Wikiversity:Developing Wikiversity through action research

Steps of Action research
Learning innovation

Models of learning



This page is to coordinate activities in this collaborative action research project to develop and, in some senses, define Wikiversity. Essentially, it asks: "What are we doing to learn and facilitate learning on Wikiversity, and how can we improve what we are doing?" Some background to this research can be found on the "About" page and, on a more personal level, here. (Disclosure: this research constitutes the bulk, if not the whole, of my empirical research towards a PhD in education - however, I do not claim any 'ownership' over the research whatsoever. Cormaggio talk 22:51, 6 February 2008 (UTC)) Discussion about this project can be found and continued on the talk page, and if you wish to add yourself as an interested participant, please list yourself on the participants page. But again, please, edit this page to make it a truly collaborative research project...[reply]

Note: Cormac Lawler presented the results of his research as "Wikiversity: a project struggling with its own identity" at Wikimania 2010 in Gdansk, Poland.

Scope of research


This comes from discussion on the Colloquium in January/February 2008 - please also see Agenda

  • Clarifying learning model on Wikiversity (see Wikiversity learning model and Learning by doing, and workspaces below)
  • Develop engaging content/activities that would serve to build learning communities
  • Engage in outreach to invite participation
  • Explore tools for improving communication

Goals of research

  • Identify affordances and constraints of a wiki for learning - and apply this to the practice of building learning communities
  • ...

Means of carrying out research




Theories in use

  • See /Theories
    • Mainly activity theory (specifically Engestrom's "expansive learning"), and communities of practice
    • Also strands of radical pedagogy, power, democracy, organisational learning (please add ideas to the theories page)

Form of research


The box below outlines a series of steps that correspond to an action research methodology for facilitating and assessing the development of Wikiversity. These steps correspond to headings below - all of which, of course, are editable. Steps 1-3 (inclusive) are the "pre-research" steps, and envisaged to be worked on immediately and simultaneously; 4-7 (inclusive) constitute one "cycle", or iteration, of the action research spiral (see action research page for details).

"Pre-research" steps:

  • 1. Describe the environment in which we work (eg. this report)
Note: The report I wrote on January 15th is not at all comprehensive. There are many other aspects to Wikiversity that I did not mention, and even the ones I did mention need further detail/analysis. Cormaggio beep 20:35, 23 January 2007 (UTC)[reply]
Also, does the "environment in which we work" mean the wider context of our work in education (ie inside/outside Wikiversity - individually and collectively)? There is possibly a limit to how much of this we need to go into on this page, but it might be quite helpful for us to explore this point in some depth.. Cormaggio beep 20:35, 23 January 2007 (UTC)[reply]
  • 2. Identify aspects of Wikiversity that work, don't work, and that could work better (eg. this report)
Note: As above, that report did not take into account the full breadth of resources/activities/project pages in Wikiversity. If you feel that a particular resource is interesting/noteworthy for any particular reason (this could be how it has developed, what it offers (or doesn't), how useful/confusing etc people have said it was (or you think it is), what potential it has for development, etc), you should note the page, and give a brief account of why you think it is noteworthy. Or, simply adding comments about problems you are having with Wikiversity, could be helpful. Cormaggio beep 20:35, 23 January 2007 (UTC)[reply]
  • 3. Identify: a) how action/reflection is to be carried out and evaluated, b) how milestones are reached and named, c) intended outcomes of this work, and d) within what timeframe this work is to be carried out

Action research cycle

  • 4. Draw up a plan of action
  • 5. Implement action steps
  • 6. Observe how actions have affected changes (or not)
  • 7. Reflect on action (ideally, this is ongoing - possibly needing to be brought together somehow at some point in time - does this point in time need to be pre-specified, or left open/flexible?)
  • 8. Formulate new plan of action (not a "return" to point 4, but rather creating a new cycle, forming a spiral of action and reflection)



(these need updating and refactoring in parts)

Describe Wikiversity


Increasing participation


Economy of thought: Currently, not too many learning communities have cropped up. This might be due to the lack of participants on Wikiversity. If we adopt a "learner-teacher" model, there may be a mismatch between participant interests. Essentially, we have an "economy of thought" analogous to bartering...

