Education/News/October 2020/Teaching Wikipedia at University of Tromsø with support from the Sámi Parliament

Wikipedia editing for students at the UiT Arctic University of Tromsø

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Summary: This semester Wikimedia Norge with support from the Sámi Parliament had a Wikipedia editing course with students of History of Indigenous People at the UiT Arctic University of Tromsø. You can visit the course project page here.

Wikimedia Norge has a long term commitment to supporting diversity on Wikipedia, and as a part of that, we are finding ways to support information about the Sámi culture and history across different Wikimedia projects. In the process of finding out how we as a part of the majority culture with limited knowledge of the Sámi culture and language, could contribute, we learned quite a few lessons. We wanted to use this Wikipedia workshop to teach the students of History of Indigenous Peoples - Indigenous people, ethnic minorities and the multi-cultural society in the North at the UiT Arctic University of Tromsø Wikipedia-editing, but also make them aware how they can use their skills and engagement on an everyday basis to support indigenous people. The course comprises theoretical and empirical aspects related to the history of indigenous peoples. The empirical focus will be on the history of the Sami peoples from the Middle Ages to the political revival of indigenous peoples during the later part of the 20th century. It will also look at multi-cultural societies in North-Western Europe and aspects in connection with the relation between majority/minority and nation.

Our experience with the work with Northern Sámi Wikipedia is that the content about Sámi culture, history, and language were limited by the availability of sources. There is information about the topic, but it requires some skills to find it. Much information might be published in scientific articles or books, some information is not even digitalized yet. Students at a Master's level are in a position where they have technical and academic skills to find and use these sources. While encouraging the students to improve articles on Wikipedia, we therefore also encouraged them to reflect on limited sources and other barriers for writing good articles about indigenous people on Wikipedia. During the session, there were students reflecting on how weak the information about indigenous people was, and how much variation they saw across different language versions of Wikipedia.

It might be so obvious to Wikipedians around the globe, but still so powerful when new contributors awake and understand that their effort matter. We will have a new session with the students in November, and we are excited to see if any of them has seen the Wiki-light by then!

We were able to realize this course with funding from the Sámi Parliament.