Education/Newsletter/December 2015/Collaboration with Masaryk University turns official

By Vojtěch Dostál (Wikimedia Czech Republic)

Masaryk University employees are being trained in using and editing Wikipedia
Marek Blahuš, Wikipedian in residence at Masaryk University

Snippet: The second largest university in the Czech Republic has employed a Wikipedian in residence, leading to a boom of Wikimedia activities in the city of Brno.

Collaboration between Wikipedia and Czech institutions has always been a priority for Wikimedia Czech Republic, but the year 2015 has taken this to another level. First, an official memorandum of collaboration with the National Heritage Institute (NPÚ) was signed in May 2015, to be followed by official collaboration with Masaryk University in Brno (the second largest city and university in the Czech Republic), which was contracted in November 2015. In fact, Wikimedia activities in Brno have been blooming for several years now, mainly as a result of the community's own development, but aided substantially by the external interest in Wikipedia by Masaryk University alumni society, demonstrated as early as March 2013.

In February 2015, the university employed one of the most experienced Czech Wikipedians – Marek Blahuš (Blahma) – who was appointed to become the university's first "Wikipedian in residence". Marek Blahuš has been in the center of the Wikimedia community in Brno for about two years, organizing regular Wikipedia meetups, the 2014 edition of the annual WikiConference (more in English here) and creating the Czech-Slovak Wikipedia translation tool, which has famously led to the creation of >9000 articles on Czech and Slovak Wikipedias (more in English here). His current work as Wikipedian in residence is funded by Masaryk University and runs under the patronage of Wikimedia Czech Republic as well as Masaryk University's rector Mikuláš Bek.

Since February, Wikipedia has taken a prominent role within Masaryk University. Marek Blahuš started a "Masaryk University Wikipedians team", gathering local Wikipedians and facilitating contacts with the university, aided by his status of a graduate and current employee in its language center. Articles about Masaryk University alumni and faculties have been identified and improved after consultations with Masaryk University archives and libraries which provided helpful resources. Wikipedia citation templates can now be directly generated from the university's on-line archive of theses. In September, a public conference called "Masaryk University Is Getting High on Wikipedia" took place on university grounds, featuring the experienced Wikipedian Jan Sokol (Sokoljan), who is a philosopher, university teacher and a former presidential candidate. The talks focused on the use of Wikipedia in university education, in line with the successful Czech "Students Write Wikipedia" program. One of the teachers, Jiří Rambousek, expressed his desire to organize a Wikipedia Club as a regular meetup where articles would be improved in a collaborative effort and new editors introduced to Wikipedia.

The program is actively preparing for 2016 when we expect Wikimedia Czech Republic to take a more active role in overseeing the initiatives as well as the creation of a position of a "Wikipedian in Brno" – person officially in charge of the wide array of Wikimedia activities happening in the city. The chapter's annual plan includes initiatives to increase the number of university courses which incorporate Wikipedia into the curriculum, public presentations of Wikipedia at various events, scanning and uploading of images from institutional and personal archives, and much more. Let's wish that our plans come true!

Read more about the Wikipedia Education Program in the Czech Republic here.