As students in Cairo enter their last month of Wikipedia-editing before their final exam period, we are more than happy to report that the outcomes of the Cairo Pilot so far have been truly impressive. In an earlier blog post one of us (Annie Lin) described the plans and goals of the Cairo Pilot — how and why we are working with university professors who are assigning students to edit the Arabic Wikipedia — and in a more recent blog post Annie provided mid-term updates. Now, as we near the end of the academic term in Cairo, we look back at all that the professors, students, and Wikipedia Ambassadors have accomplished, and we are amazed. Overall, the Cairo Pilot has been a huge success.
Just to provide some examples: in one of the participating classes at Ain Shams University, a student created the Arabic Wikipedia article on the French presidential elections of 2012, and has built it into a long, substantial article, updating the content as results from the French presidential elections emerge. In the past 30 days alone, this article has received more than 4,000 unique views, demonstrating the public impact that students in the Cairo Pilot are having. In the same class, other students have added more than 100 kilobytes worth of content to an article about Egyptian events that took place in 2011.
We’ve also seen that having students translate articles is a highly effective way to improve the quality and quantity of the Arabic Wikipedia. At Cairo University, students have translated multiple Wikipedia articles about famous Latin American writers from Spanish to Arabic. At Ain Shams University, after translating two lengthy articles (on civil disobedience and the U.S. Bank Panic of 1907), students are moving on to translate yet another long article (on Cholangiocarcinoma, a type of cancer).
At the time of this writing, students in the Cairo Pilot have contributed more than 847,000 characters to the Arabic Wikipedia, which is the equivalent of approximately 565 whole pages. These numbers will increase further as students finish editing this month. We are also very excited that some students have already expressed strong interest in continuing to edit the Arabic Wikipedia even after the academic term ends.
We certainly also faced many challenges in the past months: for example, Ambassadors and students often have to cope with unreliable internet connections, the unstable political situation in Cairo occasionally disrupts schedules, and a few classes took longer to start editing Wikipedia. These challenges — as well as the successes — have given us many insights into what factors are important for the Wikipedia Education Program to be more effective, and these insights will be highly valuable as we begin working with the community to plan for future terms (more about this to come!).
Faris El-Gwely, Education Program Coordinator, Cairo
Annie Lin, Global Education Program Manager