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Posts Tagged ‘Wikipedia Education Program’

Starting an education program for small chapters 1.0

Education program leader has to be a didactic teacher of Wikipedia principles.

Education program leaders have to be didactic teachers of Wikipedia principles.

Hundreds of Czech university students have had a “different” homework during the past two years. Instead of writing essays that end up in the teacher’s drawer (or worse, garbage bin), they took part in the Czech program “Students Write Wikipedia” and made a Wikipedia entry which will last and serve as a source for thousands of Internet users. Similar university programs are running essentially worldwide and notable initiatives have grown in the United States, Canada, and Brazil. However, smaller Wikipedia communities (i.e., those writing in a less common language, such as Czech with 12 million native speakers) sometimes still struggle to develop a “Wikipedia education program” of their own. This article is meant to be a guide for Wikimedians from all those small communities, explaining the most important steps in the way toward a representative, yet organisationally simple education programs.

I originally intended to name this post something like “Education program in 10 days” or “10 steps toward your own education program”. Then I decided to go for a less cheesy  heading – but the essence remains that this light-hearted post should present a simple and straightforward way towards cooperation with universities in your country.

Be modest in the beginning

I remember how excited I was when I decided to start the Czech education program. The important thing, however, is not to overdo the whole process. Easily, you may end up as a tired Wikimedian who replies to dozens of e-mails every day and motivated teachers haunt him/her in dreams. Really, start by running one or two pilot projects. Choose teachers in which you have a high confidence (e.g.,  your own ex-professors) and assist them as much as possible. Not only will it guarantee a successful project, but the teachers will feel good about the cooperation and will tip off their colleagues.

Learn to be a teacher of Wikipedia

One of your key duties is to be able to explain what Wikipedia is, how you can edit existing articles and how to add new. This is not as easy as it may sound. In your first lecture, you will try hard to say everything that can be said about Wikipedia. The students will, naturally, feel very confused. Over time, you will find out that there is really LITTLE that your students have to know in order to become Wikipedians:

  • Everyone can edit Wikipedia. You do not own or sign your articles. Everything is released under a free licence.
  • Every article must not plagiarize, must cite sources, must be neutral and deal with a “notable” topic.
  • This is the edit button, this is the editing window. Here you have buttons to add hypertext links, images and citations. Be bold!

And give them places to ask questions – as many as possible: Wikipedia environment, chat, social sites, e-mail, … be thoughtful of students’ preferences.


A librarian uses her expertise to improve Wikipedia


Chanitra Bishop.

Every day, students come to Chanitra Bishop for advice about information — everything from how to find certain articles, to what books will help their research projects. Ms. Bishop certainly has the right pedigree. At Indiana University Bloomington, she’s the Digital Scholarship and Emerging Technologies Librarian at the Herman B Wells Library, which contains more than 4.6 million volumes, including special collections in African Studies, Russian and East European Studies, Uralic and Altaic Studies, East Asian Studies, and West European Studies.

“I wanted to work in the library,” says Ms. Bishop, “because I enjoy working with people, doing research, and helping people find information.”

Ms. Bishop has found that same connection with Wikipedia. In the fall of 2010, she began helping IU Bloomington students who were writing articles for the Wikimedia Foundation’s Public Policy Initiative. That initiative, which evolved into the Wikipedia Education Program, had students write public-policy-oriented articles as a formal classroom assignment. As a Wikipedia Ambassador, Ms. Bishop works not just with students but with professors in the program. One of Ms. Bishop’s first realizations: While every student already read Wikipedia, few students realized they could actually edit and contribute to Wikipedia’s articles. Students also assumed that each Wikipedia article was written in full by just one person.

“When we explain Wikipedia,” says Ms. Bishop about the volunteer instructors, “we usually go in and do an initial talk, and a lot of people are like, ‘Oh, I never knew all of that.’ I like to show one of the videos that is about the ‘Edit’ button and how people often just ignore it. Even though it’s there, it’s like it’s not there. I tell them, ‘If you see something that’s inaccurate on Wikipedia, you don’t have to wait for someone else to fix it. You can fix it yourself. You don’t even need an account; all you have to do is click ‘edit.’”

