Talk:Wikiversity/Modified project proposal

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Archive 1 (December 2005-June 2006)

Proposal - done?[edit]

I'd like to propose this once again for formal consideration (to the board via the Special projects committee, per due process). But before I do so, is there anything anyone wants to bring up about the proposal as it stands? Does it satisfy your needs? Do you think it's workable? Would you want to contribute to it? Is there anything that you'd like to see which isn't there? It would be good to also read other relevant pages, such as Wikiversity/Scope and Wikiversity/What Wikiversity is not, in order to give your overall ideas. They would be most appreciated. Cormaggio @ 22:30, 5 June 2006 (UTC)Reply

Impending Policy Paradoxum[edit]

Impending Policy Paradox (hithero represented as IPP) is illustrated here as of June.


  • Wikiversity can have no classes (NO CLASSES !!)
  • Wikibooks can have no books not used by a class as textbook (ONLY TEXTBOOKS !!)
  • Wikiversity learning trail or study group matures a learning book (NOT A CLASS !!!)
  • Puritans following policy classify collectivised, verified, proofed, and republished group notes as textbook and transwiki to Wikibooks (COOKIE CUTTER policy, NO DUPE ALLOWED !!)
  • Puritans following policy at Wikibooks delete Wikiversity Textbook because no class can be found using it.
  • Wikiversity participant group is periodically disrupted by silly policies mandated in early proposal phase years ago

QED, IPSO FACTORIUM or something -->Heard it here first folks. "I've been telling em for years." op. cit. Independence day kamikazium. user:lazyquasar


  • Briefly
  • New book on Gardening
  • There is already one on Gardening
  • NO DUPE!!
  • 50/50 who survives

meanwhile at wikiversity

  • Some working notes are evolving towards BOOKS!
  • Some are named manuals while others are found by the BOOK MONITORS to be TEXTBOOKS!
  • Transwiki to Wikibooks
  • 50/50 survival if previous TEXTBOOK placed on local shelves
  • New TEXTBOOK wins
  • Delete previously existing Wikibook
  • No course uses new book now!
  • Delete new TEXTBOOK

No TEXTBOOK on this subject at either Wikibooks or Wikiversity.

Hurrah! Twice the savings in Wikimedia Foundation hard drive space.

  • Previously erring do groups (NOT A CLASSES!) begin modifying draft manuals and backing them up profusely on student portable hard drives.
  • Ipso factus or QED or something.
  • "I wouda neir thought it Captain! The damn TRANSWIKI scattered his bytes all over the non universe! [McCoy}] Star Trekium circa terra early seventerius. user:lazyquasar

"Wikiversity can have no classes (NO CLASSES !!)"
I think that the intention of the Board was to say that Wikiversity should not try to organize itself around a set of conventional courses. The key issue is this: what is a wiki and how can people use a wiki for learning? It makes little sense to try to run conventional courses in a wiki user environment. The modified project proposal shifts the emphasis of Wikiversity from courses to "learning projects", which means learning activities that make sense for users of a wiki. If you want to try to run a traditional course within Wikiversity or invent some sort of non-traditional course, you are free to do so. Just keep in mind that the limitations of the wiki interface. One possible type of Wikiversity learning project would be oriented around the development of a Wikibook. Other learning projects could point students to Wikibooks or even involve discussion of a Wikibook. Wikiversity and Wikibooks should get along just fine. --JWSurf 04:28, 17 June 2006 (UTC)Reply

I'm still trying to understand this proposal[edit]

I'm not sure I understand the purpose for Wikiversity's existence.

One tool which has been useful in many applications has been to describe what the proposal is supposed to do as a problem/solution. It seems to me the problem which Wikiversity proposes to solve is "Provide unstructured, unconventional self-paced and self-directed learning/teaching opportunities." The solution is a wiki which may or may not produce texts, will engage in original research (field of scientific endeavour undescribed), and attempt to improve/expand other Wikimedia projects. In addition, it will host its products and do this without infringing on the missions of other Wikimedia projects.

I, personally, do not see a pressing need to provide such opportunities, primarily due to the unstructured/unconventional/self-directed elements. But I'm sure there must be such a need, else the proposal would not have been made.

On the other hand, I do not see the proposed solution as viable. I opposed the original proposal because it did not determine if it were a) Teaching courses b) Writing curriculum c) Publishing research. The current proposal appears to have similar issues, being unsure if it will a) organize opportunities for people to write collaboratively on subjects they do not know about b) engaging in and writing about research into something or c) organizing people to work on Wikibooks/Wikisource/Wikipedia. All this while, according to its scope, not producing source documents (Wikisource) or text books/curricula (Wikibooks) or encyclopedic articles (Wikipedia).

Three of the four primary "What Wikiversity is" statements could be fulfilled on Meta now (A network of communities to create and use these resources, A group effort to learn, and A collaboration to improve other projects.) In fact, it is proven by the Wikiversity proposal itself. Any average bulletin board site would serve as well, or better. The fourth is provided by Wikibooks (A repository of free, multilingual educational resources.)

But perhaps my lack of understanding is simply that I don't understand the purpose for Wikiversity. - Amgine / talk meta 19:17, 19 June 2006 (UTC)Reply

Thanks for this, Amgine - this is useful, and I appreciate both your comments and your confusion :-)
I suppose I'll start by saying that I disagree that the proposed goals of Wikiversity can be realised within other projects. Firstly, with Wikibooks, while there will be some overlap in content, I think the major difference will be in how it is collated and presented. Wikibooks aims to produce textbooks, Wikiversity aims to produce educational materials. Textbooks is really a subset of educational materials, so some materials relevant to Wikiversity will be hosted on Wikibooks. But Wikibooks does not and will not have materials that can be used "off the shelf" for particular educational purposes (such as a class). Wikibooks is for doing further reading and research (as is Wikipedia, in its own way), but Wikiversity will provide those types of materials in that format. In other words, teachers will be able to come to Wikiversity, find a fill-the-gap listening activity, print/download it, and use it in their class that afternoon. Of course, this is not to say that Wikibooks cannot incorporate such content in its textbooks (and I believe it is doing so already), but there is a fundamental difference in how the material is formatted. You could say that an encyclopedia is a subset of a book, and so why have Wikipedia at all; the difference is in formatting. However, this relationship (between Wikiversity and Wikibooks) is a complex one, and I imagine that we will have to figure out ways of sharing content between the two projects as we develop. We will share some content, but each project will direct that content towards the focus of that project, ie a collection of lesson plans with activities and support materials, or a textbook containing some learning activities.
I'm not sure how the other goals of Wikiversity could be realised on Meta. Meta is for planning, discussing and organising issues/projects etc of interest to the Wikimedia community. If there happened to spring up a community of people who wanted to work on media literacy (for example), I would bet that they would be asked to leave Meta and set up their own project on Wikia, or wherever. Wikiversity seeks to offer people that space - to learn collaboratively on a subject of shared interest. This happens to some extent on all other wikis, but the goal of wikiversity is explicitly to allow for this kind of learning. This will encourage the participants to both critically evaluate the content that's there already, and to generate new content based on their learning. The linking of Wikiversity with other projects that seems to have confused you, is that this learning will not just generate new content on Wikiversity, but also on other Wikimedia projects (such as learning academic writing skills for Wikipedia, or Wikibooks, or recording sound files for Commons - again, just two pretty random examples).
On the scope of research: it is difficult (if not absurd) to specify exactly what kind of research Wikiversity participants will carry out, but I see this part of the scope to be instrumental to its goal of providing an educational platform for its participants, rather than a repository of materials. What research people will do will have to be determined by the nature of their studies and/or interests. Obviously, not everyone is obliged to do research (as some people seem to have thought in the past), but they will be allowed to do so on Wikiversity. This, above anything else, is why Wikiversity's goals cannot be fulfilled by any other Wikimedia project. Granted, Wikinews allows original research, but I think you'll appreciate that that's different from doing a review of, say, the representation of women in West African literature, or a survey of the religious views of teenage LiveJournal users. Wikinews may be able to benefit from this work (and I hope it does) but it does not exist to foster such work.
The (new) a, b and c you outline above are deliberately vague, but, I think, substantially clearer than you make out. For one, it is not the intention of Wikiversity to get people to write about things they know nothing about - it is about providing materials so that they can find out more about that subject. Like all educational work, there will be activities linked with this material - it just remains to be seen what kinds of activities contributors to Wikiversity will deem most appropriate to provide. Of course they will be structured in some way, but, like with research, it seems inappropriate to dictate at this stage how people will structure such activities. However, we are recommending that people recognise that this is a wiki, and that activities should be geared toward this medium - in other words, find ways to structure learning activities around the wiki format, based on the materials that Wikiversity will host.
I hope this addresses in some way your concerns (which I would suspect are shared by many people who haven't followed this proposal over the last six months or so). Please - yourself, or anyone else reading this - add further concerns or clarifications, so that we can make this proposal as robust as possible. Thanks. Cormaggio @ 15:41, 23 June 2006 (UTC)Reply
Much to reply to, so I will attempt to be brief.
  • But Wikibooks does not and will not have materials that can be used "off the shelf" for particular educational purposes (such as a class).
This may currently be the case, but there is no prevention from curricular materials being developed. Wikibooks can certainly host didactic.
  • Meta is a network of communities, the communities which make up the Wikimedia Foundation projects. It could clearly be used to organize collaboration, learning opportunities, and to host communications regarding these. Each project actively encourages critical evaluation of the materials on it, and development of the content; that's the purpose of the discussion/talk pages, and the wiki in general.
  • Scope of research must be defined. The project cannot be organized if it does not know what it will do. A newspaper, as an example, does a range of research into current events and - occasionally - specific phenomenon or persons. It uses primarily qualitative methodologies, such as ethnographic survey or focused interview, supported by reviews of published literature. It has ethical and legal oversight bodies, and defined structures for funding research endeavors. Research Universities determine the same things: what will be researched, how it will be researched, what oversight mechanisms will be maintained, and how it will be supported as well as dissemination of the results. What is the purpose of the research? What kind of research will be supported? What will be done with the results of any research?
  • I would strongly suggest the precise opposite of being vague. A vague proposal will likely earn a vague "No". And that will cause unnecessary friction. Give a detailed proposal, say what you want to do, and people can say "Yes, because..." or "No, because...", and then you can work toward a compromise agreement which will be acceptable to all. - Amgine / talk meta 01:46, 24 June 2006 (UTC)Reply

