Wikibooks:Guidelines for class projects
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While this is not a listing of rules or policies, it contains information about an important Wikibooks process, custom etc. This page should be helpful to our users; please let us know if it is not.
Wikibooks is a community for collaboratively writing textbooks and manuals. As such, it is uniquely suited for use in classroom collaborative projects. Several such projects have occurred on Wikibooks in the past, most with great success. Some of those projects are listed at Wikibooks:List of class projects.
Starting a Class Project
Typically, when starting a class project, it is important to define the scope of that project: What will be the title of your book(s)? What kind of materials will your book(s) include? How much depth will your book cover? What is the target audience? All these questions should probably be answered before your class starts working, to help keep things orderly and organized down the road. If class members are working on different chapters simultaneously, it is important to define the layout of each chapter, and whether there are sections (such as a glossary) that you would like each chapter to include.
Also, there are legal aspects to consider. All text, images, and other materials on Wikibooks are released under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License version 1.2 and the Creative Commons ShareAlike 3.0 license, and all participants in your project must agree to release their contributions under that license. Groups and individual students may wish to cross-license their contributions under the GFDL and another compatible license, and some users may wish to release their contributions into the public domain. These are all acceptable options as well.
If your group is not going to be writing a textbook, or if it is going to be incorporating additional types of learning materials in addition to a textbook, it might be a good idea to consider organizing your project on Wikiversity. Wikiversity is an online community, related to Wikibooks, that focuses on learning new ways to create materials for classrooms of all kinds.
Register your participants
All participants in the project, especially the instructor or the project leader, should register usernames here on Wikibooks. Username accounts provide each user with a user page where they can write personal profiles, a user talk page where the user can receive messages from other users, and a contribution history, where the contributions made by that user are recorded. Course instructors have found the contribution history pages to be of particular interest, because those pages lay out precisely how much work a particular student has done on the project. It is important to note that the user's contribution history will not indicate whether the material added was original work, or if it has been copied and pasted from another source. For this reason, the instructor may need to spend a significant amount of time testing student contributions for plagiarism. Other Wikibooks editors may check material that looks like it was copied and, if copyright violations are found, the students may be blocked from future editing.
List your project on Wikibooks:List of class projects, so that the Wikibooks community can follow your project, and provide you with extra help. Be sure to include information about who your participants are (a class, a study group, etc), and what your goals are (to write a new book, to improve an old book, etc).
Wikibooks cannot tell you, as an instructor of a class, how to grade your own students. However, other class instructors have left feedback about their experiences, and we are going to share some of those tips with you:
- If everybody is working on a different page/topic, it can be hard to test and grade the class as one unit. However, if the entire class is working on only a single page/topic at once, there might not be enough work for everybody to contribute equally. It can also be difficult to teach the class from a textbook that the class is writing.
- Individual grading can be completed from the user contributions page. If students create login/usernames that use specific student information (use some standardization, for example last name and student number, the goal is for the instructor to easily know exactly what the student's login/username is) this is very useful in larger classes. The contributions page http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Special:Contributions/username page lists the time (may not be your time zone) and headings of each edit made while that student was logged in. Students can also use the minor edit check box to signify edits that are not substantial, and the edit summary box to add details on how the edit meets some assignment evaluation criteria. Suggest that students review their 'My Contributions' page while logged in to see what edits they will receive credit for.
- Students may focus their attention on their own work too much! Encourage students to review, edit, and revise the material written by other groups/students. Peer review can encourage students to learn subjects besides what they are themselves working on, and it can also produce positive feedback that will drive the creative process further.
- Set specific guidelines, deadlines, and grading criteria out for your class. If everybody stays on the same pace, it will be easier to measure all the students against the same measuring stick. Don't hesitate to list your timeline and grading criteria on the talk pages of your book, as a reference.
- Make sure that students are learning, as well as simply writing. While the two processes are related, they are certainly not synonymous. Contributing to Wikibooks can probably not take the place of traditional classroom tasks, such as tests, quizzes, and homework.
- Use the talk pages of your book, along with the user talk pages of your students, to communicate with each other, and to work to improve the content of your book. Ask students to add important pages (especially the user talk page of the class instructor) to their personal watchlist. This way, when people leave messages, everybody in the class can be alerted about it.
If you have additional comments that you feel are relevant and helpful, please list them on the discussion page.
