Education/Archive/Program plans/Cairo

Context for the Cairo Pilot


Wikimedia and the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) seeks to advance our vision of a world in which everyone on the planet can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. Specifically, it is a strategic priority to connect our projects to the 350 million speakers of Arabic who reside in Arabic countries and the millions more outside the region. We have a strong corps of Arabic Wikipedia contributors who are building the Arabic Wikipedia, which continues to grow at a moderate rate.

At the small Arabic Wikipedia convening in Doha in October, the discussion focused on the opportunity to launch a series of initiatives over time to catalyze the growth of Arabic Wikipedia in the Arabic region. There was substantial interest in piloting a version of the Global Education Program's work in the region and WMF began to research whether there would be suitable conditions for a small pilot with the preliminary geographic focus in Cairo.

Since October, WMF's global education team has made two trips to Cairo and has been working on the design and deployment plan for a small, focused pilot in close collaboration with members of the Arabic Wikipedia community and volunteers in Cairo.

Questions we would like to answer through the pilot


The 6-month pilot in Cairo will mainly answer five questions:

  • Impact on Wikipedia: Will an organized program to work with students in their university courses result in the contribution good quality content to Arabic Wikipedia by most students?
  • Prerequisites: What conditions need to be in place to enable quality contributions by students in a single course? On a university campus?
  • Community impact and reaction: What is the impact on the Arabic Wikipedia community of student editing? What is the community response to the program before, during and after?
  • Professor and student buy-in: Do professors and students see the value of Wikipedia editing and are they ready, willing and able to continue the program? What resources do they need to succeed?
  • The road ahead: How should the Arabic Wikipedia community and WMF move forward based on the experience of the pilot? What resources should be dedicated to the program going forward?

What success will look like

  • We're starting program activity in the MENA region; people on the ground and on the Arabic Wikipedia are supportive of the plans.
    • Measure of success #1: Members of the Arabic Wikipedia community are supportive of the Cairo pilot and volunteer to participate in supporting it.
    • Measure of success #2: We start general outreach activities on campus in the spring 2012 semester.
    • Measure of success #3: We fill all slots for professors (6 classes)
    • Measure of success #4: We fill all volunteer positions; 50% of the volunteers are Wikipedians.
    • Measure of success #6: The Cairo Pilot starts on-time (February 2012).
  • We increase the amount and quality of content on the Arabic Wikipedia.
    • Measure of success #1: At least 75% of the students participating in the classroom-based part of the pilot add 300 words or more to the Wikipedia article namespace.
    • Measure of success #2: On average, more than 10 participants per on-campus event make at least 5 edits.
    • Measure of success #3: At least 50% of the content contributed by students survives.
  • We grow the number of active contributors to the Arabic Wikipedia by 10% during the spring 2012 term
    • Measure of success #1: At least 33 students in the Education Program part of the pilot start editing (more than 5 edits in the article namespace; October 2011: 669 active editors total).
    • Measure of success #2: At least 50 people being recruited throught the general university outreach part of the pilot start editing (see above).
  • Both community, students and professors are happy / satisfied with their involvement in the pilot
    • Measure of success #1: We will conduct a survey after the semester ends. 75% of the participants are happy with the outcome (assuming a good representative sample).
    • Measure of success #2: More than 50% of the students indicate that they would prefer a Wikipedia assignment type course to a traditional course in the future (assuming a good representative sample).
    • Measure of success #3: More than 50% of the teachers indicate that they would use Wikipedia as a teaching tool again (qualitative assessment).
    • Measure of success #4: More than 75% of the community volunteers involved in the pilot indicate that it was worth their time (qualitative assessment).
    • Measure of success #5: Members of the Arabic Wikipedia indicate support for continuing to build an education program in the region.
  • Both students and teachers feel more comfortable with editing Wikipedia.
    • Measure of success #1: We will measure the level of comfort with editing before and after the semester in a survey. We see a significant increase in the level of comfort (at least double the number).
      • For volunteers and professors, this will be a qualitative assessment. For students, we will conduct pre and post surveys.
  • After the pilot, both community and staff members have a clear understanding what the road ahead for the MENA outreach activities should look like (e.g. if translations work better than the traditional model; which outreach activities on campus worked/didn't work); learning points are well documented
    • Measure of success #1: An outcome / lessons learnt / the road ahead document will be completed by July 2012.
    • Measure of success #2: We will have numbers that clearly show which model for in-classroom activities is more successful (in terms of both amount and quality contributed).
  • We communicate effectively with the broader community, capture learning and lay the foundation for the next semester
    • Measure of success #1: Weekly updates on the program are shared with the AR:WP community and we publish at least 3 interim reviews with stories of success and lessons learned on the WMF blog.

