Let's use this discussion as a place for depositing ideas outside of an individual design proposal.
Structure and languages
In wondering what the top level category should be called it seems like language is a key discriminator. Should we constrain our first efforts at a mapping structure to only the English instance of WikiEducator and make the assumption that pages in other languages, excepting those related to foreign language instruction for native english speakers, will be moved to the appropriate language-specific instance of WE?
Naming the top-level category
Options (example use):
Wikipedia is a good model, and Contents is generic. Let's start with that but come back to this after we work through the lower levels. With all due respect "Roots" is just too geeky for most WE folks. :o)
I completely agree that "Contents" is probably the best title to use for WE.
Agreed, contents seems like the best choice for WE. In addition to WP, a number of other wikis use Category:Contents as the top-level, although I think Category:Categories is maybe more prevalent.
"categories" might be more prevalent, but I have been doing a lot of thinking about what our target audience needs to succeed without having to entirely re-educate them. For instance, rather than calling it the "Main Page" it could be called "home", and "Support" instead of "help" "practice editing" or "contact us". I think that calling it "contents" will tell them exactly what they should understand from it.
I'm much better at eliminating and revising than starting from scratch. Shamelessly copied from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Contents
- Featured content - Articles, pictures, and other media which the community has selected as being Wikipedia's finest.
- Articles (: OERs??) - All articles organized by various category systems.
- Glossaries - Alphabetical lists explaining technical terms related to some field.
- Lists - Encyclopaedic content in list or tabular form.
- Indexes - Alphabetical list of all articles related to a specific topic.
- Outlines - Hierarchical list of the most important articles related to a specific topic.
- Wikipedia administration
- Wikipedia help
- Featured content
- Wikipedia administration
- Articles (: aka Open Educational Resource (OER))
- Wikipedia:Books (: WE collections?)
- Glossaries (: not used much but should be encouraged)
- Wikipedia help
- Image galleries
- Indexes of articles (: these will help content adopters)
- Portals (: Does WE promote having content associated with an organization / portal?)
- Years (: interesting idea - group by date)
It's helpful to think of the groupings of content that should be in the top-level category. My opinion on each grouping:
- Educational content -- definitely
- Navigational content -- I'm not convinced that this is needed. I don't think we have many of these kinds of pages. Portals should be accessible via content-based categories and main content navigation pages. My opinion is to put this off until there's a clearer need. (But the current map could tell a different tale when it's done.)
- Content maintenance -- definitely (but I don't think Wikieducators as a category would belong here, need a different name to describe people like us who work on maintenance)
I wonder if there's another grouping --- Wikieducators or WikiEducator communities. This would ultimately lead to the main country pages, teacher collaboration, community media, specialties...?
I think the challenge will be to "categorize" the educational content. My first thought was to call it all OER, cause all educational content on WE is open, so it's all OER ;). My concept of OER includes direct learning resources, research, foundations, institution-based efforts and other promotional efforts. But the OER Foundation defines OER more narrowly: "Open Educational Resources (OERs), are educational materials which are licensed in ways that provide permissions for individuals and institutions to reuse, adapt and modify the materials for their own use. OERs can, and do include full courses, textbooks, streaming videos, exams, software, and any other materials or techniques supporting learning." from OERF FAQs. So, should we define OER to be just learning materials, make a separate category for OER related efforts, and make other main categories for educational research, institutions,...?
Hopefully the completed current map will give us more insight into members' natural inclinations.
Using OER more narrowly may help the categorization. The big problem I see with stuff in WE
- more or less finished / published with the expectation that it be used by others - learners, other instructors...
- work in progress that may become OERs
- personal notes, research and collection information, experiments, small group collaborative writing
I would like to see more adoption, reuse and remixing by educators other than those who created the OERs. As it stands it is very difficult to even know where to start looking in WE for well crafted OERs that are "ready to use". Most searches turn up fragments, stubs and sandboxes, and the searcher is discouraged or turned off. We need several mechanisms to ensure that the searches are more productive. Identifying OERs that conform to the OER Foundation definition is a good start.
Then how do we categorize the other stuff? Or is "OER" or "not OER" a good high-level categorization?
There need to be a couple of big, cross population groupings eg. animal, vegetable, mineral - so that just applying 2 or 3 of the big selection criteria yields a more specific set to research further.
Agree that defining OER narrowly will help the category be more focused. And agree that WE has (and probably will always have) lots of OERs in progress. I wonder if we should create a separate "OER development in progress" template with the WIP template used in all other situations. This would help us identify OERs in progress.
It'd be great to have a way to identify finished/published OERs in a category listing, e.g., bolded or including an icon to indicate ready for use. Somewhat relatedly, I'd love to see the Quality assurance framework implemented to provide a mechanism for identifying completed resources.
So, thinking about what high level categories should be under "Educational content":
- OER projects
- Featured works -- see the Featured works portal; not all of the kinds of featured works would be educational content
I think something is an OER if its creator says so. But it should be designated as an OER only when the creator is "releasing" it for use/reuse/remix by others.
Perhaps there can be another family of designations (maybe a subset or OER) for resources that have "passed" various level of quality assurance review - assessed by creator, peer or third party, certified WE reviewer?
