On Wed, Feb 28, 2018 at 1:09 PM James Salsman <jsalsman(a)gmail.com> wrote:
We are not
*teaching* encyclopedia articles.
What is the difference between delivering the text of an encyclopedia
article and teaching it?
Depending on one's understanding of "teaching", and its expected outcomes,
the difference can be significant. It can, for example, imply a different
exposition of information, or include comprehension questions and
drilling. It can include student assessment (grading), statistics, etc.
Encyclopedias are not written to be
accompanied by a lecturer, tutor, or teacher.
That's true. They're designed for self-study. But that does not mean an
encyclopedic article is the best vessel for teaching a topic. Certainly,
most people cannot effectively pick up a language from reading the
Wikipedia articles about its morphology and syntax.
Knowing any language is a privilege, and suggesting
that there is any
reason to narrow the Foundation's focus away from language instruction
seems completely absurd to me.
I think there can be no doubt that languages are knowledge, and that
therefore language instruction falls squarely within the Wikimedia mission
"to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop
educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to
disseminate it effectively and globally."
But being within our mission is not enough to be actively pursued, and I
assume that by "the Foundation's focus", you're referring not just to
mission, but to the set of things the Foundation is actively pursuing and
investing in, i.e. to its current strategy and goals.
It seems to me that the main argument for adding *language instruction* to
the set of goals the Foundation (or wider movement) actively pursues would
be some demonstration that the Wikimedia movement is *well-equipped to do
it very well*, especially compared to the relatively rich set of products
and solutions in the language instruction space.
I acknowledge that very few of those are free/libre. But most people don't
use Wikipedia because it's free/libre; they use it because it's free of
cost and because it's really, really useful. Likewise, we'd need to
convince ourselves we can do significantly better than Duolingo, Babbel,
Mondly, Mango, Busuu, etc., to make it a worthwhile pursuit for the
Wikimedia movement at this time, being as it would be (as always) at the
cost of pursuing other goals.
Wikimedia should be busy getting even better at its
main thing: wiki
Why? We are already the best at that. Why not make the wiki articles
in Wiktionary better by not just playing audio recordings of words,
which volunteers (not the Foundation) already provide, but meeting
that initiative by recording utterances and predicting whether they
are intelligible pronunciations, and doing the same with recording
gadgets in Wikipedia's pronunciation articles? http://j.mp/irslides
I think that's a very interesting direction. I would suggest that it would
only make sense to invest in, if at all, once we have Lexical data entities
in Wikidata. (soon!)