Brazil Program/Reports/May 2012 trip
For the background of the trip, please see the planning document on the Wikimedia Brazil page. This page includes the schedule and summary of the meetings.
The following is the proposed schedule for Barry, Jessie, and Carolina's (with the WMF) trip to Brazil in June. If you have suggestions or augmentations, please add them to the Talk Page
|22 May||Rio de Janeiro||UNIRIO (Education program)||
|22 May||Rio de Janeiro||Education program||
|23 May||Rio de Janeiro||Brazil programs||
|24 May||Rio de Janeiro||Community Outreach||
|24 May||Rio de Janeiro||Education Program Outreach||
|25 May||Sao Paulo||Education Program Outreach||
|26 May||Sao Paulo||Community Outreach||
|27 May||Sao Paulo||Brazil programs||
|28 May||Sao Paulo||Education Program Outreach||
||See notes below|
|28, 30 May||Sao Paulo, Rio||Media||
|29 May||Sao Paulo||Education Program Outreach||
|29 May||Sao Paulo||Education Program Outreach||
|30 May||Rio de Janeiro||National Library (Outreach)||
|31 May||Rio de Janeiro||Human Rights conference||
22 May, Education Program meeting
We were successfully able to get everyone together that is working on the education program currently in Rio: Professors Edivaldo (UFRJ) and Juliana (UNIRIO) and their corresponding ambassadors Vinicius and Otavio. The purpose of the meeting was to (a) reflect a bit on the program thus far and (b) to discuss ideas to strengthen the program going forward.
The main topics we discussed are covered below:
Communication between Ambassadors and Students
A big complication with the education program is the barrier to asking questions by students: they tend to be uncomfortable with the talk page format, as it is not the typically flow of online communication nowadays. While there are certainly pros for the students to learn about how personal talk pages work, there are also small questions for newbies that might be better answered via other formats. Some options we discussed:
- Moodle (for those classes conducted via Moodle) - this would require that the professor grant access to the class information on Moodle to the appropriate ambassadors. It would also require extra work for the ambassadors, as they would have to check a separate website in order to do their work.
- Facebook - all students are already on Facebook, and use it for other means of organizing. This is something we have seen as a successful means of organizing in Cairo. It would also require an extra website for ambassadors to visit, though likely they would already be a part of the network (though not all).
- Talk page - continue as is, only working off of talk pages
For those ambassadors located in Rio, Henrique Andrade - a fellow free software advocate and Wikimedian - volunteered to conduct Moodle training.
Next steps: Propose different communication options to the ambassadors now and see what they think. Also, include a question about Facebook in the end of semester survey, to see if students would be interested in using it.
We all agreed that these individuals are being under-utilized (if at all)! More discussion is needed to refine their roles and manage their expectations on the work.
The idea was also proposed that we ensure that we have some administrators or eliminadors as ambassadors in order to have access to the deletion history.
Next steps: Host IRC session with all ambassadors to discuss the role of the campus ambassador
Hosting a Congress
One thing that has come up in multiple conversations over the past months is hosting a larger conference for university professors, researchers, and students in which we discuss different ways of incorporating open learning and knowledge dissemination into the classroom and university systems. Prof. Juliana has looked into fundings for this sort of an event, and it appears it could take a minimum of 6 months to secure alternative funding for such an events.
This event is certainly inline with the goals of the WMF Brazil Programs, but would be broader than the Brazil Education Program specifically. For this reason, we decided that having a university professor be in charge of the planning and funding would be essential, and the WMF Brazil Programs would absolutely support with contacts, agenda, etc. At the earliest, it seems we could have this in November-February. We could consider hosting this event in partnership with a press conference (an idea of Juliana and Henrique).
Hosting a Workshop
Separate from the broader congress, we all agreed on the need for a post-semester wrap-up & pre-semester kick-off workshop. The attendees would be all professors involved in the past semester and engaging in the next semester, and the same for all the ambassadors. The event would be 2-3 days, and ideally would take place at a university so that we could leverage the facilities such as wireless, computer labs, and classroom space. The event could take place at the end of July or beginning of August.
Juliana made the points of talking about the need for academics to also be involved in training people to be smart consumers of Wikipedia: that is, being able to assess the quality of the articles. For example, her current course at UNIRIO is developing these sorts of training points with the students regarding the articles on classical antiquity.
The idea is that this could easily be replicated in not only universities but also in secondary schools. One question for consideration is how to channel these critical analyses back into improving Wikipedia. Perhaps they could be posted on Wikiversity, or on the talk pages of the writers, with links on the discussion pages of the relevant articles.
Another idea of Tom's was Adopt an Article, which would consist of students or classes taking on a certain article to improve at a single time. Perhaps this could be a single day editing event, or a semester long project. It could be a really great idea for a student organization (or group of ambassadors) to work on, so that they are participating in Wikipedia editing consistently!
