From Wikimania 2016 • Esino Lario, Italy


Collaborations in education projects : discussing Pros and Cons, Challenges and Opportunities


The Discussion Room is a space for open and facilitated discussions at Wikimania. Participation of the audience in the session is critical, because there are no speakers, and there is no expert panel!

3 rules are the basis:

  • Focus on YOU. We are interested in discussing and triggering individual action, things people can personally do and change to improve our Wikimedia projects and movement. We trust the discussion can be much more interesting if we do not focus on what others should do ("the others", Wikimedia chapters and Wikimedia Foundation).
  • Be constructive and polite. Disagreements animate discussions and they can allow us to unfold all issues related to a topic. Let's avoid personal attacks, let's consider that we have different backgrounds and let's aim at making everybody comfortable in sharing their legitimate point of view.
  • Be short and on topic. Let's create space for everyone to express his/her opinion.


Getting an overview of best practices and lessons from the most successful education projects, which can be scaled.

Starting questions

  • Who has ever run an education project?
  • Students bring more trouble than value to the projects
  • Editors are hostile towards students trying their best to edit constructively


(not an exhaustive list)

  1. facilitator; Lodewijk
  2. notes; Liam
  3. Violetova
  4. geraki
  5. Hadi
  6. cheers!, vi.wikipedia
  7. Ата
  8. Lluis_tgn


  • "have you run an education project?" - most people in the room.
  • "who has heard other wikipedians say that 'students bring more trouble than help'?" - many people in the room.

Israel summary (by Shay); - working in three main areas. academia (25 courses); teacher training programs; secondary school children. Deror: - working with 7-9th grade students for a few years now. We need to find enthusiastic teachers FIRST, and need the teacher involved throughout (e.g. class discipline) - Need to check the articles in the draft format before they go live. - what do we want as the result of this project?? New articles, or new wikipedians? - We have allowed students to chose articles from a list of redlinks, or from translations from English (content translation tool), but don't know if we should be allowing them to chose their own subjects for writing - At the end of the year 2 students out of every class of 20 continued to be editors.

Different motivations/goals for education projects:

  • Tec de Monterrey - when you're disconnected from the "real world" the students are not motivated for thier assignments. Wikipedia gives them a different motivation.
  • Germany - Policy Making with relevant Stakeholders to have Open Educational Resources integrated into the school system. (Approach is similar to one WM UK) Find more about the project (funded by the german government MappingOER https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Deutschland/Mapping_OER
  • South Africa - getting more editors!
  • Serbia - make high quality papers available to the public more widely
  • allowing the students to feel like they can be creators of content, not just consumers of knowledge.
  • Israel - improve the quality of the articles about a subject important to the curriculum.
  • Australia - access specialist knowledge of [higher education] students; mutual benefit for the students about learning how to write in different forms.
  • UK - "a more tolerant, informed, and active society" using open knowledge.
  • GenderGap - specific topic focus across a wider instution (WiR at a university) to improve coverage of the topic area.
  • Greece - local culture digitised and accessible for the first time to the wider world.
  • UK - a need to deliver public outreach
  • teaching students how to do research and critically analyse information sources - Information literacy.

Shani: We have diverse stakeholders - students, teachers, institutions, wikipedians, the general public - each with different goals and motivations Deror: the goals can be divided into two groups. New content creation, and teacher/student training for better understanding of information sources. Whiteghost: if this is an education program, it MUST have educational outcomes identified for the STUDENTS, not just goals for wikimedians (content creation etc.). Shay: Agreeed with Whiteghost. Need to identify the educational needs for students and teachers.

How do we find the right teacher?
Germany - our education system is not fit for digital accessible information, the democratisation of access to information. How do we scale our resources? Shani - some countries are working top down (working with ministry of culure...) and some are working bottom-up (with individual classes...) Santi (Spain) - the teachers find us, at least at the smaller chapters. It is better to look through the community whio are already active and support them.

Risks/what not to do:

  • Whiteghost: Beware of journalists! If they want to "make a story" about WP in education their goals will be different from the educational needs of students or the needs of wikimedians/Wikimedia.
  • WMF: There are lots of goals or outcomes, but you need to know what your goals are FIRST before you design your program. Also, the goal of "more editors" isnt sustainable.
  • Catalonia/Amical: The students need to chose the topic. The student is motivated when they understand the topic.
  • Shani: However, having a list of 'what is missing' that the students can chose from is productive.
  • Tec de Monterrey: You have to tailor WP to that institution's needs, what they want, first.
  • Shay: Some teachers are afraid (using it, editing it, citing it...), get them to work offline first or work with the students at the same time.
  • University of Edinburgh: we have good examples of schools within the wider institution documenting their own experience and teaching each other (helping each other learn)

Goals: translate skill, not paraphrase, online interactive, citations. Let students know what data they can/can't use when they make their thesis or other reports.

takeaway points

  • We recommend MORE ENTHUSIASM.
  • Identify your learning goals first - "what's in it for them?"
  • The outcomes can be different from what you expect.
  • Don't force it. let the students and teachers lead. (don't force the students to do what we all do as volunteers)

Follow up contacts/links:

Facebook group you may want to join: [1]