Education/News/January 2020/Wikiclassroom as a New Means of Gaining Knowledge

Wikiclassroom as a New Means of Gaining Knowledge

Author: Armenuhi Voskanyan, Argam Hakobyan

Social Media channels or hashtags: WikiClubs, Armenian Wikipedia, Wikimedia Armenia

Summary: February 2019 Wikimedia Armenia started a partnership with Lernapat Secondary School. Students Wikiclassroom is another opportunity to acquire new knowledge by editing articles in Armenian Wikipedia

For several years now, school children in Wikiclubs in Armenia have been learning to edit in Wiki projects, and have been creating numerous articles in various fields of their interest in Armenian Wikipedia. However, in February 2019, at the initiative of Wikimedia Armenia NGO’s President Susanna Mkrtchyan, a partnership with Lernapat Secondary School started. The project was originally designed to encourage students to acquire new knowledge by editing articles in Armenian Wikipedia, to modify traditional teaching methods. Moreover, one of the reasons was to develop Armenian Wikipedia by promoting free knowledge and with the help of the students, editing numerous articles, especially the most viewed ones. Initially, the collaboration was with the seventh graders who edited articles on biology. But after a successful start, other classes joined the project, editing articles on other subjects. Thus, over the past months, three classes have participated in the project, over 40 articles on biology, geography, and geometry have been edited (13 of which were newly created and 28 were substantially improved), more than 571,000 bytes have been added to Armenian Wikipedia.

The success of the project is largely due to the willingness of the school principal and teachers. Biology teacher and geography teacher, who are always striving to make their lessons interesting and use the newest methods, are the first teachers to join the project. They say: “Students are happy to participate in Wikiclasses. Such lessons increase students' responsibility, self-esteem, and develop computer skills. Interdisciplinary links are created during the collaboration, contributing to the acquisition of comprehensive knowledge. Thanks to such lessons, students learn the material more effectively.” The work of the Wikiclassroom is organized as follows: before the lesson, the teacher selects relevant articles from Wikipedia, divides into sections, and assigns them the students. They translate them and edit the relevant articles in English before the lesson. The most commonly used method in the classroom is the "Inverted Classroom" method, which is one of the most effective methods for Wikiclassroom. Each student presents his or her own passage, teaching it to others. The geometry teacher applied the "Inverted Classroom" method to a lesson on prisms and pyramids. She explained: “When using this method, learners receive initial knowledge prior to the lesson, and during the lesson, they focus on combining knowledge, presenting their work, and analyzing it. One of the advantages of this method is that the students’ presence at the class obtains new meaning, and the teacher contributes more time to work with students individually.”

The students are very interested in the project, also appreciating its role in their lives and in the learning process. Eighth-grade student Nelly notes that when translating from another language, she not only gains additional information about the material, but also develops her foreign language skills, and improves her computer skills. Gor, who is another student from Wikiclassroom, also highlights the fact that they promote the spread of free knowledge and help other people. He states: “It has been almost a year since we have been editing articles on a certain topic in Armenian Wikipedia while preparing for a lesson. By doing so, we not only improve our knowledge and skills but also help others by improving the existing articles and creating new ones.”

Collaboration with Wikiclassroom also has a positive impact on the performance of the Wikiclub and the quality and frequency of editing. Melsida, a member of the Lernapat Wikiclub, who started editing in Wikimedia projects in 2015, is also a student at Wikiclassroom. She notes that since launching the Wikiclassroom initiative, she has been editing more actively in Wikipedia, focusing more on the quality of the articles. Wikiclassroom is another opportunity to learn to work together, find solutions in new situations, and develop your own capabilities in different fields.