All content on Wikieducator is legally licensed as OER in the sense that the license permits reuse and remix by others. Every edit in WikiEducator the use agrees to licensing content under the standard CC-By-SA license or CC-BY where specfied. So technically all content in Wikieducator is "OER" from a legal perspective.
However, an author may want to say -- "Please don't edit this material because I'm using it in a class" -- but this does not restrict anyone from making a copy (forking) and remixing for their own purposes.
I'm not sure that we can say that OER is only OER once it has passed various QA processes -- it would be better to thing about:
- Unreviewed OER and
- Peer reviewed OER.
Thinking about categories -- I'm not sure that the category OER is a useful category for education materials in WikiEducator -- because all content in wiki educator is legally licensed as OER. Perhaps the type of resource would be better, for example learning activity, online course, handout, open text book etc.
There may be very specific OER pages like the OER Foundation stuff or content covering the topic of OER -- so I think a narrower category focus would be more useful.
I think you are right, Wayne, that we shouldn't use the term OER to mean learning resources. But it seems too fine-grained to be listing specific types of resources in the highest category. I think the list could be quite long. Maybe in the educational content grouping, we want a category labeled "types of learning resources", along with categories for subjects, levels, and any other criteria that could be used to create broad groups of learning resources.
I just want to make it clear that this should not be an attempt to "see the future" by creating all the possible categories there might be need for. We should only try to organise the content that exists, because it is not possible to predict what our needs will be down the road. We should be primarily concerned with putting the content we have now in its right place. After that, if we know something will be needed and there is a risk that it might get misplaced if let alone, we can consider other categories. (This does not include categories that need to be created in order to put content in its right place)
Also please understand that none of this is ever concrete. If a category doesn't work out, it can be changed or replaced just like anything else in WikiEducator. Members should be expected to create their own categories as needed and preferably along the guidelines created by us and the style guide workgroup.
After my recent foray into ontology, prompted by the Shirky article  (related discussion thread, I understand how NOT pre-determining the category structure, and allowing users and authors to create the categories and connections that they need, creates a more powerful and effective structure for finding what you want.
Nevertheless, we should try hard to word whatever top categories we come up with to reflect our best sense of what will be most helpful to the community, although I suspect it will take some trial and error ;).
In looking at the categories on the current map, I think we should have high level categories (listed in the Contents category) that will facilitate browsing the learning materials. In thinking about how to word these category names, they need to be useful to individuals in many very different educational settings. I'm thinking the titles should be as descriptive as possible without being overly wordy.
Here's some thoughts on categories that describe learning resources:
- Learning resources--topics, subjects, disciplines
- Learning resources--types (: are there other words that describe the variety of types of resources?)
- Learning resources--levels, grades, certificates (: this gets at the target audience for a resource)
Another option might be to use "OERs" instead of "Learning resources" (shorter, reinforces WE's values, could include a definition in the header), notwithstanding the varied meanings of OER discussed above.
So this would fit in something like this?:
contents → open education resources → OER by subject → OER by type → OER by age
I agree with what Alison says about using OER instead of "learning resource".
I also want to suggest that we categorise by age rather than level or grade. This would be more universal, and would allow for grouping all resources intended for the same audience together. Part of the category description could explain the applicable levels and grades, and there could be links to glossary entries (what I hope might end up being a future WE project).
Actually I think we should have 5-6 ways of browsing learning resources as sub categories directly under "Contents" (without the "Open education resources" category. I don't think we should settle on whether to call them learning resources or OER, yet. I think both options are on the table. (The issue being that everything in WE is OER.)
I'd also like to suggest that we don't need to settle on one particular word to describe the class. My suggestion is to list a few of the main words that describe a broad class (e.g., I think we should use both the words "topics" and "subjects" to create a category that includes learning about topics that might not be considered subjects in school).
Jesse, you are right about needing to include age, however, I'd like to combine "age" with "level" and "grade" (I'm now considering certificates in a separate category) to create a category that includes resources broken out according to growth & development and/or experience (I think these two factors are very tied together). I'm not convinced that "age" will serve as a common classifying factor around the world. And besides, individual variation results in 9 year olds studying Feynman's lectures and adults learning how to read. Maybe it's better to leave it up to the wikieducators to say to whom their resource is targeted (in whatever metric works for them). Categorise into a broad category. And then later, once we see what's included, reassess.
I'm getting close to a proposal (at least for this top part). I'll see if I can get it together in the next few days. I'll add it to the main page.
In order for the 5-6 browsing methods to work ideally, every resource would need to be available to every category redundancy (the different categories that mean the same thing). How would we guarantee that?
I'm not sure what you mean, although I agree that forcing a redundancy will quickly undermine any proposed structure. I'm not proposing separate categories that mean the same thing. It's more about how to name a category so it can encompass a broad range of sub-categories. An example is Category:Schools, colleges, institutions or Category:Subjects and topics.
I've made a first proposal for these top categories at Workgroup:Categories/Proposed_map. Maybe you could provide an example of the redundancy using one of the elements in this proposal.