Wikiopisto – The Finnish Wikiversity

Last night I made the front page for the Finnish Wikiversity site. The Finnish Wikiversity is called Wikiopisto.

I have been thinking about this for some time already. Now some friends in Finland wanted to start a reading club to read the The Wealth of Networks by Benkler, and asked me about the Wikiversity. So, it was a good excuse to start the project.

I tried to think different and made rather different structure for the Finnish Wikiversity if compared to other Wikiversities in other language.

The Finnish Wikiversity is now using the study and learning methods (Courses, Study circles, Reading groups etc.) as the primary categorization when other Wikiversities are using the “academic study” topics (Humanities, Physical Sciences etc.) to categorize their stuff. I hope the Finnish categorization will be more accessible for a small wikimedia community. People may simply use the Finnish Wikiversity to coordinate their study work with other people.

It is possible that the Wikiopisto – the Finnish Wikiversity – will not get a lot of attention at all. The Finnish Wikimedia community is naturally not very big as there are only 5.2. Million Finns. The fi.Wikipedia is the main project of the Finnish Wikimedians and with it the community have been very successful. The Finnihs Wikipedia has today about 150 000 articles and it is the 14 largest and most active Wikipedia in the world. Not bad.

In many other languages the Wikibooks has been closely associated with the Wikiversity. Originally the Wikiversity was started in the Wikibooks community and there has been a lot of controversial opinion on the roles, objectives and tasks of the two projects. I hope that in the Finnish Wikiversity we are able to avoid this.

In the first version of the Finnish Wikiversity I decided to make a clear distinction to the Finnish Wikibooks, called Wikikirjasto (straight translation: Wikilibrary).

In the Finnish Wikiversity (beta) the site is focusing on to create communities of people who are interested in arranging learning projects together. The site does not raise-up any aim of creating learning content on it, but rather encourages people to start learning projects and organize their activities of them in the wiki.

To do this I added to the front page a topic “study offering” and under it sub-topics of several types of learning projects. Then under those sub-topics I wrote descriptions of them and added links to some examples. People may now create pages with their learning projects under these topics. The types of “learning projects” described in the Finnish Wikiversity are:

1. Courses – Course means a learning project where several people study on some topic with clearly stated learning objectives and according to some pre-defined study program. In a course there is most often a facilitator or teacher who has designed the program and assignments, and also gives feedback and evaluate the participants performance in the course. Example of a course in the English Wikiversity:

2. Study circles – Study circle is a non-formal study method. In a study circle group come together to study some topic. Essential is the informality and collaborative learning. Usually study circle do not have a fixed program. It may continue as long as the participants find it necessary and meaningful. Example of a study circle in the English Wikiversity:

3. Reading groups (or Book discussion club) – Reading group works often very similar way as study circles. In a reading group, however, the objective is to read some book with other people. The reading group may read nonfiction or fiction literature. In the time of Internet the reading group may read some specific websites together. Similar way as in the study circle the participants get together to discuss about the book and to present their opinions on it. Example of a reading group in the English Wikiversity:

4. Self-study courses (no article in the en.wikipedia!) – Self-study course means learning material on some topic which one can study independently. Often self-study material is called tutorial or guidebook. Self-study course can include texts, images and animations, or/and audio and video clips. In addition to learning material self-study course may have interactive exercises or simulations and automated tests to evaluate your learning. Example of a self-study course in the Enlighs Wikiversity:

After this I also add the last topic with the title “Library of the Finnish Wikiversity” and wrote there that the Finnish Wikibooks is the library of the Finnish Wikiversity and one should consider if the project they are working on should actually better belong in there.

I know that in some point in the Finnish Wikiversity we need more categories with the academic study topics, too – if it grows. Some may even argue that the difference I am making is artificial without any practical consequences. I don’t think so.

The threshold to start a study circle or reading club about Harry Potter, Dostojevski or Network Economy is much lower than going to the “Faculty for Humanities”, “School of Language and Literature”, “Literary Studies Department” and start doing something in there.

It is possible that the Finnish Wikiversity will finally remind more “community college” than “university”. Then we may also ask which once we need more?

I hope that people will come and they will get it. Let’s see.

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