Wikipedia as a Tool to Educate and to Be Educated
Author: Mari Avetisyan WMAM
Social Media channels or hashtags: wikimedia.am
Summary: Wikimedia Armenia has been organizing Wikipedia courses for teachers for six years. These courses have a twofold influence on teachers and their students making Wikipedia a tool to be educated and to educate others.
Since 2016, Wikimedia Armenia has been organizing Wikipedia courses specifically for teachers. Already ten offline courses have been successfully organized which engaged more than a thousand teachers. However, the pandemic changed our plans and gave us a chance to redesign our Wikipedia courses making them compliant with the online format. The new online Wikipedia courses became very popular among teachers and we decided to organize two such courses during summer. Around 600 teachers from all regions of Armenia applied to participate in these two courses.
“Online Wikipedia Courses for Teachers” last three months and consist of two stages: in the first stage participants learn about Wikipedia and its tools; the wiki trainers — who are chosen from the most knowledgeable and experienced editors — introduce the teachers how to edit on Wikipedia. We decided that spending more time on learning Wikidata would be useful for teachers to understand Wikipedia more and to make necessary changes in Wikipedia articles on their own. Thus, the second stage of the course is dedicated to Wikidata.
The purpose of engaging teachers in the Wikimedia movement and Wikipedia is twofold. Firstly, teachers have a chance to educate themselves: to improve their language skills, to learn more about the topics they are interested in, and to widen their mindset. Spending even only twenty minutes on translation every day develops their translation skills and makes them more knowledgeable and informed. Secondly, they work with and educate our second target group — school students. Especially nowadays innovative methods of education are welcomed all over the world, including Armenia. Thus, teachers can use Wikipedia as a tool to educate their students. We have a successful and outstanding example of using Wikipedia in the learning process — a project called Wikiclassroom.
As a result of two Wikipedia courses, we have 202 active teachers contributing to Wikipedia, a lot of whom are ready and willing to coordinate Wikipedia groups or clubs in their towns and villages.
An interesting analysis showed that at the beginning of the course, participants tended to write a lot of articles with small size; meanwhile, the statistics of the second month displayed the opposite picture: they started writing fewer articles with a bigger size. It can be implied that firstly participants were focused on the number of articles; however, later they began paying attention to the content and choosing bigger articles.