Education/Newsletter/June 2014/Wikipedia Primary School Project

Wikipedia Primary School aims to bridge Wikipedia and primary education

By Erica Litrenta (SUPSI)

The Wikipedia Primary School project is an endeavor which seeks to understand whether or not Wikipedia articles meet the needs of primary school education.

This research aims to define and select relevant articles which address primary school curriculum, to facilitate the production of high quality new content which will be compatible with Wikipedia, and to assess existing articles linked to primary education, with a focus on Africa. The project will involve the Wikipedia community, partners, volunteers, scholars and experts in the field of education.

While numerous research projects have looked at Wikipedia contents and have consulted the Wikipedia community, this research utilizes methodology that involves a number of external people and entities.

The research is being conducted by two teams of researchers: one from SUPSI in Switzerland and one from the University of Cape Town. The programme partners are the Africa Centre and Wikimedia Switzerland (WMCH).

Various school systems were evaluated to understand how they work and to determine the differences between them, with the idea that what children study in African countries can be different than what children study in European countries. The point is understanding the main topics which primary schools teach in the countries that were observed.

The research team seeks to find out if content on Wikipedia answers questions that children, parents, and teachers ask in context of primary school learning. For example, Wikipedia has articles about continents and countries, but do those articles adequately cover climate, geography, biology, history such that there is sufficient information to support students in their studies?

The teams will compile a list of articles, both existing articles as well as articles that have not yet been created. Academic journals will peer review existing articles or issue calls for papers for experts to write articles in their fields and release them under a free license so that the information can later be made available for use on Wikipedia. The results of the peer review will be published in the project journal which will be linked to on the assessed articles' talk pages. The teams will not be publishing any information directly on Wikipedia, but they will notify the community of their availability, should they wish to refer to them. Documentation is available on Meta.