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Headlines  · Highlights  · Single page edition

By Lilit Tarkhanyan (Wikimedia Armenia)

Snippet: Wikimedia Armenia organized its 4th wiki seminar for teachers.

Wiki teachers and Wiki Loves Science participants, group photo

Wikimedia Armenia organized its traditional wiki seminar for teachers on June 14-19 in Dilijan - one of the most beautiful cities in Armenia. It's already 4th wiki seminar in a row. This year we had the highest number of applications - 146, of which Wikimedia Armenia chose only 51 to participate. The aim of such seminars are the increase of reach of wiki projects, the growth of the wiki movement among teachers from different regions of Armenia, as well as to involve new editors and volunteers in the WMAM projects, especially in Wikipedia Education Program. During the seminar, the teachers learned about wiki movement, its ideology, wikiprojects, how to edit different wikiprojects, the main rules and tools. After learning basic rules, the teachers began to improve and create articles with great enthusiasm. Day by day, they deepened their wiki knowledge and editing became easier and fun for them in a way that no one wanted to leave wiki during the breaks.

Among participants there were also parents whose children already actively edit Wikipedia in the frames of Wikipedia Education program. Seeing their children so active in editing they wanted to learn editing tools themselves. Hamest Melikyan confessed:

I was worrying that my son spent hours in front of the laptop. But now, seeing the important work he is doing by creating and sharing free knowledge, I'm more understanding. I'm so proud of him!


Hamest's son - 7Vendetta7 is a high school student, one of the active editors of Armenian Wikipedia. Editing for only 1 year and 3 months, he has already 3,401 edits in different wikiprojects and 755 articles on Armenian Wikipedia 1 of which (Dennis Bergkamp) was chosen first as a good article and then as a featured article. 7Vendetta7 is also one of the editors of Armenian Wikipedia Education Program, who has been selected by Wikimedia Armenia to participate in WikiCamp Portugal on August 17-27 organized for Western Armenian students.

The last 2 days of the seminar coincided with Wiki Loves Science project edit-a-thon during which teachers got acquainted with many experienced editors of Armenian Wikipedia who motivated them to continue their wiki way.

At the end of the seminar, 7 teachers, who were actively editing since previous seminars, received Gratitude Certificates for enriching wikiprojects with high quality content.

Almost 2 months have passed since the teachers of the seminar has returned home. Many of them continue editing and enriching Armenian Wikipedia with high quality educational articles of their field.

Read more about the Wikipedia Education Program in Armenia here.

By João Alexandre Peschanski and Célio Costa Filho (UG BR)

Robert E. Cummings, editor of Wiki Studies

Snippet: Members of the User Group Wikimedia in Brazil interviewed Robert E. Cummings, editor of Wiki Studies, a new journal on the intersection of Wikipedia and higher education.

Wikipedia and its sister projects have been increasingly a topic of scientific research. Academic repositories, such as Google Scholar, list hundreds of thousands entries on which Wikipedia features in the title of papers, books and other sorts of research outputs. This increasing interest in investigating Wikimedia projects is especially noticeable in education, for instance with an increasing number of case studies on educational uses of Wikipedia, listed here (in Portuguese).

In this context, Robert E. Cummings, professor of Writing and Rhetoric at the University of Mississippi and board member at the Wiki Education Foundation, and collaborators are preparing to launch Wiki Studies, probably the first peer-reviewed journal to focus specifically on "the intersection of Wikipedia and higher education,” as its official motto puts it.

In this interview that members of the User Group Wikimedia in Brazil have done via email in the last half of July, Cummings talks on the relevance and goal of the new journal as well as on general topics related to investigating Wikimedia projects. The board of Wiki Studies is still forming, and the journal is currently calling for submissions for its first issue, expected to be released in March 2017.

This interview with Cummings — who is the author of Lazy Virtues: Teaching Writing in the Age of Wikipedia (2009) — is part of a series of interviews with inspiring individuals who are actively committed to the idea that “Wikipedia belongs in education”. The first interviewee of this series was Juliana Bastos Marques, from the Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro, who has been part of the pioneer group of the Brazilian Wikipedia Education Program. A transcript of our interview with Cummings follows.

UG BR - Wiki Studies is officially described as "an open-access, peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary journal devoted to research and scholarship on the social production of knowledge in the digital age." Why do you feel it is relevant to create such a journal in our present context?
Cummings - I feel that it is relevant to create this journal, at this time, due to the increasing intersection between higher education and Wikipedia. Higher education's focus on the creation and dissemination of peer-reviewed knowledge has traditionally led it away from embracing the public knowledge production within Wikipedia. And, Wikipedia's issues with accuracy and reliability, as well as its engagement with non-expert review have meant that its methods are often antithetical to the values of the expert review process cherished within higher education. However, higher education has "backed in" to engaging Wikipedia through classroom use. As more and more teachers are discovering, Wikipedia presents an unparalleled opportunity to give a global audience to their students' work. And as they engage Wikipedia as a teaching tool, they and their professional organizations are also reaching a new understanding of the value of Wikipedia as the world's premier source of public knowledge, and how that public knowledge resource integrates with the mission of creating peer-reviewed knowledge. Therefore a new area of research is opening up to higher education, involving pedagogy and epistemology. The focus of this area is broad and relatively untapped, and rather than locating the new research within a variety of disciplinary journals, I felt it important to provide the topic with a centralized location.

UG BR - Studies on Wikipedia have occurred and been published in many journals. How do you expect the wiki research agenda will be changed with Wiki Studies?
Cummings - I believe that the wiki research agenda will be altered by the publication of works within Wiki Studies in at least two ways. The first is that we will give a platform for the investigation and discussion of wiki pedagogy. While there have been many such articles published to date, they are scattered, and creating this platform for common hosting will invite readers to make new observations and reach new conclusions because these works on pedagogy will be more likely to be observed side-by-side. Further, many faculty teaching with Wikipedia in higher education find that the publication venues of their fields encourage articles about pure research over pedagogy, if they accept articles about pedagogy at all. For these faculty we hope to provide an important alternative.

