[Foundation-l] New Project Proposal: Wikinotes - Discussion

Virgil Ierubino virgil.ierubino at gmail.com
Mon Aug 28 18:11:46 UTC 2006

See original mailing list proposal:

In reply to Eric:
I agree that interaction with real-world institutions would be a very good
addition to the existing, new Wikiversity. Hence I think this project
proposal works best as a direct adjunct to it, either at a seperate domain
or as a subsection. However what I'm suggesting is a) not Wikiversity and b)
a very good way to achieve that aim, it's the bridge between the
institutions, the students, and Wikiversity.

In reply to AI:
The "moral" problem raised doesn't and shouldn't really exist, if it is
understood that the purpose of the site is for writing, and 1% for reading.
The way students benefit is by typing up their notes (which helps ingrain
the knowledge, etc), typsetting them, structuring and organising them
(builds a mental map). Very little is gained from reading someone else's
notes; if a student "gets lazy" then s/he won't get very far anyway. The
site can obviously also remind them of this.

As Ray wrote, "the act of note-taking is a part of the learning process.
 Reading notes does not have the same effect on the mind as actually writing
them down where students will benefit from the notes even if they never
review them again in the future."

So the sharing is beneficial, yes, but the largest gain is from actually
working on, and writing the notes oneself. Just like editing a Wikipedia
article a lot makes you really take in its content more than reading it. The
shared notes is a main facet, but could not usefully be the only facet for a
visiting student.

In reply to Andrew:
As for problems of plagiarism, sharing notes is not, and never has been
plagiarism. Obviously, plagiarism, like non-free images on Wikipedia, is
against Wikinotes policy; plagiarism could occur if a student uploaded a
portion of his/her essay to the site, was giving direct answers to exam
questions, etc. All of these would be strictly against policy. However I
think you'll find that in practise no one is likely to upload a whole essay.
More to the point, the collaborative writing of notes is in no way
plagiarism; learning institutions encourage their students to work together
in such a way.

Yes, there would be hundreds and hundreds of categories, and yes the
students will have to identify three things (in current implementation) -
their University (or institution), their Course (or class) and the Course
Part (or other identifier). These three things form a category:
[[Category:University Course Part]], e.g. [[Category:Cambridge Philosophy
1A]]. This will always be enough to single out any class.

The categories are heirarchical. [[Category:Cambridge Philosophy 1A]] is a
subcategory of [[Category:Cambridge Philosophy]] (which also holds
[[Category:Cambridge Philosophy 1B]], etc), which is a subcategoy of
[[Category:Cambridge]] (which also holds a category for every other subject
at the institution, e.g. [[Category:Cambridge Engineering]]). The
subcategorisation process *could* be automated by bots. In my current
version, it relies on a student at some point clicking on a red link within
the categories box at the bottom of their page, which brings up a edit box
preceded by instructions to subcategorise. Also note that this heirarchy is
not essential to the functioning of the wiki, but does streamline it. If
bots are impossible, subcategorisation would be an on-going task of the wiki
(like CSD, orphaned pages, etc, at Wikipedia) - although after a short time
a complete category heirarchy will emerge with little need for any further

Lots of boilerplate text may be needed, much of which makes it easier to
perform the above categorisations. This poses an initial "setting up"
problem, but not a damning problem. It would just require work. I've already
done most of this work at my implementation anyway.

*Forcing* the students to typeset their notes would yes, be more useful to
them, but you need to remember what kind of site this is. Instead of forcing
this on them (which would reduce the userbase to about 1%), they can just
know that what they put in is what they take out. The site highly encourages
them to structure, organise and typset their notes as this is very
beneficial, and is a work ethic the wiki embraces. But they don't *have* to.

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