Wikiversity as a solution to a problem.
I think of wiki technology as a tool and Wikiversity as an exploration of the power of that tool to support an online learning community. If I am forced to view Wikiversity as a solution for a problem, then that problem is that conventional education is expensive and inefficient. I suppose some people do not see this as a problem in need of a solution, particularly people who view conventional education as the answer to all our education needs.

Nobody knows if a wiki devoted to learning can be a success and function as a useful system for online learning. Wiki is new technology. Some people are pessimistic about the power of wiki, other people are optimistic. Some people thrive on unconventional self-paced and self-directed learning and seek it out. Other people cannot function in an unconventional learning environment and have no interest in exploring new ways of providing one to students. Some people distrust anything that is unconventional, some people have claimed that Wikiversity “competes” with other Wikimedia projects and others do not want free educational opportunities that will compete with for-profit education. The question for the Wikimedia foundation is if the optimists can dominate over the pessimists, if those who are interested in this experiment can dominate over those who either do not see the point or who actively oppose it.

“I, personally, do not see a pressing need to provide such opportunities….. I do not see the proposed solution as viable”
Some members of the Wikimedia community look at the future possibilities for what Wikiversity will accomplish and suspect that a specifically education-oriented project can contribute to the goal of providing free access to the sum of all human knowledge. None of us has a crystal ball. It is very hard to predict the dynamics of a wiki community….how do we know if a particular wiki project will thrive and be a success or fail to accomplish its goals? How do we really know unless we try?

a wiki which may or may not produce texts
The production of textbooks by Wikiversity participants is not a major issue. Some Wikiversity participants will engage in Wikiversity-based learning projects that contribute to the development of textbooks at Wikibooks. There is a natural synergy between the two projects. Making textbooks is not a major concern for Wikiversity.

original research (field of scientific endeavour undescribed)
Original research has not been advocated as a major component of Wikiversity. A few people have suggested that Wikiversity need not exclude original research. The one specific area of research that has been suggested is research that concerns the mechanics of wiki communities.

Some people feel that education and research are somehow in conflict. Others feel that original research should be heavily integrated into all aspects of a university education. The current Wikiversity proposal calls for the Wikiversity community to discover for itself what the role of research should be in Wikiversity.

“organize opportunities for people to write collaboratively on subjects they do not know about”
I think that allowing Wikiversity participants to write collaboratively on subjects they do not know about is going to be the heart of Wikiversity. If Wikiversity participants express their interests and their ignorance, this will create opportunities for others in the community to help foster those interests and point towards ways of overcoming the ignorance.

“engaging in and writing about research into something”
I think that opportunities for active learning is what will attract the key participants to Wikiversity…..these will be the people who form collaborative learning communities and create Wikiversity content.

“organizing people to work on Wikibooks/Wikisource/Wikipedia. All this while, according to its scope, not producing source documents (Wikisource) or text books/curricula (Wikibooks) or encyclopedic articles (Wikipedia).”
Wikiversity will promote high standards of scholarship and Wikiversity participants will be able to apply their scholarship skills to the needs of other Wikimedia projects. It will be a useful service for the Wikimedia community if people can go to Wikiversity and learn how to find and verify sources, critically evaluate references and add citations to Wikipedia articles and Wikibooks textbook modules. Wikiversity can function as a central collection point for sources that can be used by other Wikimedia projects. Wikiversity will not have the mission of creating Wikipedia articles or textbooks, yet Wikiversity participants will often work to help other Wikimedia projects.

Other existing Wikimedia projects can do anything that Wikiversity could do
I agree. There could just be one wiki that does everything. However, some members of the community find it necessary to define restricted missions for each wiki and to kick out anyone who tries to do anything that does not fit into that narrowly defined mission. The Wikimedia system has evolved to be one in which specialized wiki sister projects are created. In the past, I tried to argue that such fragmentation is silly, but I have come to accept the reality of the need for setting up specialized wiki projects. In the end, this will be an advantage for Wikiversity. Being a separate wiki, it will be possible to adopt new policy (some original research allowed), have different user privileges (all registered users able to do page protects) and be more welcoming to contributions from people with education and research expertise. --JWSurf 19:22, 23 June 2006 (UTC)Reply

Response to Amgine[edit]

