I'm a new to wikiversity, although I have been using wikipedia for quite
some time now. I actually stumbled on the wikiversity site today as I
independently thought of an idea for an "internet university" and have been
doing research on the idea, only to find that there have been efforts to do
something similar for some time.
I feel like I'm jumping into the middle of a discussion that I haven't heard
much of, so please forgive me for my ignorance of most things that have been
suggested and tossed about before.
I get the sense that the idea for Wikiversity is rather vague and nebulous
at the moment, with many conflicting ideas of where it should go and how it
should evolve, especially vis-a-vis accreditation.
The vision of a free wikiversity for everyone to attend, a respectable and
revolutionary new way to learn and receive high degrees, while very
egalitarian, seems like a very difficult task precisely because the idea is
so centralized. Every university, whether explicit or implict, has its own
values and "opinions" on what constitutes a good education. Any one
organization is never going to be able to please everyone and fit everyone,
even if nested in the internet.
The approach I had originally considered was in reaction to MITs
revolutionary decision to share their curriculum, lectures, ect with the
public, effectively allowing one an MIT education if one applied oneself.
The founding of wikiversity is clearly in response to a sense among many of
the vast potential of a new model of learning. Rather than arguing about
the exact form of wikiversity, I think there is great potential for private
setups, whether they be non for profit or otherwise, which can utilize
resources such as wiki and MIT.
My own idea is based on the system of Reed College. At Reed students
prepare in their first three years, through classes, for the writing of
their thesis, which is a requirement for graduation. For the entire senior
year they write the thesis with the help and supervision of one or more
professors. A successful online university based on such a system might
require academic supervisors, a virtual classroom in which to discuss the
course material, and teachers, primarily present to assist the student when
the student requests help, also serving an evaluative purpose.
I see no reason why a student with a well written and perhaps important
thesis should have a problem getting a degree; although the practical
problems of this demand a creative solution.
This is one idea and I'm sure there are many other possible formats, as
there are many kinds of learners with their own goals and methods. I think
wikiversity would be most effective if it was able to operate in conjunction
with this and other private efforts.
Wikiversity is a proposed Wikimedia project, based specifically around
education and learning - the proposal to set up Wikiversity as a
Wikimedia project is at:
This proposal has been an attempt to address the fact that the last
proposal (see: <http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikiversity>) was not
approved by the board (the background to this is summarised on the
current proposal's page).
For the last three months or so, the proposal (which was already in
development) has been extended and reworked by the Wikiversity
subcommittee is now pretty much satisfied that we have constructed a
proposal and scope for the project which gives it the flexibility to
develop, but also the clear rationale to exist as a separate project.
I'm now in the process of negotiating this with the Special Projects
Committee, hopefully to get it set up quite soon indeed :-).
In brief, the proposal is to:
*Host multimedia learning materials for all levels (ie not just
university) in all languages
*Develop learning communities around these materials
*Host research - possibly original research (though this will need to
be discussed by its community)
There is more to the proposal and scope and, if you are interested, I
would urge you to read the proposal and its related pages, which you
can find through a navigational template at the top right of
meta:Wikiversity pages. There is also a very basic mock-up of the
front page of Wikiversity, geared towards the current proposal, at:
One of the things the board last recommended was that the community be
"joyful" about the proposal before setting up Wikiversity. So, this
post is to gauge just how joyful people are about the proposal, what
you think works and what doesn't, what you would change, add, remove,
etc. I would like to use this thread to discuss what the best way
forward for Wikiversity would be, so we can give it the best start we
Cormac Lawler (m:User:Cormaggio)
(on behalf of the Wikiversity subcommittee)
PS: Please feel free to post this message (or a modification of it) at
appropriate places - I'm just posting this initially to foundation-l
and textbook-l (even though it slightly duplicates a discussion
already underway at the latter).
In the light of all these discussions about what Wikibooks' scope is, I have drafted a
proposed rewrite of What is Wikibooks here:
The idea behind this is:
to define inclusion criteria (ie getting away from the idea that anything not specifically disallowed is allowed)
to be positive about what we are here for by having a positive definition
to cut out a lot of advice on WB:WIW which elongates the guidance without saying anything people would dispute
a number of other existing proposals are effectively merged into it
I have also taken an idea given to be by RobinH - that policies should say in them
what happens if they are infringed, and added an enforcement section.
I don't intend my draft to be perfect - please go ahead and improve it.
All constructive comments would be welcome!
I was interested to see Cormac ask us what we thought of the latest Wikiversity proposal.
I confess I still, after all this time, am unsure what it is: the name suggests that it is meant
to be for wiki-based university-level learning, but I don't think that's right. And if it's not
right, at the very least a new name would be advisable.
I would also like to question the relationship between Wikiversity and Wikibooks, as it really
is time for the separate Wikiversity project to leave Wikibooks module namespace behind -
I believe that would leave Wikibooks with the Wikiversity textbooks, which it would then
be able to integrate into its own systems and categorisations. Any Wikiversity project
pages could be moved to the Wikibooks namespace - although MetaWiki or the incubator
would seem to be better places.
