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Wikiversity is a WikiMedia project devoted to education and learning:

It exists to develop and host:

One of these communities I hope to encourage and develop will be around doing research (not simply hosting the product of research, eg. academic papers). I hope this will parallel and collaborate with efforts here at Meatball (ie MeatballForWikiResearchers ) to understand what wikis are, how people use them, and what further uses we can put them to.

Also, instead of reproducing the structure of a traditional university, Wikiversity will strive to facilitate collaborative learning amongst peers (as well as to provide for people interested in self-study, or teachers who need materials for their classes). Obviously, even though its mission and scope have been worked on for a while now, how it actually develops is largely up to its participants.

All are welcome to contribute to its development, its materials, and communities (such as on [research (on English Wikiversity)]) International guidleines are in development on the [multilingual beta portal]. Thanks. --CormacLawler


Cormac, how does this fit together with WikiBooks which also targeted education materials? Will the WikiBooks project stay separate or be joined? In general I think it is not a good idea to mix education (save knowledge) and research (unsave knowledge). -- HelmutLeitner

Hi Helmut - this question of distinction between Wikibooks and Wikiversity has been a long-discussed one. In brief, they will be separate projects, with Wikibooks continuing to develop textbooks and Wikiversity focusing on other types of learning materials, and promoting active learning around these materials. However, there will be some overlap between the projects, and i'm adamant that the two projects work in close proximity to eachother. As to the other point, I'm not sure I agree with your perspective that we need to keep education and research separate - in my mind research is very clearly an educational (or, at least, academic) activity. I think we will have to be careful about how we go about facilitating research, for sure - and I will be devoting the first few months to developing guidelines for doing research on Wikiversity (not least, making it clear that people think carefully about the ethical implications of whatever they do). Or maybe I misunderstand you here - are you saying that you'd prefer that educational material be somehow fixed, and then research material be kept separate in case people think that something that someone else says is true is really true? If that's what you're saying, then, again, I would disagree :-). I think that a major purpose of education is to promote a spirit of critical thinking, and that by making people think about the information they receive (and where it comes from), we are forcing people to think for themselves. So, if we support people in their critique of knowledge (and generation of new knowledge), then we can create something of real and living value, rather than simply have a repository of resources. --CormacLawler

Cormac, I didn't say that you need to keep education and research separate. Neither do I want to interfere with elaborated concepts. I just say, that I see that critically and wouldn't do it that way in a project where I'm responsible. With respect to "truth" I think this is an ambiguous term and it would only make sense to discuss this, if we want to dig deep for some special reason. I assume that WikiVersity is constructed that way to conform to the paradigm of a university. But a university also has a strong separation between education and research and imho these are forced into the same institution and physical place because of real-world constraints. Most researchers are not talented as educators. Most researchers are forced to do education and would rather prefer to concentrate on research. Only a miniscule minority (surely below 1%) will believe that their research can improve by feedback from students. -- HelmutLeitner

Thanks for such an interesting response, Helmut. I appear to have misinterpreted either what you said or, more likely, your motivations for saying it. But I also feel I must make some clarifications myself. WikiVersity is not designed as a traditional university - or even a university at all. Rather, it is a repository of educational resources at all levels, as well as offering a space for people to learn collaboratively. People often get confused about the name "Wikiversity" (ie Wiki + University), because people's conceptions of what a university is are influenced by how they work these days. However, I think we are looking more toward a view of a university as a place where people ("teachers" and "students", if you were) learn together by discussing and debating. I agree somewhat with what some people have said that the name is slightly confusing on the question of what level of learning resources it hosts (ie "third level", or whatever you call it), but it's simply the best name we have come up with so far (that someone else hasn't already taken). Still, a lot of what we need to do at the beginning is to get the participants of Wikiversity to break out of the mould of a university mentality - by this I mean that people need to stop calling themselves the "Head of School" or, worse still, a "professor".