Increase participation through Wikiversity outreach. It is important to let people know we are here, but it is more important to let them know that we know they are out there. If you find a group that you think could or should interact with Wikiversity, go ahead and start them a page here, linking it with learning resources that are "up their alley".
Some examples:
  • Wikiversity and Connexions collaboration - a project to build and research (amongst other things) a technical bridge between the two projects.
  • SchoolForge - This is a Coalition of organizations that is dedicated to promoting and developing Free, Libre and Open Source Software in Education. Wikiversity has effectively "joined" the coalition by adding their page in the main namespace. Both SchoolForge and Wikiversity grow by linking common resources such as the Online Education Database and organizations like the FLOSSE Posse
  • Wikimania - Wikiversity has an intrinsic function as a wiki-based community that is flexible enough to "go with the flow" of events and online social networking. As a Wikimedia Foundation project, we can prove our worth by helping to organize learning activities and providing services such as the OpenMoko/Internet Kiosk, VoIP teleconferencing and Wiki Campus Radio.
  • other examples that could increase participation
Document feedback, "Follow-through" and progress at Wikiversity talk:Wikiversity outreach. As examples, follow links to the home sites of organizations that are listed under Category:Workspaces. See if their site includes a reciprocal link to Wikiversity. Several of those sites, particularly those that use MediaWiki contain a Wikiversity page that serves as an "outpost" for linking relevant shared resources, defining roles and coordinating action.
Another Question: How important/effective is reciprocal linking in increasing participation and aiding collaboration? Does the practice spread people too thin? Or does it actually build community?
  • Increasing commitment within the established community
    • Holding regular meetings
    • Determining tasks
    • Having weekly deadlines for these tasks
    • Trying to build something people want to participate in
  • Using this community to increase the number of participants and to keep those who are already involved
    • Do some marketing: politely making people enthusiastic for Wikiversity
    • Conflict management: Conflicts can be lethal to a group of people. Solutions: different guilds for different opinions within Wikiversity. Stimulate social bonding, so friendship becomes more important than being part of a language community.
    • Some tasks in organizing can be dull. So, there must be a goal to achieve. A goal could be to build up which can be appealing to a large crowd and could make people proud of having achieved it.
  • What do you want to achieve?

Establishing credibility


As Wikipedia must continue to prove its value as an enclopedia, so must Wikiversity prove itself as an online learning community. What actions can insure that Wikiversity content is viable? Some stubby ides have been planted at Wikiversity:Quality and some Content development guidlines have been offered.

More questions: Are the naming conventions established in the beginning here at the English language Wikiversity compatible with those in mainstream academia? Are they being replicated equivalently on other language versions? Could Wikiversity gain credibility by improving communications across political barriers and cultural boundaries?


  • Go back out to other Wikimedia sisterprojects, and get opinions and impressions on how Wikiversity is seen from other parts of the Wikimedia-sphere. See if we can use Wikiversity's Academic freedom to aid other Wikimedians in their efforts from within projects with policies that restrict certain desirable movements. This should involve going out of our "comfort zone" to projects we haven't been involved with, in order to learn new things and bring them back here to teach/share/explore how Wikiversity can become more effective as a service community.
  • Exercise the Wikiversity outreach "muscle" by taking notes and building relevance within other Internet spheres such as Google Groups, Myspace or YouTube - and, of course, with other education-oriented communities - to find other Wikiversitans "out there"..
  • Team up and build Wikiversity "outposts" in somewhat the same way that "brick-and-mortar" institutions build extension services and field offices. Build learning resources here at Wikiversity for tracking the work we do in other spheres. Introduce people here to new vistas and show them the "tips and tricks" for working (and playing) in other Internet environments.

How action/reflection is to be carried out


Please add suggestions about various aspects of point three above - and sign your comment to indicate that this is your point-of-view, and not necessarily someone else's.

Other projects


There is another action research project on Wikiversity underway at Learning to learn a wiki way - please also participate there if you are interested.

Elearning_in_open_source_education is investigating the concept of 'open source education' and e-learning within such approaches.