UG BR - The official description of the journal mentions "social production of knowledge." Could you explain this idea? How does it relate to what you have called CBPP in Lazy Virtues?
Cummings - Commons-Based Peer Production is a phenomenon defined explored more fully by Yochai Benkler in his publications, most notably "Coase's Penguin, or Linux and the Nature of the Firm," "Commons-Based Peer Production and Virtue," The Wealth of Networks, and most recently "Peer-production, the Commons, and the Nature of the Firm." Though I may use the phrase "social production of knowledge," I intend the essentially same concept as commons based peer production, or an environment where the costs and inhibitors to sharing knowledge are diminished. And as those barriers are diminished, not only is the volume of knowledge production increased, but so too are the type, ranges, and genres of knowledge expanded. It has been said by some in the open culture community that knowledge is essentially a non-rivalrous good (I am thinking of David Wiley, but I know he has quoted others). I would also add that one way of thinking about Wikipedia has been the analogy of being asked by a stranger in your neighborhood for directions: for all but the very few misanthropes among us, providing that knowledge is irresistible. Yet we receive no compensation for it other than the satisfaction of being able to share knowledge which contributes to a public good. We receive no monetary compensation (pay), nor do we receive public recognition which we can later trade on (fame). So the social production of knowledge is a relatively new phenomenon, as no economist would have been able to predict that these sorts of rewards would motivate a collective and substantial change in behaviors. But indeed, these motivations have created the largest repository of knowledge in the world. I find that fascinating.

UG BR - Critics of Wikipedia have relevant names such as Noam Chomsky, Umberto Eco and others. Do you expect these critics to have space or inform in some way the agenda of Wiki Studies?
Cummings - Wikipedia has numerous critics, indeed, and I fully expect that the best writing in Wiki Studies will engage their ideas. No one who works with Wikipedia can be unaware of its numerous shortcomings. Without engaging each of their criticisms here, however, I can say that few critics would disagree with the notion that further engagement with higher education would do anything but ameliorate their reservations.

UG BR - Wikipedia has gradually earned its place as an object of academic studies. How do you evaluate the expansion of studies on Wikipedia over the last years?
Cummings - I see the expansion of academic studies about Wikipedia as a fascinating development. Or, rather, series of developments, as each academic discipline tends to see their epistemological concerns within Wikipedia. The path of thinking in most fields of inquiry has worked out in three phases: (1) Wikipedia is a (flawed) source; (2) Wikipedia is a (flawed) source, but we might consider contributing to it through our classrooms; (3) Wikipedia is (a/the preeminent) source of (flawed) public knowledge, and we ought to invest in it as a counterpart to our investment in peer-reviewed knowledge. Many fields have reached the third stage and now offer incentives for participation in Wikipedia, but many fields also remain in the first stage.

UG BR - What is the relation between Wiki Studies and Wikipedia communities, the Wikimedia Foundation, and the Wiki Education Foundation?
Cummings - There is no defined, formal relationship between WMF, Wikipedia communities and Wiki Studies, though a healthy connection between them will be essential to our success. The Wiki Ed Foundation is a sponsor of Wiki Studies (as is the University of Mississippi). Just what sponsorship entails at this time, beyond a shared understanding on the ensuring importance of this work, is undefined. We are hoping to have the details inked by the end of the year.

UG BR - Wiki Studies has adopted a Creative Commons license CC-BY. Wikipedia and other similar projects generally adopt a CC-BY-SA license. Is there a particular reason you would not choose CC-BY-SA?
Cummings - Generally, the less prescriptive the license, the more benefit to the public. Although some in the open community have argued that Wikipedia should drop the SA portion of the license, I really do not have a strong opinion. But for our project, I also assumed that the rules of academic citation would provide a natural framework for attribution, and that we would best promote the principles of an open access scholarship with CC-BY license.

Read the interview in Portuguese here.

Read more about the Wikipedia Education Program in Brazil here.

By Walaa Abdel Manaem (Wikipedia Education Program Egypt) & (Egypt Wikimedians User Group)

Distinguished contributions by Cairo University students over eight consecutive terms.
Distinguished articles on Arabic Wikipedia by Wikipedia Education Program students over eight consecutive terms.

Snippet: The eighth term of WEP courses has ended and the ninth term of WEP has started in the Faculty of Arts at Cairo University with great success.

Walaa Abdel Manaem, Wikipedia Education Program leader at Cairo University, has encouraged new participants from the departments of Spanish, English languages and History with posts on social media websites and brochures. She helped them understand the general idea of the program and encouraged them to participate. Also, she held online webinars to follow up with her students in addition to the workshops held at the campus to teach students how to edit Wikipedia.

Additionally, Prof. Abeer Abdel-Hafiz has exerted great efforts with her students and introduced Walaa to new classes of senior students for whom she has organized general seminars about Wikipedia and the Wikipedia Education Program. At the same time, Walaa was assigning her first, second and third year Spanish students to edit Wikipedia.

Regarding numbers, 81 students joined this course, of which 72 are female and 9 are male students. They worked on more than 100 articles on the Arabic Wikipedia. They have achieved 3 featured articles, 3 good articles and a featured list. Also, when they wrapped up their eighth term, there were some articles which they hadn't finished yet. But, in the the ninth term, they plan to complete editing them and have nominated 3 featured articles and 1 good article.

Over eight consecutive terms, Egyptian students have added massive amounts of content to Wikipedia that now accounts for 3% of the whole Arabic encyclopedia. This content also increases article quality, with a growing number of featured and good articles that represent approximately 12.31% of the featured articles, 8.57% of good articles, 3% of featured portals, and 3.44% of featured lists of the Arabic Wikipedia.

Regarding the distinguished contributions of Cairo University students over eight consecutive terms of WEP, they have added 51.72% of the featured articles, 38.88% of good articles, 100% of featured portals, and 100% of featured lists of the Arabic Wikipedia.

Read more about the Wikipedia Education Program in Egypt here.

