Brazil Program/Reports/wep-20120430

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April 30, 2012: Progress to date of the classes that are participating in the education pilots and issues faced thus far.


For more background on the program, see the blog post which was posted at the launch of the pilot.

Courses which joined the program in the first semester[edit]

Brazil Pilot Stats
  • Number of Universities: 4
  • Number of Campi: 5
  • Professors who joined the pilot: 5
  • Number of classes: 5
  • Total number of students: 111
  • Estimated number of students editing Wikipedia: 64
  • Number of ambassadors: 17 (not counting Tom)
    • Campus: 8
    • Online: 9
  • New Wikipedia accounts: 25

USP: Cultural Policies, Professor Pablo Ortellado[edit]

General overview and model adopted: After talking to professor Pablo Ortellado about the Wikipedia Education Program, he enthusiaticaly liked the idea of his students improving Wikipedia. His course on Cultural Policies would be a great way to estimulated his students to create articles related to the subject or improve articles which already existed. With two classes of around 30 students each, one during the day and other during the night, professor Pablo has selected 11 encyclopedic articles to be created, where only one already existed.

The initial idea was that students should create Wikipedia articles in groups as the goal of the discipline, but that was changed after the professors and ambassadors training, where professor Pablo decided to have the Wikipedia editing as optional. We have talked about the WEP in the first class of the course and in the second class we have explained to students the main pillars of Wikipedia and how is a encyclopedic article structured. The students will edit the articles on subpages of the professor's talk pages, and then the ambassadors will help to move those pages (once they are ready) to the main article space.

The initial campus ambassador of this course had to leave São Paulo city, so we have been without campus ambassadors for the first classes and the Brazil Education Programa consultant has had to give the two first classes planned by the professor, with the help with a Wikimedia Brasil volunteer. The students reception was very good and they liked very much the idea of systematize the knowledge acquired through their course in Wikipedia.

For starting the wikipedia activities before the semester ends and not only giving a finished encyclopedic article, some campus ambassadors from other regions are setting a time with students to go there and estimulate students to sign up Wikipedia, in the same manner it was done with Vera' students.

Number of students and editing estimates: From the 65, at the moment no one has created a Wikipedia account. According to a talk to a casual meeting with one of the students of this course, they haven't understood that they could start editing. During the week of the 23rd of April ambassadors have asked students through both classes mailing list when is the best time to they meet them at the university. In the same manner when we send an invitation to students answer the pre-semester survey, only a few have answered our poll.

We are going to talk directly to professor Pablo to ask students in the next class what is the best time to ambassador help them to sign up in Wikipedia and estimulate them to already publish their work, if they started writing the articles, in Wikipedia (in the subpages). The estimate is that some students start editing Wikipedia in the second week of May.

UFRJ: Electromagnestim, Professor Edivaldo Santos[edit]

General overview and model adopted: Beyond the traditional exams on this advanced electromagnetism class, students can write a Wikipedia article related to the course from a list previously chosen by the professor. A good article can add 1.0 point out of them in the student's final grade. It is optional to do this task. All the 14 students have decided to choose one of the articles.

We have one campus ambassador who has organizing and planning everything together with professor Edivaldo very independently. He has already given classes to the students about the program and how to edit Wikipedia. At the beginning of the semester, the Education program consultant also used the end of a class to talk about the program, and some students got interested about Wikimania when it was mentioned what is it about and the possibility of them participating, also remotely or having scholarships to go to this global meeting with free knowledge enthusists.

Number of students and editing estimates: So far, 7 students out of 14 have created a Wikipedia account and 1 has created a Wikipedia article on the subpage. We estimate having 10 to 14 (very optimist if all of them edit) students editing Wikipedia and activities have already started since the beginning of April. We believe students will keep editing their chosen article during the last two months of the course, May and June, and beginning of July, for those who didn't pass the exams.