Ms. Bishop also shows students a Wikipedia article’s “History” function, “so they can also see that even though an article today might have several different sections and be may be many pages long, when it first started out, it may have been six sentences. Often it may just start off as a sentence, or a paragraph, and then the community kind of helps build that article. So it doesn’t always just start off with someone just writing all of the information. Just one person kind of gradually can build up to its current state. So a lot of students also are surprised to see the initial, first view of the article.”

From her initial volunteering in 2010, Ms. Bishop is now Wikipedia Regional Ambassador for Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio, meaning she works with Wikipedia Education Program classes throughout those three states. Ms. Bishop, who has a Bachelor’s degree in English and a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science, was raised in Chicago, which is just 120 miles from Bloomington. Being Wikipedia Regional Ambassador means she often connects with students online — while never having to leave Bloomington. Ms. Bishop feels like she’s part of the bigger Wikimedia community of readers, contributors and volunteers.

“The community is what really drives Wikipedia,” says Ms. Bishop, whose Wikipedia user name is “Etlib” — a derivation of “Emerging Technologies Librarian.” “There’s not one person that’s in charge and makes all the decisions about how Wikipedia works. It’s very much community driven and it’s something that anyone can be involved in. Even though anyone can be involved in it, it’s like any other community, so the more you contribute to that community, the more people will believe what you put on there, the more respect you’ll have in that community.”

Jonathan Curiel, Development Communications Manager, Wikimedia Foundation

Contributing to Wikipedia as homework: The Wikipedia Education Program

The Wikipedia Education Program has a simple premise: Professors assign their students to contribute to Wikipedia as part of their coursework. These contributions can take many forms: writing articles, translating articles from one language Wikipedia to another, and adding photos, videos, or illustrations to articles, among others.

These programs, which are run by Wikimedia chapters, volunteers, and Wikimedia Foundation, exist in more than 25 countries worldwide, and resources are available in many languages to support professors and students. For many students, the Wikipedia Education Program is their first chance to have a real-world impact through their school assignments.

The video above discusses the impact one such student in the United States program has had, but many more stories exist. Interested in learning more? Visit

Student assigned to read a Wikipedia article that she wrote

Every graduate student gets assigned a lot of reading, but not every graduate student gets assigned to read something they’ve written. That happened to Jacqueline McCrory in fall 2012, thanks to the Wikipedia Education Program.

As a master’s student in Environmental Management at the University of San Francisco and an employee at environmental consulting firm Analytical Environmental Services (AES), Jacqueline knew a lot about habitat conservation plans (HCPs) — but there wasn’t anything on the topic on Wikipedia. So when she enrolled in Professor Aaron Frank’s Environmental Law class in spring 2012 and discovered that Professor Frank assigned writing a Wikipedia article on a course-related topic, Jacqueline gravitated toward creating one.

Jacqueline McCrory

“I chose this topic because the existing article had very limited information and the concept is important for conservationists as well as environmental planners,” she explains. “The legal documents pertaining to HCPs can be extensive and somewhat convoluted to read through, so I wanted to create a source that would clearly provide the need-to-know information to interested readers.”

Jacqueline was excited by the prospect of writing something that would have a global audience, and further her study of the conservation of special status species. She had support from two veterans of Wikipedia assignments: Professor Frank has participated in the Wikipedia Education Program since its pilot in spring 2011, as has Campus Ambassador Derrick Coetzee. With their assistance, Jacqueline and a fellow classmate created the article on Habitat Conservation Plans.

Other professors at the University of San Francisco noticed that the article on such an important topic to their field of study had been created, although they didn’t realize it had been written by a student in their program. One such professor assigned the article as required reading for students in his fall 2012 Natural Resources Management course. Little did he know, the author of the article was taking his class that term.

