Requests for comment/Improve Wikiversity

The following request for comments is closed. Discussion has run its course with no substantive activity in many months. If you have new suggestions, please take them directly to

--A. B. (talk) 17:29, 18 October 2010 (UTC)[reply]

This page is for those of us who feel Wikiversity is too great of a resource, at least in potential, not to have. Please add suggestions so that we can make improvements!

After the recent threat Wales' has made for shutting down Wikiversity, the implications of its' failure for producing quality content, and upon seeing the current Petition to Shut Down Wikiversity I could not help in some ways, agreeing with some of the points that were made. However, there is no reason to shut down this project; its' potential is far greater than is realized. Wikiversity needs a complete overhaul, it would be a shame to see it remain in an undeveloped state, or worse, shut down. I am proposing a few pillars for improvement. --Theornamentalist 21:32, 5 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]

I. edit

The biggest issue is that Wikiversity hosts almost no different formatting than Wikibooks, simply by substituting 'Chapter' with 'Lesson' the content is practically identical. Even though it is arguable that by providing Wikibooks with media supplements can only help, since we are following pre-defined and traditional formatting, it seems like Wikiversity is where non-textual resources should be placed. What I mean to say is, by using the existing definition of a "book" we should therefore limit Wikibooks to just that. The ultimate goal for Wikibooks (IMO) is to acheive PDF status, and there are no animations, sound files, or links to other projects within that PDF(Book). An example being a Wikibook I first began working on as soon as I joined Wikimedia, which another user very kindly supplemented with an animated .gif of a I-beam undergoing stress from an applied force, or in any of the language books, directly having access to sound files with pronounciation. I want to stress, these are great tools, and as any college student would agree, their $140 text book typically does come with a CD with these media files on them. I am not saying to retroactively remove all non-text material from the books; they're great, but I believe that for the future success of Wikiversity, when it comes to providing the learner with these types of media, it would be more appropriate to bring them to Wikiversity. I also think that videos, even if they are of someone going over the lesson (provided in text as well) in front of a chalkboard or something, would vastly increase appeal and separation from Wikibooks. With these clear distinctions, the atmosphere of the classroom learning experience can be successfully modeled.

II. edit

Currently Wikiversity is so disorganized, it's embarrassing. When I first learned of this projects' existence, I imagined courseloads of work. An example being, if I wanted to parallel going to a real college and having my first year within a field, an appropriate list would be given: ie: I want to start learning about Child Psychology, and within a click or two, it would suggest that in order to fufill my 'Wikidegree' I should enroll in Psych 101, Sociology 101, Statistics 101 etc... This should not be how it is ONLY organized, but I am too used to Wikipedia! My interest rarely ever remains on a particular subject for long, in fact, I can say that I almost never learn about what I intend when I log into Wikipedia (this of course, is also what's great about it) The point I'm trying to make is that in order for the site contributors to not have overlapping/disconnected work, that instead of just waiting for people to create any class they choose, we should provide a master list of generic classes. Maybe importing ideas (class structures) from major universities (an example being 4 years worth of sociology classes as a list, with a brief description to help future editors) This only helps the structure of the site, and we would definitely not disallow someone from creating something that was not on the master list. If you really want to make that Wikiversity class on properly changing your bicycle tire, go ahead. What I mean by overlapping is that there are plenty of instances where the same basic data (an example being in Wikibooks where I could countlessly learn about lower mathematics in about 10 different books without much variation) exists and because a topic usually requires background information, as in, you should know this before learning this kind of material, it's hard to find a comfortable spot to start. I've found myself skipping early sections of all topics I peruse through.

III. edit

Notice I used the word 'peruse'. Let me begin by saying that I am a BSME, so I know a thing or two about studying and learning in general. I'd say college taught me how to learn, but nothing in particular. Yet the Wikipedia lifestyle prevails! I skip around, link-hop, move onto things that are of far greater understanding than I have the capacity for. That is my biggest flaw, IMO, with Wikiversity. It allows you to move forward at will, and we are weak hearted and lets face it, we Wikimedians write amazing articles on things we know little or nothing about prior. I think it's in our nature to move quickly and of course you could argue that the good student moves at the correct pace, but again, as a former student, it is admittedly hard to pace myself correctly and I believe for many non-scholars, that this would also be the case. This is why an enrolled student should only have access to a lesson a week, or some set amount of time. Universities operate this way not because of some giant conspiracy to make life hell for 4 + years, but the student must have a forced pace; time to let information sink in, re read etc. I think, in the way that many online classes operate with grading, Wikiversity should have randomized questions per few lessons. What I mean, as an example, say for 4 weeks worth of material, having 50 questions randomized to choose 10 for a student, like multiple choice etc. I think having automated tests that can change are better (where it can be applied with multiple choice) in place of having actual teachers and a live class setting; it's unfeasible (currently) for an esteemed professor to come home from teaching and want to teach here.