"Meta is a network of communities.." - yes, this is a fair point, but Meta is solely dedicated to the development of Wikimedia projects. Meta could be used for the collaborative development of Wikimedia projects, but it makes more sense to include this as part of a more general Wikiversity plan. Wikiversity is not being set up as solely a service provider for Wikimedia, but we envisaged that encouraging this would be a good way of building a community there, and keeping Wikiversity relevant to the wider community. Furthermore, Wikimedia-focused learning groups could benefit from the existence of others which are non Wikimedia-focused - for example, if a MediaWiki learning group were to develop, it would benefit from and cross-pollinate with other groups devoted to Open Source software, Metadata/Semantic wiki, and other stuff that's out of my league. More within my range (and yours) would be groups on journalism skills, finding sources, creating media (music, film etc), graphic design - all of which I would personally like to see developing, and would like to help facilitate. If all this were to happen in Meta - well, i just can't personally see it being managed (or, in many cases, permitted).
As an admin on Meta, I can both see it existing/permitted and being managed. It would require at least one member of the Wikiversity team being an admin, of course. - Amgine / talk meta 19:00, 21 July 2006 (UTC)Reply
"Scope of research must be defined." I absolutely agree. People who are doing research solely for their studies in Wikiversity will need to be very careful about how they go about justifying their study to participants, and I would especially like there to develop resources and at least one learning community devoted to the ethical, methodological (etc) dimensions to doing research. In many cases, I would imagine that people will be doing research based on their brick-and-mortar institutional guidelines, and simply using Wikiversity as a collaborative space within which to work, and discuss their work. If a research project comes out of a learning task in another community/subject, I would hope that these people join in with the researchers' community to discuss ethics, methodology, data analysis, validity etc. I'd also like to point out that I don't personally see the research in Wikiversity as being 'authorised' (it is not an accredited institution) - but I would like to develop a process of peer review of the process - as well as the writing (which John has been already pursuing in the academia wikia).
In the research universities I have worked with there are processes to review student and faculty research, and usually also the technical or contract research as well. These processes are in place because there have been cases where unethical and illegal research programmes have developed in the past, and because people who are interested in *doing* research are not necessarily interested in knowing or judging the ethics or efficacy of their research program. Even with these in place we regularly, as in several times annually, are approached by students, researchers, governmental and non-governmental organizations to do research which could not possibly gain approval of ethics board or human subjects review (our area of endeavour is in health.)
Claiming that your status is "unaccredited" does not free you from the ethical requirement for oversight of the research actions of your participants. It also would not release you from the liability you accrue by organizing those participants. - Amgine / talk meta 19:00, 21 July 2006 (UTC)Reply
"I would strongly suggest the precise opposite of being vague" - yes, I agree with this. What I mean by being as vague as we are about the way that people will work on Wikiversity is because it is a fundamental wiki fallacy to tell people how to work or, indeed, learn. Instead, we can only work to promote good practice, and an atmosphere of civility and open-mindedness. We will be able to host materials - but the learning aspect of wikiversity remains to be proven. This can only be done or undone by the contributors themselves in the process itself. You are right that a "vague no" is a possible outcome - this is what we got from the board last November - however, the world of wikis and education (and other online collaborative learning) continues to expand exponentially - just you wait and see at Wikimania :-).
Finally, on Wikibooks and Wikiversity, I think that there will be some overlapping of content, and that this will have to be worked out - but their projects' missions should make this clear. Wikibooks is for textbooks - Wikiversity is for learning materials and using those materials to facilitate learning. So, while Wikibooks will have a textbook about, say, statistics, and another one on "How to use 'R'", Wikiversity will have exercises and lesson plans - geared at different levels, and class-types - about performing analyses in R (and/or other stats packages), and discussing the findings and their implications. Wikiversity should also have sample datasets with which to work (and which would be too messy to incorporate into a textbook) and link to further datasets in Wikisource (which seems slightly ambiguous on this about what it includes and excludes). Overall, Wikibooks could be merged with Wikiversity (with Wikibooks being subsumed within Wikiversity), but there would still need to be separate formatting of content for specific purposes. Also, as John said, creating Wikiversity as a specific place for people to find and provide an education should encourage people (particularly educators) to contribute where they would not have done so in another Wikimedia space. There is simply no space within Wikimedia to encompass all of what Wikiversity aims to be - instead, I think that by creating Wikiversity like this, we are creating a meta-space for all the projects to feed into and benefit from, as well as pushing the Foundation to fully achieve its goal of "a world in which every single person is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge". I think Wikiversity helps to really bring this vision together - and I hope it will in actuality. Cormaggio @ 13:49, 21 July 2006 (UTC)Reply
Textbooks at the non-collegiate level almost exclusively also include a Curriculum Guide, or similar, designed to support an instructor who will be teaching the material. Many intro or survey textbooks at the college level also have such. This would obviate the dismissal of Wikibooks as the proper repository for curriculum.
With didactic material on Wikibooks, the lab source materials could clearly be hosted on Wikisource in those few cases where such might be required which would not be hosted on Commons or Wikibooks.
What is left over from the requirements of Wikiversity is the location for discussion and organization of learning groups, which I suggested above could be managed on Meta. However, the assumptions in this discussion are that Wikiversity would support active learning groups, or classes, or whatever euphemism you wish to use. This strongly suggests the use of a bulletin board system or an online teaching software such as Moodle as a much more appropriate tool than Mediawiki.
But this seems to return to the problem that the Board has rejected the idea of teaching courses. <shrug> Either I am still unclear as to the mission of Wikiversity, or this is really several separate projects being rolled together in hopes of getting some which have been rejected passed by mixing them with currently not-well-thought-out implementations of other ideas. by my understanding. - Amgine / talk meta 19:00, 21 July 2006 (UTC)Reply
I take many of your points, but I just can't agree with your overall argument. Firstly, how could Meta support learning groups on all subjects at all levels, without getting very confusing? Creating a Wikiversity namespace, for example, wouldn't help. Meta should be kept for its purpose - as a discussion and planning site for Wikimedia projects. Wikiversity's scope goes far beyond this - surely you can appreciate that?
On research, I didn't mean to suggest that by being unaccredited we are absolving ourselves from taking responsibility for ethics. Absolutely not. That's why I'm suggesting (no, expecting) to develop rigorous guidelines around research, as well as a group devoted to reviewing the process as well as the product of the particular research project. In any case, I don't see this as especially problematic - I'm not sure how many people will be undertaking human-subject research that is not a part of their brick-and-mortar institutions (which would, presumably, be their ultimate reference and liability), and those who are should be working closely with others to ensure that they are not doing anything which could damage anyone's mental health, job prospects etc. It would be entirely unethical to proceed in any other way. I'd also, obviously, want to make it clear on pages where we are encouraging people to do further work to read carefully our page on ethical guidelines and to check regularly with our group on doing research (and the Wikiversity mailing list). I wonder if, by saying that we cannot specify how research is done, I have given the wrong impression - what I meant was that we cannot say, in this proposal, what kind of research will be done. Does that possibly clear that up?
But returning to what I don't agree with your overall argument - you are essentially arguing that most, if not all, of Wikiversity's work can be done on other Wikimedia projects. I obviously don't agree with this, but even if I did, it would entail further spreading out the work from how it is envisaged. Your proposal says (something like): "Host (didactic) educational material on Wikibooks, then direct participants to Meta to take part in and organise learning activities." The current Wikiversity proposal says: "Host educational material and learning groups on Wikiversity, and direct participants to other projects (ie Wikibooks, Wikipedia) for further reading (and possibly work)." An alternative would be: "Expand Wikibooks' scope to include what is currently proposed for Wikiversity (and probably rebrand as "Wikiversity")." I'm not particularly averse to that alternative possibility, but I think it would have 'branding' issues (ie we wouldn't attract as many educators if it stayed as Wikibooks, or writers if it changed to Wikiversity), and would confuse the long clarification process about what exactly Wikibooks is.
I don't know exactly what you mean about rolling together projects, some of which have already been rejected - if you mean the "exclude online courses" dictum, I would just say that this was never properly clarified (despite requests), so I've never taken it as an out-and-out rejection. But finally, I want to know what you mean by "not-well-thought-out implementations of other ideas" - what is not well thought out at the moment? I should be able to clarify. Cormaggio @ 09:52, 22 July 2006 (UTC)Reply
The primary elements of the proposed project appear to me to be as follows:
  • Learning curricula (which, in my opinion as expressed above are clearly already a part of Wikibooks's scope and mission.)
  • Original research (which, in my opinion expressed above is not well thought out as yet, and would likely require some years of development before it could be implemented.)
    Some elements I'm not clear on:
    • Research approval process (Grant, ethics, legal, oversight; note there does not appear to be a statement of purpose either.)
    • Research oversight process (review, progress)
    • Dissemination goals, processes
  • Classes (which, in my opinion, have not been well thought out as yet, possibly because the board has opposed online classes and current software is not particularly suited to the purpose.)
    Some elements I'm not clear on:
    • Organization (topic, leadership)
    • Teaching/learning goal development
    • Support requirements (primarily software)
    • Assessment
Obviously these elements overlap and are used inter-connectively, yet they are the substantive elements of the proposed project. A side item which is annoying me, yet which may undergird my inability to understand this as a separate project, is the lack of measurable items. Generally in a proposal you need a goal, which is attainable, and which is measurable (never mind the mission of Wikipedia! <grin>) - Amgine / talk meta 14:21, 22 July 2006 (UTC)Reply

Reply to Amgine:

  • It is true that many people originally imagined that Wikibooks would be able to contain Wikiversity and make room for a full range of non-textbook curriculum items. However, it was decided a year ago at the highest level that Wikiversity would not exist within Wikibooks. Some people will probably move back and forth between Wikibooks and Wikiversity developing textbooks at Wikibooks and other learning aids at Wikiversity. Yes, it could have all been done in Wikibooks but the community decided to make Wikibooks just textbooks. It is only a very narrow view of convention education which imagines a complete curriculum can exist inside textbooks. Wikiversity rejects that narrow view of education. I guess there are some people who will never want to move beyond what Wikibooks offers. That does not mean that there is no need for Wikiversity.
  • Original research. The meta wiki already has a project that attempts to provide support and coordination for people who are studying wiki communities. It has been suggested that Wikiversity could be open to people who are interested in such research efforts. There is no need for "years of development" before Wikiversity could open its arms and support such research activities.
  • "Research approval process (Grant, ethics, legal, oversight; note there does not appear to be a statement of purpose either.)....Research oversight process (review, progress)....Dissemination goals, processes." <-- If any of these are needed at Wikiversity the community will have to develop them. These details do not need to be worked out at this time. So far, it has only been suggested that Wikiversity be open to research. If the community cannot find a way to make it work, then it will not happen.
  • Classes. There will always be people who come to Wikiversity with the idea of conducting conventional classes in wiki format. Conventional courses are not a good fit to the wiki environment. The Board correctly directed the community to develop a different model for online learning. This has been done and is a key part of the modified Wikiversity proposal. If people can still read the modified Wikiversity and not understand this, then we need to make some changes to the proposal.
  • "Some elements I'm not clear on: Organization (topic, leadership), Teaching/learning goal development, Support requirements (primarily software), Assessment" <-- The Wikiversity learning model that was requested by the Board and is described in the modified proposal has two parts. The first part centers on collecting and developing "learning materials" that can be used by learners anywhere. Students and teachers will be able to download learning resources from Wikiversity and use them outside of Wikiversity. The second part of the Wikiversity learning model is centered on Wikiversity participants as active learners. The learners (Wikiversity participants) will select topics and leaders and otherwise organize in the normal wiki way. Wikiversity participants will explore their personal interests through the editing of Wikiversity pages that are organized as "learning projects". When multiple members of the community have over-lapping personal learning goals, those areas of over-lap will become the special emphasis of the community. The Wikiversity proposal has been set up so as not to require any new software. I'm not sure what "Assessment" refers to. Project assessment? Learning assessment?
  • "Generally in a proposal you need a goal, which is attainable, and which is measurable" <-- In my view, Wikiversity is an experiment. Wikiversity participants will explore to what extent the wiki user interface can support communities of online learners. The success of the project will be measured in the same way you can measure any wiki. Are there users (page hits)? Are there people creating and editing pages?
    --JWSurf 17:41, 22 July 2006 (UTC)Reply

Reply to JWSurf[edit]

