Wikipedia service-learning courses

This proposal is to create a number of service-learning mini-courses based on making contributions to Wikimedia Foundation projects (particularly Wikipedia, but sometimes one of its sister projects) in various ways that involve skill. Each would grant an informal or semi-formal continuing-ed certificate. These courses would serve several purposes:

  • Provide personal and professional development, since most of these courses would teach skills transferable to the non-wiki world.
  • Give people a new reason to contribute to the Wikimedia projects — namely, to boost their resumés — thus bringing in new volunteers.
  • Provide positive reinforcement to existing contributors to the projects, by assuring them that even if they had not received barnstars, the skillfulness of their contributions was appreciated and their expertise in some area is acknowledged.
  • Help contributors who want to make their contributions more useful by learning to do skilled rather than unskilled tasks.
  • Show a contributor who fails all or part of a certificate where they can improve.
  • Help compile a list of whom Wikimedia projects can go to when they need assistance.
  • To help people figure out whether someone was qualified for adminship etc. (Note, however, that these wouldn't officially be a requirement or increase one's eligibility for anything.)

The size of a course edit

These courses would be much shorter than a typical semester course in a high school or university. For most of the courses, a committed adult with a five-day work week could probably complete the readings, assignments and test for one course in a weekend. If the course in a subject became much longer than this, it would be split into multiple levels. 80 87 79 9 8 7

Degree and diploma applicability edit

With the possible exception of the researching-and-writing course, these courses would be too "applied" to count toward any bachelor degrees Wikiversity might grant, but all could possibly count toward the equivalent of an associate degree (U.S. system) or diploma (Canadian system). An entire diploma program could potentially be made up of these courses.

Course requirements and evaluation edit

Each course would require students to do three things to earn a certificate.

  1. Confirm that their Wikiversity account and their account(s) on the contributed-to project(s) were the same person, by each making an edit to its user page saying it was the other.
  2. Pass several service-learning assignments. Each assignment would involve finding one or more articles, media files, discussions etc. that needed a particular type of skilled work done on them, and then doing that work; or else showing that one had already done so. A failed assignment could be retried immediately.
  3. Pass a short open-book timed quiz and/or timed performance task (e.g. "retouch this photo") that would be administered by appointment over instant messaging. Each student would ideally get a different version of the test. Since the test's content could not be revealed in advance, community consensus would approve a person or team to compose the test (preferably someone who already has the certificate, once enough people do) rather than the test itself. A failed or interrupted test could be retried later, the questions rewritten, with a new appointment.

When a student was to be awarded a certificate, their answers to the assignments and test would be posted (usually in the form of links to diffs) on a Wikiversity page created for the purpose. Here, Wikiversitans could peer-review them and vote pass or fail. (All grades would be pass-or-fail. Failing one evaluation would not force the student to redo the entire course.) Once a student had been granted passes on all assignments and the test, either by consensus or by the support of a designated person with no objections, and gone through the identity confirmation, an administrator would add them to a protected-page list of students who had been awarded the certificate.

Readings edit

Most courses wouldn't require new lectures to be written from scratch. Instead, links would be provided to suggested readings on sister projects. These would include:

  • Policies and guidelines.
  • Help pages.
  • Wikibooks modules.
  • Wikipedia articles.

Readings external to Wikimedia would be used only as temporary substitutes until replacements could be developed within Wikiversity or on sister projects.

Exemplars edit

If the community thought an answer to an assignment was especially good, consensus could name it as an exemplar to be presented alongside that assignment for future students.

Proposed list of courses edit

100-299 Text content edit

101 Copyediting
encompasses spelling, grammar, punctuation, basic wiki markup (headings, links, lists, images, bold, italics, tables) and knowledge of the Manual of Style. Ideally, the recipient of this certificate can consistently produce brilliant prose.
110 Collaborative work
Talk pages, policies. The recipient of this certificate should be able to use all the features of wikimedia to collaborate with other users and join in common projects.
200 Citing
refers to the ability to research relevant, notable, factually accurate, verifiable information and add it to an article in well-written form with references and appropriate illustrations. A wide variety of subject-area specializations would be available as 201-299.

