An agreement was met in a meeting between Rabbi Shai Piron, Israel’s Education Minister, Jan-Bart de Vreede, Chair of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, Itzik Edri, Chair of the Wikimedia Israel Board and Michal Lester, Executive Director of Wikimedia Israel, regarding a shared cooperation with Wikimedia Israel in the framework of the ministry’s school curricula in the coming years. Through the planned cooperation, history, geography and science teachers will receive special professional training to instruct students on how to contribute to new or incomplete Wikipedia articles for which information is lacking or inadequate.
The Education Ministry will also examine the possibility of integrating Wikipedia writing assignments in the teaching of research and community involvement. They will also consider having students who speak additional languages (primarily English and Russian) write Wikipedia articles about Israel in those particular languages.
Education Minister Rabbi Shai Piron said, “It is important to us that the education system in Israel leads in innovation and cooperating with Wikipedia is a wonderful opportunity to think outside the box and enable students in Israel to do things that make a difference from which others can also benefit.”
Jan-Bart de Vreede, Chair of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees said, “Israel is today among the leading countries in the integration of Wikipedia in the education system and academia. I hope our joint work model will also serve as an example to other education systems around the world.”
In the framework of cooperation that is already in place between Wikimedia Israel and the Ministry of education, several pilot projects are being conducted. The projects involve teacher training in good Wikipedia usage, article composition, Wikipedia article writing by gifted high school students and the teaching of proper Wikipedia usage to elementary schoolchildren. It is worth mentioning that through cooperation with academics in a variety of universities and colleges throughout Israel, hundreds of articles are written each year by students in courses. Thus students write Wikipedia articles as part of their degrees, sometimes even in lieu of exams or final papers. The Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University recently conducted a special 2-credit course on the subject of Wikipedia and medicine.
Survey results published last week as part of Wikipedia Academy 2014 Israel revealed that 84% of the Israeli public relies heavily on Wikipedia and 74% say that it provides all the information they need. Over one third of the population expressed interest in learning to write for Wikipedia.
Itzik Edri, Chair of Wikimedia Israel Board