Proposal:An online syllabus and system of online tests

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The status of this proposal is:
Request for Discussion / Sign-Ups

This proposal is associated with the bolded strategic priorities below.

  1. Achieve continued growth in readership.
  2. Focus on quality content.
  3. Increase Participation.
  4. Stabilize and improve the infrastructure
  5. Encourage Innovation.

If not English, in what language is this proposal submitted?:


This proposal calls for the creation of collaborative projects that aim to align cooperative and reputational incentives to further establish an online syllabus and tests of this syllabus for university level courses. Wikiversity and Wikipedia have the aim of creating "a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge". This proposal calls for creative thinking about establishing a system of incentives that will provide people with reputational incentives that link the motives for demonstrating and sharing knowledge.

A system of collaboration will be established, keeping track of important statistics about contributions to developing syllabi and tests online and keeping track of achievements in passing these tests. Rather than conferring a degree, Wikiversity will be able to allow people to demonstrate their knowledge by passing tests online. If knowledge is questioned, anyone will be able to meet this questioning by demonstrating they can pass the relevant test of knowledge of a course syllabus.

Properly designed, this project would also Wikipedia achieve the objectives in its strategic plan. In particular, it could provide incentives for the greater and more productive involvement of students and lecturers at universities around the world. Cooperative incentives and reputational incentives could be aligned in this project. Statistics that keep track of the development and use of learning material that help people pass these tests. This proposal has the capacity to provide incentives for teachers and students to contribute to content. Potential links to the reputational incentives associated with Facebook could have great educational repercussions.

Essentially, this proposal calls for the creation of a collaborative process for establishing an online syllabus and tests of this syllabus. Wikiversity aims to "set learning free" but it does not aim to become a degree-conferring institution. This leaves open the possibility of Wikiversity aligning incentives so that anyone can sit a test online to test or demonstrate their knowledge in relation to an online syllabus.

The system of tests would need to be set up in relation to the syllabus for each course. Different teaching materials in various formats would then be available to help anyone pass these tests. For example, academics could enhance their reputations by providing helpful teaching materials. The system would need to keep track of users access to these materials or ratings and rankings of these teaching materials so that more useful teaching materials could be identified by students. This demonstrates one way that the system of incentives can be improved.


Wikiversity already allows users to propose a syllabus for a course and quiz software is available for creating online tests. This proposal calls for the creation of new collaborative processes that link incentives in online teaching and learning with creating and editing Wikipedia pages. Building on existing material in Wikiversity, the syllabus for common university courses will be detailed online. Tests of this knowledge will be created online allowing anyone to demonstrate their knowledge.

This proposal will ask contributors to think of new ways that incentives for cooperative interactions online and reputational incentives can be aligned to provide an education through Wikiversity and increase participation in creating and editing Wikipedia pages.

Initial ideas include potential links with Facebook so that when tests are completed results can be shown in the Facebook status. Students at universities spent a great deal of time on Facebook. This proposal calls for creative thinking about ways to link the cooperative incentives for collaborative Wikimedia activities with the reputational incentives that exist in online platforms such as Facebook as well as the reputational incentives that students and teachers face.

Other contributions to the system of online syllabi and related tests can be tracked and statistics would be useful. For example, material from an academic that is referenced in creating a syllabus, authorship of test questions can be tracked, or the access of teaching materials can be tracked and teaching materials rated by students (with information about their test achievements recorded) - such statistics provide performance indicators that can incentivize the involvement of academics in this endeavour.


This proposal seeks to align incentives in education - both cooperative and reputational incentives. People have an incentive to pursue education for its own sake, however, they also want to be able to demonstrate their learning to others. Wikiversity has the potential to provide online tests that people can use to demonstrate their learning achievements, even without the expense of enrolling in a bricks and mortar university. What better way to demonstrate your knowledge than to achieve a high score on a test specifically designed to test that knowledge?

People around the world would be able to develop confidence in their knowledge. If challenged, they would be able to answer the test on Wikiversity under exam conditions to demonstrate their knowledge. Teaching institutions would be able to facilitate exam conditions.

If the appropriate statistics are tracked linking students' use of teaching materials online , teachers and lecturers would have the reputational incentives to contribute to the development of teaching materials that could be accessed by anyone online through Wikiversity. The statistics would show which materials high-scoring students used to learn before taking a test. They could also be asked to rank or rate teaching materials provided through Wikiversity. This could also provide incentives for the development of better material for Wikipedia pages.

Peer review is the ultimate test of academic knowledge. Creative thinking along the line of incentives could be very fruitful. For example, would it make sense to require people to pass university level tests in some area to demonstrate their basic knowledge before allowing them to edit particular pages considered to be centrally important? That is not a concrete suggestion but another way I'd like to inspire people to think creatively about how new systems of reputational incentives can help Wikimedia meet its strategic objectives.

Key Questions

Developing a syllabus for an educational unit and a course structure that links prerequisites for further study challenges people to identify what are the important elements of knowledge in some area of academic endeavour. Can a system of reputational incentives be created that encourages collaborations through Wikimedia?

Can a system of collaboration decide on a syllabus and tests of that syllabus so people can demonstrate their knowledge (consistent with a reputational incentive for education)?

Can these online tests on Wikiversity be linked to a system of incentives for creating useful teaching materials that help students pass these tests (competitive incentives, reputational incentives)?

Can incentives for producing useful teaching materials also contribute to the creation and editing of Wikipedia pages? Would greater links with educational outcomes provide closer scrutiny and greater oversight of Wikipedia pages. Would better links with reputational incentives for academics create the incentives for academics to participate in editing Wikipedia pages in their areas of expertise?

Potential Costs


Community Discussion

Do you have a thought about this proposal? A suggestion? Discuss this proposal by going to Proposal talk:An online syllabus and system of online tests.

Timcapon 12:34, 25 April 2011 (UTC)== Want to work on this proposal? ==

  1. .. Sign your name here!
  2. Vibhijain 14:49, 8 May 2011 (UTC)