Wikiversity:How to write an educational resource

Extensive research is being conducted into the use of wikis in web-based education, but we are still at an early stage.

This page is intended to be Wikiversity's closest equivalent to w:Wikipedia:Writing better articles.

Introduction edit

In its very early days - the ones of excitement and innovation, when it was small and derided - Wikipedia had a link on every page to an article about how to write a good article. Wikiversity doesn't. It's easier to write an encyclopedia article than an educational resource, so the lack is all the more sinister.

One reason why Wikiversity didn't have such an article was the difficulty of advising on writing educational resources. As someone once asked on Wikiversity's IRC channel, can you really teach people to teach? Teacher trainers would be shocked by such a question - their careers are spent doing precisely this. But lay people really ask this.

Uncyclopedia offers an excellent parallel, because "the closest professions to teaching are stage acting and stand-up comedy." [1] Setting itself up in opposition to all seriousness, nevertheless Uncyclopedia falls victim to such a deluge of un-funny deletable nonsense that it actually had to write a (god forbid, serious) help page about "how to be funny". Many people would ask "can you really teach people to be funny?". Humour and education are both an art and a science. Sure, both have an element that cannot be taught, but both have elements which can. Oddly, the way in which humour and education cannot be taught is similar: it has to do with the speaker's (humourist's, teacher's) ability to sense and "work" their audience. However on these pages we will look at those elements which can be taught.

Starting off with easy stuff edit

You don't have to be a teacher to add educational content to Wikiversity. But if you're not a teacher (or perhaps even if you are), it is best to start off with easy resource types.

One of the main differences between Wikiversity and Wikipedia is that Wikiversity has loads of different resource types which you can write. Start with easier resource types and build up from there.

  1. You can start by creating a collection page to simply list the resources you are creating. You can turn the collection page into something more dramatic (e.g. project, course, workshop) when you have more content. Initially your collection page is just a list of what you are doing.
  2. Add simple resources to the collection page, such as some (but not all) of:
  3. Concentrate on developing each resource at least to the point where it is seriously useful to other teachers or learners.
  4. Use subpages if at all possible. A Wikiversity project is best structured with a homepage for the project and a series of subpages leading off from it. This is very different from Wikipedia.

Things you don't need to worry about too much at the start edit

  • Don't worry about getting the resources categorised right - categorisation is quite difficult and may need a more experienced user. Someone will find you and help with this if you are very active on a project.
  • Avoid writing lessons or other directly educational/didactic material, unless you are sure you know what you are doing.

See: Help:Resource types.

Getting more educational: passive audiences edit

More advanced resource types which convey real new knowledge to learners include academic articles/papers, lesson plans and lessons. There are detailed help pages which guide you in creating these.

See Help:lesson, Help:paper.

Advanced wiki-teaching: active audiences edit

"Wiki" means "fast" - as in content creation, not driving.

With advanced wiki-teaching, we understand attempts to combine educational experiences with massive collaborative authorship. The word "wiki" just means "fast", so if you're just using Wikiversity as a fast and convenient way to create and share simple resource types intended for passive audiences, that's fine.

Common mistakes edit

  • Try to write content rather than curriculum frameworks and statements of intent. For example: [1] was a framework where the hopeful red links to intended content were never turned into anything useful.
  • Avoid course codes. For example: [2] uses course codes. This is too formal, and course codes are often specific to a particular country's educational system.
  • Don't assume that just anything is "educational". If you're unsure about how to really teach stuff, stay with the easy resource types suggested above.
  • Review Contextual Learning for a simple approach to content development based on an Absorb - Do - Connect sequence.
  • Resist the temptation to be "anti-educational" or declare that you wish to re-invent education from the bottom. If you've had poor teachers or been through an over-traditional educational system, this can be tempting. But most educational reform ideas have already been invented somewhere, sometime, and it's better to build on those ideas.
  • Don't think that hundreds of people are immediately going to storm into your project, either as contributors or as learners. Wikiversity is somewhere to create educational resources in peace and quiet, and you'll need to do a little persuading to attract visitors once you are ready (see featured content).

References edit

  1. Quoted from John Baez, How to Teach Stuff, (2006)

External links edit

See also edit