By Walaa Abdel Manaem (Wikipedia Education Program Egypt) & (Egypt Wikimedians User Group)

Egyptian students celebrate their 8th term on Wikipedia at Cairo University.

Snippet: Egyptian students celebrated the end of their 8th term on Wikipedia at Cairo University.

In July, Egyptian Wikimedians gathered in Cairo University to celebrate the end of the 8th term of the WIkipedia Education Program (WEP) in Cairo, at Ain Shams and El Azhar Universities. The eighth celebration conference was held in the conference hall at the Faculty of Arts, Cairo University and was hosted by Walaa Abdel Manaem.

In this term, students achieved great success during spring 2016 and added significant contributions to Wikipedia since 2012 when the program began there. The Egyptian Wikipedia Education Program continues its efforts to increase gender diversity on Wikipedia by encouraging more female students to join. Last term, the majority of participants students were female.

Over eight consecutive terms, Egyptian students have added massive amounts of content to Wikipedia that now accounts for 3% of the whole Arabic encyclopedia. This content also increases article quality with a growing number of featured and good articles that represent approximately 12.31% of the featured articles, 8.57% of good articles, 3% of featured portals, and 3.44% of featured lists of the Arabic Wikipedia. See all statistics of the WEP in Egypt here. Volunteers run and develop the Wikipedia Education Program in Egypt and successfully guide new contributors.

In the same conference, we celebrated the achievements added by the participants with the Wikimedia Egypt Prize from 10 December 2015 to 10 March 2016. Simple prizes helped raise the competitive spirit between new users who did their best during the contest time to develop article content and to see their names in first place. The winners of this competition are Eman El-Emam in 1st place, Essam Ahmed in 2nd place, and Soher Nadi in 3rd place.

Read more about the Wikipedia Education Program in Egypt here.

By Marios Magioladitis and Geraki (Wikimedia Community User Group Greece)

Magioladitis talking about Wikipedia in adult education at the WMCEE Meeting in Estonia.

Snippet: Wikimedia User Group Greece starts free online wiki training for educators

Wikimedia User Group Greece has started a program to train teachers, via long-distance, on Wikipedia and its sister projects. The aim is to show the potential use of Wikipedia as a teaching instrument. The two main pillars that can build the integration of Wikipedia in Greek schools are its value as an encyclopedia and its philosophy of knowledge production mechanisms.

The courses are free and offered by experienced Wikipedia volunteers. Held remotely, using screencasts and bidirectional communication via Skype or Google Hangouts, the course is tailored to the needs and questions of each teacher. The program includes an introduction to Wikipedia, training on basic editing (editorial policy, use of Visual Editor, Content Translation, and other tools), and best practices for using Wikipedia in education. New training materials will be produced, including videos and cheat sheets, which will be useful for training a general audience as well as educators.

The program aims to attract educators in all levels of education. Approximately 300 educators are currently registered. This effort is coordinated by long-time Wikipedian and educator Marios Magioladitis.

Read more about the Wikipedia Education Program in Greece here.

By Shani Evenstein (WM-IL, Wiki Education Collaborative), Shai Katz (WM-IL) and Chen Almog (WM-IL)

Tel Aviv University course end photo with some of the participants in the course.

Snippet: An outcomes report about “Wikipedia: Skills for Producing and Consuming Knowledge”, a for-credit, cross-campus, elective course dedicated to contributing to Wikipedia at Tel Aviv University in Israel.

Working in small groups to correct copyrights and non-NPOV violations
Asaf Bartov guest lecturing about the magic of Wikidata.
Amir Aharoni guest lecturing about the translation tool.
A student (who happens to be deaf) presenting her reflection on her learning experience, with the aid of a sign language interpreter.

In 2013, the first for-credit elective course that focuses on contributing to Wikipedia was launched at Tel Aviv university (TAU). The course, which is called Wiki-Med, focused on teaching medical students how to create high-quality medical content, and resulted in 170 new articles, which received over 3 million views thus far. Drawing from its success, Shani Evenstein, a Wikipedian and educator who designed and led Wiki-Med, has developed a new elective course that will accommodate all undergraduate students, from all disciplines studied on campus. The course has been approved by the Vice Rector, making Tel Aviv University the first academic institution worldwide to allow all its undergraduates to take a for-credit Wikipedia course, thus recognizing the importance of a Wikipedia training to students on an institutional level.

The course was launched in October 2015 and was led by Evenstein, with partners from the Orange Institute for Internet Studies and the School of Education at TAU. Academic emphasis was put on active learning and improving academic and digital literacies. Students were taught not only how to better consume information, but also how to actively participate in its creation. The course included introductory sessions to Wikipedia and the free knowledge movement, technical editing sessions, and discussion sessions on critical issues. Those included copyrights, neutral point of view, encyclopedic writing vs. academic writing, the power of the community, collaborative learning and creation of knowledge, information biases, Wiki in education and Wikidata. Since diversity and collaborative work are key elements in the wikiverse, it was important to Evenstein that the community takes an active part in the course, both in class and online. Guest lectures included key members from the Hebrew Wikipedia community, as well as from the international Wikimedia community. This way, the students had the opportunity to interact with a greater range of contributors to the Wikimedia movement.

To date, 30 students have completed the course successfully, writing together 70 articles. Each student has expanded one stub and wrote a new one. In addition, students participated in a peer evaluation process, and presented in class a reflection on their learning experience at course end. Students reported a positive and meaningful learning experiences, or as one student put it, “this course was one of the most important and interesting courses I took during my B.A. studies. I think every undergraduate should participate in such a course. What we’ve learnt here is important and will be helpful to us in the future, not only in academia, but in our daily lives.” Some unexpected results were that at least three students became active Wikipedians and continued contributing to Wikipedia after the course. In addition, the Wikidata session, which was run for the first time in Israel, was voted by students one of the most interesting and remembered session. This was of particular importance to Evenstein, who believes it is crucial to expose students to Wikidata, as it has the potential to change research as we know it. As a result, Wikidata will be incorporated deeper into the syllabus in future iterations of the course.

