Wikiversity:Content development

Wikiversity has a namespace hierarchy for organization of academic subjects and topics. Wikiversity "schools" and "departments" are content development projects where Wikiversity editors collaborate to create learning resources in particular subject areas. Each school is specialized for studies of several academic topics that can be organized as the departments of a school. Several schools might link to the same department. Any learning project can be linked to by multiple departments. See Wikiversity:Naming conventions for details.

The Wikiversity community is actively creating and developing learning resources. At Wikiversity, learning resources can be lessons, discussion groups, research projects and most types of learning activities and materials. Content development means collaborative editing of Wikiversity webpages to create, organize and develop learning resources for all age groups and all subject areas. This is a huge task, and in order to coordinate the many Wikiversity content development projects there are several namespaces devoted to content development, as described below.

Content development projects for specific academic subject areas are located in the Topic and School namespaces. Pages in the Topic and School namespaces are like "wikiprojects" at Wikipedia. Content development projects in the School namespace are for broad subject areas such a School:Medicine. Content development projects in the Topic namespace are for development of learning resources for a narrowly defined topic such as Topic:Cell Biology. Each School page functions to help organize and coordinate the many Topic pages that are related to a broad subject area. Pages in the project namespace (pages with names that start with "Wikiversity:") are concerned with content development for the entire Wikiversity project, not any one subject area.

Wikiversity has adopted a learn by doing approach to online learning. Learning projects are a key element of Wikiversity content. Wikiversity learning projects provide learning activities that go beyond simply reading wiki pages. Wikiversity also hosts more static learning materials that can be downloaded from Wikiversity, but Wikiversity is not the place for encyclopedia articles or textbooks. Wikiversity participants are encouraged to help develop other kinds of learning materials that complement existing resources at Wikipedia and Wikibooks. This project page offers constructive ideas for how to develop Wikiversity learning resources.

Content development is a challenging endeavor. It requires a metacommunity mentality. Naming conventions and namespaces were established at the outset to help unify learning materials and the learning communities that form to develop and use them. It is actually a rather flexible and elegant system.

User pages


Do not forget to add some useful content to your user page. A wiki is a place for collaborative editing of webpages. Such collaborative editing is facilitated when participants get to know their collaborators. One approach is to list your interests and skills (see User:Teemu for one approach). Wikiversity is developing a set of templates that can be placed on user pages in order to link participants into networks according to interests and skills.



Every Wikiversity content page has an associated "talk page" that can be reached by using the "discussion" tab at the top of the page. Make use of these discussion pages to help coordinate content development.

In addition to discussion pages for specific topics, there are broader community discussions such as those at the Colloquium.

You can also make use of live chat via internet relay chat (IRC). Many Wikiversity users also use Skype.

You can also introduce yourself at Wikiversity:Learning goals.



Take a look at the page creation templates. You may want to use one of these templates to start a new page.

Where are the courses? Wikiversity does not have conventional courses. Wikiversity provides learning activities that can help learners reach their learning goals. See Wikiversity:Courses.

Structuring issues and tools




If you are new user, you might wonder how the many learning resources at the Wikiversity website can be efficiently organized and found. Wikiversity uses namespaces to organize content. There are three important namespaces for helping people find Wikiversity content and create new learning resources. These are the "Portal", "School", and "Topic" namespaces. Wikiversity Portal pages have the same function as Wikipedia Portals: they provide easy access to the existing content pages (learning resources) of the website. Any large group of related pages about a topic of study can have its own Portal page that functions as a directory for those related pages. The life sciences portal is an example.

Although the main purpose of Portal pages is to provide links to existing learning resources, Portal pages also contain links to content development projects in their subject area. At Wikiversity the content development projects are called "schools" and "topics". For example, the life sciences portal links to the school of medicine. Wikiversity Schools are content development projects for a broad subject area. They function as directories of many more narrowly focused content development projects in their subject area. Narrowly focused content development projects exist on pages in the "Topic" namespace. "Topics:" can be thought of as divisions and departments, similar to what might be found in a university. For example, within the School of Computer Science, there is Topic:Java, which functions to create, organize, and develop learning resources specifically for the Java programming language. Topics are not used for courses, lessons, or research projects; all actual learning resources go in the main namespace, i.e. on pages that have page names with no prefix. In the future, there will most likely be a school for every major subject area studied at traditional "brick and mortar" educational institutions. Wikiversity also welcomes other types of content development projects in the "School:" namespace that might not correspond to traditional academic subject areas. Be creative!



Wikiversity pages with related content should be associated with each other both by hypertext links and by placing related pages in the same category. Place each Wikiversity page in at least one category. See: Help:Category. At Wikiversity there is at least one Portal page for every learning resource. Every Wikiversity learning resource should be linked to from a Portal page. Use categories to find related Portal pages for each main namespace page and content development project.

