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Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

Canadian Copyright Collection from the British Library on Wikimedia Commons

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Français 7% • English 100%

English

The dancing pavilion at the Boblo Island Amusement Park, Ontario (1914). Financed by Henry Ford, this was the world’s second largest dance hall at the time, holding up to 5,000 dancers. The music was provided by one of the world’s largest orchestrions (pictured on the right): a 16 foot tall, 14 foot wide, self-playing orchestra with 419 pipes and percussion section.

July 1st is Canada Day, and Wikimedia UK and the British Library are today announcing the release of 2,000 historic photographs of Canada.

Since September 2012, we’ve been working to digitise a collection of historic Canadian photographs and release them onto Wikimedia Commons and into the public domain. The collection itself was acquired between 1895 and 1924 and consists of photographs supplied to support copyright deposits by Canadian photographers between those years. This came about through an arcane piece of colonial law, known snappily as the Colonial Copyright Law, which sought to extend British copyright protection across the empire, while also ensuring the collection of published material from these same areas. In practice, the law was a failure; only a few territories ratified it and even fewer actually deposited materials. Until 1925, however, Canada did implement the law and the Ministry of Agriculture effectively administrated the collection of copyright deposits. A copy of every item was sent to Ottawa and to London, where it was archived by the British Museum and then neglected for decades.

Materials collected from Canada included printed books, sheet music, maps and, of course, photographs. While the photographs were seen as trivial and undervalued at the time, what can now be perceived through the collection is a broad and human view of Canada at a crucial point in its history; a thirty year period when the Confederation developed politically, economically and socially, while garnering an international reputation. The collection itself provides views on this changing nation, from Vancouver to Halifax, with many unknown camera workers alongside well-known figures such as Frank Micklethwaite or William Notman.

All of this combines to create a strange mix of photographic subjects. Photographs of soldiers leaving for World War I are filed alongside images of cute kittens and men wrestling bears; trains are depicted steaming across the nation while boats continue to ply the water-ways; major cities are shown rapidly growing, while new settlements make their first marks in the dirt; and Eastern European immigrants rub shoulders with the First Nations.

Since today (Monday) marks the 146th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation, it seemed an appropriate time to note the upload of the collection to Wikimedia Commons. There are currently just over 2,000 photographs uploaded, each with a duplicate full-resolution TIFF copy, with more to come in the following weeks. All the images are in the public domain, and are freely available for use and reuse – please, enjoy!

You can see more details on the collection on Wikimedia Commons.

Philip Hatfield (Curator, Canadian Collections, British Library) and Andrew Gray (former Wikipedian in Residence, British Library) Funding for the project was given by Wikimedia UK and by the British Library Eccles Centre for American Studies.

  • Aeroplane Picture of 1000 Islands No 1500 (HS85-10-38114).jpg
  • The Honourable Sir Wilfrid Laurier Photo A (HS85-10-16871).jpg
  • The farewell (HS85-10-30885).jpg
  • Cree Indian (HS85-10-13885) edit.jpg

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Quebec school project improves French Wikipedia

This post is available in 2 languages: français 7% • English 100%

In English

Members of the 2009 edition of the Cégep de Chicoutimi school project. At far left stand fr:Jean-Marie Tremblay, founder of the digital library Les Classiques des sciences sociales, while Simon Villeneuve is at far right.

I am Simon Villeneuve. I have taught physics and astronomy at the Cégep de Chicoutimi, a college in Quebec (Canada), since 2005. Since the 2008 fall semester, I have used the French Wikipedia in my astronomy class and have introduced my students to the commons-based peer production principle of public wikis. I coordinate their work with the Cégep de Chicoutimi pedagogical project.

Like it or not, the free encyclopedia will take an increasing place in the education world[1]. I believe Wikipedia is a wonderful educational tool for learning a lot of stuff like critical thinking, peer production principle, ability to find and evaluate the quality of sources and, especially, production of online libre knowledge that anyone can reuse.

In this post, I discuss some results of my school project and resources we created in order to follow and frame more easily the students assignments.

A work in progress

It took me a long time to evaluate the kind of Wikipedian work I could ask my students. At first, I assigned them two tasks:

  1. Contribute 20 edits in the main space, with a minimum of 10 astronomy-related edits.
  2. In teams, significantly expand an astronomy article of your choice.