Running the course was a complex task, with challenges that included ongoing administrative tasks and high level of availability to students’ questions and needs. In addition, a high level of heterogeneity in class was evident, not only since students came from varying backgrounds and disciplines, but also since they had varying levels of computer skills, digital media skills, academic skills and writing skills. The team had to cope with this diversity and address students’ varying literacies level. However, the course staff attest that heterogeneity was used as an advantage: in addition to supporting students, accountability and responsibility of students were highlighted. Students expanded their horizons and sharpened skills while working with others, building on the community created in the class, through peer review, self-assessment and feedback from staff. The different iterations of reviews and feedback ensured high-quality and comprehensive articles.

No doubt, additional courses and lecturers collaborating with Wikipedia and implementing it into their curriculum expand the awareness and impact of Wikimedia on the academic world. Awareness leads to better consumers and more contributors, as well as to new partners and collaborations. So what’s next? Going forward, the course will re-open in the coming year, with the hopes of increasing the number of participants and thus its impact.

Read more about this course in Tel Aviv here.

Read more about the Wikipedia Education Program in Israel here.

By Shani Evenstein (WM-IL; Wiki Education Collaborative)

Presenting the Wiki-Med Course at the 20th IAMSE conference for medical educators.jpg

Snippet: Wikipedia was presented as a teaching and learning tool in medical education at the IAMSE Medical Education Conference.

Earlier this year I did something I don't often do -- I submitted a proposal to give an "oral presentation" at a professional medical education conference. I've been working in medical education for the past 6 years, mainly on curriculum development and e-learning strategies at the American Medical Program at Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University (TAU). Our main goal throughout these years has been adjusting the way we teach medicine in the 21st century, focusing on creating active learning sessions and engaging students in an era where they have Wikipedia at the tips of their fingers. Despite the track record of practical experience we've had, somehow I've never considered presenting in a dedicated conference. But this year, reading about the 20th International Association of Medical Science Educators (IAMSE) conference, I decided to try come up with a worthy submission. It's important to note that the IAMSE is one of the biggest and most respected conferences in the realm of medical education. It is similar to our Wikimania, in that it too has participants from all over the world, and is hosted each time in a different place -- this year it was to take place in Leiden, the Netherlands, during June 2016.

What could I possibly talk about that would be interesting and innovative enough for professional medical educators from around the world..? You guessed it -- Wikipedia! My proposal was called "Wikipedia as a Teaching & Learning Tool in Medical Education," and it focused on a for-credit elective course I designed and lead at the Israeli Medical Program at TAU, called Wiki-Med. I submitted and didn't think anything would come out of this, but on March I was informed that my submission has been accepted! Oh joy. Now, all I had to do was find funding. Thankfully, for exactly such occasions, they've invented the Travel & Participation Support (TPS) grants! I applied and was thrilled to learn that my proposal was accepted. June soon arrived and there I was in Leiden, a beautiful picturesque city, about 30 minutes from Amsterdam.

Ms. Willy, museum guide and weaver, demonstrates weaving with a historic loom at a museum in Leiden.

Around 200 medical educators, clinicians and scientists attended the conference. Sessions were diverse and touched on a variety of topics from curriculum development to assessment, evaluation and, of course, innovations in medical education. There was something soothing about meeting people from around the globe and learning how they cope with the same day-to-day challenges that you have, getting their perspectives and getting inspired to try new things. My oral presentation was scheduled for the second day of the conference, Sunday June 5, which had 8 "oral presentation" tracks running simultaneously. With 200 participants and 8 sessions, oral presentations were designed to be intimate gatherings, attracting only those participants really interested in your ideas. I was honored to be part of the "Technology and Innovation" track and was supposed to give a 10-minute presentation with 5 minutes for questions. As I was last in the session and there was some extra time, I ended up talking for about 20 minutes and answering questions for 10 more minutes. About 40 participants attended, most of which remained in the room when I finished to say thank you, that it was inspiring and to ask further questions. One educator said she can't wait to try it out at her school. We exchanged emails so I can support her from afar or connect her with the [ Wiki Education Foundation], as she is based in the U.S. For those who might be interested in the slides, they are quite similar to the presentation I gave during the WikiProject Medicine pre-conference day at Wikimania 2016.

One useful connection I made was with an anatomy instructor from the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy at the University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City. In one of the sessions he facilitated, he talked about fun, short, instructional anatomy videos that he has created for his students and that he posts to YouTube. I immediately asked him what license he is using and if he would agree to release his videos under a CC-BY license (which YouTube offers as an option) instead of the default YouTube license. I explained that if he does that, we will be able to upload his videos to Wikimedia Commons, and then have a mini-project as part of WikiProject Medicine, to incorporate his videos into wiki articles in various ways. He loved the idea and I've already connected him with Doc James, so he has a relevant U.S. contact. He now needs to check each video to make sure there are no copyrights violations (like slides or charts from other books that appear in the videos), and will then release the videos that he can. If all goes well, we will have some cool new videos to add as a resource to some articles in multiple languages. Promise to update you as soon as l follow up with him in the coming month.

Being in Leiden also allowed me to physically meet with fellow Wikipedians from the area, both GLAMers and volunteers of the Wikipedia Education Program in the Netherlands. These meetings helped strengthen personal connections, and as a Collab member, helped gain better understanding of the Wikipedia Education Program in the Netherlands, which was not well documented at that point. Since then, we've had Romaine joining the collab, and doing awesome work to grow the education program and its documentation locally. Finally, visiting some museums in Leiden with some local GLAMers, we ended up at the weaving museum in Leiden. One of the unexpected outcomes of this trip is a video documenting weaving with an antique loom taken at the museum, which has been uploaded to Commons and since then added to wiki articles in various languages. You're welcome to add it to your languages as well. We think it's awesome, and Ms. Willy, the lady in the video, was quite excited to find herself featured in Wikipedia. :)

To sum up, if you too have something special you'd like to present in a professional conference and are looking for funding, don't hesitate to submit a TPS grant request. Like me, you might find yourself with an unforgettable experience in new places you'd never imagined you'll be.

