Brazil Program/Education program/Background

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The launch of a Brazil pilot requires some significant analysis of (a) university system in Brazil, (b) past efforts in the university classroom, and (c) current Brazilian Wikimedia and Portuguese Wikipedia community situation. Much of that information was gathered through on-the-ground work.

Brazil university system[edit]

  1. In Brazil, top universities are usually publicly funded (federal and/or state).
  2. Scientific production concentration in São Paulo state, mostly at University of São Paulo (1/3 of scientific research is produced there)
  3. Top universities, which generally are public, have much more difficult entrance exam requirements, mainly for the most prestigious areas of study, such as medicine and engineering. Best students usualy come from private secondary schools.
  4. A few chains of private schools exist offering stronger programs, such as PUC.
  5. Boom of low-level private universities in the 90's, with very low entrance exam requirements, so the level of the students are, on average, low. That said, some of these universities have really good infrastructure, sometimes much better than public ones. They also tend to leverage large market educational resources, which are usually expensive and of low quality.

Top universities[edit]

The two specific schools we are considering for the pilot are USP and UNIRIO. Judging these based on the criteria laid out in the Global Education Program strategy, they both are attractive options:

  1. Educating the general public is a shared value among professors/institutions
  2. High receptivity to OER & to Wikipedia
  3. Existing/potential large volunteer base which is interested in participating
  4. A local champion / leader in community exists (e.g., professor, student)

Included in the table are other top schools which have expressed interest. As of March 2012, we have decided to also work with these schools.

School 1. General education quality 2. OER and Wikipedia receptivity 3. Volunteer base 4. Community leaders
University of São Paulo
  • Rank #1 in Brazil[1]
  • Incredibly strong in the sciences
  • Have department on FLOSS competence
  • Experience hosting open education institutions
  • Some lecturers are Wikimedians
  • Many professors familiar with Wikimedia
  • Location in Sao Paulo enables easier access by largest volunteer community
    • Rank #77 in Brazil[2]
  • Newer; established only in 1979
  • Professor Juliana has succeeded in creating programs involving the university in activities with Wikipedia
  • Prof. Juliana Bastos headed up the effort in the final semester in 2011, with great results
  • Already have one campus ambassador which exists and eager to continue helping (Otavio)
  • Handful of Wikipedians in Rio who would be in close proximity
  • Rank #9 in Brazil[3]
  • Multi-campus university (23 locations around Sao Paulo)
  • Produces 8% of scientific research[4]
  • Good reception by the media sector of the university through professor Heloisa
  • In touch with the univeristy publisher, one of the best university publishers in Brazil and looking forward new technologies
  • In touch with the elearning sector of this university
  • Jaider, very concerned about wikibooks, has been a campus ambassador there, one of the first in Brazil, but this semester is very busy with his masters. He can help to outreach at UNESP.
  • Not close to network of Wikipedians
  • Rank #4 in Brazil[5]
  • Largest federal university in the country
  • Vinicius Siqueira and Claudio Barbosa, two very experienced wikipedians, study there.
  • Handful of Wikipedians in Rio who would be in close proximity


One of the keys for the project success is professors motivation to join the program. All Brazilian professors have to add their activities on their Lattes Curriculum, which is how they advertise their work among Brazilian academia. A field for Education and Popularization of Science and Technology was added on July 22 (page 94), which included social networks, sites and blogs. This can be useful as a motivation for professors to join the program, since the WEP can be included on their curriculum.

Past efforts[edit]

There have been a few professors who have tried to incorporate the editing of Portuguese Wikipedia into their classrooms with varying degrees of success. Bassed on a series of interviews, we pulled together the following points:

  1. The Professor must know how to edit Wikipedia, so that s/he can help the students in the class
  2. An excellent Campus Ambassador is an absolute must - and this ambassador should be within the community
  3. The articles that are edited by students should have flags on them so that other editors know who it is that is editing the articles
  4. Students should edit in the sandbox first

Brazil Wikimedia and Portuguese Wikipedia communities[edit]

Wikimedia Brazil[edit]

Historically, there has been no consensus on having a chapter within Brazil, but after years of contention, part of the community has finally coalesced around the idea of forming a legal entity. That said, it will be organized as follows:

  • movement for free culture (Wikimedia Brasil)
    • legal entity (chapter)
    • mutirões (endorsed by chapter and all volunteers)
    • outreach and volunteers support (Wikimedia Foundation office)

Portuguese Wikipedia[edit]

  • ~6K editors per month (> 1 edits) [6]
  • ~2K active editors per month (>5 edits)[7]
  • ~300 very active editors per month (>100 edits) [8]
  • ~40 administrators [9]

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats[edit]

This pilot education program will focus on how to raise awareness on the usage of Wikipedia as an educational resource on Brazilian universities, mentioning other Wikimedia Foundation projects when convenient. At this first semester of 2012, the ambassadors program will be experienced in some of the best universities in the country, limited to a small number of professors (around 5). The ambassadors program was already used on a few classes in 2011, with some successful and others not so strong of results. This analysis will report some of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the pilot program.