We had a great dinner with three fabulous professors in Rio! All have been involved at some level in the open-data movement, though they covered different disciplines at UFRJ: Law and public policy, Anthropology, and Journalism.
The Law professor and the Journalism professor seemed absolutely emphatic about the program, seemingly eager to implement. They also gave timeline suggestions (see "Key takeaways" below). The other really strong addition was that they have access to groups of students who are paid to serve in certain professor-helping roles (both had 20-25 of these). They both said that easily these students could be channeled as campus ambassadors!
The anthology professor brought up some concerns about his students being able to or interested in editing Wikipedia. Primarily, they lack technical skills - their discipline does not necessarily mandate that they keep up with online platforms of communication.
- Key takeaways
- Interested individuals in the education program!
- A good way to recruit ambassadors (and even institutionalize the program, thinking forward) is perhaps through the use of the the teacher assistants already assigned to the departments of interested faculty
- For the education program, key messages for professors: the importance of free knowledge; ability to prototype a new pedagogical tool, and define a global education plan
- For the education program, key messages for students: Global program in terms of interaction; global audience in terms of readership; eagerness to explore online forums
- Best time to host training is either in June or mid-August (note: the public universities are on strike, making it difficult to anticipate the timing and the availability of professors and/or students)
We went to lunch with Prof. Pablo Ortellado of USP, who is teaching a course using Wikipedia at USP on Cultural policy. He described his classroom model, which is separating students into groups of 6 and assigning them previously unwritten articles from Wikipedia on Brazilian cultural policy. They are writing really in depth articles which take the entire semester to write. During the last class, they are having a four hour computer lab session where they are planning on "wiki-fying" the articles.
He offered some thoughts as to the motivations of professors and students and mentioned some literature/guides which would be helpful in informing his work (see below in key takeaways). Also, he talked about some ideas for institutionalization, namely the idea of having small scholarships available for students by the university to help spend time in the classroom. He also recommended concentrating on one university and even one department, in order to develop more of a presence.
We talked about the idea of a conference/training again, and brainstormed some potential locations: USP leste or UNESP center in Bafunda. The main agenda item that was identified as severely missing last time is how to structure a Wikipedia article.
- Key Takeaways
- We need to ask all ambassadors from SP to help with this last class, if they are available
- We need the ambassadors to be assigned to the articles after they are put up and help watch them
- There is a need for a more clear guidelines on how to structure an article: where to put the intro, conclusion, etc.
- There is a need for case studies to show how Wikipedia and Educators could work together
- For the education program, key messages for professors: it is the top web reference in their field!
- For the education program, key messages for students: it is the #1 web reference!
- One idea is to have certificates for students who participate in the campus ambassador training program
Outreach event at USP
We spoke at the Institute de Fisica at Universidade de Sao Paulo (USP). We (WMF and WMBR) have had many events there before, but this was another good one which was planned with the help of two of the new Campus Ambassadors, Mariana Jo and Vitor. Audience was ~25, mostly comprised of Professors and students. As the majority of the presentation was in Portuguese, there was really rich discussion following.
- July is vacation and no training could happen (say the ambassadors)
- Use July for creating materials
- June to find professors -- then we'll be better able to find ambassadors
- Create two calendars - one for Rio and one for Sao Paulo
- Still up in the air about additional cities
We met with two individuals from USP and the director of the libraries at USP. Prof. Fernando Auli was really interested in brainstorming some different options for participation of USP in the Wikipedia Education program in Brazil. Specifically, he said that having USP officially endorse the program would:
- Authorize campus ambassadors to go into the classroom for classes
- Enable USP admin to communicate with the faculty about the opportunities
- Enable USP admin to communicate with students about campus ambassador opportunity (via Facebook or emails)
- Provide scholarships for students to be involved in the campus ambassador program
The LIbrary of USP consists of almost 100 libraries across all the different campuses of USP. They are working on a few big projects now: (1) implementing plagiarism detection software and (2) Digitalizing. Some potential ways we discussed involving librarians include:
- Teaching about plagiarism and sourcing
- Connect with Wikipedia and help identify topics that are missing a lot of information
- Help show where the right databases and/or sources are.
- Help provide information about Wikipedia
- Help to edit and write the guide on how to use Wikipedia and edit Wikipedia
- Key Takeaways
- Recommended using successful professors as the key lever to reaching new professors
- For the education program, key messages for professors: it is interdisciplinary; it teaches critical writing
- Having institutional support would help in the advertising of the program to professors, providing incentives for students and faculty to be involved, and easier to train at an institutional level
- Next steps
- Advertise to professors (USP help)
- Advertise to students (USP help)
- Organize brochure about program operations