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Brazil Program/Education program/Learning

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Learning Points[edit]

General lessons[edit]

  • Professors time: Professors have a very tight schedule to go through all their contents and are usually very concerned about making use of a certain period of their classes to train students about how to edit Wikipedia.
  • Planning: Professor very often are uncertain about the disciplines and how many classes they are going to teach before the semester starts, having limited information to plan in advance the activities. The hard time to plan in advance also seems to be a matter of culture.
    • From the pilot in Brazil, the most succefull cases were the courses where professors have planned in advance when the wiki activities were going to happen and kept a close conversasion with the campus ambassador responsible for the course.
  • Model for the wiki assignments: while we tried to keep most wiki activities on draft pages (subpages), we have learned that this model can be a slow* process of articles creation in the main domain of Wikipedia. This can be seen from the list of articles of the pilot. (*Note: wouldn't this be the necessary speedy for a good content creation and without influencing the pedagogical method led by the professor?)
    • Citing sources and dissertative writing: This model can guarantee students to focus on the content itself, but when you don't use Wikipedia platform during the semester, as it was the case of one course, it can be really difficult for students to train how to cite sources along the text or in a less dissertative writing they are used to.
  • Comparing programs infrastructures and resources: it is fundamental to understand and learn about the organizational and staff needs from the other programs (e. g., Cairo pilot). It was not possible to learn (only to guess rightly) about the huge difference of support among WMF education programs only though skype meetings and partial reports. Face to face contact and meetings, with the right questions, could teach us all this, which was also not possible beforehand, maybe because the nature of the job position (a tip from the Cairo report that maybe is appliable for the Brazilian pilot? "Don't put contractors into key roles for a pilot project like this.")


Universities on strike[edit]

Various federal universities are on strike, which limits semester planning. This brings up some decisions for us to make:

  • Should we not work with those schools which have a high potential for being on strike?
  • Should we not work "officially" with this schools, but adopt interested professors as partners?
  • Should we limit our # of classes at these schools?
  • Should we treat them like any other school?

These are going to be important for us to answer as we look at the open calls for the 2nd semester 2012.

Open Source Software Development course, USP (Jan-Feb 2012)[edit]

For full text, see the reflection written by some students: /Case study USP2012

Main learning points:

  1. The current set-up on PT Wikipedia reverts many good-faith new editors
  2. Without ambassadors, even really highly qualified editors (phd students editing on their topic areas!) have a rough time
  3. The first 30 days for new editors is the most brutal as they are under strict watch and lack certain permissions

Política Cultural (Pablo Ortellado)[edit]

On campus with some ambassadors: May 4[edit]

Since we have not seen almost any Wikipedia activity so far and students seem not to answer our emails, we have been to this campus last week. There was a debate with some lecturer going on when we arrived at the end of the class, then we started our activities to invite students to sign up to Wikipedia after class time. Five students out of fifteen (the course has about thirty students, but only half was present!) have accepted to have a Wikipedia account created.

A group of students have also shown one of the articles they are creating and discussed some issues about it, if a source is reliable, where they could add some of the documents used (the professor recommended Wikisources) and so on. The article of 9 pages was created collaboratively using google docs. It was discussed also the possibility of spliting the articles in two because of its size.

One of the students is going to send the article file for us add on Wikipedia subpage, so that we can engage them in Wikipedia activities.

It is also interesting to note that the lecture came talk to us about him trying to add some content in Wikipedia, but it was deleted with the argument of copyright violation. He answered wikipedians that the deleted content was created by him, but there was no answer after that. We need analyse this case, because it is not the first time we see such misconception inside Wikipedia in Portuguese community.


This are experiences learned from activities and talks with ambassadors.

Marina Jó and Vitor[edit]

Visit at USP East campus on May 4. We have mostly discussed about the event we are organizing at USP, but ambassadors have reported the situation of Vera's class:

  • They have organized by themselves a time schedule when they can meet students during the last part of the course. This was finished at the end of last week and some students are already starting to set a day when they can work together with ambassadors. I am included in all these emails.
  • The professor has just finish to teach the subjects she was supposed to do. Accoding to what she said to ambassadors, it'd be difficult to have them editing before that. That is similar to what we have seen on previous experiences here in Brazil, when students started editing the articles proposed at the end of the semester.
  • We have 8 students out of 12 interested in these activities. We have to check how many of them will engage into this optional activity - that can be part of their final mark, according to ambassador, but they could not precise how much it will be.