I tought the first assignment was sufficient for students to learn the ropes of the encyclopedia, enough to complete the second task. Impressed by the results of the Wikipedia:WikiProject Murder Madness and Mayhem, I wanted to lead my students in the drafting of good and featured articles. It was a disaster, plain and simple.

I came to realize that mastering the basics of MediaWiki and the encyclopedic style are very difficult to the average human being. I overestimated the degree of computer skills from my supposed digital natives digital naives, as well as their ability to master the encyclopedic genre.

This led me to develop a learning process involving six, rather than two, assignments and focus their work on brand new articles or stubs.

Results

Here are some results:

Results from the projet pédagogique au Cégep de Chicoutimi (2008-2012)
Year[note 1] N[note 2] Editions[note 3] Creations[note 4] Octets[note 5] Articles[note 6] Octets articles[note 7] Words[note 8] · [2] Assessment[note 9]
Total 155 6,003 157 1,160,933 71 467,840 46,784 29 Start/C, 5 B
2012 36 1,301 68 249,862 14 78,856 7,886 7 Start/C, 1 B
2011 [note 10] 34 1,509 48 390,923 29 164,075 16,408 8 Start/C, 1 B
2010 32 1,356 11 210,145 18 120,563 12,056 10 Start/C, 1 B
2009 34 1,603 11 261,031 [note 11] 10 104,346 10,435 4 Start/C, 2 B
2008 19 234 19 48,972 0

The last four columns show the results of the main assignment in which I asked teams of students to significantly develop one article.[note 12]

Since 2009, I also ask students to fill a short survey at the end of the semester. The survey is far from perfect, but it gives a general idea about the perception of the project by the students, including the gender gap.

Comparison between women (blue) and men (red) for the first 7 replies issues (2009-2012). The gender gap is clear.

You can get a detailed overview of the results on (fr) Wikipédia:Projets pédagogiques/Cégep de Chicoutimi/Résultats.

Other WMF projects

My use of wikis in the classroom is not restricted to Wikipedia. I also introduce the students to other Wikimedia Foundation projects.

Some contributed to Commons[note 13] and participated in the 2012 Wiki Loves Monuments contest.

In the last weeks, the students wrote astronomy and astrophysics news items on Wikinews.[note 14] One article, (fr)fr:Le géocroiseur 2012 DA14 s’approche de la terre” was showcased on the site’s Main Page for several days.

I also introduced my students to Wikisource. One of them has started working on a French translation of the Einstein–Szilárd letter and of Churchill‘s “We shall fight on the beaches” speech.[note 15]

Resources

Screenshot of the homepage of the digital library Les Classiques des sciences sociales. The educational project at the Cégep de Chicoutimi allows the coordination of multiple Quebec actors of the free culture movement by creating some activities like (fr) copyleft days.

There are very few French resources and appropriate tools to help teachers to achieve educational activities using Wikipedia.

With the help of Wikipedians like Lilyu and Benoit Rochon, we created several templates and specialized categories to help us identifying students activities as well as articles they worked on. To get an idea of ​​these resources, see the (fr) Catégorie:Projet:Cégep de Chicoutimi.

Over time, I was able to gather a core of education stakeholders interested in creating open educational resources by organizing various activities, such as the (fr) 2011 copyleft day. Thus, with the help of such fellow Wikipedians/Science and Mathematics teachers Cantons-de-l’Est and Letartean, we have created a number of exercises.[note 16]. While still very sketchy at this stage, I believe that this approach can serve as a guide to create a turnkey approach for an educational use of Wikipedia by fellow teachers.

Our latest initiative is the establishment of a partnership with the digital library Les Classiques des sciences sociales with the launch, in February 2013, of a new collection dedicated to natural sciences[3]. We have taken this initiative because the eligibility policy on French WikiSource is much more restrictive than what is acceptable under Canadian law. The new collection, with free texts in 5 formats (.html, .pdf, .doc, .rtf, and .epub), provides access to the French text from renowned scientists such as Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, René Descartes, Albert Einstein, Gregor Mendel, and Ernest Rutherford.

That’s about all I can tell you for now. If my Wikimania 2013 presentation is accepted, I’ll be able tell you more face to face. Wink.png

Simon Villeneuve, Cégep de Chicoutimi

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