Core design elements


PART A: Education Program (classroom model)


Participating universities and instructors


Given the fact that a proportionally high number of new users can put some substantial workload on the existing community (as per 11/2011 the Arabic Wikipedia has 70 very active editors[1]), we will keep the number of participating classes small. Over the 6-month period of the pilot, we will work with 6–7 classes from Cairo University and Ain Shams University (see a detailed list of participating teachers below). We have selected the participating instructors after in-person meetings in October 2011 and December 2011, based on the following criteria:

  • Alignment with the Wikimedia Foundation's mission
  • Interest in the Wikipedia Education Program and the idea of growing the amount and quality of Arabic content on the web
  • Basic understanding of Wikipedia and its core values
  • Ability to fulfill certain other criteria that are necessary to participate in the pilot: e.g. flexibility in grading; teaching their classes in Arabic; writing and research skills of their students; teaching topics that can be written about in Arabic (e.g. engineering or medicine contain many technical terms that cannot be translated into Arabic)
  • Responsiveness and communication skills

In addition to reaching out to professors from these two public universities, we also talked to teachers from the American University Cairo and German University Cairo. Unfortunately, classes at these two private institutions are mostly taught in English.

Number of students per class and total amount of students in the pilot


In some countries of the world, the skill gap between the the best and the worst student in a class can be very high. We have learned from our pilot program in India that only a few students out of a class of between 100 and 200 were able to contribute to Wikipedia in a meaningful way. The other students lacked the writing and research skills or simply the interest in contributing to the Wikimedia Foundation's projects. We therefore decided to let the teachers in Cairo select only their best students for the pilot. Based on the recommendations of our local contacts, we assume that out of 100 students only 10 will have the necessary skills to contribute high quality content. However, we set the maximum number of students per class at 15 – being aware that the last 5 might lack some skills, but willing to take the risk in order to learn more. With that said, the maximum number of students in the pilot will be 90.

Support for students and professors

Before the semester starts

Instructors in other countries have frequently asked for orientation workshops designed specifically for professors. We included professors for the first time in our Campus Ambassador Training in Toronto, Canada, held in mid August 2011. Without having sufficient data at this point, we assume that teachers who have gone through a Wikipedia orientation prior to the semester will be more likely to succeed. A one-day Wikipedia orientation will give instructors a better understanding of Wikipedia's internal structures and core policies and will also help them to integrate the Wikipedia assignment better into their syllabus.

For this reason, we decided to make a Wikipedia orientation mandatory for all professors participating in the Cairo pilot. During our first in-person meetings with instructors at Cairo University and Ain Shams University, we learnt that all professors were highly interested in participating in an orientation meeting. Most of them also asked us if they could bring some of their colleagues to these workshops to be held in mid January 2012 which underlines the high level of interest in Wikipedia in a country like Egypt.

During the semester

During the semester, professors and students will be supported by Wikipedia Campus and Online Ambassadors.

Campus Ambassadors will

  • teach participating students – on a face-to-face basis – about how to edit Arabic Wikipedia. This means doing in-class presentations and out-of-class workshops;
  • provide ongoing face-to-face support for participating students on Arabic Wikipedia-editing skills, to make sure that student contributions are high-quality and follow Wikipedia policies;
  • advise participating professors to make sure assignments are in line with the Arabic Wikipedia's policies and guidelines.

Online Ambassadors will

  • loosely monitor students' work on Arabic Wikipedia and provide feedback via talk pages on student articles, to make sure that students' contributions are high-quality and align with Wikipedia's policies;
  • answer students' questions about how to edit Wikipedia in a timely manner;
  • help students communicate with other Wikipedia editors; to the extent possible, defend students from hostile editors (within the limits of Wikipedia policies);
  • welcome students to the Wikipedia editing community; to the extent possible, make sure students' experience on Wikipedia is positive.
  • be students' official, friendly mentors on the Arabic Wikipedia.