  • Wikibooks: Please point out to me where the community determined that textbook curricula would be excluded from Wikibooks; I'm unable to find this discussion.
  • Original research: Have you ever examined the infrastructure of a research university which supports its research? It is possible a group of individuals with considerable familiarity with such an infrastructure and a lot of motivation could establish processes within a year or so. My estimation is based on a pragmatic approach. Being the subject of research conducted through other schools which have this type of infrastructure is a completely different proposal; I would have no objection to research being overseen by other schools.
  • Research approval, etc.: The conduct of research is a major undertaking. It would fundamentally alter the proposal either to include it, or to exclude it. If it is going to be an element of the proposed project it will need to be developed *before* it is given go-ahead, rather than patched together after harm is done. There's no need to rush something which has such a high risk of liability.
  • Your description of the two elements is, well, in my opinion idealistic. Half of the proposal, in your statement, is Wikibooks materials. The second half is an unformed, undescribed process whereby people will magically form into learning groups. This has not been my experience in real life; home-schoolers and self-study tends to be predominately solo efforts, most successfully when the student has a textbook with a workbook or lab guide with both practice and scheduled examinations. Assessment refers to learning assessment: has the student learned some or much of the body of knowledge regarding the chosen topic?
  • Wikiversity is an experiment: This is not a good reason to create a project. If your project is to enable learners, you should be able to measure whether or not you are enabling learning. If your project is to provide encyclopedic articles, you measure that by how many encyclopedic articles you have created. This is a difference between an information project, and a learning project, as Anthere so eloquently pointed out. - Amgine / talk meta 05:05, 23 July 2006 (UTC)Reply
  • "There's no need to rush something which has such a high risk of liability." <-- The Wikiversity proposal just says that Wikiversity is not closing the door on having some original research. Anything that introduces a risk of liability to the Foundation will have to be carefully evaluated. These are issues that the Wikiversity community will have to deal with if it decides to allow original research. That is all for the future. There are types of original research that are very low risk. If Wikiversity ever adopts a policy that allows original research, it will start with something simple like collecting and evaluating data on wikis. Any such research will have to respect the privacy policies of the wikis that are studied. Another issue that would arise is clearly marking Wikiversity content that is original research. It might be that the names of all Wikiversity pages that concern original research will start with "Original Research:". Another issue that Wikiversity might eventually involve itself with is formal peer review of original research. I think it will be possible to work towards a system of formal peer review in the wiki environment (example). However, it is not clear that the Wikiversity community will decide to make room for ANY original research. These are all issues to be decided in the future. Original research is not a major component of the Wikiversity proposal.

Reply to Amgine:
"Please point out to me where the community determined that textbook curricula would be excluded from Wikibooks" <-- I'm sorry if something I wrote suggests to you that I think the community determined that textbook curricula would be excluded from Wikibooks. I agree with you that a good textbook can include a guide for how to use the textbook and how to integrate the use of additional learning materials with use of the textbook. Wikiversity will not compete with that (or any other) aspect of Wikibooks. Wikiversity will try to provide a scholarly environment in which some participants will naturally be motivated to help develop Wikibooks textbooks and other learning resources that might be usefully combined with textbooks. Some Wikiversity participants will use Wikibooks textbooks. The relationship between Wikiversity and Wikibooks will be a matter of synergy not conflict. That synergy is a natural "side-effect" of having two different projects. Beyond that natural synergy, Wikiversity will be mainly concerned with a learning model that goes well beyond the limitations of textbooks.

"It is possible a group of individuals with considerable familiarity with such an infrastructure and a lot of motivation could establish processes within a year or so." <-- I agree. My expectation is that if Wikiversity does adopt the policy that some original research activities will be supported within Wikiversity then it will be possible for Wikiversity to administer those activities.

"no objection to research being overseen by other schools" I agree that one of the things Wikiversity should do is provide links to institutions that are taking steps towards opening up research projects to collaboration via the internet. Some research groups with large data sets are inviting the public to help process the data. Providing links to such research projects and wiki-style articles that describe such projects is a natural component part of the proposal that Wikiversity be a central location where learners can gain access to useful learning resources. The Wikiversity objective of supporting active learners would be well served by connecting Wikiversity participants to research projects at conventional research institutions that are seeking online participants.

Original Research. "It would fundamentally alter the proposal either to include it, or to exclude it." <-- I agree. As it stands, the proposal leaves the door open for the community to decide on this in the future.

"Half of the proposal, in your statement, is Wikibooks materials." <-- No. If I wrote anything that suggests this, please show it to me. My position is that there are learning materials that ARE NOT TEXTBOOKS and these other learning resources will be of interest to Wikiversity participants. The Wikiversity proposal says that Wikiversity will both point to outside sources of such resources and develop new ones at Wikiversity.

"people will magically form into learning groups" <-- This is exactly the "magic" of wiki. I count Wikipedia Wikiprojects as examples of the kinds of wiki-based communities that arise by "magic". Wikiversity will support similar projects that are oriented towards learning about various topics. These Wikiversity-based Wikiprojects will function as "learning groups". I agree that there are special challenges that need to be faced in supporting online learning communities. This is why there should be a Wikiversity. Other Wikimedia projects do not explicitly try to support learning communities in the way that Wikiversity will.

"my experience in real life; home-schoolers and self-study tends to be predominately solo efforts, most successfully when the student has a textbook with a workbook or lab guide with both practice and scheduled examinations." <-- The question is, can Wikiversity create something new. My view is that Wikiversity is an experiment to test the idea that the wiki user interface can create new forms of online learning. "Wikiversity is an experiment: This is not a good reason to create a project" < I'm glad such caution did not control events when Wikipedia was started! I hope we have not already reached the point where people who are uncomfortable with the idea of exploring new and experimental wiki-based technologies are ready to start pulling back from the challenge of finding out just what we can do with wiki technology.

"you should be able to measure whether or not you are enabling learning" If learners are not learning at Wikiversity then they will leave; there will be no community, no editors, no page hits.

"Assessment refers to learning assessment: has the student learned some or much of the body of knowledge regarding the chosen topic?" I think an important part of Wikiversity will be Wikiversity user pages where Wikiversity participants document their learning goals, the learning projects they participate in and their satisfaction with and complaints about the Wikiversity learning process. There will also almost certainly be discussion pages for learning projects where there will be meta-discussion about the value of specific projects for learners. I'm not sure if you are suggesting the need for some sort of conventional assessment process such as tests and grades. The Wikiversity proposal is geared towards learners who are self-motivated, active learners. Such learners are often put-off by educators who think that student knowledge need be formally assessed. It may be that some Wikiversity participants will want conventional learning assessments and it may be that the community will develop them as an option. However, the Board has correctly pushed the Wikiversity community away from conventional elements such as courses, accreditation and conventional learning assessment that just do not fit well with the wiki format.
--JWSurf 15:43, 23 July 2006 (UTC)Reply