“When I informed the instructor that I had actually written the article, he acknowledged the depth and quality of the article and invited me to prepare a guest lecture on the subject material for my own class,” she says.

Jacqueline didn’t just receive kudos for her Wikipedia article at her university: her supervisors at AES recognized her expertise in the subject, and gave her related assignments. She’s grateful for the opportunity that Professor Frank’s class gave her, as she says she would never have edited Wikipedia without that nudge. And she recognizes how beneficial Wikipedia assignments are to students.

“Most papers that we write for undergraduate and graduate level courses end up being read by the professor grading the assignment and remain in electronic folders to be deleted as trash at some point in the future; however, when published as Wikipedia articles, these academic papers can be viewed and used as resources and references for countless other people and may continue to serve a purpose,” Jacqueline says.

LiAnna Davis, Wikipedia Education Program Communications Manager

Creating local content for Wikipedia

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


By 2007 in Argentina, the web was becoming a valuable academic resource. Students and teachers had frequent and unlimited access, and we began to find fascinating resources we had never seen before in our scholarly studies. As a teacher of history of photography and a scholar of visual arts and art history, I began to notice a qualitative difference in this access, regarding to my experience as student: many of us studying artistic careers in peripheral cities throughout the world have based our knowledge on a few reproductions of works of art, sometimes of poor quality. And paradoxically, the access to sources of knowledge about art history also significantly deteriorated when the work we wanted to analyze is from our own legacy. Old and serious problems in heritage conservation policies and their dissemination, common throughout Latin America, remind us that the web would not necessarily be the exception.

Thus, in 2007, teaching History of Photography from Argentina and Latin America presented a number of challenges, starting with building a body of valuable data for study and analysis. Looking for material, I found some valuable resources on the web. But many were hard to find (beyond the first results of Google, and absent in Wikipedia), and so I designed a research assignment for my students, based on various information sources, from libraries to the internet. I noticed then a situation that is almost impossible now: information we found in our school library was not present on the web, including Wikipedia.

Thus arose my first Wikipedia experience with my students: to summarize the findings of photographers who worked in the nineteenth century in Argentina and Latin America, writing articles for Wikipedia.

La Porteña by Antonio Pozzo. ca. 1873.

I admit I had just begun to edit, and I knew little of the dynamics of the community. The first reactions to the “experiment” were doubts from some of the students: Anyone can edit? Who controls what we write? Why did somebody delete my contribution? Why is it necessary to cite sources correctly?

That experience contributed around 20 articles on ancient Latin American photography. They are the first search results in Google today, thanks to Wikipedia, but this was a responsibility that we had not originally planned.

Editing Wikipedia is a real practice of knowledge production, useful outside of the usual school duties. The learnings students derive from working with others is now for me of a very high educational value, with multiple aspects that change with each new experience. In all cases, Wikipedia is in “writing mode”.

Wikipedia is a resource widely used in almost all educational levels, but poorly understood in its educational potential. Teachers are the key links between free knowledge and meaningful learning, and Wikipedia is a space where to work with the community of Wikipedians. While we know that there are many potential and known problems in this collaboration, it is urgent that we work to strengthen it.

Lila Pagola, Wikimedia Argentina | National University of Villa María


Creando contenido local para Wikipedia

En 2007, en Argentina la web empezaba a ser un recurso académico valioso, desde que alumnos y profesores teníamos acceso frecuente e ilimitado, y empezábamos a encontrar recursos fascinantes y nunca accedidos en nuestras historias escolares. Como profesora de Historia de la fotografía, formada en Artes visuales y amante de la Historia del Arte, empezaba a notar una diferencia cualitativa en este acceso: muchos de nosotros, estudiando carreras artísticas en una ciudad periférica dentro de la periferia del mundo, hemos basado nuestro conocimiento sobre unas pocas reproducciones de obras de arte, a veces de escasa calidad. Y paradójicamente, el acceso a las fuentes de nuestra area de conocimiento además, se ve notablemente desmejorada cuando la obra que queremos analizar es de nuestro propio acervo.

