Brazil Program/Education program/Learning/Brazil Pilot 1

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Brazil Pilot Stats
  • Number of Universities: 4
  • Number of Campuses: 5
  • Professors who joined the pilot: 5
  • Number of classes: 5
  • Total possible students: 126
  • Number of usernames created: 49
  • Total articles: 31; 20 to mainspace
  • Total bytes: 194,694 (mainspace)
  • Bytes/article: 9735 (4x > average)
  • Number of ambassadors: 17 (8 Campus, 9 Online)


The first semester of the pilot in Brazil, we have worked with four different courses from the beginning and one incorporated later.[1] The two main avenues of evaluation we want to have from these courses are:

  • Direct impact on the Portuguese Wikipedia: Found through looking at pieces of the work done in the classrooms
  • Impact on the participation: Found through talking to students, professors, and ambassadors.

We are still working on the first piece (only about 2/3 of the 31 articles worked by students have been migrated to the mainspace), but the evaluation of the feedback from the participants in the project is done, and provides lots of insights into ways we can improve going forward! Even the fact of having only about 65% of the few articles worked by students during the first phase of this pilot, we can already have some insight of some of its impact on the Portuguese Wikipedia community and externaly.

Key Findings[edit]

The good[edit]

I want to make my full support to the project of Wikipedia in the university...As a teacher of mine said once: 'The best way to learn is to teach someone.' Wikipedia gives us the opportunity of having to teach someone to write and it certainly makes us think more about a certain topic and deepen it. It's a great experience and I'm very grateful to have participated in the project.

Education Program students
  • Important for the Lusophone Wikipedia: Students, ambassadors, and professors agree that this project is important in impacting Wikipedia and encouraging free knowledge in Brazil!
  • Beneficial teaching tool: Students think this is a beneficial teaching tool[2]
  • Students and teachers are promoters of the program: Both professors and students indicate that they are likely to recommend the program to friends or colleagues[3]
  • Community awareness: The community seems to have become more aware of or interested on the program mainly when some results began to appear and they likely will be watching even more closely next semester since we have more courses.
  • Committed ambassadors: We have a group of trained, committed ambassadors for the project, with 100% of ambassadors indicating they would like to participate in some level next semester, although this number is still small.

The not so good[edit]

I think what I missed most were clearer standards for writing of entries...

USP Professor
  • Editing difficulties: the vast majority of students did not edit directly on Wikipedia, and they were confused on syntax, language, and discussion pages.[4]
  • Lack of support materials: Professors likewise had difficulty knowing how to help give students resources to this end..[5]
  • Lack of planning: Very few edits onto the namespace exist, largely because the professors felt unprepared and un-coached in how to incorporate the editing into the classroom.
  • Poor communication: Campus Ambassadors and professors struggled to communicate with each other. Online Ambassadors struggled in communication with everyone.
  • Online Ambassadors: This is by far the largest under-utilized resource for this program. These ambassadors were unclear what their responsibilities were/are, and likewise, Professors, Students, and CAs felt unclear on how to work with them.

Suggestions for improvement[edit]

1: Planning
  • Carefully design the program before the semester so that professors may be able to more carefully incorporate the activities into their classroom. This should include creating clear milestones and requiring some on-Wiki editing activities
  • Have ambassadors and professors meet before the course to plan out how to insert WP activities
  • Coach ambassadors on how they might interact with students throughout the semester
2: Communication
  • Start communication between the different constituents (ambassadors and professors) earlier (see Planning above)
  • Pull together students, ambassadors, and professors to share experiences at the end of the semester
  • Focus communication on email and on-wiki, rather than Skype, IM, IRC.
  • Reach out to ambassadors individually whenever possible
3: Ambassador Training
  • Training for the ambassadors was almost nonexistent, and there were several who were unfamiliar with wiki concepts
  • Coaching ambassadors on how to deal with students and professors is important for the improvement of the project
  • Online ambassadors in particular need to have more in-depth training to better understand their responsibilities and functions
4: Coordinate classroom logistics
  • Schedule ambassadors based primarily on their time and location availability
  • More clear tracking of logistics, for example notifying universities of what is needed for the classes in terms of infrastructure (e.g., computer labs for ambassador days)
5: Provide support materials
  • Useful materials for students and professors, clearly indicating how to edit
  • Material for professors outlining specific suggestions on how to incorporate Wikipedia assignments into the classroom
  • Clear documentation on how to interact with the community online