I think this move is important. As some of you will be aware, I see the future of Wikibooks
as having a strong core set of textbooks suitable for school exams surrounded by many
other good textbooks for other types of studying. I am splitting these up into the following
(and bear in mind that a textbook may fall within none or more than one of these):
Wikijunior (for textbooks for 8 to 12 year olds)
Wikistudy (for textbooks for exams typically first sat at ages 15 to 19)
Wikiversity (or Wikiuniversity) (for university-level learning)
Wikiprofessional (for textbooks for professionals)
Wikilearn (for textbooks for adult learning)
Wikids (if we ever have books for under 8s)
These categorisations would, of course, sit alongside the current "by subject" style bookshelves.
Constructive comments would, as ever, be welcome.
A very interesting wiki I just discovered:
They allow you to post source code of any computer program in any
language, comment it, etc. They have a very neat extension which
allows you to download a tarball of all the programs documented on a
particular page. The code can be broken up into pieces so that
individual sections of a program can be discussed in more detail. The
pieces on a page can then be associated with files using an internal
The extension pieces the stuff together again. It also does syntax
highlighting for a lot of languages.
I'm posting this to textbook-l and wikipedia-l because I know there
are a lot of computer programming related pages on both wikis that
could make use of this resource. Given the URL, the project also seems
to be aiming for multilinguality. I actually think it would make a
nice addition to the Wikimedia project family, if a bit specialized.
The *following email* to *Jimbo* might have inspired a bit of the problems
about the game guides and policy issues:
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Karl Wick < karlwick(a)gmail.com>
Date: Mar 17, 2006 1:11 PM
Subject: Request for Advice for Wikibooks
The situation: For all of the textbooks to be developed on Wikibooks, there
are basically three options I see available for how they are organized, and
I'd like your input on which makes more sense.
1. The first option: All of the books are housed on the same domain on
one big umbrella site: en.wikibooks.org . A general biology book for
high school would differentiate itself from a general biology book for the
university level through its title, and each book would be linked from other
pages on the site with other books of a similar level.
2. The second, intermediate, option: House all of the textbooks on one
domain with subdomains, like en.univ.wikibooks.org or
en.k12.wikibooks.org, or replace the /wiki/ with the information, like
3. The third option: split everything up into different domains, like
en.wikiversity.org, en.wikijunior.org, en.wikivideogameguides.org,
I can see benefits to grouping it all together on one site, and benefits to
dividing it down into several, more focused sites, directed at each age
group or student type. And that reorganization could take place right now,
or at some determined point in the future.
I actually thought that you could ask Peter
the management guru who is focused on helping non-profit organizations,
because he could probably tell us in ten minutes what would take us years to
figure out by trial and error. I would contact him myself but since you are
already famous it's more likely that you could get in. You could even take
the opportunity to ask him about uncounted other organizational things you
have had on your mind.
Thanks in advance for your help,
Jimmy seems like he got things cleared up with his last couple of emails. My
two cents is that neither Wikipedia nor Wikibooks would even exist if not
for Jimmy'. So when he makes a decision, I usually just accept it and move
on. We should thank him and try to make his life easier and more
pleasurable, and not try to accuse him of selfish motivation or otherwise
speak ill of him.
As for *Wikiversity*, my opinion is that it should be a part of Wikibooks,
not a separate site. Wikibooks is for "Textbooks, study guides, and other
learning materials." I see no value in splitting it up, and much value in
having them all housed at the same place.
My personal opinion is that there should NOT be an accredited institution
requisite for a textbook. There are other subjects that deserve an
instructional book, such as the Myers-Briggs type
which I don't know if is taught officially in any school or not.
I agree with Jimmy that to be used in US K-12, most books will need to
adhere to *standards*. How to get books that do that is another question. To
me it makes sense to allow non-standard-compliant books that will eventually
be modified to fulfill the different standards that different schools have.
The other area of wiki-books that I would like to see is *study guides* of
specific books. For example, summaries of current business books, where you
can find an outline of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective
I'd also like to give a plug to the proposed book, Wikijunior Fifth Grade
Math <http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior_Fifth_Grade_Math>, for which
our friend Sanford Forte, of the California Open Source Textbook
provided us with the CA standards and framework to follow.
The original grant for WikiJunior appears to not include the idea of
standards-following development. However it seems like a great experiment to
start at least one book following standards. Right now we do not have any
great examples of completed standards-following books that we can hold up to
show the world. With Wikijunior Fifth Grade Math we have the opportunity to
do so and have the end product actively promoted by someone who is already
on the inside of the textbook industry and the diplomatic/bureaucratic
circles. This would be good on so many levels.