Dedication time[edit]

  • It is possible ambassadors will not have the same time every week depending on their personal and professional activities. An example is when they are in their exams period. This has to be asked to ambassadors in advance, when possible.

Wikipedia in Portuguese[edit]


  • Sitenotice: after one week with a sitenotice inviting readers to become an ambassador, we have had 100+ subscriptions. A great majority editors lacking any experience and only few experienced ones, that at the end didn't answer our e-mails, were not on places we could work or didn't apply for being an online ambassador in the wiki.
  • Tutor program: Since we recommend volunteers willing to become ambassadors to do the tutor program, we have had in a short period 15+ subscriptions, one thing the volunteer lead this program haven't seen for years. After calling attention about this to the community on our village pump,in less than one day 13 users were adopted by tutors. The community even began to question about the retention of this program (1/3 according to their analysis).
  • Conflict of experts and wikipedians: since we began to work in the program, we have heard of and observed a lot of cases of conflicts between wikipedians and experts of different fields that tried to contribute to Wikipedia. Sometimes we could check the wikipedians were right, but the initial treatment was hostile so that a further discussion between the involved parts was not possible. Professors tried to contact the contractors in Brazil (catalyst and education) thinking we had some authority over the community and that we should interfeer.


  • Translation no in PT_BR: Students from the top univesities faced difficulties in understanding translations to the Portuguese of Portugal when registering - I've seen the same problem when people tried to donate. If this is a obstacle for students from top universities, how many new registered contributors aren't we loosing?
  • CAPTCHA: this tool to avoid spam is a real big obstacle to new editors. It is in English and in the first edits, when users should have a good experience, they are obliged to input a text in a language they barely know and for every single edit.

There might be other basic technical barries for new contributors.


Annie Skype call with Juliana, Otavio, Leila, and Fabricio at UNIRIO, Friday September 2nd, 2011[edit]

I had a Skype call today with Juliana (the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro State (UNIRIO) professor who was at the Summit in Boston and is doing a Wikipedia assignment in her class this semester), along with her Campus Ambassador Otavio (Wikipedian community member), her colleague Leila (UNIRIO professor also interested in participating in the program), and Leila's potential Campus Ambassador Fabricio. We talked a lot about how Juliana's class is going so far, challenges they're facing, and potential means of addressing those challenges; they also had many questions about WMF's education program plan in Brazil. Below are some of my main takeaways and learning points from this conversation:

  • Juliana is very excited about the education program, and she has been spreading her excitement to colleagues at her university.
  • The Portugese Wikipedian community has indeed been difficult to deal with. Some of Juliana's students had their articles deleted because there weren't a lot of content on their entries yet - the community seems to be jumping to deletions without giving students a chance to further develop their articles. There are only about 35 admins on the Portuguese Wikipedia who are doing most of the work on that Wikipedia.
  • Active communication, awareness-raising, and relationship-building with the (very small) Portugese Wikipedia community seems extremely important to the success of Wikipedia classroom assignments in Brazil. Juliana and Otavio have both been highly proactive in communicating with the Portugese Wikipedian community, especially when problems like the previous bullet point occur. By "proactive," I mean that Juliana and Otavio would track down Wikipedians via all means possible - on-wiki, over email, over Skype, over Facebook - in order to talk to them about why they might have deleted a student's work and to try to convince those Wikipedians to do otherwise. This has not always worked, but it does seem to be helping in gradually (slowly) making the community "nicer" to students. Juliana also mentioned the importance for professors to be humble and open and collaborative in front of the Wikipedian community - a Portugese professor tried to do a Wikipedia assignment some years ago but put on a professorial attitude (i.e. "I'm a professor so I don't need to listen to you") which resulted in him being banned from the Portugese Wikipedia and also bad feelings on the Wikipedians' part toward Wikipedia class assignments! So far Juliana and Otavio have been super proactive in communicating with Portugese Wikipedians, super open and willing to listen, and super patient in explaining the objectives of the class, which seems to be working - albeit slowly - in making Wikipedians nicer toward students. These kinds of conversations seem crucial for the Brazilian program.
  • Following the previous point, I suggested that sometime down the line, we organize an IRC conversation among some WMF education staff, Brazilian professors (like Juliana) and Ambassadors (like Otavio), and as many of the Portugese Wikipedia admins as possible - to further explain the goals of the Global Education Program, talk about how exactly Wikipedia classroom assignments might work on-wiki, discuss how these various parties can work together, and just to build relationships. Juliana and Otavio thought this would be a good idea. (We suggested IRC because apparently many Brazilian Wikipedians do not wish to show their face and disclose who they really are.)
  • Juliana seemed concerned with the Brazil education contractor role (the person Frank is hiring) and asked questions about what exactly this person would be doing. She seemed much more reassured and eased after I explained to her that everyone on the WMF Global Education team - including the Brazil contractor - will be in a support role, and that we are here not to tell professors what to do but to learn from them, collaborate with them, and support them first and foremost. I think it's important to emphasize and re-emphasize this point over and over again with all professors (and chapter members) we work with, so they don't ever feel like our intention is to take over.
  • The title "Fellow" does not make sense in Brazil. Something like "Grant of Productivity" (bolsa de produtividade) is a more commonly used term. Juliana said it would be really great if WMF could provide small grants that reward professors and students who either teach with Wikipedia or do research about this program (or both).

