Critical issues presentations/Open Education: the next big thing for Wikimedia and free knowledge

From Wikimania 2016 • Esino Lario, Italy
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Submission no. 142
Title of the submission

Open Education: the next big thing for Wikimedia and free knowledge

Author of the submission
  • Valentin Muenscher
  • Tomasz Ganicz
  • Anna Koval
Country of origin

Germany; Poland; United States of America


other, Outreach, Policy

  • Open Education
  • Open Educational Resources
  • Free Knowledge
  • Education

Can Open Education be the next big thing for Wikimedia and Free Knowledge? Yes, it can! When it comes to securing and promoting free knowledge and open education, a political and legal framework is of central importance. For example, advocating in order to change the copyright so more content is freely available and useable. Or changing educational system to be more open. Or raising public awareness. Or convincing politicians. Or withstanding the power of traditional publishers. This work is not easy and you need a lot of breath on such a long run. But imagine what would happen if all publicly-financed educational resources were free - not "free as in beer" but "free as in libre" - the Wikimedian sense of freedom.

In this session, we would like to present our learnings around advocating Open Education as Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). “We” are three organisations of the Wikimedia movement: Wikimedia Polska, Wikimedia Deutschland, and the Wikimedia Foundation. We would like to share our experiences from local projects concerning Open Education and connect them to future prospects of movement-wide Open Educational Resources (OER) work.

As part of Free Knowledge, OER can be seen as a key to open doors for Open Education. OER the practical work of teachers, lectures and students. OER is already in use around the world, though only in small proportions and often not labeled explicitly as OER - for example, the Wikimedia projects. Networks with politicians and civil societies and connections for further engagements are the key to establish a “practice of open” in society. In this session, we would like to talk about our work and experience effectively doing that and discuss what the movement can take out of it.

Wikimedia Polska was actively involved in advocacy for various issues regarding copyright law and legislation around access to public information/data. This means silent screening the legislative work of the Polish Parliament - as well as the European Parliament, being involved in public consultation for bills and amendments projects, as well as organising noisy social campaigns. We also arranged a contest on Wikipedia to help to collect free media for open-licensed school e-textbooks as part of a governmental project. Although we provided almost all of the needed media, the governmental project jammed mainly due to traditional publishers counter PR actions.

Wikimedia Deutschland's Mapping OER programme is a nationwide pilot project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research aimed to identify the challenges of OER in practice and to present ideas on how to implement OER broadly into the German education system. There are four central topics: quality assurance, qualification, licensing, and business models. To address these matters, we chose a multi-stakeholder approach, involving politicians, teachers, administration, content producers and publishers. Otherwise there was a risk of ending up with results and ideas that were not feasible for education or legal practices or which did not support the everyday work of users. Meanwhile, Wikimedia Deutschland and other non-governmental organisations started a coalition of Open Education to allow for the strategic positioning and collaborative writing of statements and political position papers about OER.

The Wikimedia Foundation, as the umbrella organization, supports a worldwide network of Wikimedia Chapters and Wikimedia User Groups, like Wikimedia Polska and Wikimedia Deutschland, and it supports their public policy work to promote free knowledge and open educational resources. This network supports the local people and projects that create and share Wikipedia and other educational resources in over 280 languages.


Not accepted