Viejos y serios problemas en las políticas de conservación de patrimonio y su difusión, frecuentes en toda Latinoamérica por otra parte, nos recuerdan que la web no tendría por qué ser la excepción.

En 2007 entonces, enseñar Historia de la fotografía argentina y latinoamericana representaba algunos desafíos, empezando por conformar un cuerpo de datos valioso para estudio y análisis.

Buscando materiales entonces, encontré algunos recursos valiosos en la web, algunos un poco difíciles de encontrar (mas allá de los primeros resultados de Google, y ausentes en Wikipedia) y diseñe una tarea de investigación para mis alumnos, sobre fuentes diversas, en bibliotecas e internet.

Greengrocer at Valparaíso by Harry Grant Olds. 1899

Me di entonces con una situación ya casi imposible en el presente: lo que nosotros encontramos en nuestra biblioteca escolar especializada, no estaba presente en la web, incluida Wikipedia.

Surgió así la primer experiencia con mis estudiates: hacer un resumen de lo encontrado sobre fotográfos que trabajaron en el siglo XIX en Argentina y Latinoamérica, para Wikipedia.

Admito que apenas había empezado a editar, y conocía poco la dinámica de la comunidad. Las primeras reacciones al “experimento” no se hicieron esperar y nos permitieron responder vivencialmente las dudas de los estudiantes: ¿cualquiera puede editar? ¿quién controla lo que escribimos? ¿por qué me borraron mi aporte? ¿por qué es necesario citar correctamente las fuentes?

Aquella experiencia aportó alrededor de 20 artículos sobre fotografía latinoamericana antigua, que hoy indexan primero en Google, gracias a Wikipedia: una responsabilidad que tampoco habíamos previsto inicialmente.

Editar Wikipedia como una práctica de producción de conocimiento real, útil, con vida fuera de la práctica escolar, sumado a los aprendizajes que derivan del trabajar con otros, resulta hoy para mi de un altísimo y obvio valor educativo, con múltiples aristas que van cambiando en cada nueva experiencia. En todos los casos, se trata de Wikipedia en modo escritura.

Wikipedia es un recurso usado ampliamente en casi todos los niveles educativos, pero escasamente comprendido en su potencial didáctico. Los docentes son los enlaces claves entre el conocimiento libre y los aprendizajes significativos, y Wikipedia un espacio de trabajo donde colaborar con la comunidad de wikipedistas. Si bien sabemos que hay muchos potenciales y conocidos problemas en esa colaboración, es urgente que trabajemos para potenciarla.

Lila Pagola, Wikimedia Argentina | Universidad Nacional de Villa María 

Can beginners write high-quality articles? Czech students prove yes again!

This post is available in 2 languages: Česky7% • English 100%


Another winter term is coming to an end at Czech universities and we can again evaluate how students of Faculty of Science, Charles University in Prague, succeeded in improving Wikipedia articles about Czech protected areas this year. A total of 36 enrolled students of “Nature and Landscape Protection” (6 more students than last year) took part in the cooperation between the faculty and WikiProject Protected areas, organized under patronation of Students Write Wikipedia program and Wikimedia Czech Republic.

The benefits of cooperating with a group of third-year university students of Institute for Environmental Studies have been clear since last year, as can be seen from the last year’s report. At that time, students wrote top-quality articles accompanied by lots of pictures, aiming to document corresponding protected areas and improve the topic in the Czech Wikipedia. It was this past success that was very demanding this time: Will we be able to motivate the students enough so that their articles are at least as good as they were last year?

We did not change the overall model of the project: again, students were asked to pick one protected area, pay a visit in it, take pictures, make a 15-minute talk in front of the class (including the following discussion), and, last but not least, write a detailed Wikipedia article on the subject of this protected area. However, we put more stress on the professional delivery of the talks in front of class, including punctuality and good time management, as well as sticking to basic Wikipedia rules when writing the article. The scheme did not change because it was evaluated as satisfying enough and leading to good quality articles with lots of pretty pictures. It must be noted that this model is very demanding for the Wikipedia Ambassador who goes through all the articles, corrects them, and attends the seminar each week to evaluate the speeches.

