Students around the world have returned to classes this term to learn that they will be contributing to Wikipedia articles for their coursework.
Now in its second year, the Wikipedia Education Program is modeled from the learnings of the Public Policy Initiative pilot. Volunteer Wikipedia Ambassadors help students learn how to contribute to Wikipedia articles as part of their course assignments. Campus Ambassadors help students in-person with basics of Wikipedia editing, while Online Ambassadors serve as virtual mentors for students on-wiki.
Programs have already started in the United States, Canada, Egypt, Germany, Czech Republic, Macedonia, and Mexico, and programs will start in 2012 in Brazil and the United Kingdom.
The program in the United States is off to a strong start, with more than 40 classes participating. In both the United States and Canada, a new set of Participation Requirements is in place for this term. The requirements limit the Ambassador:student ratio to 1:15 and require that each class has at least one experienced Wikipedian supporting it. Although the new set of requirements has limited the number of participating courses this term, we hope they will ensure that every student participating in our program has adequate support to complete a Wikipedia assignment successfully.
The Canada program is in the second phase of a small pilot, with eight classes participating this term. Like the U.S. program, the Canada program is limited by the new Participation Requirements, meaning we’ve purposefully chosen to focus on quality over quantity.
The Cairo Pilot is our first venture into the Arabic language countries (see previous blog post for more background information). Local Arabic Wikipedians led a training of 10 new Campus Ambassadors in Cairo in mid-January, and another 10 Campus Ambassadors will be trained later this month. In addition, 16 Online Ambassadors have signed up to help students on-wiki. Seven classes are participating, and all of the professors participated in a faculty orientation in January led by two local Arabic Wikipedians and U.S. program professor Rochelle Davis. Between three and fifteen of the best students from each class will be taking part in the project this term, limiting the total students to a manageable number.
Wikimedia Deutschland has trained “tutoren” to assist professors and students who are editing Wikipedia for the first time in their pilot program, with five classes participating.
The Czech WikiProject Protected Areas project ran during the 2011-2012 winter semester in cooperation with Jiří Reif, a university teacher at Institute for Environmental Studies, a part of the Faculty of Science at the Charles University in Prague. During the semester, 30 students were involved in adding content to the Czech Wikipedia. They had to visit one protected area of their choice, take several images of the area, write an article for the Czech Wikipedia and give a public presentation for other students in the class. According to the results of a survey, the project was popular with the students. A full report with results from this cooperation is available in English on Czech Wikipedia. And as a result, the Czech Wikipedia was enriched by 30 high quality articles about protected areas.
Four universities in Macedonia are already on board with a Macedonian Education Program that began in 2011, including a class that is translating English Wikipedia articles to the Macedonian Wikipedia. The program is led by volunteers from Wikimedia Macedonia.
The program in Mexico began in Fall 2011 at ITESM-Campus Ciudad de México with a Club Wikipedia and several independent study students using Wikipedia as the base for their advanced English-as-a-foreign-language course (see this blog post for more details). It was shortly followed by the establishment of a second club at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). For the Spring 2012 semester, ITESM has started a pilot with the International Baccalaureate program to allow these students to work on Wikipedia projects to fulfill their “CAS,” or community service requirements. To date, these students have been working on articles related to the Teylers Museum Challenge. They are also editing articles related to Mexican handcrafts and folk art in preparation for the upcoming edit-a-thon at the Museo de Arte Popular in Mexico City on 3 March. UNAM’s Facultad de Letras y Humanidades has permitted students to create six articles of “good” or better quality to fulfill of Mexico’s social service requirement of all undergraduate students.
Several other programs are being planned for academic terms starting later in 2012.
- After a small pilot in 2011, the Brazil Education Program plans to expand the number of Campus Ambassadors and Online Ambassadors to help a growing number of students who will be contributing to the Portuguese Wikipedia when the next term begins in March.
- Wikimedia U.K. is doing ground research to find supportive professors and potential Ambassadors for a forthcoming project. They’re also planning an EduWiki Conference in September 2012.
More programs around the world are starting every month. If you’ve started a program, add it to the Wikipedia Education Program page. Want to become an Ambassador or a participating professor in your region? Check out the Get Involved page on our program portal.
We look forward to seeing the amazing work that students put out this term.