Update: after talking to professor Edivaldo last Sunday (29 April), he said he estimates around 5 students will edit the first draf of the Wikipedia article he has asked to they to edit. He has set the 10th of May as the day for students send the first draft of their articles. (to incorporate in the text)

USP: Elastic Scattering of Light and X-Rays by Biosystems, Professor Vera[edit]

General overview and model adopted: Professor Vera liked the idea to use what her students are learning to improve Wikipedia articles, but she has decided this to be an optional task for the graduate students in her class. It is important to notice the activities are going to be done outside of classroom time and require students to meet ambassadors separately. Since professor Vera is teaching this course with other professors, she thought it would be better not to use the class time for Wikipedia activities.

During our first talks with professor Vera, she considered to include in the program both of the courses she is teaching this semester. But as long as the semester runned, we have worked only with one of Vera's course because she seems not to have enough time to engage in WEP activities being organized by the ambassadors.

Number of students and editing estimates: After ambassadors explained to students how the program works, 8 students, out of 12, have shown interest in editing Wikipedia. The first class by the ambassadors on the program was in the beginning of April, and Wikipedia activities started in the mid of April, when ambassadors signed up students accounts (4 didn't go to the class this day) and have agreed with ambassadors to use a mailing list to set a day to start activities in Wikipedia and learn how to begin to improve artciles choosen by the professor. For an optimistic perspective, we will have 8 students improving wikipedia during May and June, but the precise days will depends on the days they are going to meet campus ambassadors.

UNESP: Memory and Experience, Professor Heloisa Pait[edit]

General overview and model adopted: The WEP was present to students on the 11th of April, almost after one month the course started. As this class takes place on an auxiliary campus im Marília, we haven't found yet an ambassador for this course, and so much of the work lays on the Education Program Consultant. Professor Heloisa has, though, some experience as a Wikipedia editor and this is very beneficial. For this first class, the Brazil education pilot consultant went to Marília to talk about the program and start Wikipedia activities. Two experienced Wikipedians helped to coordinate this first class: one of which has already worked as a campus ambassador in the previous year and another who travelled 300km to go to Marília (very dedicated volunteers!). For this class we had 1/5 of the class (4 out of 20) present plus another student not part of the course interested in the WEP. We have tried to invite people to have an informal talk about the program in the previous day of the activities inside the class, but only one person appeared. [1]

For the class we have had, everything went well and students that appeared dealt very easily with Wikipedia coding and were very enthusiastic in the discussions about Wikipedia, free knowledge and which articles they should add. Some are also willing to upload photos on Wikimedia Commons of their cities, since part of the course activities can be visit cities around Marília and report their cultural memories about the places they have visited (schools, monuments, public squares. etc.).

The professor is using Moodle to communicate with the students across locations, and professor Heloisa expects one ambassador to join this system to talk to students about the program.

Number of students and editing estimates: We expect around 7 to 10 students editing Wikipedia out of 20. Wikipedia activities have already started with the students which have attended to the class on Wikipedia, and we need to figure out how to reach the other students. That is a challenge, since we don't have a campus ambassadors, and we will depend on online communication with the students and the professor.

UNIRIO: Classical Antiquity, professor Juliana Bastos[edit]

General overview and model adopted: Firstly, the idea was to have two courses of professor Juliana participating of the WEP, one with 60 first year students and the other with 30 students of the third year. In the beginning professor Juliana has added these two courses in the courses list, but then she decided to remove one of them during the semester.

For the course participating of the WEP in the first semester of 2012, the main goal is that students will develop an analysis of Wikipedia article related to the discipline.

Professor Juliana has informed us about an extension program involving Wikipedia activities created by her inside UNIRIO that might start in the second semester, likely August, according to the campus ambassador working with her. This can be an interesting case of study for future extension programs that might involve possible partnerships between Wikimedia Foundation and Brazilian universities we are going to work and are already working with.

Number of students and editing estimates: Since the course participating in the program won't involve students editing Wikipedia, our estimate is that no one will improve Wikipedia articles. It is possible that some students will join the extension program being created by professor Juliana, but activities in Wikipedia might happen only in the second semester.

