Portal:Tertiary Education/We need an action plan

The most critical part of this plan is the recruitment of college and university instructors who will utilize the Wikiversity permalink as a platform for submission of students' writing assignments.

Most of us who work on Wikiversity are convinced that it has yet to fulfill its potential. I propose an action plan that consists of three steps:

  1. Establish that Wikiversity is an excellent platform for the submission and processing of writing assignments.
  2. Encourage instructors and pre-service teachers to continue to develop educational resources on Wikiversity.
  3. Slowly build up a Quizbank that will serve as an open source bank of exam questions.

Wikiversity as a platform for student writing assignments edit

The first place to begin is with student writing assignments, which can be easily submitted electronically as permalinks using either email or the campus course management system (CMS). The following permalink is to a brief essay by a Work Study student who was asked to write something specifically for this discussion:

  1. As a permalink, this essay can never be modified. The history page even shows the time and date of submission.
  2. The <pre> tag can be used if students make only occasional and short contributions, and if the instructor is unable or unwilling to use VisualEditor.
  3. In contrast to the traditional course management system (CMS), students will have the opportunity to conveniently save all their submissions for all time. And they can contribute on any computer with access to Wikiversity (they don't need to log onto their CMS).
  4. Instead of dealing with a stack of papers to grade, or CMS that seems to undergo capricious modifications by the vendor each year, the instructor need only refer to a list of permalinks.
  5. It is also possible to save handwritten reports as pdf files. See for example, this physics calculation involving the ideal gas law.
  6. An essential component of writing is the ability to edit and rewrite. Wikiversity allows this to be in a way that facilitates assessment of a student's editing skills by the instructor. A variation of this would be for the instructor to type in some of the equations and ask students to explain them, as in this example.

Wikiversity as a platform for instructional materials edit

Instructors should consider posting course syllabi and/or outlines as permalinks from Wikiversity onto the platform associated with the campus course management system (CMS). One advantage is that students can avoid the tedious operation of logging into the secure CMS by placing a bookmark to the Wikiversity permalink on their personal computers. Also, instructors who routinely contribute to Wikiversity will find it easier to write syllabi and course outlines in Wikiversity's wikitext environment. Those accustomed to wikitext find typing in Word and other commercial platforms awkward because wikitext allows all edits to be reviewed and undone in a matter of seconds. No saved edit is ever lost.

Wikiversity has yet to fulfill its potential as a platform for instructors to write instructional materials. But if the idea ever became popular, there is great advantage to allowing instructors to freely borrow and edit each other's work. The practice might begin to grow exponentially if college education programs encouraged pre-service teachers to develop portfolios on Wikiversity. It is possible to conceive of Wikiversity's dramatic exponential growth if such a practice could be initiated.

A good start for all this to begin would be for a few instructors to choose Wikiversity permalinks as the preferred platform for submission of student writing assignments. The use of permalinks greatly facilitates the submission process.

Wikiversity as a bank of multiple choice quiz questions edit

The utility of Wikiversity as a writing platform for student submissions has already been discussed. The attempt to write about a subject represents one of the higher levels of learning. Educators often remind us that students should not be viewed as empty wine bottles waiting to be filled. Yet, teachers do seem to spend a great deal of time filling these bottles with knowledge. We can reconcile these two viewpoints by arguing that students cannot learn to process the knowledge until they can remember the facts.

The lower-level learning of facts can be done remotely and verified with standardized exams and quizzes. Students can practice this quiz online:

http://en.wikiversity.org/w/index.php?title=Physics_equations/04-Dynamics:_Force_and_Newton%27s_Laws/Q:tensions&oldid=1411613 ,

and instructors can test this knowledge with questions selected from this bank of questions:


Software is under development that will allow exams to randomly select questions from this exam; the numerical values associated with most questions is automatically changed each time an exam is printed. While an open-source Quizbank sounds like a radical idea, the intent would be for it to serve as only a portion of the student's grade assessment. In the area of introductory physics, the subject is so difficult for most students that only one or two "new" questions need to be introduced at each exam.

  • There is a precedent for something like an open source bank of quiz questions. It is Quizlet This is a low-cost commercial venture. One concern that needs to be addressed is whether this company "owns" all submissions, and if so, whether they might someday limit access to questions that have been submitted to this platform. No matter how well-behaved a company is, the safest way to establish an open source collection of quiz questions is to use a Wikimedia platform.

Participants edit

Instructors/places that use Wikiversity as a student writing assignment platform edit

It is worth noting that the first three instutions listed below involve Engineering programs.

  • Wright State University Lake Campus (user:Guy vandegrift)
  • Howard Community College
  • University of Florida
  • Harper College (User:Dave Braunschweig)
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • University of Canberra (User:Jtneill)
  • University of Wisconsin-Stout
  • La Trobe University

Wikiversarians willing to develop guidelines for using Wikiversity as a writing assignment platform edit

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