Otavio's opinion[edit]

I have already shared some points with Annie Lin few months ago so I will just resume the main points and if someome have questions please tell me. I kindly ask to send a message at my discussion page at portuguese wiki because I usually don't came here to check watched pages.

1) So far, planning for next semester sounds great. Maybe the number of teacher (5 to 10) looks small, but just like Juliana pointed out somewhere it's very important establish a metodology before spread all over the country the program. The schedule to find campus ambassadors and teacher sounds Ok, too.

2) If campus ambassador don't have experience in wikipedia editing, it's very important a huge training with experienced editors. I put wikipedia in bold letters because I think it's very important to know the wikipedia community and I'm not sure if all wikimedians can do that. They might explain the wiki-code editing but a small explanation about wikipedia community maybe useful.

3) I know that maybe it's not possible to get an experienced editor to became a CA and if the teacher is very excited (very important too) we can deny a chance to start by himself or with an unexperienced CA, so I'd like to emphasize the training as a very important topic. My little experience shows that know basic edit skills and where ask for help can make a great difference.

4) At Juliana's class a mailing list was extremely useful to keep in touch with students and answer their questions, mainly at the end of the semester when they finally started to edit. But we should do it by the wikiway which means use a page of discussion at wikipedia. We could work with a mailing list too but just to advise them that the page was updated because most of them probably won't check this page periodically.

Well, I probably could say more things but I had said a lot too, so I am open to questions about other topics too. I'm trying to check all pages related to the project and I'll try to pass all I learned to Everton in portuguese to help him to develop strategies. OTAVIO1981 13:12, 15 December 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Brought from here. --Tom 05:27, 18 January 2012 (UTC)[reply]

Coffe and interview with professor Juliana, 20 January 2012[edit]

  • Question raised by Juliana: "how much a professor can count on ambassadors?", refering to the sometimes lack of feedback from the online support.
  • According to her, a campus ambassador doesn't need to be a student.
  • Professors that think (mistakenly) that they don't need to learn Wikipedia.
  • Pointed out infrastructure problem at her university or access to it.
  • Possibility of founding for projects involving Wikipedia - which has already succeeded.
  • Event on education and technology: easy to find support.
  • Difficulty: students' motivation at the end of their undergraduate course (some students have given up of their course).
  • On the program: it is not to form Wikipedia editors.
  • What students learn: 1. reading citations, 2. building knowledge, 3. that knowledge is not something ready.
  • Mistake to avoid: to give too much freedom to the student.

Discussions about the program[edit]

Coffe with professor Pablo[edit]

Professor Pablo was very receiptive to the proposal of joining the Wikipedia Education program during our first talk about the WEP. When explaining about the idea of using the knowledge produced during academic activities, such as classes, he even mention the missed opportunity to improve Wikipedia when he was preparing his PHD thesis about a French philosopher.

Lunch with professor Sueli[edit]

I went talk to professor Sueli about Open Knowledge Foundation in Brazil, but I also mention about the WEP. Since she has contact with all libraries of University of São Paulo, she gave the nice idea of having campus ambassadors in each library this university.

This idea of having wikipedians in the libraries of the university came up again when Tom, Sturm and Ozy have made a presentation at University on the 25th of April.