  • Passion of committed volunteers
  • Staff to be hired in Brazil, which will aid in the running of the program
  • Some public universities commited to education/teaching, beyond research, so professors have to produce educational resources
  • We have (how many? which fraction? it seems a minority, even on place which has education as one of its pillars) of researchers who produce educational resources who can be used to remix on our projects if we explain about free licensing
  • E-learning is increasing a lot (citation needed) to address the lack of universities, which has also growing up a lot in the last decade (citation needed), but it doesn't seem enough


  • Community
    • Number of committed volunteers
    • Not a strong history of mentorship programs
  • Cultural
    • Brazil doesn't have a tradition of producing its own content
    • Most professors don't produce original educational resources, they are used to translate (my impression on our lack of originality, we usually translate Americans and Europeans or study the originals)
    • Volunteer work is usually not well planned[10]
  • Resources
    • Lack of good educational resources in Portuguese
    • Educational resources are expensive
    • Lack of (good) public libraries
    • Lack of infrastructure
    • Lack of exposure to different digital platforms[11]
    • Internal problems may interfeer with the fight for the already scarce resources


  • Besides the lack of good schools and a poor education system, among the approximately 200 million Brazilians, we still have a lot of potential contributors to WMF projects: school teachers, university professors, undergraduate and graduate students, cultural producers, those who have had access to a better education, indigenous people, retired, popular artists, etc.
  • Universities have been expanding more recently (during Lula's government - citation needed), but there is a longer tradition of classic universities, mainly in the southeast and south of the country, which produce a high amount of scientific and educational resources (e. g. University of São Paulo produces one third of the scientific publication in the country). We need to explore those who are committed to education...
  • Brazil is entering more into the global landscape, and there is energy towards compiling information to share broadly.


  • Professors join the ambassadors program but don't have the needed support to have a successful experience with Wikipedia
  • We don't find enough ambassadors for support the classes joining the program
  • The newcomers don't get a good welcome from the actual Wikipedia community
  • Students are not willing to learn the complexities of editing, and only try to complete assignments quickly, for a grade.
  • Since tasks on Wikipedia are not mandatory, students may not use Wikipedia at all
  • Professors will not see any significance in using Wikipedia as a pedagogical tool
  • Train people interested in the program to become independent volunteers


  • If we work directly in the main domain, we can have conflicts of the community with professors and students
  • Using the sandbox model, it will be dififcult to merge the results to the main domain of Wikipedia
  • The program won't be useful for increasing the number of articles and edit (see scholarpeadia and citizendum examples)
  • Lack of capacity for support
  • Missing volunteers that applied to be ambassadors in case we don't engage them somehow

Actions to prevent threats to become true[edit]

  • Upload content in Wikipedia in the middle of the semester as a draft, when articles are already reasonable
  • Create a page with a list of articles that should be merged and ask for wikipedians help

How we are going to approach these challenges[edit]

Community involvement[edit]

Community initiates and runs the program

This project was started by community members with only the encouragement of WMF! Long ago, a few professors started doing some work in the classroom, though they struggled without institutional support. In September 2011, a professor at UNIRIO started a program based loosely off of the United States Education Program model, but it was not directly supported by the GEP team at WMF. Instead, WMF supported her to let her pave the way! We are now supporting those grassroots efforts more intentionally.

Since the process is so community developed, we are continuing to operate in this model by doing all the strategic planning/analysis on the meta.wikimedia pages, so that the community can chime directly in and steer the direction of the program. We believe this is entirely necessary not only in order to have buy-in from the community, but more importantly so that we can develop the best and most applicable education program specifically tailored towards Brazil.

Community conducts training

We are involving community in all aspects of the project. In addition to the planning component mentioned above, we are also prioritizing the involvement of Wikimedians as Campus Ambassadors, maintaining a ~75% rate of Campus Ambassadors being Wikimedians previously. In addition, we are going to involve local Wiki[p/m]ians in the training of the professors and CAs, so that all parties involved can get to know each other and better understand.

Format of the program[edit]

Starting the program small

We are starting small, so that the Portuguese Wikipedia is not overwhelmed by an influx of new users. This means capping the number of professors at five, and the number of supported cities at two, so that we can leverage the same volunteer base of ambassadors. We want <200 students, so that our Portuguese editors are not completely drowned out! We also are going to continue to focus on small classrooms given the large lack of exposure to Wikipedia, with no more than 30 students per classroom.

Brazilian leadership

The pilot program is being steered directly by a Brazilian community member who is, well, Brazilian! This way there isn't a disconnect in terms of language or culture, and also it provides immediate and direct support to faculty. He is also a direct liaison into the Portuguese Wikipedia community.

Conducting training to teach about Wikipedia

We are incorporating new training guidelines based on the findings of the Pune Pilot program. In particular:

  • Mandatory professor orientation.
  • Increased exposure to copyright and plagiarism issues during training.

Format of the assignment[edit]

Assignments not mandatory

Allowing the overall Wikipedia assignment to be an optional choice in the course's curriculum could help weed out those students who are least interested in participating at a deeper, highest quality level.

Have students edit in subpages or sandboxes

Requiring students to learn how to edit and build out high quality content under the direction of their ambassadors will allow the students space to learn and develop their content without having to push rough edits out into the main article space beforehand.

Give incremental/small tasks throughout the semester

Writing an article in an encyclopedia is tough work! Segmenting the work and learning WikiText in manageable pieces is important to the growth of the students as Wikipedia editors.


  1. SJTU Rankings
  2. SJTU Rankings; but note, the [[ English Wikipedia article says #23
  3. SJTU Rankings
  4. See [[w:pt:Universidade_Estadual_Paulista|]]
  5. SJTU Rankings
  6. See PT.WP research - editors (excludes bots)
  7. See PT.WP research - active editors (excludes bots)
  8. See PT.WP research - very active editors (excludes bots)
  9. See Why don't you want to be an admin?, in Portuguese - December 2011)
  10. "Unesp é primeira parceira do Wikipedia no Brasil", IT Careers - Convergência Digital, 09 Feb, 2012.
  11. "Unesp é primeira parceira do Wikipedia no Brasil", IT Careers - Convergência Digital, 09 Feb, 2012.