Searching Wikipedia to avoid reinventing the wheel


Much of the initial key work for this site SHOULD involve STRUCTURING the already existing Wikipedia entries in a given subject area. This will help avoid thin content and frequent reinventing of the wheel.

A really good place to start for a course or a book is to look at a LARGE collection of existing Wikipedia pages. Allow people to modify and comment on WHAT pages should be in each collection, and how each collection should be defined.

Sources of Courses


One would want to gather subjects into groups or trees of wikipedia pages. What the University subject pages should be are ways of STRUCTURING and LINKING this already existing set of pages, and also ways of providing some guidelines as to what constitutes "a course-worth of knowledge", or a "chapter" or a "lecture".

Another source would be to appeal to existing University faculty (particularly adjuncts - who teach a large percentage of courses at many universities) to put their own lecture notes or slides on the wikiversity site.

What is involved in creating a course ?


Creating a course is alot of work. It should be done with attribution. Eg. Prof. X's course in Y. Other course creators could cut, paste, mix, match and modify other folks pre-existing courses - (although they should link to it).

One might think of a course as a PATH through a given set of information. One has a collection of topics in the course, and connections between them, and an overview. It is also a finite amount (a semester's worth) of content.

How do courses differ from books in these wikiprojects ?


This is a discussion.

Offhand, it seems to me that courses have exercises or assigned sequences of tasks, they also tend to have tests or projects, and some mechanism for evaluation of the level of knowledge that you achieved (versus SOME standard). They also tend to occur in FINITE groups of people and in FINITE time periods.

This is important because students communicate with each other and learn from each other during a course. This suggests for example that one might have Prof. X's course in Y - in Fall 2007 that might have a specific group of people who are following it at that time. (The group and emphasis may be different next time Prof. X (or Group X) offers course Y when it is done at a different time and with different people). Textbooks on the other hand are more uniform, and isolated.

WikiBooks, WikiLectures and WikiCourses : Where to start ?


A really good set of WikiTexts would be a very good way to start the wikiversity. Perhaps this should be done first ? Alternatively, maybe each WikiCourse should aim at creating say 20-30 1 hour LECTURES. Organizing courses by LECTURES may be a good way to start. Eg. Have WIKILECTURES. (These could even be recorded or videotaped). LECTURES could then be linked and unified into COURSES.

It's depressing to go to a "course" and see less content than on an average well developed wikipedia entry. It's much more tractable to think of creating one or a few REALLY GOOD LECTURES at a time than an entire course (unless you've already been teaching one). Also, folks may want to link a given GOOD LECTURE into several possible related courses. So a course could be a collection of GOOD LECTURES.

Slides → Lectures → Courses → Departments


In terms of lectures, one could consider the idea of overheads and/or slides. The rule of thumb is - at least - one minute per overhead/slide. Another rule of thumb (that will avoid dumping too much data on one slide) is that the SMALLEST font used should be 16 point font. (The purpose of this is to avoid tons of details on an overhead). (Alternatively, one can consider that each overhead/slide should have no more than 7+/-2 points, and (usually 3 to 5)). Aim for say 30 or so "slides" in a given LECTURE.

Note : since the "Lecture" is read (unless video or audio recordings are allowed), then each "SLIDE" should have a seperate page of "COMMENTS and DISCUSSION" points that flesh it out. Eg. the "SLIDE" is what is shown or put on the blackboard/whiteboard/overhead, the comments are what the "lecturer" "says".

Class discussion


Ideally, one would also have a "class discussion" page - where ONLY FOR SAY 1 week - a small group of people who are following the course can exchange discussion on that week's "LECTURE" in the course (folks taking it on another week can start a new page). Otherwise you have the discussion board problem where there are 1000 messages from 100s of people who one never really gets to know, and many of the messages are very old or off topic. A nice and important feature of a class is that one has a small number of "Classmates" who share the experience. This would be tough to incorporate. Any thoughts ?

When you are finished


When you are finished creating resources pages, please identify them by using the marking system at Help:Resources by completion status. By using this system, your pages will automatically be cataloged and identified as partially complete, ready for testing, and fully complete, etc.

When you have a completed lesson or course which is ready for students, you should list your courses at Completed courses which is currently being maintained by Robert Elliott.

Good Luck !


Anyway, Best of luck on this project. It's a wonderful idea, but it's going to be a very difficult challenge. 14:04, 21 February 2007 (UTC) G. Holt[reply]



One strategy for developing content on Wikiversity is to focus a "taskforce" on a set of objectives. These can be organized from the Wikiversity: (project) namespace for maintaining Wikiversity itself. A few examples:

Another strategy is to focus your own efforts on a very narrow subject which you have a large amount of interest in. You can also join a collaborative effort focused on specific Learning resources in the main namespace. A few examples:

You may join a School, Division or Department which help to focus on a field or discipline. See the Wikiversity:Top100 list for more popular examples of Wikiversity content and content development groups.

See also