I'm afraid there seems to be little point to this discussion. You state that what you will do is build a curricula, that a curricula is a part of Wikibooks, and that what you will do is not covered by Wikibooks. You state that a knowledgeable group of motivated people might be able to create processes within a year or two, a group which is currently not a part of the Wikiversity proposal apparently, and that it will not take years and doesn't need to be thought about anyway because the community will decide it all. You dismiss assessment as something which discourages the kind of students you wish to attract, and you would substitute userpages for course organization and program coordination, leaving the proposal without any concept as to whether it's doing anything.
Do you have some basis for this concept of an experiment? Is there a theoretical framework from educational psychology which I have somehow failed to stumble across here? Because I frankly do not see any of the people so far involved in this learning experiment who have examined the area of science they are proposing a project into. Is this how you expect your learners to engage their topics? - Amgine / talk meta 03:58, 24 July 2006 (UTC)Reply
There is definitely a point to this discussion, Amgine - and I very much welcome your thoughts here. However, there do seem to be some misunderstandings - John is not claiming that we are simply building curricula on Wikiversity (and that this is its rationale, since Wikibooks cannot host curricula). All of that (italicised) POV is untrue. At Wikiversity, we are developing learning materials (which will not be of the form of books), as well as communities around those materials. So, people can find an exercise, targeted to their level, carry out its tasks, and then consolidate their learning through joining (or creating) a learning community around that subject. It will be up to the members of that community (some of whom want to teach their subjects) to organise its own activities in order to facilitate its members' learning.
I'm glad you brought up the theoretical perspective on learning in Wikiversity. People can, obviously, self-study and choose to work alone in Wikiversity - but the main thing that Wikiversity will facilitate is collaborative learning (see, eg. [1]). This is becoming the predominant form of pedagogy in online learning - in other words, what we are proposing (and what many of us deal with in our brick-and-mortar institutions) is part of an ever more established form of education. True, we will cater for the conventional education model (in providing materials which can be used (and modified) by a teacher for their class, applied within their own pedagogical framework), but we are also providing for this type of group learning, which is inherently suited to being hosted on a wiki. (As I said, there will be much on this during Wikimania, if you're interested.) It is true that this has an experimental edge to it (particularly the research element, for which we will need to develop guidelines), but the underlying pedagogy is well-founded. You asked whether we have examined the area of science we are looking into - for one, I'm currently writing my second Masters dissertation on this subject, and Debora (User:WiseWoman) is a professor in Berlin, who has been working in the area of e-learning for many years now. John has also been working with wikis in education, is a research coordinator, and has experience with university teaching. There are many people within the Wikimedia community who want to contribute, and have experience with some form of education - but more than this, we have a whole community who spend their lives working through wikis. I value this kind of experience within Wikiversity's participant-base, as well as having a theoretical background to it (which, I admit, we will need to make clearer than what is currently on Wikiversity:Learning). "Measurement" or assessment may well be designed into courses/programmes within Wikiversity, but this is up to the learners and the facilitators - not the proposal writers.
Overall, there is no single project (or even groups of projects) in Wikimedia which is about facilitating the kind of learning that Wikiversity aims to do. Furthermore, there is nowhere (even including Wikibooks) which can host the full range of learning materials that Wikiversity will. (True, Wikibooks will host some material which will overlap with wikiversity's, but wikiversity's material is a larger set than what Wikibooks has determined it will host - as per Wikibooks:What is Wikibooks.) While it is true that Wikiversity needs further development, that should not mean that it cannot be set up as a beta project (as Wikinews was). We know that the 'materials' part will work, but the 'communities' part will need time to develop and mature. For this, we simply need to get Wikiversity set up before we can fully realise its potential (and limitations). Cormaggio @ 12:58, 24 July 2006 (UTC)Reply
If the material can be hosted within a Wiki and it would be an element of a curriculum, I cannot see why it would not be a part of the curricular guide for the relevant textbook.
Where I see your proposed project differentiating itself from the other Wikimedia Foundation projects is in the active learning. While this is a laudable effort, I fundamentally disagree that a wiki is the proper software for this effort as you state; a wiki is not an optimal communications software, nor is it suited to the cyclical, transient nature of education. There are much more suitable software, as WiseWoman is clearly aware, even open source systems.
I also disagree with your statement that this model is the "predominant form of pedagogy in online learning." I, too, am peripherally involved in online instruction, primarily with WebCT. In addition, I'm aware of a range of distance learning tools and methods used at the undergraduate and graduate level in Canadian universities, as well as research in the health fields which, in point of fact, is often a self-directed learning process. In none of these models is there the approach of "we'll create course content, without assessment or oversight, and people will just show up and we'll call it a success when they appear."
May I suggest that the incubator wiki would be a possible location for hosting a beta version of this proposed project? You could there show how I am wrong about your curricular "materials", wrong that wiki is the best software for such an effort, and wrong about the viability of the method. I have several subjects in which I am personally interested in extending my knowledge base; I'd be happy to volunteer as a beta tester. - Amgine / talk meta 16:54, 24 July 2006 (UTC)Reply

Amgine discussion, continued[edit]

“You state that what you will do is build a curricula, that a curricula is a part of Wikibooks, and that what you will do is not covered by Wikibooks.” ← I’m not sure what point you are trying to make. Do you want a decision within the Wikimedia community that says Wikibooks deals with all aspects of the development of online curriculum resources and Wikiversity does not deal with the development of curriculum resources? You seem to implicitly reject the idea that there can be development of textbooks at Wikibooks and development of other types of learning resources at Wikiversity. The Wikibooks community has rather narrowly defined the content of Wikibooks to just textbooks. The Wikiversity proposal says that the Wikiversity project will be open to the development and hosting of all other types of learning resources (not textbooks). This is clearly a much broader goal than has been adopted by the Wikibooks project. To a certain extent, it is reasonable to talk about Wikiversity as building a curriculum, however, the Wikiversity proposal does not discuss any kind of organized effort to build an integrated system of academic studies. An integrated curriculum is fundamental to the one-size-fits-all factory model of education, a model that Wikiversity does not adopt. The first main objective of Wikiversity is to develop and host online learning resources and it is true that such resources could be used as learning aids within a conventional curriculum. However, the second major part of the Wikiversity model for online learning is more concerned with development of a distributed system of online activities that can facilitate individualized learning and learners who are exploring their personal interests outside of any conventional curriculum.

“You state that a knowledgeable group of motivated people might be able to create processes within a year or two, a group which is currently not a part of the Wikiversity proposal apparently, and that it will not take years and doesn't need to be thought about anyway because the community will decide it all.” ← The term “research” covers a very broad range of activities. Some activities that can be called “research” already exist to a limited extent within various Wikimedia projects. Most existing Wikimedia projects are either openly hostile to research or do not actively support it. The Wikiversity proposal says that Wikiversity will be supportive of the types of research activities that already exist within other Wikimedia projects. This in a new direction for Wikimedia because it is an initiative to support activities that have so far only been tolerated within other Wikimedia projects, not actively supported. In addition, the Wikiversity proposal indicates that the Wikiversity community will be open to exploration of the idea that a broader range of research activities can be supported within the wiki user environment. I personally reject the idea that the research component of Wikiversity “doesn't need to be thought about”. When the Board reviewed the original Wikiversity proposal no objection was raised to the idea that Wikiversity would be open to research and community development of a policy for dealing with research activities. I agree that it is not obvious that the Wikiversity community will be able to support original research. Exploration of how to support original research at Wikiversity will be an exploration in a new direction for the Wikimedia community. Being open to such an exploration is a relatively minor component of the Wikiversity proposal. I do not see how it makes sense to suggest that some detailed plan for research has to be in place at this time. It is sensible to propose that the community will address this issue in the future. You seem to object to the idea that “the community will decide it all.” I would be interested to hear what alternative method could be used for the development of Wikiversity.

“you would substitute userpages for course organization and program coordination” ← I mentioned the idea that that the userpages of Wikiversity participants could play a role in facilitating feedback about Wikiversity from individual Wikiversity participants to the community. I also mentioned other meta-discussion pages that would exist for evaluating Wikiversity. “course organization” ← There is some utility in using terms such as “course” to discuss the learning activities that will be available at Wikiversity, however, the proposed Wikiversity model for online learning moves away from conventional courses. A major component of the Wikiversity proposal is the “learning project” which is by definition a self-organizing wiki project. The Wikiversity learning projects will have discussion pages where project participants can discuss how to coordinate their activities in the usual wiki way.

“leaving the proposal without any concept as to whether it's doing anything.” ← I assume you mean “leaving the project without…”. You seem to implicitly reject the idea that there is a standard way of measuring the success of wikis (page hits, page creation, page edits). Wikiversity will have policies for content and the community will make sure that Wikiversity content is restricted to its learning-oriented mission. My personal expectation is that Wikiversity content will be created mainly by Wikiversity participants who are engaged in Wikiversity-hosted learning projects. These Wikiversity participants will only remain and contribute if they feel that they are part of an exciting and growing community of explorers and learners. If Wikiversity does not provide an environment where participants feel that they are learning, then there will be few participants and the project will die. I seriously believe that project growth will provide a valid measure of if the project is “doing anything.”

“Do you have some basis for this concept of an experiment” ← There is a large literature on "individualized education" which is a relevant starting point for thinking about learning in a wiki environment. However, I think that wiki technology will provide a new twist on individualized learning. The existing literature on individualized education mostly concerns how a conventional education system can accommodate learners who want to learn by following their personal interests. A common approach to individualized learning is to treat individualized learners as a minority group that exists outside of the mainstream. Wikiversity will be able to host a community of participants who enjoy and seek out opportunities for individualized learning. Within this Wikiversity-hosted community, individualized learning will not be a minority path that needs to be merely accommodated. My expectation is that within this community it will be discovered that the individual interests of learners are not really the interests of a minority. I believe that Wikiversity will demonstrate that when individuals are allowed to explore their personal interests these explorers will find that they do have common interests and that those common interests of learners will more clearly reveal the true “majority interests” of learners than does the conventional education system. This online community will use new technologies that support online community organization and collaboration and these new online communities of learners will discover new ways to explore their interests, ways that are not utilized by the conventional education system. I think the only way to find out if this is the case is to give Wikiversity a try. I doubt if any scholar can claim to know the ultimate powers and limitations of wiki technology.

“how you expect your learners to engage their topics?” ← I am skeptical about the possibility of predicting exactly what form Wikiversity will attain. I expect that Wikiversity participants will heavily use communications methods such as video chat and video conferencing in order interact in real time with other members of the community. I support the goal of MediaWiki development towards better communications tools such as the idea of integrating a text-based discussion system into MediaWiki and it would make sense to make such a system available at Wikiversity. Conventional wiki “talk pages” are too limiting. I think Wikiversity participants will state their learning goals and identify other members of the community with overlapping interests. Those who share common learning goals will cooperate on learning projects and learning will take place while the project participants develop Wikiversity content. In some cases, Wikiversity learning projects will be “literature review groups” that find and discuss the existing literature on a topic. Such learning groups will sometimes support the development of other Wikimedia projects by finding good sources and adding new content to Wikiversity and Wikibooks. The default wiki editing activity for Wikiversity learning project participants will be the editing of Wikiversity pages that are concerned with the development of online learning projects that support learning about particular topics.