300-399 Text formatting/presentation edit

301 Templates
includes a knowledge of how to use common templates and how to edit templates. At upper levels, this includes {{#if:}}, optional parameters, and variables.
is an ability to use HTML tags and CSS properties as they apply within wiki pages.
311 Math presentation
includes skill at formatting mathematical expressions and equations using LaTeX, as well as mathematical knowledge of math symbols and equation manipulation (e.g. factoring, simplification, expansion, renaming variables), and how to express mathematical relationships in both equation and prose form.
312 Chemistry presentation
is skill at formatting chemical formulas and equations using HTML (or, if necessary, LaTeX), as well as chemical symbols, equation manipulation (e.g. balancing), and how to express chemical relationships in both equation and prose form.
321 Non-English writing systems
Is an understanding of diacritics, IPA and the structures of writing systems not based on the Latin alphabet, and how to input, format and manipulate them using Unicode, and transliterate between them.
331 Generating dynamic content with MediaWiki

400-499 Media edit

401 Multimedia research
Is skill at finding relevant, high-quality images, audio and video clips with suitable copyright/licensing status online, performing appropriate format conversion if necessary, and uploading them with a suitable description page.

410-419 Images edit

411 Photography
is the ability to produce usable original photographs.
415 Graphics
is the ability to produce drawings, charts, maps and diagrams.
419 Image editing
covers the ability to clean up and improve on photographs and drawings.

420-429 Audio edit

421 Sound recording
Is the ability to clearly and accurately record sounds other than voice.
422 Oration
Is the ability to record spoken articles clearly and accurately with a consistent volume and a minimum of background noise.
429 Audio editing
Is the ability to make existing audio recordings clearer, removing artifacts and extraneous background noise and editing down clips as appropriate. Also includes sound synthesis, i.e. creating useful audio without using a microphone.

430-439 Video edit

431 Videography
Is the ability to record good-quality, usable original video clips.
435 Animation
Is skill at producing animated charts, maps and diagrams with appropriate use of animation.
439 Video editing
Is the ability to make existing video recordings and animations more usable, performing colour correction, removing visual noise and cropping or editing them down as appropriate.

500-599 Community support edit

500 Leadership
is an ability to organize groups of editors in such a way that they accomplish clearly defined goals and are happy, while upholding the open-source, sociocratic and newcomer-friendly spirit of every wikimedia project.
501 Dispute resolution
is the ability to resolve disagreements, whether as one of the parties to the dispute or as a mediating third party, in a fair and diplomatic manner, and to the satisfaction of all parties if possible.
511 Technical support
Is the ability to answer technical questions related to hardware or software, raised on w:Help desk, w:Village pump (technical), w:Reference desk/Computing, discussion pages, other wikis, and Wikimedia's IRC channels; and do so diplomatically, concisely, thoroughly and with as few rounds of discussion as possible.
521 Counter-vandalism
is the ability to detect vandalism (including subtle POV/factual accuracy hijacking) when patrolling recent changes and new pages, familiarity with warning templates, and skill at using patrolling tools such as CryptoDerk's VandalFighter.

600-999 Miscellaneous edit

601 Web law in the United States
includes an understanding of copyright, trademark and fair use law, as well as various free use licenses and the differences and compatibility between them. Also covers privacy, defamation and libel laws as they apply to Wikipedia.

List of interested course developers edit

Sign up here by adding # ~~~ to the bottom of this list.

  1. JoliePA 04:25, 14 November 2008 (UTC) content looks rather undefined and sketchy right now.
  2. Seahen
  3. JWSchmidt. "Research and writing" seems very broad. Maybe a more focused topic such as "Research and citation" would be better and the "writing" part could be in a different unit that deals with issues like being careful with use of jargon. If I want to do a specialized module for finding and citing good sources in biology, do I just pick a number like 201 or should we have a subpage for planning this?
  4. This has always been on my list of aspirations for Wikiversity... Cormaggio talk 21:51, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
  5. D`ang - I came here intending to start something along these lines up, for prospective admins/ behind the scenes work. Any development messages on my talk page appreciated :-) Pumpmeup 00:44, 24 October 2007 (UTC)
  6. user:Rachel Sifuel (undated)
  7. Mange01 21:46, 10 November 2008 (UTC) - Currently developing a Swedish university course called "Wikipedia - Authoring, reliability and technology, 7.5 ECTS credits". I have compiled a list of learning resources, externa links, on the page wikipedia.
  8. Daanschr 07:33, 18 November 2008 (UTC) Great idea! This method can create a true community out of Wikiversity.--Daanschr 07:33, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
  9. Tomaschwutz Seems to be a good idea of learning by doing: I want to learn about these topics, so I can create a course on my way of learning.
  10. Banakusum 03:09, 23 November 2010 (UTC)

See also edit