specific potential collaboratory projects will also help this hugely. On the last point, I agree that it could be useful information to see how projects have developed, but how did you see exactly what you've said fitting in with what we need to do now? Cormaggio @ 17:28, 6 April 2006 (UTC)
What we need to do now is submit the proposal that has been developed in response to the Board's feedback six months. I suspect that in its current form it will be approved and initiated. The Board has expressed its concern that we not advertise courses initially that we can not possibly compete with established universities, our influential community leaders have aknowledged this wisdom. Dithering around and rewriting the existing proposal without any substantive changes will not serve any useful function, only waste time. The issues have been delineated adequately and most of us know what they are and where many people stand on them.
What is a course? A scheduled sequence of activities that someone recommends as adequate for someone to learn a specified scope. Notice that if someone follows a learning trail or participates at a learning portal asynchronously (unscheduled) then it is not a "course" by this definition.
What materials do we host? Anything that someone thinks is pedagogically useful that is not in conflict with specific policies TBD or demonstrably inferior and redundant to other material. (Need participants to establish policy, it cannot be done in a vacuum in advance if one wishes to achieve community buyin.)
How does this differ from Wikibooks? Wikibooks attempts to deliver untested textbooks to the public. Wikiversity develops learning materials and processes and participant tests them. Eventually an interface will be developed whereby some Wikiversity processes are content to link to texts maintained at Wikibooks if the Wikibooks community has sufficient brains to define and manage their supplier/customer relationships ..... a fundamental is not degrading a product which is then delivered back to the original supplier. This is fundamental version control and configuration management. Not a big deal unless incompentents make it a big deal ... say by mandating no textbooks shall remain under control of Wikiversity processes. Then proceeding to screw up a class tested text via an individual volunteer's opinions and deleting all previous versions or making them inaccessible to Wikiversity participants.
Wikipedia worked where Nupedia did not because it started as an anarchistic overreaction to the overregulation that stifled Nupedia. The community of participants that arrived in the first couple of years predominantly agreed with a specific mission statement. Write a free enclycopedia. The policies and etiquette sufficient to complete and maintain the project was substantially evolved by the project participants as the project progressed not mandated by "leadership" until it was clear where the majority of effective participants were going. An encyclopedia is not an interactive learning environment. A shelf of untested or draft testbooks is not a university. We will need to do a few things differently from previous projects. If you can design a Wikiversity before the participants show up and try some things out then I suggest that you run not walk to a venture capital firm and make them a few billion while you revolutionize education via getting wealthy from your design efforts. The last few years have demonstrated effectively that without a permanent set of URLs and dedicated Wiki subject to Wikiversity participant driven policy vs. other project policies we are not going to attract adequate participation to evolve effective pedagogical techniques using wiki. The point is that what we need to do now is get started. All the preliminary planning it is possible to do effectively has been done. Indeed. Our first wave of participants and planners have now substantially departed without ever getting the chance to see what would result from their efforts and how it might be improved and made functional. They are spreading the word that we are defunct as we speak. It might be useful to take a poll at Wikimania 06 and find out how many serious educators or wiki enthusiasts there have any remaining enthusiasm or intention to particpate at Wikiversity should its URLs ever be activated with a wiki interface and dedicated databases. 70.110.33.241 10:55, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
Thanks Lazyquasar, and I agree with the majority of this, but just some comments:
"Dithering around and rewriting the existing proposal without any substantive changes.." - I agree that this is not what we should be, or are, doing. You, me, everyone should continue to strengthen the proposal at Wikiversity/Modified project proposal.
"If you can design a Wikiversity before the participants show up.." - who's trying to do this? Still, I would say that setting up Wikiversity isn't as easy as setting up Wikipedia, where, let's face it, the general idea is much more immediately tangible.
"Our first wave of participants and planners have now substantially departed"' - I hope this is not the case; I would imagine a lot of people lost heart after the last proposal was rejected, but I anticipate that they'll be back when we finally get this on the road (ie soon).
"All the preliminary planning it is possible to do effectively has been done." - almost, but then why would the board and Special projects committee be asking for further work to be done? We need to give it that final push - possibly through doing a review of the literature on online learning to back this up and justify our recommendations. Or maybe I should turn this into a question and ask others reading this: Do you think the current proposal is good enough, and if not, what do you think we need to add to it? Cormaggio @ 13:16, 7 April 2006 (UTC)

Wow, this is bullshit[edit]

Representitive body? Not in the slightest. 90% of you are a hand picked group with a specific view of wikiversity at odds with a great many current and former contributors and users. You guys want to discuss your view of the project, thats fine. But don't claim to be even remotely representative of the views and desires of the community- you aren't. --Gabe Sechan 16:56, 7 April 2006 (UTC)

Gabe, I understand this point of view but it is really what I want to avoid. The existence of the subcommittee is simply to have a process in place where decisions can be made and then handed to the board (more or less). In fact, all of the recent setting up of committees is a simple result of the fact that the board is overworked. A lot of the recent discussion has been waiting for the board to do something - well, now it's further in our own hands. On being "hand-picked", this is true for now, but as we've agreed, people are welcome to nominate themselves for membership, yourself included. (Also, what's the alternative to this - a vote?) And on being representative, I mean this in the sense of being able to represent somebody to somebody else; it's about being able to listen to people's ideas and opinions. Representative in the sense of how you use it is about being a diverse body which includes within it a representative mix of people - and which I also hope that the subcommittee is/will be. I don't think there's so much being "at odds" anyway - there's certainly not one specific point of view within the subcommittee about courses for example. I know one person who represents your point of view on this, but I'll let them speak for themselves :-), and, speaking for myself, my point of view really isn't so different, despite what you may think. But anyway, there's no question of this subcommittee driving a point of view forward at the expense of the rest of the community, rather this is a collaborative process, and one in which I hope you'll continue to take part. Cormaggio @ 05:46, 10 April 2006 (UTC)

Re:Community[edit]

(discussion moved here)

By what specific criteria will the committee acknowledge an energetic community has been established and disband or recognize that the actual leadership selected by the community has authority and responsibility for local community policy such as evolving scope? Lazyquasar 23:11, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
Well, the community already exists :-) I meant this in the sense of keeping the community motivated, and hopefully also inviting new people. Do you have any suggestions about how you would prefer to phrase this? Cormaggio @ 08:45, 3 April 2006 (UTC)

Re:Representation[edit]

(discussion moved here)

How is representation partitioned and allocated? I live in Oregon, USA. I am interested in free engineering projects and free training for participants in same. Who is my alleged representative? Lazyquasar 23:15, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
This subcommittee will represent the interests of the Wikiversity community to the Special projects committee and/or the board - it's up to anyone who is interested in a particular area (like engineering) to make those interests clear, so that we can consider and represent this fairly. Cormaggio @ 08:40, 3 April 2006 (UTC)

Content[edit]

Just a thought, but do you think we will need to mention something (at some stage) about content on Wikiversity? I wouldn't want to, personally, but reading, for example, some of the debate about books on Wikibooks makes me wonder if the argument will ever be put forward that, since we are going to be hosting courses (of some kind) on Wikiversity, then books about those subjects need to be provided for at Wikibooks. If this ever becomes a question (and we haven't addressed it), the goals of the two projects might come into conflict. Or what do you think? Cormaggio @ 18:12, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

Actual ?[edit]

What condition of the given committee, it is actual or is dismissed? SergeyJ 21:51, 2 September 2009 (UTC)

This "subcommitee" appears to be dormant at this time. It needs to wake up, imo. --Quinobi 13:34, 3 September 2009 (UTC) ping me