Classes involved[edit]

Course University Assignment type Types of articles Ambassador Involvement Notes
Cultural Policy (Pablo) USP Non-mandatory; spent the semester writing a long article using sources from the semester and guest speakers. New articles only, constructed outside of wiki and then moved to sandboxes

CAs: Mostly covered by WMF contractor Everton
OAs: 2 assigned

Two classes (one at night and one in the day); Professors was very cautious about editing on Wikipedia. Also: a very prominent professor in Brazil regarding open access and copyright law reform.
Physics (Vera) USP Non-mandatory, with one optional mid-term assignment. The assignment was purely for extracredit Already existing articles

CAs: 3 CAs very eager to be involved
OAs: 2 assigned

Shared class time with other professors, so was not willing to dedicate class time to editing Wikipedia.
Physics (Edivaldo) UFRJ Non-mandatory, with one mid-term assignment. The overall assignment was for extracredit Already existing articles and some new articles

CAs: 1 CA very involved
OAs: 4 assigned

Most active class throughout the semester; strong CA; very complex physics articles.
Memory & Experience (Heloisa) UNESP Non-mandatory with two optional exercises throughout the semester. Most articles already existing

CAs: none
OAs: 4 assigned

Unable to get a CA for this course; there were were distance learners students and in class.
Extension Course (Juliana) UNIRIO Extension course solely about Wikipedia with students from Most articles already existing

CAs: 1
OAs: 3 assigned

This course started during the semester, instead of the other two planed courses, and it has had to stop because of the strike. Students began to depart the course. Very strong CA.

Key challenges going forward[edit]

Wikipedia Ambassadors growth: increase the number of volunteers willing to work as wikipedia ambassadors: inside Wikipedia community and among students inside universities we are working with. Ambassadors should be the main catalystis for new ambassadors together with the professor.

Proposal: We are going to try to circumvent this challenge by putting out an open call for ambassadors on the site notices, as well as requiring professors to recommend one or more students to serve as their campus ambassadors.

More professors joining the program: convince the academia on the importance of sharing free knowledge using Wikipedia and how Wikipedia works. Professors commited to education should understand the importance of making knowledge available freely to everyone and teach this to his students.

Proposal: We are hosting an open call for the professors, expanding our pool of contacts and also increasing our likelihood of working with professors who are compatible with the program.

Good newbies acceptance: contributions from students of courses joining the program should be well accepted by the community, and we have to find ways to convince the community on the importance of having new editors.

Proposal: One way we can approach this is via the Community Relationship position that might be starting with the Brazil Programs team.

Find ways to make a program sustainable: the program should be community driven, where community here is understood as experienced wikipedians and new editors (professors and mostly students).

Proposal: Ongoing!

Open Questions[edit]

  • Should we focus on only a few hubs of universities?
  • How do we avoid becoming the next-Nupedia?


  1. There was a fifth course at UNIRIO, but the professor has created it during the semester as part of an extension course. Other two courses of the same professor that we were supposed to work with were decided not to be part of the program, one because the lack of infrastructure, the other because the professor has decided to remove it.
  2. 93% of students "Agree"/"Strongly Agree" with the survey question asking if a WIkipedia assignment was a beneficial experience (see graph on commons).
  3. Professors answered "Yes" to a questionnaire, while 100% of students responded they would be "Somewhat likely", "Likely" or "Very likely" to do so (see student survey chart.
  4. See student feedback
  5. See Professor feedback