“If the material can be hosted within a Wiki and it would be an element of a curriculum, I cannot see why it would not be a part of the curricular guide for the relevant textbook.” ← Learning materials developed by Wikiversity participants should be able to move to Wikibooks as long as those materials fit with the narrow definition of Wikibooks content that has been developed by that project. The whole community will have to decide where particular types of learning materials are hosted, probably with the first goal being to have Wikiversity simply provide links to other websites that are willing to host high-bandwidth resources such as educational video. There is an important distinction between mentioning a learning resource as “part of the curricular guide” and actually hosting that learning resource at Wikibooks. If something like a PowerPoint presentation was made by a learning group at Wikiversity or was donated to Wikiversity by an educator, would Wikibooks want to host it?

I suspect that most Wikiversity content will not be clearly identifiable as a conventional “element of a curriculum”. My expectation is that most Wikiversity content will be generated by Wikiversity participants who are engaged in Wikiversity-hosted learning projects and these Wikiversity participants will not be particularly interested in creating learning material “usable in an existing class”.

For example, the Wikiversity proposal suggests that there could be a Wikiversity project devoted to learning how to write code for MediaWiki. Such a Wikiversity learning project would probably involve things like a “help desk” that is able to support interactions between learners and a mentoring team. In the “active learning” model of Wikiversity, the learners would probably participate in discussion of what new features should be coded and the creation of pieces of code. The set of pages at Wikiversity that support such a learning group would be important Wikiversity content. A set of wiki pages that supports a group of learners could be classified as an element of a non-traditional "Wikiversity curriculum". It is not clear that Wikibooks would be open to hosting these wiki pages. Some Wikiversity participants would probably work to build the MediaWiki Developer's Handbook, but it would also make sense for that book to just link back to relevant content at Wikiversity.

“I fundamentally disagree that a wiki is the proper software for this effort as you state; a wiki is not an optimal communications software, nor is it suited to the cyclical, transient nature of education.” ← I am suspicious of the idea that there is a “proper software” for online learning. This sounds like someone in 1930 trying to define the “proper airplane” as one with a propeller.

"we'll create course content, without assessment or oversight, and people will just show up and we'll call it a success when they appear." ← An argument could have been advanced against Wikipedia when it started: “How can you create the content of an encyclopedia without assessment or oversight?” Many critics of Wikipedia still claim that Wikipedia will never really be a success because it relies on the wiki system of community participation. The “assessment and oversight“ comes from the wiki community. I know that some people do not trust the power of wiki communities to “do the right thing”, but I’m not sure that such opinions can be expected to have a great deal of influence on people who want to explore the power of wiki technology.

“May I suggest that the incubator wiki would be a possible location for hosting a beta version of this proposed project?” ← The Wikiversity proposal was previously approved by the community. The Board requested some modifications to the original project proposal. Those modifications have been made. Personally, I’d like to see a compelling argument for placing any new barriers in front of the project at this time. Even if the Wikibooks community decided that it would host all types of “curricular materials" (which seems to be against their currently defined policy), there would still be a place for Wikiversity as a place that will support the development of such materials. Yes, wiki software has limitations, but why is that a reason for not exploring what can be done to support online learning with wiki technology? A conscious decision by the Wikimedia community to NOT carry out such an exploration needs to be justified by more than doubts from a minority about what will happen in the future. A new-born wiki community is fragile. Potential participants have to decide if they should invest their efforts. Anything less than full approval of Wikiversity as a Wikimedia sister project would probably just be a very public and ugly way to kill the project in slow motion. Yes, Wikiversity might fail to become a stable and growing wiki. But at least if we give it a serious try then the WikiMedia community will know that it had given the idea a fair test.
--JWSurf 19:53, 25 July 2006 (UTC)Reply

Wikiversity, as named, should get its Wikiversity:Main_Page in full gear.[edit]

Hello everyone,

Since most of the comments that I see here are fairly recent, rather than the multitude of 2005 Wikiversity comments that I've found everywhere else in Meta, I thought that I'd stop in here to ask you this one simple question. Where is the correct place to go to talk about the state of Wikiversity today. Thanks. --Ermeyers 20:59, 19 July 2006 (UTC)Reply

There is also a low volume WMF mailing list. If you wish to query the WMF members directly there is a different list for foundation specific issues. 05:13, 3 August 2006 (UTC)Reply

When is this project going to be up an running?[edit]

It's was voted on a long time ago, can someone just start up an test site and see where it goes from their? Maybe someone with an independent wiki could start it up and then port it back into the project space when this proposal finnaly gets approved. --User:Rayc from wikipedia

The last rumor I heard was that the Special projects committee has discussed the current version of the Wikiversity project proposal and there was a favorable response. The Wikimedia Board of Trustees must still give their approval for the project. It is possible that Wikiversity will launch in August. --JWSurf 17:33, 28 July 2006 (UTC)Reply
I can confirm this. We are now awaiting feedback from the board, and we will hopefully be up and running by Wikimania (or, if not, then very soon after). Cormaggio @ 12:20, 29 July 2006 (UTC)Reply
Are there minutes or committee resolutions available that a link can be provided for interested parties? 05:07, 3 August 2006 (UTC)Reply
"We are now awaiting feedback from the board" <-- I assume this means that there was a resolution passed by the Special projects committee that is not listed at Special projects committee/Resolutions. --JWSurf 20:59, 3 August 2006 (UTC)Reply
Yes, there was a resolution - it will be made public once it has been approved for publication. And to update on "when Wikiversity will be up and running", well, I will try to confirm this now, but we are currently in the midst of Wikimania, so I'm not sure how much time the relevant people (ie board) will have over the next few days. I thought it might be in place by Wikimania, but it may be just after. Cormaggio @ 21:12, 3 August 2006 (UTC)Reply

Text of the special projects committee's Wikiversity Resolution and vote by the Board.
--JWSurf 05:02, 15 August 2006 (UTC)Reply

A Major Oversight in the Proposal[edit]

We should make it clear in the proposal that Wikiversity intends to function as a standalone project with its own government/management process and seeks sponsorship from the WMF in the form of servers. Obviously the WMF can lay out requirements for sponsorship (such as no courses or attempts to gain accreditation). Just as obviously, in the event of large future success, the Wikiversity can establish its own infrastructure in the event that controversy or incompatibilities with future directions of the WMF Board or other sponsored WMF projects convince the Wikiversity community to become independent of the WMF. The written agreement and approval by the WMF Board and the Activation Committee should make this clear and establish that Logos and URLs used by Wikiversity belong to the Wikiversity project and would go with the Wikiversity project should the community through it governing process decide to establish or seek infrastructure support elsewhere. If this is not done then Wikiversity will always be subject to huge delays, such as we have already seen, in decision loops which can greatly diminish its chances of success. Experience with the Wiki format for projects has shown that agile communities can suceed rapidly (Wikiipedia, Wiktionary) while overly regulated and ignored communities (see project and proposed projects list at meta) tend to fade or drift into static nonperformance. Direct experience with the existing Wikiversity prototypes have demonstrated the damage that unstable URLs can inflict on Wiki style community projects. 07:21, 3 August 2006 (UTC) lazyquasarReply

I just can't understand this. This whole reason we have spent so long in getting Wikiversity set up in the way we have is so it will be a Wikimedia project. You're perfectly free to set up an independent project, just as anyone else is, and always have been. But Wikiversity, as proposed, will be a Wikimedia project - full stop. On future decision-making, I don't think we should take the process so far to reflect necessarily every development that will happen in the future; for example, policy development, will, as on all other Wikimedia projects, be an openly collaborative process. Cormaggio @ 20:12, 3 August 2006 (UTC)Reply
"Wikiversity can establish its own infrastructure" <-- I think you mean that it will be possible for there to be a fork of the Wikiversity project. It is always possible for wiki projects to fork (example), but I'm not sure why the issue needs to be mentioned here, now. As far as I know the Wikimedia Foundation will be in control of URLs and any copyrighted components of the Wikiversity project. If the Wikiversity project ever forks, the new (non-Wikimedia Foundation) fork will have to get its own servers, its own project name and a new URL. A possible exception to this would be if the Foundation decided to sell Wikiversity to another entity and in so doing transfer the URL and all components of the project to a new owner.
"If this is not done then Wikiversity will always be subject to huge delays"<-- I'm not sure what sort of delays you are imagining. Can you explain? --JWSurf 21:25, 3 August 2006 (UTC)Reply
"policy development, will, as on all other Wikimedia projects, be an openly collaborative process" <-- I have been wondering if it might be wise to make an explicit statement about Wikiversity policy such as: "at its launch, Wikiversity will make use of Wikipedia policy as a default until the Wikiversity community establishes new education-oriented policies that may diverge from Wikipedia policies." --JWSurf 21:31, 3 August 2006 (UTC)Reply

Wikiversity project mentioned at Wikimania[edit]

See: Jimbo Wales - opening session at Wikimania. --JWSurf 16:05, 4 August 2006 (UTC)Reply

If you download the file, you can find Wikiversity mentioned between 27m:07s and 28m:53s (at the end you just hear Jimbo reacting to my yippee from the back of the room ;-)), as well as again (briefly) between 47m:09s and 49m:09s (on "freeing the curriculum"). Cormaggio @ 15:57, 10 August 2006 (UTC)Reply
Yes, this was great. Also, I'll be participating (at short notice) in a panel this morning (Room 102 @ 9:30 EST) - it should be recorded, and I'll post a link here if I find it. Cormaggio @ 11:03, 5 August 2006 (UTC)Reply

Learning Objects[edit]

What of w:Learning objects and w:Learning object metadata? Are they part of Wikiversity's future? Quinobi 20:57, 5 August 2006 (UTC)Reply

I started a page, Learning object metadata just in case. Quinobi 05:39, 8 August 2006 (UTC)Reply

Wikiversity proposal modifications[edit]

Wikiversity is a center to support learning, teaching, and research in the free culture movement.