On the ambassadors teams[edit]

Recruitment: Firstly, at the beginning of the semester, we started recruiting ambassadors talking directly to some Wikipedians and Wikimedian about the Wikipedia Education Program, and we have also used the PTWP Esplanada[2] (its "Village Pump") to recruit campus and online ambassadors. This was at the same time we were deciding the number of professors we would work with and give support, which would depend on the number of ambassador willing to help up, keeping in mind an average of 15 students per ambassador according to previous experiences of the program in other countries.

As professors began to join the program and it gained a more structured format in Brazil, more and more Wikipedians began to join the program and offer their work. A few ambassadors left the program or began unavailable as campus ambassadors in the middle of the semester, but we now have 17 ambassadors in total, 8 campus and 9 online.[3]

Cohorts: Ambassadors are forming cohorts by school and region, where we have more than one ambassador, which are basically function like "clubs": they are a support group for each other, but also will be doing other outreach outside of simply the classroom activity. For example, the goals is that they will also host editing sessions for themselves, and also serve as a place for others interested in Wikipedia to join, even if they can't join as a campus ambassador that is part of the program.

At the campus Butantã of University of São Paulo, where we have the biggest number of campus ambassadors (5 in total, 2 new Wikipedia editors and 3 experienced ones). Two of these ambassador lives in the east part of the city and they have offered help as campus ambassadors in the east campus of the same university. Another campus ambassador, which can help only after his job, has offered help to go to both campi, and is helping to organize the meetings at the moment with group of the east campus.

In Rio de Janeiro we have initially three campus ambassadors, but one of them said he cannot have wikipedia activities anymore. But at the same time, three of them are also organizing themselves for the next semester and thinking on how to help with the WEP, among other activities, such as GLAM and geting involved with researchers groups.

We are pushing to have ambassadors be the owners of their classes, and organize themselves on campus independently of Wikimedia Foundation staff intervention. So far, this is happening very naturally in the courses we have a group of ambassadors and in the Rio de Janeiro, where we have one ambassador per course on average. We are needing more support in course at the UNESP campus in Marília, where we haven't find campus ambassadors to work the full semester with us.

There is the case of the USP campus in the east zone of São Paulo, where we have lost the campus ambassador just before the semester started, and the consultant has has to give the first two classes planned by the professor - he was helped by a Wikimedia Brasil volunteer in two classes. Besides that, some campus ambassadors working in the west campus of USP have offered their help to be campus ambassadors in the east campus because they live near it and they are are organizing themselves to estimulate students to start editing Wikipedia as soon as possible.

One of our main focuses as a group of ambassadors is how to expand for next semester, since the success of the project strongly depends on committed Wikipedians willing to support the courses that join the program. We are thinking about ways we might be able to recruit and bring on board new volunteers, and the group of USP and Rio de Janeiro have already started by themselves discussions about that.

Since we have decided to change the name of the program, stressing that we want involve all the Portuguese speaking community, we are seeing a lot of online support from experienced Wikipedians also from Portugal. Of note, some of these Portuguese volunteers in Portugal have helped a lot in structuring the course pages. A volunteer from Wikimedia Portugal has talked to Portuguese professors about the possibility of joining the program in the second semester, and they are eager to learn about the program with the hopes of extending the program into Portugal.

Looking forward[edit]

Lessons learned[edit]

