My name is XYZ and I'm a Wikipedia community member. I'm writing to you to ask if you might be interested in a training session about how to contribute to Wikipedia at your institution?
As you may know, Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia, and is the 5th most-visited website in the world! It's completely free to use and re-use, it has no advertising, and is available in more than 270 different languages - including 19 Indian languages. Wikipedia articles are written by everyday folks who volunteer to share their knowledge with the world. People like your students, you, and me are constantly improving Wikipedia articles, making iterative improvements to the articles!
By offering a training session on Wikipedia at your institution, we want to spread awareness about the Wikipedia mission, who edits Wikipedia, and how to edit in Wikipedia. We find that students are often curious to learn more about Wikipedia and how they may contribute to this pool of knowledge in their special ways. We'd like to encourage students and provide them all the information and support they need.
I would also like to draw your attention to interesting points about how your institution and students may benefit from hands-on learning and development in the Wikipedia teaching and learning space.
What your institution gains from it?
- It improves your individual and college's academic reputation. In the Indian context where there is relatively lower emphasis on academic research papers by faculty members, supporting your students on Wikipedia articles helps you (rightfully) claim that you contributed to these articles. That increases your academic standing and helps attract better students and faculty and partnerships and recruiting companies.
- Students with all the above result in much more motivated classes. Teachers always say that the one thing they want is engaged students. I've had teachers tell me that if they are in a class and they see their students involved and actively trying to learn, it is the best thing that can happen to them - and the rest of their day goes well!
- It supports the advancement of education - for students in your class and colleges and around the world. You have devoted your lives to education and this is a great way of promoting it.
What your students gain from it?
- It improves student's writing skills. As you already know writing skills are essential when students move ahead in life either to do further studies or to work. Wikipedia provides them a platform to hone their writing skills.
- It will help students think critically. All Wikipedia articles are written from a neutral point of view - which helps students see all sides of a story. Your students will find this incredibility useful in both their personal and professional lives while evaluating pros and cons of different situations, projects, assignments etc. This thinking will also help them decide who to vote for in elections or which version of Lok Pal to support or which IPL team to follow! This thinking will help them understand their subjects even better.
- It'll will strengthen your students research skills. Editing a wikipedia article requires one to do a lot of referencing. This means a lot of research online, getting into the library and looking up books or journals before writing a Wikipedia article. This is a skill one cannot live without if writing a thesis or working on a research project.
- Your students articles will be read by thousands of people across the globe. If they edit a wikipedia article, it is there *forever* and the audience can be any number from the 500 million who read Wikipedia every month!
- It'll boost their chances in admissions or scholarships or placements. Imagine your students - say in a mechanical engineering batch of 100 - applying for jobs with the best engineering companies who come to campus. Everyone is likely to submit a resume saying they are the greatest engineer ever born - but it's difficult for any one to stand out and shine. If some were to put a line in their resumes that you have edited 5 articles on heating and cooling systems, there is a very high probability that this would jump out at the recruitment team of the companies and they will actually read the article (if they haven't already.)
- It teaches your students how to collaborate! Editing wikipedia is magical. They add some content and someone from some other part of the class or school or town or country or somewhere else in the world adds a little bit more and makes the contribution that much better. The days of sitting alone under a tree and having an apple fall on your head and discovering gravity are over. In today's world, we will need to collaborate to achieve anything. If the students are into biotechnology, they might be based in Hyderabad but the team you are part of might have someone in Scotland or Brazil- from a different culture and with a different accent - but they need to work together. Wikipedia helps one learn how to collaborate!
- It can be so much fun! Your students will make new friends - from all over the world. They can write about any topics that you are interested in (whether it is of their subject areas or movies or their hometowns or sarees or mythology or cricket or whatever!)
Professors at many colleges and universities across the world have already successfully participated in similar Wikipedia workshops. Please let me know if you'd also be interested in letting us conduct one at your institute.
I'd greatly appreciate the opportunity to meet with you in person and speak further about this. Also, feel free to let me know if you have any questions. My contact details are in this mail.
XYZ email id Phone number