Read more about the Wikipedia Education Program in Israel here.

By Shai Katz (WM-IL)

Snippet: An interview with Yotam Svoray, a high school student who serves as an "official" Wikipedia guide to younger students.

Yotam Svoray (User:Yotamsvoray on Hebrew Wikipedia), a 16-year-old student from the Southern District of Israel, is a long-standing Wikipedian who took part in several projects led by Wikimedia Israel.

Yotam Svoray (second on the left) with Nimrod Rapaport, Danny Waks and Shai Katz, after a meeting between the mayor of Beersheba and students of the "Beersheba project" (June 2016).

His activity on the Hebrew Wikipedia started in 2013, and expanded a year later when he joined a gifted education program in Beersheba, which was part of the "Beersheba Project" for writing Wikipedia articles about the city and its surroundings, led by Nimrod Rapaport, Danny Waks, and other members of Wikimedia Israel, the local municipality and the Israeli Ministry of Education.

Yotam went on to write and expand articles about mathematics and other subjects, some of which are unusual and surprising. He started helping his classmates, who created many new interesting articles with his dedicated help.

Currently, Yotam is a "veteran" of the project, and served as an "official" guide to younger students who took part in a special editing workshop, in which they uploaded their newly created articles. He is a role model for other students who wish to become Wikipedians and sends an optimistic message that everyone has something to contribute to the online free encyclopedia, and can even enjoy it.

In June 2016, we e-mailed him a few questions, which he kindly answered elaborately.

Q: How did you arrive at editing Wikipedia?

A: I read Wikipedia a lot, and about how it functions. Then I decided I could contribute myself. I started as a "wikignome" with small contributions, such as adding links to orphan articles. Then I started to write articles, make bigger changes, and get more involved. Today, I contribute a lot to Wikipedia on a daily basis.

Q: Could you tell us about a special experience you had as a Wikipedia editor?

A: I think writing a new article is a special experience that feels new every time. Even though I've written many articles, I enjoy each time the process of research ahead of writing: finding sources of information, the process of writing and phrasing, and finally, wikifying and preparing the final version and uploading it onto Wikipedia.

Q: What is the funniest or most surprising article that you edited or wrote?

A: The funniest I wrote is the one called "buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo". It is one of the articles I'm known for. It's one of my favorite because it makes you laugh and you can also learn from it and its idea. Today it is one of the best known on Wikipedia, as a humorous article.

Q: Your user page indicates that you are a member of some interesting groups on Wikipedia. Could you tell us about that?

A: I'm a member of a group of people who write articles in mathematics. It's called the "Euler's Group". Together with the other members of the group, I expand the knowledge about mathematics on Wikipedia. But I also contribute to other fields, like science fiction and fantasy literature, geography and linguistics.

Q: You have recently won the fourth place in the Statistipedia competition for writing articles about statistics. How did you learn about this competition? What did you write about?

A: I was exposed to this competition on the World Statistics Day, when the community posted information about the first stage of the competition. I read a bit about it and decided I wanted to take part. I wrote the article [in Hebrew] about "triangular distribution", which is a well-known and important concept in statistics and probability. This article won me the fourth place in the competition.

Q: Last year, you took part as a student in a project of students writing articles. Could you tell us about it?

A: The project is meant to expose middle- and high-school students to Wikipedia by letting them write an article about a specific subject. Every team of two or three students chooses a required article in a certain chosen subject, and write it. In this process, they learn how to find reliable information, what the customary way of writing on Wikipedia is, what should be included, how the article should be written, and so forth. At the end of the process, the students upload the article onto Wikipedia.

Q: Last year and currently, you have been guiding youths who participate in this project. How do you help them? What motivates you?

A: I offer help and support in the process of writing articles on Wikipedia, in the process of "wikification", and I suggest corrections that make the article more suitable for Wikipedia. In addition, I also helped and guided students about Wikipedia itself and how to write there. My motivation is my wish to expose students to Wikipedia. Most of the students today use Wikipedia as a main source of information, but they do not know how it works and how they can contribute to it. In this project, students are exposed to Wikipedia and can contribute to it.

Q: Do you have any message to youths who consider editing on Wikipedia?

A: My message to the youths who consider editing is that everyone has something to contribute in the field they know and find interesting, no matter which field. Everybody can contribute somehow, so I strongly suggest that anyone who is interested in some field, who knows a lot about it and can contribute, will do so and enrich Wikipedia's repository of knowledge.

Read more about the Wikipedia Education Program in Israel here.

By Leigh Thelmadatter (Wiki Learning Tec de Monterrey)

Snippet: Through Wikimedia multimedia projects, Mexican university students give back to society.

First group of Wiki Learning students to collaborate in video/animation with the Museo de Arte Popular

Starting as early as 2014, Wiki Learning has been interested in working with multimedia projects. Not only is there great opportunity in Wikipedia for such projects, they also allow us to take advantage of resources and knowledge that may not be available to the average Wikipedian. Tecnológico de Monterrey has programs in communications and digital art/animation, along with various extracurricular options related to multimedia production.

Most multimedia projects are time-consuming, but Mexican university students are required by federal law to do 480 hours of community service, or servicio social, to obtain their degrees. Most community service projects that Tec students are currently offered do not require them to use the skills they are acquiring through their college educations, but this is changing. Being a Wikipedian-in-Residence, or 'Wikipedistas Residentes, allows students to take what they learn and apply it not only for the benefit of Wikipedia, but also for the one or more Mexican institutions with which they collaborate.

To date, students have collaborated with the Museo de Arte Popular, the Salón de la Plástica Mexicana and Pro Natura, to create videos and animations related to Mexican handcrafts, artists and environmental issues respectively. These are short clips (see gallery below); animation clips are rarely more than 30 seconds and interviews less than 10 minutes, with the aim of being used in Wikimedia projects as well through our "clients'" social media outlets. Depending on the client, the resulting work is primarily credited to the client or to Wiki Learning, but in all cases both are featured in the credits.