  1. It is very important that the professors have the time to participate in the program and this should be made clear before the semester starts.
  2. As some ambassadors are unsure of their exact schedule before the semester, it is important to have more ambassadors so that if some need to leave/quit, we have a reserve of ambassadors.
  3. We need be sure if we can use some time of the course during the class for activities in Wikipedia. It is possible that the professor can share his or her course with other professors that would make more difficult to use the original course time.
  4. It is essential to be sure what is the infra-structure the department/faculty can offer for the classes that will join the program. Some campi can have a good computer laboratory, but we need have prior permission to use it and we need talk directly to the responsibles for that. Talk in advance to the administration of a faculty can avoid we have to find a computer laboratory during the course, which would delay well planned activities.
  5. Using a neutral name for the program may show to the lusophone community that the main goal is to improve the Wikipedia in Portuguese, independent of the country.
  6. Even if you have a mailing list of a class to reach all students, it is very inlikely they will read you. It can be more interesting to ask the professor to ask students in some cases, such as filling out the surveys. The consultant experience with the typical student is that he or she will only do one task if it matters for his or her grade. Using the trainning in Wikipedia can be the best time to ask students to fill out surveys.
  7. We need have the presence of the professor during the Wikipedia class. If the professor does not participate of the class it is possible only a few students will appear.
  8. Beyond having a good ratio student/ambassador, the ideal scenario is to have at least two ambassadors per class. It is possible to loose an ambassador during the program at any time, so we can have no ambassadors to give the necessary support for the class.
  9. We need explain to professors and ambassadors that before the semester starts, they will participate of a trainning section about the program (short part) and Wikipedia (longer part). The professor and campus ambassadors have to participate of the trainning. If he or she does not, he or she needs to have a second possibility of assistence from the campus ambassadors.
  10. Mentioning Wikimania can increase students interest in Wikimedia projects and it makes clear that these projects are part of a global community. Using a Wikimania tshirt while working at the universities has risen questions if a Wikipedia (sic) conference, which made it possible to engage in a conversation about the program in the corridor.
  11. Having big meet ups online with all ambassadors can be a disaster. It is not possible to use the actual free of charge webconference systems to talk to more than 10 people. Meetings in small groups is ideal and we could have ambassadors with more experience leading the smallers meetings.
  12. Asking ambassadors to report the classes and activities they are involved is essential for other ambassadors understand its importance and to learn from other groups the best practices and challenges they also can face.
  13. There exist professors who already tried to use Wikipedia inside their classes before this program appeared. We need reach them out to learn from their experience and try to involve them in the program.
  14. To be a newbie Wikipedia editor (willing to learn how to become a better editor ;) does not imply you cannot help to coordinate a group of ambassadors.
  15. Involving students interested in the subject they study can be a good way to estimulate them to edit articles in Wikipedia related to their field.
  16. Explaining about Wikimedia Commons, mainly when there is not media related to a subject the student is interested, can be a good way to estimulate them to upload free media.

Other points of learning for 2nd semester[edit]

  1. We need to account for the fact that not all the students will be editing Wikipedia, and so perhaps add more courses if we can have enough ambassadors to support the needs of this increase of classes. It is a tough balance between increased need for capacity given each additional professor, and need to reach as many students as possible.
  2. We should consider institutionalizing the program so that we are better incorporated into the thread of the universities themselves.In all universities we are working with professors mentioned the possibility of making the program as an extension program of her or his university. We should already start talking to directors or specific administrator of our interest (e. g., at USP, we could talk to the Pró-reitoria de Cultura e Extensão).
  3. As previously adviced for Wikimedia Foundation, we should start outreaching the program to professors and students months before the school semester ends. Yes need start planning new ambassadors recruitment (this includes trainning students and retaining ambassadors already working) for the second semester of 2012 not later than May.
  4. For making it clear how the professor can involve in the program, it will help a lot of offer a clear and simple page explaining possible models using Wikipedia a professor can use during its course. We need, at least, explain the models used so far, when they were successful.
  5. To have a better understanding of the Brazilian background to set reasonable/achievable goals. A better communication between all involved is necessary and improving the background page is also important, mainly now after some months of experience with the pilot. Ambassadors and engaged/excited students will be fundamental for that.
  6. To have clearly agreed in advance if the emphasis of the program should be in the number of the edits or on the quality of the articles that will be created. This is fundamental to think on the number of classes and students we want work with, not forgeting that this is also constrained to the number of ambassadors we will be able to recruit.
  7. Study extension programs already started in Brazil and other countries participating of the WEP.