Note: The Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees directed Wikiversity to move away from conventional courses. The Wikiversity e-learning model is centered on active learners who participate in learning projects.
An Online Course can be many different things to different people. This page will try and list the different learning materials that are sometimes mistakenly considered to be online courses, as well as give examples for different types of courses - particularly with regards to Wikiversity.
Courses for Credit
- Courses for credit can only be offered by an (accredited) institution of higher learning. They usually entail a mentor or tutor taking care of a specific instance of the course. Students register (often paying a fee) and receive materials to read and discuss with other students. Usually exercises are submitted for grading and feedback, with an on-site examination.
- Some courses for credit are, however, offered as material free of charge, so that other instructors can use the materials in their classes, for example  (Course on plagiarism detection, free, in German)
- When credits have been accumulated, it is possible to obtain a degree from an institution. Wikiversity has no current plans to be a degree-granting or credit-granting institution. Instead, it will offer educational materials to both students and instructors.
Courses not for Credit
- Sites such as Instructables offer little courses on how to do something (my favorite: 3D chocolate printer made from LEGO). These can be considered courses, but are not part of any university curriculum.
Learning Materials that are not Courses
- Lecture Notes: Many instructors in Europe put out lecture notes (skripta) or compedia for the students to use as a reference. Many times this is just put in .doc or .pdf format and published online. Thus, only the delivery of the materials is online, not the course itself.
- Syllabus: One of the hard questions at the start of course preparation is: what do I leave in, what do I leave out. Topics are then assigned to days and given a sequence. This can be a valuable resource to an instructor, but is also not an online course.
- Simulation: One simulation or an animation can be great for illustrating a point and should be available on its own, but this is not a course.
- PPT Slides: Many people mistakenly assume that having the slides for a lecture are an adequate equivalent for a course. This is not the case, as the instructor will be giving lots of stories and telling what the things on the slide depict in a way that cannot be captured in a slide.
- Video Sequences: Setting up a camera and filming a lecturer seems to make sense, but it doesn't. The quality of the video sequences is often quite bad, and there is non-existent navigation and coordination to slides. Instructional videos are best made in a studio, where the environment can be controlled.
Cooperation with the Wikibooks project
It is anticipated that some Wikiversity participants will make use of textbooks at Wikibooks. Some Wikiversity participants will also participate in the development of textbooks at Wikibooks. Some learning materials developed by Wikiversity participants will be easily integrated into Wikibooks textbooks. Natural synergies between Wikibooks and Wikiversity will benefit each project.