Students work out the premise and script with the organization and are required to make sure that the project meets their expectations. They do all storyboarding, art, programming, filming and in some of the videos, have created original music for the background to make sure that the entire project can be put into a CC-by-SA type license.

The collaboration with clients gives students access to specialized information, and in the case of interviews, people who have made a contribution to Mexican society. This contact is not superficial. It requires collaboration and negotiation with these actors for the purpose of creating an important piece of work. This is both educational for students as well as satisfying one of the main reasons for the community service requirement, that students fortunate enough to obtain a university education give back something to society.

Read more about the Wikipedia Education Program at Tec de Monterrey in Mexico here.

By Niklitov, Wikimedia RU

Vladimir Medeyko, director of Wikimedia RU (WMRU) talks about goals of Wikimedia RU and Wikimedia Foundation Strategy.
Photo by Alina Mayorova

Snippet: Visitors to a major Russian Internet Conference learned that there are other Wikimedia projects in addition to Wikipedia.

Vladimir Medeyko, director of Wikimedia RU and member WMRU, had a presentation and workshop about how to work with Wikimedia sister projects at a major Russian Internet Conference in Saint Petersburg. The following topics were discussed:

  • What unites Wikimedia sister projects?
  • Wikipedia, Wikidata, Wikimedia Commons, etc. and opportunities for mankind.
  • Promotion of news media with Wikinews.
  • Collaboration, sponsorships and partnerships with organisations (ex: Wiki Science Competition).
  • OTRS questions and open licenses for corporate and news websites.
  • Working together (the practical part of the workshop).
  • Grants and travel grants.

Questions indicated that guests only knew about Wikipedia. They had not previously heard about the other sister projects. This tells us that we need more Wikipedia meetups and WMRU marketing events, external popular scientific PR, GR, and IR.

Read more about the Wikipedia Education Program in Russia here.

By Sara Mörtsell (Wikimedia Sverige)

Training material is issued by the National Agency of Education in Sweden to inform teachers how to contribute to Wikipedia and improve information and media literacy skills.

Snippet: A new national training program for educators developed by the National Agency of Education includes a module on the Wikipedia Education Program.

During spring 2016, staff at Wikimedia Sverige have co-authored a training module with representatives from Malmö University as part of a new national education program for educators focused on literacy. The module was finally launched in June and freely accessible in the open course portal.

The training program was developed by the Swedish National Agency for Education and the Wikipedia module includes a theoretical framework about sharing knowledge, information literacy and digital media, as well as instructional material on how Wikipedia is organised and videos showcasing Wikipedia assignments from one of the classrooms taking part in the Wikipedia education program in Sweden.

Two things are significant with this partnership. The first is the potential of scale when it comes to educators who will learn about the Wikipedia and the Education program from a quality resource like this one, and the other one is what it means to have the endorsement from the National Education Agency and what it communicates to educators throughout Sweden in terms of Wikipedia as a legitimate vehicle for knowledge sharing and learning.

Read more about the Wikipedia Education Program in Sweden here.

Read the blog post in Swedish here.

Explore the training module in Swedish here.

Watch one of the classroom videos in Swedish here.

By Basak Tosun (Wikimedia Community User Group Turkey)

Selfie with the junior students of Uludag University psychology department

Snippet: Psychology students create articles on major psychology theories and theorists on Turkish Wikipedia at Uludag University, Bursa.

The Turkish Wikipedia has received important contributions from junior students of Uludag University psychology department in the spring term of the 2015/2016 academic year. At the begining of the term, Professor Banu Dikec agreed to give a Wikipedia assignment to her students that required them to create or edit articles related to the history of psychology. 102 students attended the course and they worked in groups for their Wikipedia assignment. This was the first time our user group -- the Wikimedia Community User Group Turkey (WMTR) -- has organized a Wikipedia Education Program for graduate level students. And it was also the first time we have experienced working with such large group of students.

Turkey's Wikipedia Education Program was first organized at the same department in previous academic term when Assoc. Prof. Dr. Leman Pınar Tosun gave Wikipedia assignments to her students in a graduate level course. That experience encouraged us to organize another program for graduate students. We had recognized that in Turkish Wikipedia, the content related to psychology was very weak and every contribution on this subject would be very valuable.

At the end of the academic term, we were happy to learn that writing a Wikipedia article was a valuable experience for the students as well. On the final exam day, the students were asked to write their thoughts about the Wikipedia assignment and the professor shared their responses with WMTR. Most of the students mentioned how they were proud of themselves for writing a Wikipedia article. Some expressed that it feels like this was the first time they were putting the knowledge they have acquired at school to the service of the public. They explained that this assignment was different than any other assignment because as they worked on it, their biggest concern was not their grade but the benefit to possible readers of the article. This concern motivated them to work even more carefully. We are so happy to receive such awesome feedback and we are looking forward to organizing more Wikipedia Education Programs in other departments and other institutions.

Read more about the Wikipedia Education Program in Turkey here.

By Loreen Ruíz (Intern at WMF)

Snippet: The Wikimedia Education Collaborative has started a new education campaign, the EduWiki Campaign, for teachers worldwide.

We are proud to announce the EduWiki campaign. The goal of the campaign is to engage teachers in using Wikimedia projects in their lessons, namely Wikipedia. Through the lesson plans that we have constructed, we want to challenge the traditional definition of education by telling teachers that “learning is editing,” keeping in mind that the definition of an “edit” on Wikipedia is not limited to editing text on a page—it can also mean adding images and references, translating, or creating content. The campaign targets educators who are planning on implementing our lesson plans in their classrooms.

With our lesson plans, the skills that students will learn are lasting: not only will they gain the technical knowledge of learning how to edit a page, they will also learn the values of collaborating with others, using free licenses, and practicing the values of the Wikimedia movement’s culture.

As we, members of WMF, work with the Education Collaborative to connect teachers with Wikimedia worldwide, we hope that we can train students to contribute valuable knowledge to Wikimedia projects and maybe also become lifelong Wikipedians. Through this campaign, we aim to advance the idea of digital literacy in education and strengthen the connections of our international community. The start of the campaign, scheduled to pilot on September 1st, is in conjunction with International Literacy Day on September 4.