We expect the workload for both roles to be 3–5 hours per week, on average, with variations during the semester. Based on our learnings from the U.S. Education Program, two Campus Ambassadors (one Wikipedian and one non-Wikipedian) will be paired up with each class; additionally, each class will be supported through one long-term Wikipedian as an Online Ambassador. The minimum student-to-Ambassador ratio will therefore be 15:3.

Ambassador selection criteria and orientation


All Wikipedia Campus Ambassadors and Online Ambassadors will be required to participate in an orientation (training), to make sure that they clearly understand what is expected of them and to sharpen the skills they need to perform their role well. Because the required qualifications and responsibilities are different for Campus Ambassadors and Online Ambassadors (see the "Support for students and professors" section above), different selection criteria and orientation content will be in place for these two groups of people.

  • Campus Ambassadors:
    • Selection criteria: Campus Ambassadors will be selected based on four primary criteria that developed out of feedback from Essam Sharaf (a local Wikipedian) and the experiences of the U.S. and Canada Education Programs. The criteria are: presentation and teaching skills, technological competency (50% of the Campus Ambassadors will be people with extensive prior Wikipedia-editing experience), a friendly and approachable personality, and genuine interest in Wikipedia. Capacity to meet the role's time commitment requirements is also a prerequisite.
    • Orientation: The Campus Ambassador orientation will take between one and two full days in Cairo on a face-to-face basis. Major topics covered will include: overview of the Wikipedia Education Program and Cairo Pilot, expectations and responsibilities for Campus Ambassadors, presentation and public speaking skills, how to teach newbies to edit Wikipedia, tips on working with professors and students, and fundamental Wikipedia-editing skills. Local Wikipedians will be in charge of leading the orientation, with help from Frank and Annie as needed. The orientation will be interactive and hands-on.
  • Online Ambassadors:
    • Selection criteria: Online Ambassadors must be experienced editors on the Arabic Wikipedia, to ensure that they can properly mentor students on big and small questions about editing. They will be chosen based on their prior experience helping newbies on Wikipedia, their ability to explain complicated technical processes in a beginner-friendly way, and their ability to be welcoming and patient with newbies. Capacity to meet the role's time commitment requirements is also a prerequisite.
    • Orientation: Since Online Ambassadors can be physically located anywhere in the world, the Online Ambassador orientation will take place over Skype, Google+ Hangout, or an equivalent web-conferencing channel, and will last a few hours. Major topics covered will include: overview of the Wikipedia Education Program and Cairo Pilot, expectations and responsibilities for Online Ambassadors, how to effectively mentor newbies online on Wikipedia-editing, and tips on working with professors and students. Local Wikipedians will be in charge of leading the orientation. The orientation will be interactive and hands-on to the extent possible.

Orientation for teachers


All teachers who plan to participate in the pilot will have to take a mandatory orientation on either January 15th or 16th 2012. The one-day orientation aims at enabling instructors to successfully integrate Wikipedia into their syllabus and at giving them an overview of Wikipedias core policies, structures and workflows. Teachers will also learn basic editing and on-wiki communication techniques. The orientation will comprise three main modules:

  • Module 1: Wikipedia Education Program Overview
    • Wikipedia Education Program overview and role descriptions
    • Goals of the pilot and measures of success
    • Where to get help
    • Requirements and logistics
  • Module 2: About Wikipedia
    • Core Wikipedia policies
    • Encyclopedic writing style
    • Copyright and plagiarism
    • Anatomy of an article
    • Editing skills
    • Wikipedia site anatomy (recent changes, page history, watchlists)
    • Communicating on-wiki
    • What makes a good article?
  • Module 3: Syllabus and assignment design
    • Learning objectives for a Wikipedia assignment
    • Sample syllabus
    • Tips & learning points on assignment design
    • How to grade students' work

High-level timeline

  • October 2011 – mid December 2011: Exploration phase – in-person meetings with teachers, students and potential supporters on the ground; determining of feasibility
  • Mid December 2011 – February 2012: Planning and preparation phase – project planning; recruitment of Campus and Online Ambassadors; training and orientation events for teachers and Ambassadors; hiring of on the ground support team; translation of support materials
  • February 2012 – June 2012: Execution phase – Students write Wikipedia articles during the spring semester
  • May 2012 – end June 2012: Analysis and documentation phase – Surveys; analysis of the results; documentation of the learning points; meeting with participants

