More than 40 people from 25 countries gathered together in person in Milan, Italy, last week to discuss Wikimedia projects’ use in education. Representatives from Wikimedia chapters, the Wikimedia Foundation, and universities worldwide discussed ways to further develop the relationships between educational institutions and Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects.
The Education Program Leaders Workshop was held in conjunction with the Wikimedia chapters conference in Milan, an annual opportunity for representatives from around the world to meet in person to discuss the future of the movement. The enthusiasm worldwide for the program bodes well for the future of Wikimedia projects like Wikipedia and education.
Notes from the workshop highlight the incredible depth and breadth of activities happening worldwide in the education sphere. Some programs, like in Serbia, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Brazil, and Egypt, have been in operation for several terms and have been achieving incredible results on their language Wikipedias. Others, including programs in Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, have dedicated staff people working on furthering their goals. Programs in Mexico, Switzerland, and Saudi Arabia are small but effective thanks to the dedicated work of individual volunteer educators whose drive to use Wikipedia in their own classrooms has furthered their language Wikipedias. Still others are just getting started, and many are exploring opportunities to collaborate with governmental bodies who work on creating curriculum and education policy to include Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects.
“Education” is a broad field, and participants represented programs working with everyone from school-aged children to seniors. Workshop participants discussed the different activities relevant to education programs, and talked about the best way of setting goals for programs as a whole. The Wikimedia Foundation remains committed to supporting education programs worldwide through such support resources as brochures, a MediaWiki extension, and online trainings. Workshop participants agreed that developing a better system to share experiences across countries — perhaps a searchable database of learnings — would help programs learn from each others’ mistakes and determine the best path forward for their own programs. With more than 30 programs in operation worldwide, the future is bright for Wikimedia projects and education.
LiAnna Davis, Wikipedia Education Program Communications Manager