The campaign microsite can be found here on Outreach.

By Gabriel Thullen (WMCH)

Classroom in Thiès (Sénégal), with math lesson on blackboard and portable computer with Kiwix.
Gabriel Thullen giving a teacher training seminar at the KOCC Barma School.
Lesson plan using Wikipedia being discussed during the KOCC Barma training seminar.
Attendees at the KOCC Barma training seminar.
Raspberry Pi hotspot with a Kiwix server and a power pack.
Kiwix up and running at the Lycée de Djilor - no internet.
Teacher's lounge at the Lycée de Djilor.
Main courtyard at the Lycée de Sanghé - no internet or cell phone coverage.
CEM (junior high school) of Soune - no electricity or internet.
Main entrance of the Thiès University.

Snippet: Seven Senegalese schools and the regional office of education of Foundiougne (serving 33 junior high schools and 7 high schools), will be testing the Kiwix offline Wikipedia during the 2016-2017 school year. These schools are in cities with limited access to the Internet and in small towns with little or no electricity, no cell phone coverage, and no Internet.

Kiwix is an offline Wikipedia reader, developed by a team led by Emmanuel Engelhardt and supported by Wikimedia Switzerland. Entire web sites, like Wikipedia, can be downloaded and compressed into *.zim files, which are then read and displayed by the Kiwix program. The website proposes dozens and dozens of different zim files of Wikipedia, Wikimedia sister projects, and other educational resources like TED talks and scientific videos.

This project is run by Gabriel Thullen, a Geneva (Switzerland) Wikimedian, previous WMCH board member, and school teacher IRL. Gabriel started spreading Kiwix in July 2014 during a trip to Senegal. After visiting different schools, it became apparent that most schools have very poor internet connections, even in the larger cities. The schools have recurrent equipment problems, both with their own hardware as well as with Internet connectivity hardware, which means that it is not realistic to rely on a 100% online Wikipedia solution to provide knowledge to educators and to their students.

Jimmy Wales said:

"Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That's what we're doing."

The only way to achieve this is to provide that knowledge in an offline format...

Small scale trial in 2015 edit

The project started out in August 2015 with a few small-scale trials in Thiès funded out of Gabriel’s not-so-large pocket. This trial involved two schools (a junior high school and a high school) as well as the US Peace Corps training center. Another trial was started at the Senegalese Naval Training Academy in Dakar. It was not easy getting reports from these different schools at the end of the 2015-2016 school year (even from the Peace Corps), mainly because there is a very strong oral tradition in West Africa and most everything is done over the phone. The follow-up reports had to be collected in person during the July 2016 visit.

The trial project included the distribution of 50 USB flash drives, three external hard drives and two Android tablets, with Kiwix pre-installed. Over 60% of the computers used in Senegal are fairly old and run on Windows XP. (That is OK. This report is being written on a computer running Windows XP…) However, the Internet connections do not allow the downloading of multi-gigabyte files like the different Kiwix databases. So Kiwix needed to be distributed using sneakernet technology. Obviously, in areas where there is not even cell phone coverage, that is the only solution.... Old computers running XP cannot read large USB flash drives. The maximum size is 32 GB, which is fine for the French language Wikipedia. The larger databases files, such as the English Wikipedia, went on an external hard drive. These external hard drives are, in fact, a cheaper solution for transporting large quantities of data, which is why they were used in 2015.

Training seminars were held in four educational institutions: the CEM Mamadou Diaw junior-high school, the KOCC Barma private high school, the US Peace Corps training center in Thiès and the Senegalese naval training facility in Dakar. Each seminar had 10 or 15 attendees, and each attendee received goodies, including a USB flash drive with French Kiwix pre-installed, as well as a few other *.zim files. The seminars also discussed different ways to use Kiwix in a classroom or in training.

The Senegalese naval training facility used one of the external hard drives, as well as a few USB flash drives. The Navy also ordered a Kiwix-Plug computer from Wikimedia CH. The Kiwix-Plug is a stand-alone Wifi hotspot with Kiwix running in server mode, and other devices can connect to it and access the offline Wikipedia. This was quite useful in a single room, but the hotspot could not reach far enough to cover other classrooms in the Academy, even if they were right next door. It was a lot more efficient to install Kiwix on every computer. The Kiwix program was also widely used by officers in training, when preparing for their exams while at sea. In that respect, Kiwix was very useful, as most of the Senegalese navy ships are not connected to Internet. The Senegalese Navy returned the Kiwix-Plug, but will retain the other methods of distribution.

Large scale trial in 2016 edit

In 2016, a large-scale trial was planned taking these different factors into account and a Wikimedia Foundation Rapid Grant, titled Empowering African schools with Kiwix, was requested and funded to cover part of the expenses. The following schools and institutions are involved:

  • Thiès: CEM Mamadou Diaw - middle school
  • Thiès: KOCC Barma private school - middle and high school
  • Thiès: University of Thiès, Economic studies faculty
  • Thiès: Ecole Française Dr René Guillot - part of the world-wide network of “Ecole françaises de l’étranger”, partly funded by the French national education ministry.
  • Thiès: CRE Thiès - computer center offering free training to the local population.
  • Thiès: US Peace Corps
  • Matam: CEM Semmé - middle school
  • Soune: CEM Soune - middle school (no electricity, no internet)
  • Sanghé: Lycée de Sanghé (no electricity, no internet, no cell phone)
  • Djilor: Lycée de Djilor Saloum (no internet)
  • Bignona: Lycée Djibidione (no internet)
  • Foundiougne: Inspection de l'Education et de la Formation de Foudiougne (regional office of education)

An improved version of the Wifi hotspot with a Kiwix server based on a Raspberry Pi and Pirate Box is being developed in Geneva by Gabriel Thullen, and two prototypes were tested during the 2016 visit. The Kiwix hotspot looks cool and impresses people a lot, but is not very useful in a real BYOD environment, which is the target for the 2016-2017 trial. The Kiwix server works fine if all of the devices are also in 100% working order, and that is not the case for a lot of the computers, tablets and smartphones used in Senegalese schools. Keeping that in mind, 32 GB USB flash drives were used to distribute Kiwix.