As mentioned earlier, WikiProject Protected Areas has been the principal curator of this project; however, it is part of an official Students Write Wikipedia initiative that has been operating for two years now in the Czech Republic and has seen hundreds of articles being created about various topics and by students of several Czech universities. Apropos, ten Czech projects are running in the current winter term, including “Christianity I.“, “Sculpture in Czech Lands 1550-1800“, “Molecular Immunology” or “Essentials of Parasitology” (the list of all our projects can be found here). Recent changes in all these articles can be monitored real-time at a special page; the most interesting updates are regularly posted at the program’s Facebook page.

And how was the cooperation going this year? Let’s see the table below!

Image Name Before After Gallery

on Commons

Pohled na louku v PR Andelske schody3.JPG Andělské schody Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Pohľad na Badínsky potok.JPG Badínsky prales Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Zarustani Barrandovy skaly vegetaci.JPG Barrandovské skály Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Blana 7.JPG Blana Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Borkovické blata - rašeliniště.jpg Borkovická blata Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Vyhlídka NPP Černé rokle (2).JPG Černé rokle Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Apalus bimaculatus.JPG Drienčanský kras Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Šupinovka kostrbatá (Pholiota squarrosa).JPG Hostivické rybníky Silver piece.png Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Louka jen.JPG Jenerálka Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Druhá strana.JPG Kalvárie v Motole Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Kapradiny.jpg Kaňon Labe Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Mohutní Karlštejn.JPG Karlštejn Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Kohoutovský ryolit.jpg Kohoutov Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Kotyz Hvozdik kartouzek.JPG Kotýz Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Rohac velky.JPG Lednické rybníky Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Přr máslovice.jpg Máslovická stráň Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Zajimavystromubotice.jpg Meandry Botiče Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
RybnikKancik.JPG Milíčovský les a rybníky Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Les u potoka v Modřanské rokli.JPG Modřanská rokle Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Pohled na rozmanitost dřevin.JPG Motolský ordovik Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
PR Na Čihadle (6).JPG Na Čihadle Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Vstup do NP.JPG Na Plachtě 3 Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Pohled na vychod.JPG Nový rybník u Soběslavi Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Železniční trať.JPG Polabská černava Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Pravcicka brana1.JPG Pravčická brána Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Prokopské1.jpg Prokopské údolí Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Prosecke skaly 3.jpg Prosecké skály Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Lesni porost.JPG Skalka Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Vyvrácené stromy, Sokolí skála.JPG Sokolí skála Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
PR Starý Hirštejn 3.JPG Starý Hirštejn Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Třemešný vrch 2.JPG Třemešný vrch Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Pohled ze severovychodni lokality na Jizni spojku.JPG U Branického pivovaru Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Kunratický les.jpg Údolí Kunratického potoka Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Údolí Únětického potoka.JPG Údolí Únětického potoka Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Pohled z cesty.JPG Vrch Hazmburk Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie
Gejzírové stalagmity.JPG Zbrašovské aragonitové jeskyně Crystal Project leftarrow.png Crystal Project rightarrow.png galerie

As you can see by comparing the corresponding page revisions in the table, the amount of text written during the course of the project was huge, and that applies to pictures as well. Like last year, one of the articles, written by a student, achieved the status of a Good Article. Specifically, it was an article dealing with a natural monument Hostivické rybníky, which is located in the vicinity of Prague. We proved again that even someone who is a Wikipedia beginner can create a high quality article when properly motivated. We also believe that the “exemplary articles” offered to students are essential for the success, as students can easily see all the templates used and just copy/paste them into their own article. We also stressed the practice of watching the work of students by experienced Wikipedians, who fix any imperfections and mistakes in the text or student’s wrong understanding of the internal wiki-rules.