A link has been added to a "Austrian" Wikiversity in advertised as in
German Language to the bottom of the front page of the English prototype
of Wikiversity at English Wikibooks.
at bottom of:
Is this an authorised prototype of a Wikiversity or should the link be
It seems odd that we would want multiple Wikiversitys in the same
language. It is certainly my conclusion that we prefer Wikiversities
broken out by language so people can participate effectively
internationally as feasible one the same sites. Similar to how
Wikipedias have mostly been established around language where feasible.
If this is not a Wikimedia site then I think the link should be deleted
immediately and perhaps it should be put in our legal queue for action
as appropriate when resources are available. The site is using a
variation of Wikipedia's puzzle globe logo and is clearly intended to
leverage off of Wikimedia Foundation's existing and pending successful
projects' reputation to gather traffic.
[[en:User:Zephram Stark]] was recently blocked:
* 13:18, 8 May 2006 Jimbo Wales blocked "Zephram Stark (contribs)" with an
expiry time of infinite (trolling, banned user on en.wikipedia)
I am not aware of the situation on en.wikipedia, though I do know that this
user is blocked on commons.wikimedia, and has used sockpuppets to evade the
block. However, this user has not been vandalising en.wikibooks, and the
only thing that I could find that resembles "trolling" are a few
allegations about sockpuppets, not anything which disrupted en.wikibooks.
It appears that the only reason for this block concerns trouble on
en.wikipedia, and of such trouble I have no knowledge. (Maybe someone
could describe to me what happened?)
I think that this user should be unblocked immediately or the block be
shortened to 1 week or less. What does everyone think?
Okay, Jimbo. In an effort to discuss the game guides issue, I would
appreciate a couple of questions being answered. I will try to
address various points people have brought up on the subject of game
guides as well as Wikibooks (WB) as a whole. I will try to ask them
in a broad sense, including questions that may seem obvious to some.
Bear with me.
1. What was the original purpose of Wikibooks?
2. Is the current purpose the same?
3. Who has control over the overall content of Wikibooks? The
Wikimedia Foundation, the WMF Board, the community of Wikibookians?
4a. Some time ago now, you declared that game guides did not fit with
the intent of WB. Were you speaking on behalf of the Wikimedia
Foundation? Were you speaking just as Jimbo?
4b. Who decided all of a sudden to rid Wikibooks of game guides? Was
there recent discussion on Meta? Between the Board? If so, is there
a record of this discussion?
5. Why specifically do game guides not fit in Wikibooks? Are there
possible tax-exemption implications with having these here? If so,
where is the information regarding this?
6. If the community of Wikibookians disagrees with the decision, and
consensus is formed against it, can the community disregard the
7. If the community rejects the pronouncement and decides they want
game guides included, what steps would need to be taken to ensure
there place at WB? Would the WMF bylaws need to be changed? If so,
how would they go about doing that?
8. Can video games be an acceptable textbook subject? If so, what are
the requirements? Is a simple walkthrough constitute a textbook?
9. If video game guides are to be gotten rid of, what about board game guides?
10. There is talk of a "Accredited Institution" metric. If one small
institution somewhere develops a class on a topic, does that warrant
that topic's textbook on WB? What about if three institutions have
the class? Should links to some number of courses be provided to show
the suitability for WB? If so, how many?
11. Do classes that you do not earn credit for (either
extra-curricular or within school, but not for credit) count as
classes under the Accredited Institution metric? For example, clubs
used to educate someone on a topic not otherwise found in class.
12. If the removal of video game guides also results in the leaving of
many prolific and trusted WB editors, does the WMF consider this okay?
13. Any other comments on these issues?
I guess this is a start. Forgive me if my biases show through. I
tried to ask questions brought up on both sides of the issue. If I
have forgotten any glaring questions, please forgive me. I understand
some of these are not easy to answer, but I, and others, would
appreciate whatever answers you can provide. Thanks.
At the university level, professors generally have a fair amount of
discretion as to what textbooks to offer, and there do not generally
exist detailed curriculum standards. Even here, though, if one wishes
to produce a textbook for an Introductory German course, one ought to
follow more or less the sorts of things that professors will expect to
find covered there.
But at the grammar school level, adherence to standards is of crucial
importance. If a book does not adhere to standards, then school
teachers MAY NOT use it. Such work will then be a wasted effort in
There can of course be reasoned exceptions to the idea of writing to
standards, but in general, it is a very good idea. As it turns out, it
is also quite helpful to generating and sustaining some consensus about
what a book is to contain.
What should a high school chemistry book cover? Well, we could argue
until the end of time about what would be a good idea from a
philosophical point of view, and it would not be harmful to have several
different variants. But at the same time, if the goal is to make
something that people will find actually useful, then adherence to
various official standards for what belongs in such a book is a great idea.
California and Florida publish very detailed standards. I am sure many
other US states do as well. In the UK, I believe there are similar
published standards. I would assume that more or less the same thing is
true in almost all languages.
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