Final words edit

I understand these are only ideas and not actions, but I can't help but flush them out, before Wikiversity is gone. So overall, Wikibooks needs to restrict its non text and image media, possibly reverting some of its content to be moved into a Wikiversity project. Wikiversity needs to establish a core course list so future editors can see what needs to be done, and maybe in the traditional college listing: ie PHYS203 or SPAN301. Requirements for a 'Wikidegree' should be listed and have an interface for students to keep track of their progression. Wikiversity needs a better, more universal course structure that is time limited (a 'class' per week) and test material to be, realistically, unmonitored by an actual teacher and automated. I think that upon first visiting Wikiversity, it should start like a guidance counselor and in such a way, help the student through their academic career, not like searching, as done in Wikipedia.
Thank you for reading.

ip here edit

Ok here are my opinions.

  • Wikiversity needs a clearly defined purpose, you might think it is to provide learning material, but many pages are just someone's opinion, and have no purpose. for example some medical pages are a disaster, they serve no purpose and are poorly written. Many pages should just be deleted, but since wikiversity is an all-everywhere type of thing, you can't even do that.
  • there need to be admin that delete pages outside the project scope.
  • users need to obey guidelines, pages have a discussion tab for a reason, not discussions on the main page.
  • a bad page is worse than no page at all, because if there was no page people would no doubt be reading a better one.
  • pages such as the nonkilling school seem to use wiki as free advertising, and even offer a certificate for studying their courses.
  • some Christian pages seem to be provided in a "partnership" with a church.
  • some pages are the wikipedia equivalent of a forum, containing conversations archieved years ago.
  • It seems clear this wiki needs more admins, better behaved users, and immediate action.
  • I personally doubt this wiki will survive, but i have been wrong before.

In my opinion bad information is this wiki's worse problem, just open 20 random pages and you will see what I mean

Wikiversity does have a clearly defined purpose and it is more than just about providing learning material. Some discussions are in the content space because learning is also about communication. Discussion pages are sometimes used for that as well, but generally discussion pages are used to discuss things like ideas for improving the page, maintenance problems, technical problems, and other things about the page that have nothing to do specifically with the learning that is going on in the content space. Some pages are deleted, usually test edits and vandalism-only pages. Don't believe me? Look through RFD Archives and Deletion log. BTW why are you putting your comments here and not on the talk page like everyone else if this a problem for you? --darklama 17:59, 6 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]
I think that somehow, the content from the class should be seperated from the academic discussion, which I also do not think should be in the normal discussion pages, but I have to agree with the ip, it is rather annoying to go through a graveyard of a class and their past discussions which is seemlessly included typically in the content space. Maybe a different tab, per lesson for academic discussion could help solve this issue. - Theornamentalist 13:43, 7 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Wikinews has both a collaboration and an opinion tab for pages, so it certainly can be done. I have no idea if Wikiversity would agree with doing that though. A benefit in integrating academic discussion on pages is that you could learn something you might otherwise overlook. --darklama 12:59, 9 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]
I think a model like Wikinews is a perfect example, even if it meant having a content page sort of mirrored, yet condensed in a discussion page, so if a student has an issue with a portion of the material they can see what others have been discussing about it.
I liken the discussions on content page to that guy in your philosophy class who just never shuts up, and 90% of the class rolls their eyes the entire time, just waiting for the teacher to get back into teaching the material and for that guy to close his mouth. Yea, sometimes that kid makes a good point, but most of the time, you just want the teacher to be teaching. idk - Theornamentalist 19:41, 9 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Some people might like that guy speaking up and others may not, I think it is a personal preference. I think English Wikivesity leans towards active learning because some education research studies have shown that students only remember about 10-20% of what they read or what is said by a teacher, while students doing and being directly involved in their own learning process increases retention by about 50-75%. I think Wikiversity is unlikely to want to change its approach because the benefits of active learning outweigh the traditional approaches that some people might expect. Take a look at this Active vs Passive table for comparison of approaches, you might notice some things from the active column that Wikiversity tries to do. --darklama 23:52, 9 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]
I agree, I guess I am hoping to make (an unrequired) standard of the separation in formatting so at least the class appears reusable. I would be afraid that it could ultimately end up with many, many subpar "classes" on a subject, which may have activity, versus having a few really well written (and edited) classes which could host all discussions, but separately from the content, or at least of out sight. I think that the class should appear new. - Theornamentalist 00:58, 10 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Collections edit

English Wikiversity a few days ago got the collection extension installed. I do not know how Wikiversity plans to use it yet, but I can imagine one use would be to make more classroom ready versions of learning materials. Embedded discussions could also be wrapped inside html elements with a special class, and than javascript could be used to create a "discussion: [on]/[off]" type feature for the entire page. I do not know how people would respond to that idea. --darklama 11:53, 10 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]

See also edit