Understand the community
Wikibooks is run by a group of regular volunteers, authors, editors, and other contributors. These people, referred to as staff members, would like to help your class project, and will likely be in contact with your members to give you a warm welcome and some friendly advice. Also, if you have any questions, the staff members tend to hang out in the Reading Room. Sometimes, the staff may even have a question for you or one of your students, and it's generally polite to answer them. Plus, if a student does something a little strange, a staff member might ask for an explanation before "fixing" it. If you don't want your edits "fixed" by a staff member, make sure to explain yourself when asked.
Wikibooks is open-content, which means that any user is free to edit almost any page at any time. This means that if your class is working on a book, other users from around the world may come in to help edit your pages as well. Many times, such random edits are small fixes in spelling, grammar, or formatting, but sometimes a contribution may be large and will affect your entire project. Besides blatant vandalism, edits made by other users in good faith should not be deleted or restricted.
To distinguish between the edits made by your students, and the edits made by other Wikibookians, use the history pages. The history pages maintain a listing of every edit to a particular page, in addition to the user who made the edit, and the time it was made. You can access the edit history of any page by clicking the "history" tab at the top of the page.
You and your students should also feel free to edit other books here on Wikibooks, or to participate beyond the term of your class project.
Policies and Guidelines
Wikibooks also has a series of policies and guidelines in place to help govern the actions of its users. It is important, as an instructor of a class, to familiarize yourself with some of these policies, because they could affect your project in a profound way. Here are some important policies:
- Copyright infringement is taken very seriously. Materials that violate copyright could be deleted without warning. Make sure your group understands how to avoid such troubles. See Also: Wikibooks:Copyrights.
- Vandalism (editing in a malicious way), profanity, and other childish behavior is not well tolerated here, and users who act in these ways could become blocked from editing at Wikibooks. If you would like to test the wiki software, you can make any edit you want to the Sandbox page.
- Content must maintain a neutral point of view. Wikibooks cannot be used as a soapbox for promoting a particular religious, political, or other viewpoint.
- Wikibooks is not the correct place to conduct Original research. All content on Wikibooks should be verifiable, and properly referenced (when possible).
- All Wikibookians are encouraged to be nice to each other. Treat this more like a rule than a suggestion.
If one of the students in your class violates these policies, it is possible that they could be blocked from editing Wikibooks, at least temporarily. This is unlikely, but it is not unheard of. Make sure to talk to your students about the importance of following the rules.
What is Wikibooks?
Wikibooks is a project where the community members (known as Wikibookians, colloquially) collaboratively write open-content textbooks on a variety of different subjects. Wikibooks has a number of sister projects, all of which operate under the banner of the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF). Some of our sister projects are:
- Wikipedia, a free encyclopedia.
- Wikiversity, a collaborative learning environment. See also: Wikiversity:School and university projects.
- Wikisource, a repository for free source text.
- Wiktionary, a free dictionary/thesaurus.
If your project doesn't fit on Wikibooks, perhaps it will fit on one of these other projects.
For further information about the kinds of materials that can be posted here at wikibooks, you can refer to Wikibooks:What is Wikibooks.
One of the advantages of working on a Wikimedia project is the vast resources available for developing content.
- If you would like to use content from Wikipedia, you can request an import of articles for use as the basis for a project. Keep in mind that a Wikibook should not just be a collection of Wikipedia articles, but instead should have a central narrative.
- If you are looking for images (from photos to comic strips), try searching on Wikimedia Commons, which has free images on thousands of topics. Images located on Wikimedia Commons can be used on Wikibooks without any hassle. There is no need to download or upload the images to wikibooks.
Get help when you need it
Wikibooks is a big place, and there are plenty of questions about how to do this, or why things are done like that.
If you would like to browse some of the various tools and pages that we have to offer, you can visit the Community portal. That page has a number of resources available, including help resources, and spotlights for particular projects.
For a complete overview of all policies and guidelines in effect on Wikibooks, please see Wikibooks:Policies and guidelines.
If you need help with the wiki text markup, you can read:
- The help pages.
- The Manual of Style.
- meta:Help:Displaying a formula (for writing mathematical equations)
If you have any other problems, questions, comments, or suggestions, you can always leave a note at the Staff lounge. That page is well-monitored for edits by the users here, and you should get a response quickly.
Become Part of the Community
Just because you are working on a class project doesn't mean you can't explore all the other projects that Wikibooks has to offer. There are many books on many subjects here at Wikibooks, and all contributors are encouraged to get involved.
When your class project is over, your user accounts don't disappear either. After the conclusion of your project, you are more than welcome to continue editing your book, or even move on to other books or projects. If you find another book you or any of your group members would like to edit, feel free to dive right in and contribute to them as well. Wikibooks is an open community, and our success is dependent on the contributions of users like you.