Wikiversity, an on-line community for the creation and use of free learning materials and activities, is developing in its beta phase. The first independent project is the English Wikiversity, which started in Auguest, 2006. Since then, German, Spanish and French Wikiversities have begun their lives as independent Wikimedia projects. The Wikiversity beta site serves as a multilingual co-opeartion hub and an incubator for wikiversity projects in various languages. A description of the history of Wikiversity can be found at the collaboration wikicity. The results of the recent Wikimedia community vote on Wikiversity was on the agenda for the November meeting of the Wikimedia Board of Trustees, at which some modifications to the Wikiversity proposal were requested.
Wikiversity Core Courses Initiative
Wikiversity initially established a rather conventional list of courses. An alternative approach to initiating the Wikiversity project is to provide "service" or "core" courses that center on the needs of existing Wikimedia projects such as Wikipedia and Wikinews. Ideas for this approach can be found at the discussion of how to move Wikiversity forward (and its talk page). By first developing a core group of such service courses, Wikiversity will draw upon existing Wikimedia project editors for its own growth while helping to meet existing needs of other Wikimedia projects.
In particular, Wikipedia and Wikinews are in need of coordinated systems for applying high quality research efforts to the improvement of existing Wikipedia articles and new Wikinews articles. Too often the editing of Wikipedia becomes centered on disputes (edit wars) between editors with different points of view. Wikiversity can provide an important service by hosting research into disputed topics. When an editing conflict arises at a Wikipedia article (or related group of articles), a new Wikiversity page should be created with the goal of providing careful research into the disputed topic. Each Wikiversity core research course should provide basic information services such as organized collections of links to good sources of information and instruction to Wikipedia editors on how to perform research, evaluate the quality of sources, and formulate NPOV descriptions of Wikipedia topics.
Wikiversity core courses could include History, Political Science, Media Studies, and Biomedical Science. Each core "course" would initially be a project aimed at the improvement of Wikimedia articles through scholarly research. The Biomedical Research Project can serve as an example. Many Wikipedia articles have seen editing conflicts arise that involve medical issues and many Wikinews articles are related to complex biomedical research topics. For example, Wikinews recently had an article on the Unites States Food and Drug Administration's regulation of an emergency contraceptive pill. At Wikipedia there has been editing conflict related to the role of animals in biomedical research (for example, see). The Wikiversity Biomedical Research Project will be a "core course" devoted to providing wiki space for research projects that will improve the quality of Wikimedia articles dealing with biomedical topics.
- Wikiversity article at wikipedia
- A list of research resources at Wikipedia.
- Wikipedia's Forum for Encyclopedic Standards - ideas about promoting good citations and references.
- WikiTextrose - ideas on Meta about promoting good citations and references.