Talk to professor Vera[edit]

Professor Vera got very interested, but I went talk to her near her vacation, so she would take one more to come back to talk to me. We talked only a fews days before the trainning day before the semester started when she confirmed by phone she would like to join the program, as she previously said she would do.

Unfortunaly in the trainning day some problem appeared to her, hence she could know attend, postponing a bit a more detailed talk with the professor and ambassadors. This made the introduction about the program - made by the professor - to the students get a bit late than expected.

Talk to professor João[edit]

Professor João, a prominent professor at USP because of his mathematical physics book, thought the program could be more interesting to his scientific tranning students rather than if applied during his classes. He asked if students should translate or create original Wikipedia articles in Portuguese, where I answered the idea was to created original content.

Talk to professor Oscar and Renata[edit]

Professor Oscar and professor Renata have created a weekly meeting for talking about popular science (see [fma.if.usp.br/convite/ Convite a Física]), but this year both are working in France. Both are very commited to education and often produce their own physics educational resources. They found interesting the program, but we should talk to them later.

The possibility of having a lecture during the "Convite à Física" should be sounded by us.

Talk to graduate students[edit]

Discussing with graduate students during the fist semester of 2012 about the program (about 10), some has shown interest in the program and it was suggested by a professor we should invest time to get heir help. There are students, mainly those with a more academic field and full time dedicated to their research, usually have time for producing educational resource related to their fileds. How to engage them to help the Wikipedia Education Program? How many would be avaible and willing to do so?

Vising Brazilian universities campi[edit]

Learning points when visiting universities campi, their infra-structures, and talking to universities members (students, researchers, staff etc.) about the program, inside the classroom and outside.

USP - campus zona leste (EACH)[edit]

Infra-structure: There is a nice computer lab shown for us by professor Fernando A. which can be used by professors in this institution who might be interested in a more active Wikipedia activity during their courses.

The campus has Internet wifi connection, but not for guests, then we need to have a login and password from some student or professor.

Institutionalization: WMF has the director support and we need to return to talk to him again for the second semester - network made also by Fernando A..

Pune Pilot[edit]

There are various post-mortems being done the Pune Pilot in India, one of which was written up by qualitative researcher Tori Read. The report, available here, elucidates a few points that are particularly relevant to Brazil. Some thoughts on the takeaways for Brazil:

  • Communication: We need communicate early with the Portuguese Wikipedia editors. Right now we are only engaging with the Brazilian Wikimedia Community, but it is actually the full Portuguese community who will be dealing with the contributions from this project. Some suggestions on places to start doing this actively (inviting them to participate in the forming of the program):
    • Post on Village Pump about the project
    • Post on different notice boards (which ones?)

Extend the contents of the Wikipedia Education Program page in Portuguese so it is easy for people to find ON Wikipedia. Make email messages public (e.g., if communication with Campus Ambassadors happens on a Google Group, make sure that is public and linked to the wiki)

  • Volunteers: We really need to figure out a way to leverage them most effectively! Involving them heavily in both EXECUTING the training as well as CREATING the training materials could really help.
    • Question: how to most effectively use the expertise of the community?
    • Question: how to elicit the help of the community?
  • Training content: We need to make sure the training contains plenty of information about copyvios and plagarism
  • Assignments: It seems making the assignments non-mandatory is important to quality assurance. We should consider how we can support professors in making the assignment optional and yet still getting the most motivated students to be involved
    • Question: can we offer a "reward" to those students who successfully choose a Wiki assignment? Or is there another incentive?
  • Course topics: It would be awesome if we could direct the students in the program to specific course topics, so that we could notify the primary editors of those topics. Also, it would be helpful to direct students in this way towards articles that actually need help!
    • Question: could we direct students to the articles that still have gaps in them following the Grand Prix?
    • Question: are there WikiProjects in pt.wp?
  • Size of the program: I know we had said 200 students for the size of the program, but now i'm wondering if we focus instead on 100? As there are only 200 very active editors, this would still be a very demanding load on them.
  • Measurement: It doesn't look like there are very clear markers of success in the program, but one thing is certain: we need to be able to track our students! We should _require_ all students who are participating to post up their usernames on the course page, and to add a flag to the education program on their user account. Perhaps this could be done in a lab the first day the campus ambassadors go into the class.