Nevertheless, something did not run so smooth this year. Although we did explain the problem of copyright and stressed the importance of original writing, two students crossed the line of this essential Wikipedia rule this year. We cannot tell if it was unfamiliarity with the rule or an effort to simplify their school job, but the truth is that we recognized these violations very soon and removed the problematic pieces. Students thus experienced efficient defence mechanisms of Wikipedia, as even without the need of an Ambassador’s action, as other users promptly flagged the articles. Students were bound to rewrite the articles and explain their fault to the teacher. We believe this was an important lesson for all the students in the class, helping them to realize how important the original work is. However, we strongly warn everyone who considers starting a similar project to check all the student texts for copyright violations – this is a ubiquitous problem.

Apart from this issue that must be addressed, I would recommend all the Wikimedia projects to try to involve students as much as possible. Their positive value is indisputable and if you dedicate enough of your free time, they sure will produce excellent results, as our students did. The Czech “Students Write Wikipedia” program has once again proved its viability and the diversity it brings into Czech Wikipedia. This is a project when otherwise non-existent articles on protected areas and pictures are created and I personally hope that the next term will be again blooming with gifted students and their beautiful articles.

I’d like to hereby thank to Mgr. Jiří Reif PhD., the Associate Professor at Charles University in Prague, who once again allowed me to cooperate with his students and join them into the development of Czech Wikipedia. Also, I would love to thank to all students, who took part in this project and gave a lot of their energy in it. Thank you all!

Petr Brož (Chmee2), translated by Vojtech.Dostal, Wikimedia Czech Republic


Wikipedia Education Program Sweden kicks off

Herein will follow an update from the Swedish education program. Perhaps to call it an update would be to overestimate its size and current importance. A first glimpse of what is to hopefully become something rather exciting is perhaps a more appropriate label.

Workshop with pupils about Wikipedia, democracy, free knowledge, gender issues where they presented various ideas and perspectives.

To actually have as a part of the Swedish Wikimedia organisation an education program is a rather new and thrilling idea. The year of 2012 is the year where the Swedish education program has seen the light of day and where the first goals were set as to what should be regarded a good result for a first step in creating and shaping an education program.

I, Sophie Österberg, became engaged in Wikimedia Sverige as an intern undergoing a six-week internship which led to the great opportunity of being offered a job as education manager. With pride and great joy I commenced this position in the beginning of October. Let me though tell you that these two months have felt rather more like a year, be it the intensive work, the conferences, the bright ideas thrown at my table, the inspiration from beautiful minds all over Sweden and foremost, the joint motivation to create something worthwhile, lasting and qualitative, not for Wikipedia or Wikimedia solely, nor for only students or their teachers. But for us all, as a great global society. Well. That might perhaps be a goal to far-fetched to reach, but at least there is a vision in place.

We have looked at the current programs in place around the world to learn from their experiences and to gain knowledge in what we could reuse here in a Swedish context. We have mostly spoken to and looked at the German and the American examples of education programs, but we have been flirting a bit with the Indian and Egyptian as well.

To date we have met teachers at conferences, had individual meetings, lunches, coffees (coffee is huge in Sweden, read more about this here), held workshops, shared ideas to teachers about how to use Wikipedia, met public institutions, held lectures, been part of public debates, created and translated material, thought about how a program should best be organised, read about current trends in education in Sweden, been open to learn about the new Swedish curricula and find out how best to match Wikipedia in education with it.

Our Wikipedia in education t-shirts which we use at workshops, conferences and various other events. Orange is the theme colour of the educational program.

But most importantly, wee have given ourselves a face. We have become people who actually exists. It may sound ridiculous, but let me tell you that the most common comment we have been met by is ‘Wow, do you guys actually exist?”. Yes we do. We have simply been rather silent about it. But this is the end to that silence!

Hello world and at the moment, Hello Sweden! This may sound trivial, but it is not. People have found that there is someone, there are people, with whom they can build trust and communication. We exist, we are real and we are to be trusted. Let us not forget that this is the strongest currency there is between humans, no material or other physical resources may ever be as important as the intangible trust which we build between and in relation to one another.

