Brazil Program/Education program/Communication/wmfblog-201203

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Wikipedia Education Program pilot kicks off in Brazilian universities


  • Introduction: Previous experience in Brazil, plan ahead in short words and some examples
  • The initial steps of the program: outreaching inside universities and recruiting ambassadors
  • Planning the program and our goals: increasing the number of classes, Wikipedia editors and WMF projects
  • Conclusion: future of the program, scaling and turning it a sustainable national program (mention "extension program" at UNIRIO)


Programa Wikipédia no Ensino: Universidade
Programa Wikipédia no Ensino: Universidade

Even before the Wikimedia Foundation launched its pilot Wikipedia Education Program in Brazil, professor Juliana Bastos Marques, together with Campus Ambassador Otavio Louvem, demonstrated successful work using Wikipedia inside a university, where more than 20 students considerably improved articles quality about Roman history. This course was a single example of a successful pair, together with Online Ambassadors, working with students in a university to improve Portuguese Wikipedia articles.

The quality contributions made by Juliana's students, along with the lessons we learned from other Wikipedia in higher education programs around the world, brought up a few questions for the Brazilian community: Should we scale the Wikipedia Education Program throughout Brazil? And if so, how can we do in a sustainable and community-driven way?

Professors and ambassadors training

To begin answering these questions, we decided to run a pilot education program in Brazil, customizing the model of classroom incorporation that have been used globally by professors. At the end of 2011 and beginning of 2012, we talked to professors from universities in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro with the hopes of forming a small pilot. Overall, professors had a positive response about the idea of using Wikipedia as a pedagogical tool during their classes. After much thinking on the best way to create a good pilot, we opted to keep this pilot small for a better understanding of how to expand the program in the second semester, and agreed to work with five carefully selected professors from more traditional universities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro (see the detailed Brazil pilot program plan). History, sociology, physics, and public policy are the fields of knowledge that will be covered, with about 150 students working to improve existent articles or to create new ones.

In addition to professors, we also began to recruit Ambassadors, a quite complex task considering the geographic logistic of all classes that joined the program. Wikipedians already involved with Wikipedia Education Program were incredible helpful in recruiting new Ambassadors, and likewise the local Wikimedia Brasil meet-ups were essential to spread awareness about the project and explain opportunities for involvement. Wikipedians from Portugal stepped up to help support the Brazilian classes virtually and are helping also organize the project page; they have even started outreach about the program in their country!

These Brazilian Wikimedians and Portuguese language Wikipedians from around the world have asked tough questions, strategized about implementation, and volunteered to serve as Online and Campus Ambassadors. We are thrilled to be working with a great group of Ambassador volunteers alongside the professors. Professors are being creative in deciding what sort of a classroom model would work best to meet the purposes of their specific coursework and students' abilities and interests, and we will be following closely the outcome of the different models.

For example, at University of São Paulo (USP), the largest in South America and one of the most traditional in Brazil, professor Pablo Ortellado has asked his students to write in groups encyclopedic articles on Cultural Policy. From the 11 proposed articles, only one already exists. At Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), professor Edivaldo Moura, a particle physics researcher, has adopted another strategy among his students of electromagnetism. Each of his thirteen students has chosen an article related to electromagnetism, from Gauss Law to Maxwell Equations. Another physicist joining the program, Professor Vera Henriques, also from USP, will have her graduate students of bio systems improving Wikipedia. Professor Heloisa Pait, from UNESP, is giving tasks on Wikipedia for her sociology students explore their cultural memories. Finally, Professor Juliana Bastos Marques will stimulate her 60 freshmen students to explore concepts around Wikipedia during her History class, and they can attend an extension program she has created together with Federal University of Rio de Janeiro State (UNIRIO), where she teaches.

We are eagerly anticipating the outcomes of this semester! These different models will provide ample diversity for reflection at the end of semester, and we will be tracking student contributions and motivations to gauge effectiveness of the program. If you are interested in supporting the program, please reach out and introduce yourself on the Ambassador page or send an email to wu-suporte AT googlegroups DOT com!

Global, Wikipedia Education Program,
Brazil, Education, university, Wikipedia, USP, UNIRIO, UNESP, UFRJ

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