  • Rationale: Put the emphasis on the action and not on the materials
  • Rationale: Put the emphasis on the activity and not the people. In a read-write world a user is also a creator.
  • Rationale: Make it clear that we are talking free as in speech and not free as in beer. People can and should charge money for these things as along as they have unencumbered copyrights. *** You can't leave the money to the proprietary people ***
  • Rationale: When we start to talk about how to support learning, teaching, and research, we are going to start talking about money, and one contribution that I can make is that I can talk a lot about money.

Remove everything else from the mission statement. We shouldn't limit ourselves as to *how* we achieve this mission.

Remove the "e-learning" model from the project proposal. We really have no idea how best to teach people online (or if there is a best way or even if teaching is a valid concept) and we shouldn't pretend we do. Instead of assuming a model, then just do it, and see what happens.

Remove the section on degree granting institution. Wikiversity *does* not grant degrees. There is absolutely no reason to say that Wikiversity *should* not or *will* not grant degrees. It's actually less hard to grant accreditted degrees than one might think. Olin College started with $500,000 send money, and Ars Digital University didn't start with that much money. If someone comes by and wants to get wikimedia to start a degree granting institution, it needs to be thought and discussed, but one shouldn't say no to begin with.

I say we strip everything from the proposal except for that one sentence goal. Everything else we can evolve on the wiki. There are about five or six pages that I can put as a seed.

Roadrunner 05:40, 7 August 2006 (UTC)Reply

Label activities and not people!!!!![edit]

It is very important if Wikiversity is to avoid the pathologies that infect most universities that we label activities and do not label people. I know more about the collapse of type II supernova than my six year old son. He knows a lot more about Pokemon than I will. The second you label me a teacher because I have a Ph.D. and him a student because he has just finished kindergarten, you've destroyed the heart of what could make Wikiversity different. In a class on Pokemon, he is the expert, and I'm the student.

This is a small rather harmless example, but there are some nastier ones. Why is a professor who has never been a third world peasant lecturing third world peasants on the problems of third world peasants?

Once you start labelling activities and not people, then there are a huge number of social implications. If people aren't clearly faculty or students then it makes no sense to have a faculty club or student union.

The big problem with academia is that you create this hierarchical nasty social class structure that no one likes (not even the people at the top). We need to make sure that we start with the goal of minimizing the class structure (which means the template box needs to get rewritten).

(Also once you label activities rather than people, then people stop caring about the labels they get.)

Roadrunner 05:54, 7 August 2006 (UTC)Reply

Be bold!!![edit]

Let's create a learning and research institution that challenges MIT (my alma mater), Harvard, Yale, and Oxbridge. They need to be challenged. They want to be challenged. Why can't we challenge them? Roadrunner 06:08, 7 August 2006 (UTC)Reply

Being bold....[edit]

I've said everything I need to say. You can look at more of my thoughts at and also the fact that I've already done a beta, prototype test of wikiversity at and there are a lot of lessons, that I'd be willing to share with people.

I'm too busy actually trying to do research and learning to get too involved in political discussion. There are about five or six things (and lots of random bits of useful experience) that I need right now from people and I'm dumping them onto the wikiversity page.

Roadrunner 06:21, 7 August 2006 (UTC)Reply

See notes on degrees[edit]

I've added some notes on the wikiversity page on how wikiversity can (and should) grant degrees. I've also started a "case study" of trying to figure out what it would take to do a Bachelor of Science in Physics that could get someone admitted to a doctoral program.

In the case of specialized degrees what the professional societies think is *far* more important than what the regional accreditors think. If the American Astronomical Society thinks that a bachelor's degree is good and schools are willing to accept these students into graduate programs, then the fact that a regional accreditator doesn't accredit the degree is irrelevant. (Regional accreditors just accredit institutions.)

Students look for degrees so that

  * they can get jobs
  * they can get qualified for further education

And there is no reason that wikiversity can't provide instructions on how to put together a degree through independent learning using free culture materials. Since we have this social network, we can ask employers want they want, and grad school admission committee folk what they want.

In the case of Bachelor of Physics, one shouldn't put too much emphasis on the course list, because what is on the course list is not a very important factor in graduate school admissions. What is important is whether or not the student seems to have a grasp of the basic skills and is capable of independent research.

Roadrunner 07:43, 7 August 2006 (UTC)Reply

I will raise the point here that Wikiversity can't grant degrees by mandate of the board of trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation. Any degrees that are granted must be approved by that board, and will have to go through a rigerous approval process well before that occurs. In addition, academic standards will have to be raised to astronomical levels (compared to most academic standards on most Wikimedia projects) before accredation standards can possibly be met for Wikiversity. Mainly, this is something that may happen in the future, but I would count on waiting at least a decade or more before it happens, if it ever does.
I do support the idea that eventually degrees may be conferred by Wikiversity, but let's not get ahead of the real issue here. We are trying to establish Wikiversity in the first place and get a place started that will do community education. This is a long road, and even before trying to issue a certificate of completion, let's get a few courses established that could even get a curriculum going. Degrees are so far down the road I can't even see the details on how they would be established. --Roberth 20:42, 9 August 2006 (UTC)Reply
We're talking about a yet-to-be-declared Board of Trustees. Moreover, not all so-called yet-to-exist Trustees would be knowledgable in certain subjects in academia. Also, where exactly is this mandate that degrees must be approved by the board (and is it prudent for this to be so)? Finally, academic standards need not be raised too much higher, since there are reputable degree-granting universities with standards lower than what's already available in both Wikibooks/Wikipedia. Don't be cynical and don't expect the Internet to work as slowly as the real world; this can happen, soon, too! --Yosofun 09:20, 12 August 2006 (UTC)Reply

Started degree plan for Bachelor of Science in Physics[edit]

I've started a degree plan for a Bachelor of Science in Physics. The goal of this degree plan is to provide the "MIT Course 8 experience" in a way that is scalable to thousands if not millions of students rather than the seventy that it is there right now. BS in Physics Wikiversity Plans] is presumably the missing link above. Interestingly, the guy proposes accreditation with certain universities. But, I believe the Physics degree should be one of the first ones; every single new university starts with a physics department. --Yosofun 09:13, 12 August 2006 (UTC)Reply

How active is this project?[edit]

Who is actively working on this?

I have a very clearly defined vision for what Wikiversity should and could be, and I'd like to make some massive changes to the Wikiversity pages to reflect that vision. If there is a community consensus to do something, I'll respect it, but I haven't heard any feedback, positive or negative, on the edits I've made, or the direction I think Wikiversity should go.

To summarize. I'm in this for some pretty selfish purposes. There are about four or five things that I want wikiversity to give me. I want information on the quantitative finance job situation in NYC. I want the names of cheap hostels. I want to be a respected academic, and traditional academia won't give that to me. I want to blow up the gatekeeppers and the academic admission boards since they've been nasty to me. In exchange, there is lots of stuff I can contribute to Wikiversity. Namely, I've already been involved in one effort to set up an online university, and I know a lot of the pitfalls. (One is too much talk, not enough real stuff done.)

Also, I think it is a mistake to go for "board approval" without an active community. "Approvals" is why academia is in a mess. People needs to be taught to go and just do what needs to be do rather than waiting for approval.

So how boldly I can edit?

Roadrunner 13:38, 8 August 2006 (UTC)Reply

I think that further edits of the "modified Wikiversity proposal" are not going to be useful. As far as I can tell (based on what was said at Wikimania), the proposal as it existed at the end of July was evaluated by the Wikimedia Board of Trustees and approved. The proposal that was approved by the Board is a plan for how to launch Wikiversity. During the first six months of the project, it will be important to set up the new website and establish the two main proposed components of the project. Also, the Wikiversity community will have to try to decide on policies for research activities that will be supported by Wikiversity. That much is in the proposal that the Board approved. The community is free to work towards additional goals. I suspect that many people are reluctant to try to do much development of the project until the new Wikiversity website is set up. --JWSurf 01:33, 9 August 2006 (UTC)Reply

Wikiversity is or can be ...[edit]

(Note: Doug left me this on my talk page, but I'm just posting it here (edited) for everyone to see..) Cormaggio @ 19:00, 10 August 2006 (UTC)Reply

  • an expanding online sphere of learners and scholars?
  • a community of communities of knowledge workers?
  • an internet university?
  • a repository of and for academic curricula, projects, and explorations?
  • a social production network for collaboration in knowledge investigation and creation?
  • a critical and reflective dimension of the wikimedia universe?
  • many online discourses in dialog?
  • a multiversity? and/or...
  • one complex node in the emerging multiversity of the interaction of many large online and offline endeavors in the practice of human knowledge making and sharing?
  • a multidimensional intersection of a wide variety of traditional and nontraditional learning and researching methods, schools of thought, and experiments?
  • something(s) new
  • a whole lot of fun
  • all of these in interaction and more?