Let me though share the more practical aspects of what have been done, in a rather sincere and honest tone. I do think that this programme initially did lack some confidence; read more about the Swedish mentality here. We didn’t have an understating of how many teachers and professors would be interested. This has led us in a rather interesting direction, which is now to be turned into something more long-lasting and fruitful.


Improving evolution articles on the Portuguese Wikipedia through class: Professor Yuri Leite

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

In English:

Yuri Leite

Yuri Leite

“I think that the knowledge produced by high-qualified college students should be available to anyone,” Professor Yuri Leite says. That’s why he has encouraged his biology students at the Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo in Vitória, Brazil, to contribute to Wikipedia as part of their course assignments.

The idea came to him one day in 2009, when he was coordinating a graduate level seminar on the Charles Darwin book “The Origin of Species.” Each week, the class discussed a chapter of the book and improved the article on the Portuguese Wikipedia about Darwin’s book as they went along. Before Yuri’s class began work, the article was what’s known as a stub — a short article without much content. By the end of the term, his class had transformed the article, with extensive descriptions of each chapter.

“I think it is a waste of time, energy, knowledge, and often paper to have highly skilled undergraduate or graduate students write term papers that will be read only by the teacher and sometimes a TA, and will eventually end up in the trash can,” Yuri says.

He had always been interested in using the Internet as a teaching tool. As a teaching assistant at the University of California at Berkeley in the 1990s, Yuri found the University of Michigan’s Animal Diversity Web and Berkeley’s Understanding Evolution portals inspirational.

Vitoria, Brazil

A beautiful view of Vitória city, where Professor Yuri Leite teaches.

He started using Wikipedia in his undergraduate Evolution course since August 2011. The course is mandatory for all biology students, and Yuri has about 30 students enroll each term. He says it will only take a few years to have his students make hundreds of contributions to free, high-quality knowledge available in Portuguese about the topics. He also sees better learning for students with a Wikipedia assignment in comparison to a traditional term paper.

“I believe they learn more, especially regarding proper citation, and what is original research and what is not. Both of these concepts are very important in science,” he says. “Wikipedia does a great job in terms of defining what an encyclopedia is, and how one should write an article citing appropriate sources, and this is a very important skill for students.”

And Yuri says his students feel more responsibility to produce high-quality work because they know their writing will be available to anyone on Wikipedia. He’s excited about the Wikipedia Education Program in Brazil, and he hopes that more professors will join the program and develop more teaching resources to stimulate the use of Wikipedia in the classroom. In fact, professor Aureo Banhos, one of his former biology students, has joined the program through an open call Wikimedia Foundation made in Brazil for the second school term of 2012 and is excited to collaborate with Yuri.

“I love reading the assignments and feeling like my students made a significant contribution by posting high-quality information on the web,” Yuri says.

LiAnna Davis
Wikipedia Education Program Communications Manager


Wikipedia as a ‘miniature classroom for yourself’

In 2005, a high school freshman from Clarksville, Maryland, named Kevin Li discovered Wikipedia. Kevin was amazed that anyone would spend the time to write detailed articles on such a wide range of topics. Today, Kevin is a college senior at Washington University in St. Louis, and he has joined the ranks of those who contribute to Wikipedia.

Kevin got his start with Wikipedia editing through a class project on chronobiology where he worked in a group to improve the article on scientist Augustin Pyramus de Candolle. They brought the article all the way to Good Article status, so Kevin was excited to enroll in another class, Professor Joan Strassmann’s Behavioral Ecology course, where he would be solely responsible for an article.

“I was surprised that some of the animals and behaviors we learned about weren’t on Wikipedia,” Kevin says. “The article that I am working on, worker policing, has been in the scientific literature for more than two decades and hadn’t been discussed. It’s fun to bring some of these concepts into the wiki community, since I feel that being a contributor is equally as important as being a consumer of information.”

Worker policing — the subject of Kevin’s article — is common in honey bees.