When showing the Kiwix program in the high school at Sanghé, a small town about 25 km away from Thiès with no Internet or cell phone coverage, Gabriel was told how a student would use Wikipedia to research information not available to him in his high School. He would take a local taxi or donkey cart to the main road, then grab a taxi-brousse or a bus to go to Thiès. He would go to an Internet café, pay for 30 or 60 minutes of use, and print out the information he was looking for. He would then return home on the bus, get off in the middle of nowhere and walk on the dirt road until a passing vehicle or donkey cart picks him up and takes him the rest of the way to his village. A very time-consuming and expensive way to access Wikipedia. Needless to say, Kiwix was an immediate success...

It would appear that the most successful method of spreading the use of the Kiwix offline Wikipedia reader is by having a hands-on workshop during which each individual participant spends some time looking up information on a subject that they know. The problem with a group presentation is that each attendee will not realize, on a deeply personal level, that an off-line version of Wikipedia will be able to provide information that he or she lacks. This level of understanding then encourages the attendees to share the program further on.

It is also much more effective if there are only a few USB flash drives available to distribute Kiwix. This way, attendees experience how much time it takes to transfer all the information, typically over an hour for the French Wikipedia. If the flash drives are shared during the workshop, they will be shared more outside the workshop. In 2015, each attendee received a USB flash drive, but there was very little file sharing after the workshop was over. It would appear that in 2016, fewer flash drives were given out, but a lot more sharing was done after the workshop was over.

A few Senegalese contacts helped out with the presentations. They were able to work with the attendees, and provide explanations in , which made learning easier, even for the school teachers who use French every day to teach. The different schools will be contacted during the school year, and there will be local help available if needed. The next step in this project will be to prepare a survey and a means of getting feedback from all of the schools and institutions involved at the end of the 2016-2017 school year. Ideally, these reports will be able to determine that the Kiwix offline Wikipedia reader has a positive impact on education as measured by an improvement of exam results.

Working on different levels edit

Gabriel met with the director and staff of the following schools and institutions were he was able to present Kiwix to some of the teachers during a workshop. Most schools were passing the final exams for their students, both the junior high schools (called CEM in Senegal) who were passing the BFEM exams, and the high schools (Lycée) who were passing the baccalaureate exams. This means that most of the teachers were dispatched to other schools all over Senegal, and that most of the teachers present had come from other schools. The impact of the workshops was very much increased, and hopefully Kiwix will spread even more. But the 2016-2017 trial will concentrate on these schools:

  • Thiès: CEM Mamadou Diaw - middle school
  • Thiès: KOCC Barma private school - middle and high school
  • Thiès: University of Thiès, Economic studies faculty
  • Thiès: CRE Thiès - computer center offering free training to the local population.
  • Thiès: US Peace Corps
  • Soune: CEM Soune - middle school (no electricity, no internet)
  • Sanghé: Lycée de Sanghé (no electricity, no internet, no cell phone)
  • Djilor: Lycée de Djilor Saloum (no internet)

The regional office of education of Foundiougne, which covers over 33 CEM (junior-high schools) and 7 lycée mixtes (full secondary schools combining a junior-high and a high school). This will form the second part of the 2016-2017 trial, and the details still need to be worked out. The Kiwix program was presented to the inspectors and their staff during a short workshop, and they are very enthusiastic about the project. Gabriel did not visit any of the schools, with the exception of the Lycée de Djilor, and this part of the project will be completely run by the Senegalese education specialists. This aspect is a very important in empowering the Senegalese schools, and the feedback and reports at the end of the 2016-2017 school year will enable this approach to be fine-tuned. The long-term goal is to spread the use of Kiwix all over Senegal, then all over West Africa.

Gabriel also met with one or two people in charge of the following institutions, and they were introduced to Kiwix. They will share the program with the teachers at their schools, but they will not be included in the 2016-2017 trial. This may change, of course, if most of the teachers of these schools start using Kiwix.

  • Thiès: Ecole Française Dr René Guillot.
  • Matam: CEM Semmé - middle school
  • Bignona: Lycée Djibidione (no Internet)

Contacts were also made with government officials, and the Kiwix program was demonstrated and installed on some of their computers. They should start distributing Kiwix among the schools and institutions in their charge. The CRE (Centre de Recherche et d'Essais) are set up by the Senegalese government in order to educate the general population in the use of modern technologies. The courses they provide are free, and they are very much interested in Kiwix.

  • Dakar: Mayor of Dakar-Liberté.
  • Dakar: Coordinator of the CRE research centers in Senegal.

The 2016 trial has used a maximum of different channels in order to determine which one is most effective in bringing Kiwix to those who really can benefit from it. They may turn out to be complementary, or the reports might just prove that Kiwix has no added value, even in places with absolutely no access to the Internet. We will just have to wait and see the results.

Read more about the Wikipedia Education Program in Senegal here.

By Tighe Flanagan (WMF)

Snippet: WMF and WikiEd Develop New Dashboard for Education Courses on Wikimedia Projects

The WMF education team has been working with the Wiki Education Foundation (“WikiEd”) to adapt their dashboard software for our global community. The WikiEd Dashboard allows users to easily plan and manage courses and track student contributions, and allows their organization to quickly pull data from all registered courses. A group of people at the Wikimedia Foundation have been working with WikiEd to develop a version of this software that will be available to program leaders across the Wikimedia movement, making it work on every wiki and every language.

The WMF education team had internal support from the WMF Fundraising Tech team this past February. We currently contracting directly with WikiEd through the end of June 2016 to internationalize feature development. We look forward to sharing the progress that we make in the next two months!

Read more about Wikipedia Education Program dashboard here.

  • Can librarians fix Wikipedia's gender gap? (The Week) — The Knight News Challenge is giving a grant to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which will launch a program connecting library resources to Wikipedia.