Wikiversity/Faculty club

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Note: This page contains a suggested system for support of original research at Wikiversity. It is not clear that Wikiversity will ever allow any original research. Issues such as those raised below must be taken into account and a set of research policies developed if the Wikiversity community is going to open its arms to original research.


The role of "experts" as Wikipedia editors has always been controversial. Often, the people who know the most about a topic are advised not to edit articles about that topic because of the danger of introducing personal biases. Well-documented and objectively-verifiable "facts" are given preference over expert opinion. While Wikiversity adopts this attitude, Wikiversity also wants to encourage the participation of experienced educators who will share their expertise within the Wikiversity community. Wikiversity faculty members have three roles:

  1. trusted advisors for students
  2. trusted editors for resolving content disputes
  3. ambassadors for facilitating interactions between Wikiversity and professional educators and researchers outside of Wikiversity

Trust[edit]

In order for Wikiversity to function efficiently as a meeting place for learners and experienced teachers, it is important that Wikiversity have a system that will allow participants to know something about the backgrounds of people they interact with at Wikiversity. Wikiversity faculty members need to have a public record of constructive activity within Wikiversity. This public record depends on the record of page edits that exists in the "history" of each wiki page. If a Wikiversity participant makes useful edits and has constructive interactions with other members of the community, their edit history will reflect their service to the community. However, it is cumbersome to review the edit history of a wiki editor. Wikiversity needs a systematic way to convert edit histories into faculty evaluations. How does a wiki deal with this sort of problem?

Wikipedia has developed a special subset of wiki editors: administrators. A wiki administrator is a "trusted member of the community" who has undergone an explicit peer-review by the community. Administrators are experienced wiki editors and are expected to have knowledge of the community policies that regulate how the wiki works. Wikiversity, like all WikiMedia projects, needs administrators. However, when it comes to disputes over article content, administrators are no different from any other wiki editor. Being an administrator for a wiki indicates a certain amount of expertise about that wiki, but says nothing about expertise in any other area.

Peer review of faculty members[edit]

In addition to administrators, Wikipedia has other "functionaries" who perform special tasks. A Wikiversity faculty member is a member of the community who makes a special commitment to share their expertise with the community. The special commitment includes submitting to a peer-review process by which the community openly documents the past history of faculty member in such a way that it becomes relatively easy for other members of the community to know if the faculty member has expertise in particular subject areas that are of interest to the Wikiversity community. As for other wiki functionaries, being a faculty member is not an "honor", it is a commitment to perform special tasks for the community. In particular, Wikiversity faculty members will be called upon for help with those tasks that require expert knowledge about a subject area within Wikiversity.

Expert opinion in content disputes[edit]

Wikipedia has always had to deal with simple vandalism and more sophisticated "jokes" and falsifications. Persistent problems are met by blocking users from editing and protecting pages from being edited. Sometimes "spoof" articles are added to Wikipedia that pass the casual inspection of vandalism patrollers. It takes an expert to spot a good spoof. Wikiversity needs experts who can provide informed opinion when there are disputes or uncertainty about Wikiversity content. Wikiversity faculty members have the special obligation of recognizing spoofs and frauds and explaining to non-experts how to understand that specific Wikiversity content is bogus.

Ambassadorial function[edit]

Wikiversity is devoted to exploration of how to use the wiki user interface to promote learning. While exploring new ways of learning, Wikiversity seeks to have constructive relations with the "outside world" of more conventional educational institutions. Wikiversity tries to provide educational resources to the world and also provides a platform by which educators and researchers from all around the world can interact. Many working professionals cannot commit their time to projects unless they trust the people they are working with. Wikiversity does not use a standard system of academic credentials, so outside professionals face a problem in knowing if they can have a professional interaction with members of the Wikiversity community. The process by which Wikiversity openly evaluates the performance of Wikiversity faculty members provides a system for designating trusted members of the Wikiversity community with expert knowledge in certain topic areas. Wikiversity faculty members can function as ambassadorial contacts for outside professionals seeking to build collaborative projects with Wikiversity.

Peer review of original research[edit]

Conducting original research is not the main mission of Wikiversity, but unlike the long-standing policy of Wikipedia, original research is not excluded from Wikiversity. Any original research that arises within Wikiversity must be clearly identified as such and subjected to formal peer review. The Wikiversity peer review process will be entirely transparent and openly conducted in wiki format. Wikipedia faculty members will act as reviewers of original research within Wikiversity.

See also[edit]


The U  in Wikiversity          (edit)
Find your place in the Wikiversity community
Education    - Hunter-gatherers | Scholars | Browsers | Masters
Service        - Wikipedia | Wikinews | Wikibooks
Research     - secondary | original | collaboration
Other           - Support staff | Student union | Faculty club