Since the topic was not yet covered on Wikipedia, Kevin created a page that contained just the title of the article. Volunteer Heather Walls tagged the article for deletion since it had no content. Kevin came by two hours later and was surprised to discover that his page had been deleted by an editor named WilyD.

“I was contacted by the editor who had marked the page and I responded to her comments,” Kevin explains. “The misunderstanding was resolved and she was even nice enough to add a picture on the article.”

WilyD came back once Kevin had expanded it, and was impressed enough by Kevin’s work to nominate the article to appear on Wikipedia’s main page in the Did You Know section. Kevin’s article appeared on the main page on October 17 and received more than 1,500 views.

“The DYK reviewer asked me to work on the leads and to clarify some of the body paragraphs, which I happily did. Afterward, we were good to go!” Kevin says. “Many of the editors have been helpful with constructive criticism. It was really exciting to see the interest that people had for the article when it went up. I’m still working on making the article better. After some more edits, I hope to get it to Good Article status.”

Kevin is glad to see something he is interested in have more coverage on Wikipedia. That’s one of the reasons he prefers Wikipedia assignments to traditional term papers. He says while the research process is similar, he prefers Wikipedia assignments because of the large audience for his work and the collaboration that comes from work with classmates and other editors on Wikipedia articles.

“Working on wiki is like constructing a miniature classroom for yourself, where you can become an expert given the proper effort. It’s also a work station where I can collect my thoughts and organize them into a product that everyone can see,” he says. “Wikipedia is really one of those sites that I still love going to and exploring what’s out there. It feels nice to be a contributor.”

LiAnna Davis
Wikipedia Education Program Communications Manager

Education Program students improve Wikipedia article quality

Students in the Wikipedia Education Program in the United States and Canada improved article quality on the English Wikipedia by an average of 88 percent during Spring 2012, according to new research conducted by Luis Campos, an external data analyst. In the Wikipedia Education Program, professors assign their students to improve course-related articles, with support from Wikipedia Ambassadors who help students learn the basics of Wikipedia editing.

Experienced Wikipedia editors evaluated a random sample of articles students worked on as part of the Wikipedia Education Program in the United States and Canada in Spring 2012. The metric evaluators used, with assessment areas for comprehensiveness, sourcing, neutrality, readability, formatting, and illustrations, on a 26-point scale, is based on the Wikipedia 1.0 metric used across English Wikipedia. Evaluators provided two ratings, one for the article quality immediately prior to the first edit the student made, and one after the class had wrapped up their work; reviewers also used the same metric to evaluate articles that students created from scratch. A total of 124 articles formed the sample. Altogether (counting both new and pre-existing articles), articles improved on average 6.5 points, from 7.4 to 13.98 points on the 26-point scale. The graph below shows the quality distribution of articles before students worked on them (in blue), and the quality distributions of articles after students worked on them (in red).

Article quality improvement of sample of Wikipedia articles edited by students participating in the Spring 2012 Wikipedia Education Program in the United States and Canada. This graph shows overall improvement (both existing and new articles).

The 124-article sample included 82 existing articles and 42 new articles created by students. Existing articles improved 2.94 points on average, from 11.26 to 14.2, with the most improved article improving by 10.25 points. An example of such an article that a student improved is the article on vocabulary development. You can see the versions prior to students’ first edits and the status it was after the class finished. The graph below shows the distribution of pre-existing articles before (blue) and after (red) student work.

Article quality improvement of sample of Wikipedia articles edited by students participating in the Spring 2012 Wikipedia Education Program in the United States and Canada. This graph shows improvement of existing articles only.

New articles had an average score of 13.55. You can see a sample of what a student contributed to a new article by reading Temptation, a Václav Havel play. The graph below shows the distribution of quality of new articles students created through the Wikipedia Education Program.

The Spring 2012 numbers show improvement over the 2010–11 quality of students contributions from the Public Policy Initiative pilot of the U.S. program, where articles improved an average of 5.8 points. We’re encouraged to see improvement in Wikipedia’s article quality through the Wikipedia Education Program.

LiAnna Davis, Wikipedia Education Program Communications Manager