PART B: Additional on-campus outreach events




During our second trip to Cairo in mid December we were experiencing a lot of excitement from students whenever we talked about Wikipedia. Students who came to our presentations, question-and-answer sessions and to our table on campus were highly energized when we talked about growing the Arabic content on the web. We experienced much more desire to "be a part of Wikipedia" than we can fulfill with the classroom model (Part A). We therefore suggest to run additional outreach events on campus, that engage students in fun activities around Wikipedia and free knowledge. See Cairo Pilot on-campus outreach for more information



The goal of the general university outreach part of the pilot will be to experiment with different types of outreach events (e.g. photo-walk, tabling on Campus, presentations and workshops for students, community meetup with guests, editing Friday, etc.) in order to identify the best ways for growing the local community of Wikipedians in an Arabic speaking country like Egypt. Outreach events should be both fun for the participants and increase their knowledge about Wikipedia. They should be trustbuilding and at the same time lead to a measurable growth of content (either in the Arabic Wikipedia article namespace or on Wikimedia Commons). In order to reach these goals, a contact database / list with names and email addresses of people who are interested in outreach events will be created. Based on the results, recommendations for future outreach events on university campusses will be developed.

Required resources


We think that the experimental campus outreach events should be coordinated by a contractor on the ground who is either a student or closely connected with one of the participating universities (i.e. someone who is immersed in student life in Cairo). The estimated time commitment will be 15–20 hours per week. This University Outreach Event Coordinator Cairo will work closely with the team in San Francisco to come up with a detailed project plan and a list of outreach events that will be executed during the spring semester. The Outreach Coordinator will create excitement on campus (e.g. through tabling or through posters / flyers) and continuously increase the number of possible participant for the outreach events (stored in a contact database). Each event will be documented and the outcome will be measured (e.g. the interest in the specific events might be measured in number of participants / amount of content created).

High-level timeline

  • Mid January – end February: Planning and preparation phase – hiring University Outreach Coordinator (contractor); project planning; choosing outreach events for the second phase; setting goals for these events; determining measures of success for the different activities
  • March – mid May: Experimentation phase – conduct 2–3 different types of outreach events and measure the results
  • Mid May – Mid June: Documentation phase – document the results; create a roadmap for future outreach events

List of participants

  1. Professor Ahmed Abd Rabou, Political Science – Asian Politics (Cairo University)
  2. Professor Dalia Al-Tokhy, French Department, School of Alsun (Ain Shams University)
  3. Professor Iman Ezzeldin, Drama (Ain Shams University)
  4. Professor Hoda Abaza, French (Ain Shams University)
  5. Professor Amany Fahmy, Mass Communication (Cairo University)
  6. Professor Abeer El Hafez, Spanish (Cairo University)
  7. Professor Hany El-Hosseiny, Mathematics (Cairo University)
How will the community know what the students are doing on the Arabic Wikipedia?
Each professor will create a page for their specific course. These "course pages" will contain a short description about the course, its timeline and some basic information about what the Wikipedia assignments will be (including a list of articles that the students will work on). The professors will also ask their students to add their user names to a list of students that are participating in the Wikipedia assignments. That way, every member of the community on the Arabic Wikipedia will be able to track what the students are doing online.
How are we going to track the students' activities in the future?
We worked with the course page model successfully in the past (i.e. in the U.S. and the Canada Education Program). However, the more students participate in the Education Program globally, the more difficult it gets to measure the impact of the students' work on Wikipedia. During the last three semesters, we had to transfer the students' usernames (as listed on the course pages) manually or semi-automatically to a database. With this database, we were able to measure the amount of content that the students were contributing to Wikipedia. In order to prevent us from having the additional workload of transferring the usernames of the students into the database (in 2011, more than 2,500 students participated in the program globally), we embarked on developing a MediaWiki extension that will implement this database directly into Wikipedia. An early development version of the extension is publicly available at A roadmap for the development and deployment of the extension is available at
Some edits of the students might get reverted. How are you going to measure the number of reverted edits?
Right now, we don't have an fully automated process in place to measure the amount of reverted edits. However, the WMF Education Program team is getting support through Ayush Khanna, who works for the Foundation's Global Development department as a data analyst contractor. Ayush developed scripts that measure the reverts. We will be using those scripts at the end of the pilot to count the number of total edits made by the students and to determine which percentage of the edits survived in the article namespace.

See also



  1. Wikipedia Statistics Arabic, accessed on December 30, 2011.