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Community service requirement fulfilled through Wikipedia contributions

Seven students in Mexico from ITESM-CCM’s International Baccalaureate Program participated in a pilot project to satisfy all or part of their community service requirement by working with Wikipedia.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma is an interdisciplinary high school level program which was developed in collaboration with UNESCO mostly based on European and U.S. models. It is considered to be rigorous, with graduation depending on testing, the writing of essays, and the completion of a community service requirement. This makes IB program ideal for Wikipedia. Students have been prepared to do expository writing in their native language (and often in English as well), and the community service requirement is eighty hours, which allows for the development of various kinds of projects.

Four students who edited Wikipedia as part of their community service requirement of their International Baccalaureate Diploma.

Four students who edited Wikipedia as part of their community service requirement of their International Baccalaureate Diploma.

In the pilot program at ITESM-CCM, I trained students on how to edit Wikipedia and helped them come up with article ideas, working at the school’s self access language laboratory, which I run. We began with English-to-Spanish translation on Wikipedia since I have had success with this kind of assignment and the Teylers Museum was doing a translation challenge. Soon after doing several articles related to Teylers, students began to find their own interests over the course the semester. Students worked on translating or creating fifteen articles, as wells as donating and organizing photos in Wikimedia Commons. See a list of articles created or translated.

Opportunities arose during the semester to allow students to explore options other simply working in the lab. The main one was an edit-a-thon held at the Museo de Arte Popular in Mexico City. This allowed the one IB student who could attend to not only work with the museum, some university students, and members of Wikimedia México, it also got her picture in the school’s newspaper. Various students have worked with me to create formal proposals in Spanish to be sent to other organizations with interest in working with Wikipedia.

The pilot had only seven students so that time and other considerations could be tested. It turns out that these students adapted to working with Wikipedia rapidly, mostly because they already know the basics of doing expository writing and citation. Since this is a community service requirement, the only assessment is hours served, no grades. This makes working with students in International Baccalaureate programs, which exist worldwide, an attractive option for outreach programs to explore!

Leigh Thelmadatter, Volunteer

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