You may think I'm rambling off on a tangent (and I am slightly), but I feel it's an important (and fundamental) question: "what is a space for learning?" Much of what I've been trying to do in providing a rationale for Wikiversity is addressing that question. But the further we develop, the harder it is to create a coherent picture of what education is or how to provide for it. This, I think, comes back to what you are saying about educators and researchers - different people have different aptitudes and prefer to work in different ways. So, some people will benefit from feedback during their research, while some will prefer to discuss the finished product of their research (ie papers, theses etc). But when you say that most researchers won't see the benefit in receiving feedback from students, I would say, instead, that what we will try to develop on Wikiversity is a LearningCommunity of people interested in research, which will be joined by learning communities on all subjects. In other words, it won't necessarily be divided into "teachers" and "students", but rather "co-learners" (or indeed "co-researchers"). So, for the learning community on research, it will be a group of people interested in doing research and giving/receiving feedback on their research questions, methodologies, data, analysis, findings etc. I think/hope that Wikiversity will offer a useful space to more than just that 1%, but be of at least some use to all kinds of learners, researchers. But we will probably need to develop ways of including people who might not see the immediate benefits in collaborative working/learning - this is an increasing part of modern pedagogy (and particularly online pedagogy), but we still have a way to go before the majority of educators (or researchers) turn on to the paradigm of the WikiWay. -- CormacLawler

Cormac, I didn't say that WikiVersity will be only useful to <1%, I said that imho <1% of researchers think that students could contribute to their research (maybe they are wrong). I think that one big success factor of WikiPedia is missing: "the clearness of goal and situation". A number of people here (Sunir e. g., me too) think that the academic world will have to change dramatically. But if there is no clear shared vision, how shall it work? WikiVersity seems more about "how education and research should be" from some point of view than "what educators and researchers want and need and what new technology can give". A university is not so much about content, it's more about processes (e. g. learning situations, reproduction of scientific hierarchy, production of scientific progress and reputation, competition/distribution of ressources, ...), which I do not yet see modelled. Even if WikiVersity is not to replace university or schools, it must somehow fit in, create and meet expectations. I wonder about the status of WikiBooks. I contributed to some projects, but they were neither impressive nor did they seem to develop well. A book, like educational materials, needs consistency and an overall plan, some meta-layer. Up to now wiki seems to have failed in such projects (for example in common creative writing of books or stories, where you need consistency of plot, characters, language ...). -- HelmutLeitner

These are all excellent points, Helmut. The thing is that, in striving to address all of the above (as we will do), we are undertaking an extremely ambitious task. I think to have a "shared clearness of vision" in redefining education is complex and difficult to achieve. But we need to start somewhere, and the way I see it is that we will strive to be practical (as you say) for teachers, learners, researchers - building a community of learners in the process. From this community, I hope we can begin to bring together what we have learned in the process of building this community, and these materials (ie what has worked, what hasn't, what have you found out about using these materials, what pedagogy/ies have you found appropriate?). Different people have their own pedagogical systems, and we are allowing them to work within their own preferred system - and I hope that they provide that "consistency/meta layer" to their materials to help the person coming in to find exactly the kinds of material they want. (Metadata will help in this task, and we have someone working on this at the moment.) There will be different pedagogies provided for, and different (but overlapping) communities of people working on their own materials and questions of interest. Does this dilute the shared vision for you? For me, I hope this will only reinforce our building of a diverse, and fundamentally new system of education (even though it does, obviously, have its precursors, and it's a common fallacy to overhype new systems, simply because they're new). I think that Wikiversity could be something quite radical - but it needs to continually strive to be of practical use - that's the key. This will take time to build fully - just as Wikibooks has taken time (and is still trying to improve on). But, in the meantime, I agree with you - I agree that Wikiversity is currently somewhat chaotic and undefined, and that this is potentially problematic for people coming in to see what it's all about and what they can do there or get out of it. This is a bad month for me (workwise), but, once i get back to doing real work on wikiversity, I'm going to focus on exactly the shortcomings of the project so far - building a framework for people to make clear exactly what kind of educational resource(s) they're building, and try to facilitate the sorts of re-building of education that, as far as I can see, a growing number of people seem to want. -- CormacLawler

Has there been any discussion about forking WikiVersity, or creating a WikiVersity autonomous from WikiMedia?

Yes, there have been discussions about this. There are discussions about how Wikiversity will manage itself - whether it will need its own board of directors, whether this needs a separate legal body to do it in, whether Wikiversity should be an accredited institution. I'm afraid I can't point you at the moment to a 'one-stop' discussion - it's spread over mailing lists and many wiki pages (on at least two wikis). If people want to have that discussion here, you're of course welcome to do so :-) -- CormacLawler

CategoryAcademia CategoryEducation CategoryOnlineCommunity CategoryWikipedia CategoryWikiResearch


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