Wikiversity is different from a real university in many ways, but it also has similarities. It also has overlaps with other Wikimedia projects, but these overlaps should result in synergistic benefits, not competition. This page is for organizing an overall scope document — analogous to a "What is Wikiversity?".
Universities and institutions of learning
A university is traditionally a place where interested persons gather for instruction, for research, and for earning degrees.
Instruction incorporates a duality of teaching and learning. Each of these aspects should be handled individually.
The Wikiversity should become a premier source for accurate teaching materials — bibliographies, lesson plans, syllabi, effective animations, well written papers, ideas for in class and at home exercises, discussion topics, course work, etc. — as well as offer a clearing house for new and emerging teaching methodologies and technologies of learning. Teachers making use of Wikiversity materials are encouraged to comment on and adapt those materials in a continual effort to refine and improve Wikiversity's resources.
People can always learn, but should the Wikiversity offer complete courses?
WiseWoman does not see why not. The Wikiversity will not be able to organize tutoring for individual courses, but there is no reason why individual lessons, or indeed entire courses, should not be made available under appropriate license to the community. See Wikiversity:Online Course for more.
While complete courses are possible for a wiki, there are limitations in the wiki user environment that may make it difficulty to attract and maintain online participants in conventional courses. Conventional courses normally involve the concentration of instructors, learners and learning materials in time and space. The virtual learning environment of Wikiversity will be more suited to flexible wiki-based learning projects that will allow Wikiversity participants to come and go at any time in the usual wiki way. A fundamental unit of organization within Wikiversity will be the learning group.
There are currently two major distinctions made in the research area with respect to wikis. There is research concerned with wikis as the objects of investigation, that is, research about wikis as it already exists at the Wikimedia Metawiki. Wikiversity will definitely be open to efforts that support this kind of research about wikis. Wikiversity participants will routinely engage in all types of "secondary research" that is aimed at critical evaluation of published sources of information. The other kind of research is wiki-based original research. It is not yet clear that this will be part of the Wikiversity. If the Wikiversity community decides to support original research, it will have to develop a specific set of policies to support such research activities.
There is already a large body of research that has been conducted with various institutions about wikis. The Wiki Research Bibliography is a bibliography of scientific publications and sources about wikis in general and Wikipedia in particular. Additions should be made there only for the time being.
Although the use of wikis as a collaboration basis for research in various subjects is undisputably useful, the question arises as to whether Wikiversity can actually host work-in-progress. WiseWoman is of the opinion that the Wikiversity should be reserved for completed research — however, papers that have not been published elsewhere should be welcomed (only if they're under a free license of course). However, providing for learning communities to develop, modify and use the materials on Wikiversity, itself constitutes a way in which research could be done as an activity on Wikiversity.
In order to earn a degree, a certain amount of credit must be earned with an accredited organization, that is, some body of experts must determine that the program and the coursework make sense in the context of the degree to be conferred.
Wikiversity will not be a degree granting institution, although the materials available at Wikiversity can definitely be used by students and instructors at accredited institutions as a basis for the partial fulfillment of examination requirements for an accredited course.
What Wikiversity is not
- We do not run traditional courses
- We do not grant degrees
- We are not out to get accreditation
The Wikiversity can provide a commented guide to the varied digital libraries around. But we do not provide our own library.
Wikiversity will seek to complement other Wikimedia sites by adding to their content, and acting as a resource for their communities. However, it will not seek to duplicate their material.
Wikibooks is a repository of textbooks, which are specifically educational resources, but which are ultimately developed to be books. Wikiversity will host educational content on similar subjects, but its aim is to host and create multimedia learning resources which can be used flexibly, in different contexts, whether as "off the shelf" resources for teachers in class, or as prompts for collaborative work themselves — whether within Wikiversity, or even other Wikimedia projects (eg. about academic versus layman writing in Wikipedia articles). This will include things like lesson plans, lecture notes, presentation slides, memory flash cards, listening exercises, educational video (within bandwidth reason).
Wikisource is for hosting free-content material, much of which is out of copyright. This kind of material should stay at Wikisource, but could be used, along with other Wikimedia content, to complement material at Wikiversity. (There could also, of course, be some kind of course/material on Wikiversity about copyright or related licensing issues, that could benefit the raising of awareness of this key component of Wikimedia projects.)
As noted, Wikiversity is for multimedia learning resources (ie video, sound, graphics, text), which could also be hosted on Commons, but, if they are specifically designed for an educational use, it would probably be better to host them at Wikiversity.
Other Wikimedia projects, Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikiquote, and Wikispecies, have very clear goals which do not overlap with Wikiversity's at all. However, Wikiversity will attempt to benefit any/all of these projects — for example, by developing resources, methods and communities to improve Wikipedia articles/graphics etc., or information on animal/plant taxonomies, or, of course, translation efforts between projects.