About the Education Toolkit
The Learning & Evaluation and the Education teams at the Wikimedia Foundation, together with the Education Collaborative, have created the Education Toolkit, the first in a series of program toolkits — guides for implementing effective Wikimedia programs. The program toolkits aim to share best practices among the experiences of Wikimedia program leaders from all over the world, to create a blueprint for designing successful Wikimedia programs.
From beginning to end, the Education program toolkit walks users through different phases of an education program:
- Best practices for planning new and growing programs and developing partnerships with educators and the Wikimedia community
- Tips for finding resources and accessing tech support for running a program
- Ideas for teaching and assignments
- Strategies for evaluation
- Ways to connect with other community members
The content is organized based on learning area and topic, using learning patterns, problem and solution pairings, to help complete the toolkit. Those newer to the education program can begin at the start and follow through each step while more experienced program leaders can easily jump to the section that is most relevant to their work at that time.
Efforts to better understand programmatic work at the Wikimedia Foundation started in 2013. Through a series of investigations, workshops, and community consultations, the Learning and Evaluation team began to map the most replicated information about Wikimedia programs. The Wikipedia Education Program has been very popular around the world and the way the program is carried out has changed. Through an analysis of shared goals, common struggles and successes, a number of key lessons were captured to create the Education Toolkit — the first toolkit from the Learning & Evaluation team this year.
An education program manager consulted about this project wrote about its benefits: “Education programs are mutually beneficial activities with a high potential for meaningful impact. While students may benefit in a number of ways, their contributions benefit Wikimedia projects and users around the world.”
What do we know about the Education Program?
Educators and school administrators find contributions to Wikimedia projects to be a low cost way of incorporating and teaching technology in the classroom. Students also learn important objectives such as research and writing skills, information and media literacy.
In 2014, the Wikipedia Education Program Team at the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) began mapping more than 70 educational programs in 66 countries — almost half of which are in the Global South. This mapping was shared in the team’s Quarterly Review. The mapping revealed that although 71% of assignments are on Wikipedia, many require students to translate rather than write or expand articles. The other 29% of student assignments contribute content to Wikimedia Commons and other sister projects. Further, unlike the US/Canada program – that focuses on university students who complete assignments for academic credit – education programs in other countries serve students of all ages, notably, 60% serve participants at universities, 20% secondary schools, and 13% through teacher training programs. We also learned that many students, in different parts of the world, are learning to contribute to Wikimedia projects for fun; only 30% of education programs are part of a formal course, 23% are part of structured extracurricular programs such as Wikicamps and Wikiclubs.
How was the toolkit created?
One key goal in creating the Education Toolkit was to curate a set of information and materials that reflect both the variety of programs as well as the global nature of the education programs.
In November 2014, Program Evaluation Analyst Kacie Harold traveled to Edinburgh with the WMF’s Education team to interview the members of the Wikipedia Education Collaborative — a group of program leaders that support other education programs and initiatives around the world.
Research for the interviews included reading reports, blog posts, newsletters and combing through threads on the Education-L mailing list. And we were blown away by the rich anecdotes, stories of successes, discoveries, hacks and strategies that Collab members shared in interviews.
Most interestingly, many program leaders began their stories by saying, “We are the only ones who are working on this kind of program.” In fact, the interviews uncovered several similarities across programs in different countries. By curating learning pattern experiences, and organizing them into a program toolkit, we hope to pave an easier way for program leaders to collaborate in identifying common experiences and effective strategies.
We believe that this type of resource will make it easier for program leaders throughout the world to develop more effective educational programs, without having to start from scratch. In addition to sharing lessons learned, the Education Toolkit will become a central place for people to start conversations about challenges they face running programs and share experiences that others can benefit from. Since learning patterns (like Wikipedia articles) can be created, and edited, by anyone, we hope that this toolkit will expand as more and more people use it, learn from its lessons, and share new lessons!
Please let us know which parts of this Education Toolkit work for you — and which parts don’t.
Make your program the next big success story on Wikimedia!