The above are just some nuggets of thoughts: Fragments of visioning and pondering as I absorb the Wikiversity proposal. Perhaps a list of different visions in seed form, perhaps like this or perhaps more articulated, could be expanded and then prioritized for most relevance to Wikiversity. Has something like this been done--if so, where? If not, I think this could be interesting to do. One aim in inviting comments in such an exercise could be to access various alternative and emergent discourses about collaborative learning and scholarship. Reswik 18:43, 10 August 2006 (UTC)Reply

At Wikimania Jimmy Wales said something about how we should run many small experimets that test ideas and that we need to be flexible and change so as to adopt the ideas that work. I hope that Wikiversity can have a "a list of different visions in seed form" and a community that will be ready to explore and experiment. The requirement for "a whole lot of fun" is fundamental. Learning should be fun. Wikiversity should be should be a place of play. --JWSurf 21:25, 10 August 2006 (UTC)Reply
I agree that Wikiversity should be fun, easy to navigate, and home to a vibrant community, but with a "serious" side, as well. Reswik, for "different visions in seed form" you might have a look at Communitas and Talk:Communitas if you haven't already. Wikiversity is very important to the Communitas/Prioritas vision. We've touched many of the above points. • Quinobi 22:25, 10 August 2006 (UTC)Reply
JW, Doing lots of small experiments sounds like a good plan. One experiment could be an ongoing "different visions" experiment -- generating many views of possibilities -- revising these in relation to outcomes of dialog and experiments -- playing with combinations and summarizing those somehow -- iterating those steps. Quinobi, Communitas looks very interesting. I'll tune in there. FYI, I'll be mostly offline this coming week. Best, Doug/Reswik 14:41, 12 August 2006 (UTC)Reply

On Accreditation[edit]

Though the current proposal on Wikiversity holds the stance against accreditation, I can think of several reasons off the top of my head why the possibility of accreditation should be reconsidered.

Accreditation would make Wikiversity much more useful and popular. Moreover, it is in-sync with the philosophy of Wikimedia. Imagine a world where one needs to spend only one's study time to get a degree--no paycheck drain or scholarship drain necessary. Wikiversity, the fully accredited free university.

Through partnerships with existing universities and various outreach programs, accreditation might be possible. With endeavors such as the OLPC project, the whole world will have access to an Internet-capable computer. If Wikiversity comes along, kids in third world countries can attain a university degree for free - money and place no barrier - what if you don't want to leave your home to become hopelessly Americanized? --Yosofun 09:09, 12 August 2006 (UTC)Reply

Personally, I view the Wikiversity project proposal as a short list of priorities for launching the project. As is true for any wiki, what Wikiversity ultimately becomes will depend on what the Wikiversity community can accomplish. Accreditation is a slow process that follows the establishment of a school. An established set of standards and peer review are typically very important parts of an accreditation process. Wikiversity is going to be an exploration of how to use wiki technology to support online learning. I think it is unrealistic to imagine that Wikiversity will replicate a conventional learning environment (based on conventional courses) that can be accredited just like any conventional institution of learning. Wikiversity is going to discover and develop new modes of online learning that are suitable for the wiki user interface, not adopt strategies that evolved to serve bricks-and-mortar institutions. At some point in time, far in the future, Wikiversity might be able to establish standards for wiki-based learning. Eventually, there might be many learning-oriented wikis and they might be able to establish a system for peer review. My best guess is that all this will take a great deal of time and it will be many years before the Wikiversity community needs to be concerned with accreditation. I think Wikiversity should have "outreach programs". A first step could be having online Wikiversity-based projects and activities that bricks-and-mortar education institutions will want to make use of as "assignments" for students who are taking conventional courses. Eventually, conventional online educational institutions might design courses around Wikiversity content and give their students credit for completing those courses. With time, it might be possible for a conventional online educational institution to have a complete course of study that is based on Wikiversity content. --JWSurf 15:38, 12 August 2006 (UTC)Reply
I think it's exciting to see Wikiversity as an experiment that will discover and develop new modes of online learning suitable for the wiki UI, straying away from traditional learning strategies. Also, since we are straying away from the old brick-and-mortar institutions, we might as well realize how unnecessary the old slow processes of accreditation are. The establishment of a school, traditionally, is slow often due to funding issues, which perhaps bar its expansion. WM, however, does not suffer from this expansion problem; rather, I'd say, WM's established itself rather well. Moreover, since there is now a standardized curriculum in the basic science disciplines all founding universities start with (physics/math/chemistry), there is already an established set of standards from which to compare the potential Wikiversity degree (in the basic sciences) with. The point is that the old systems of designing a degree often involves many meetings, where very little go on, sometimes stagnating when the defining members of the new degree somehow cannot make it! A lot of the traditional difficulties might be eliminated through proper usage of MW. Yosofun 02:42, 15 August 2006 (UTC)Reply


I have to agree here with John on the time table to get degrees granted by Wikiversity. It is going to take years, many years, before Wikiversity is going to be ready to grant a bachelor's degree, much less graduate degrees. The standards for associate degrees tends to be considerably less, and it may be possible in a few years to see something akin to an associate degree being granted by Wikiversity.
For the moment, this is going to be learning for knowledge's sake, and not for achieving any sort of formal academic credentials. This is both going to democratize the instructor pool (there aren't going to be any specific academic credentials required for teaching) as well as open the opportunities for people from very diverse backgrounds from being able to participate at relatively low cost.
I hope that some sort of "certificates of completion" will also be eventually given out for some projects, but it should be noted that such certificates won't be considered a degree, and their merit and value will have to stand independently of other academic qualifications.
Even something as simple as a continuing education credit (CEU's as they are sometimes called) is going to require some serious effort on the part of the Wikiversity participants. If you want to shoot for a very, very tough but realistic goal for a formal notation of academic qualifications, perhaps this is where we need to strive to move Wikiversity at the moment. Even then, having hundreds of CEUs don't qualify you to earn a degree, and CEUs are only really good for people who already have a bachelor's degree from another university and are trying to maintain educational credentials. That is a very small subset of potential Wikiversity participants. --Roberth 18:28, 14 August 2006 (UTC)Reply
    The problem with democratizing the instrutor pool is that of notorious un-notability... in other words, what if you have a scientist believing that the world is flat teaching a science course--with the secret intent of brainwashing his innocent students into believing in his heresy? Or worse, what if you have someone who not only believes, but actually doesn't know that the world is not flat convincing everyone else that it is? Instead of that, I propose using the established standards to create an examination, which potential instructors must past before becoming instructors. One way this can be implemented, while keeping everything democratic, is by selecting questions for the exam fromh a pool of questions submitted by users in a particular subject field.
    Also, since you mention that you're in favor of Certificates of Completion, you might consider how organizations (just a few months older than Wikipedia) such as Brainbench have become respectable issuers of Certification. It's true that Certification is not regarded the same as a degree, but you have to consider just what a degree is. I'm going to quote what I said on your userpage to bring the topic to light to others:
     Though Wikiversity is still in its foundational throes, I'm not sure if the reasons you provided justify the initial straying away from being a degree-granting institute. First of all, you should not assume that Wikiversity is a scam, especially not one akin to those that proclaim, "Give me $1000, and I'd give you a B.S." The core of the scam in such notorious Internet presences is the extortion of money without the proper transmission of the knowledge that should come from such a transaction. In other words, the traditional purpose of a degree is something like a [Userbox]: it concisely summarizes the skill a person has attained from a period of study, and it helps the employer gauge the person's ability to contribute to their relational concern. The scams can't possibly offer that, but WM can.
    That being said, from the sheer intellectual wealth of the WM Foundation, a dearth of knowledge is definitely not a problem -- nor, given the number of google hits, is the transmission of knowledge. As mentioned at Mania, one of WM's main goals in the upcoming year should be increasing the quality of articles -- essentially, notability. Translated to the needs of Wikiversity, this means that Wikiversity ought to offer a degree in its inception, both to assert its notability and to provide incentive for potential students to participate in depth: With the exception of a few polymaths, people tend to have "interests of the moment," and long-term interests, the latter of which is more easily attained by having a socially-acceptable goal to work for -- this, in the traditional parlance, is called a degree. Would you want to spend four years studying Ancient Sumarian obscurities otherwise?
    The point is that a degree is what's offered after a bit of work in about 4-year's worth of study in a particular concentration -- it's a marker of skill and knowledge, think of it as the real world's Userbox. Its notability is often backed by the fame of the institute that grants it, but that's really only secondary. What matters, to most students, is that he gets one at the end of all that work... and I still don't see why Wikiversity can't offer it to start with... Yosofun 02:42, 15 August 2006 (UTC)Reply

en.Wikiversity exists![edit]

Wikiversity (English) has finally been set up. Knock yourself out! Cormaggio @ 08:24, 15 August 2006 (UTC)Reply