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Online meeting of Ukrainian educators working with Wikipedia – four perspectives

Summary: A motivating point for students is that everyone can leave their mark forever by creating an article on Wikipedia or uploading a photo.
Wikimarathon 2023 in Hlukhiv

On April 19, Wikimedia Ukraine held an online meeting for the exchange of experience between educators on the use of Wikipedia and sister projects in the educational process. 11 teachers from different regions of Ukraine took part in the meeting. The meeting took place in a warm atmosphere: participants chatted and exchanged experiences. In this article, we summarized the experience of four educators implementing the Education Program in different regions of Ukraine and for different age groups.

The first speaker was Svitlana Dyachok, director of Lyceum No. 1 in Khorostkiv, a small city in Western Ukraine, a teacher of Ukrainian language and literature and foreign literature, and a Wikipedian.

Svitlana talked about how important it is for students to work with the text: find information, understand the text, evaluate, and interpret.

Online meeting of educators 04.19.2023

How can students contribute?

  1. Editing and improvement of articles
  2. Participation in thematic weeks and months
  3. Translations
  4. Wikicourses
  5. Contributing to Wikimedia Commons with photos
  6. Writing new articles

Svitlana also noted that students like working in Wikiquote, and when studying new literary works, they can immediately add articles to Wikiquote. Svitlana notes that not all students who came to meetings and trainings will be contributors to Wikipedia, and that's normal.

Online meeting of educators 04.19.2023

Svitlana advises the following algorithm for working with children who are Wikipedians:

  1. Identify children who are interested in it and who have a tendency to it.
  2. Plan work with children
  3. Choose the optimal time for classes
  4. Develop a general program and calendar plan
  5. Develop an individual program for each child
  6. Create a teacher's creative laboratory
  7. Study psychological features and methodical methods of work
  8. Systematically and purposefully prepare children for participation in contests and olympiads.

It is also a good practice to participate in Wikimarathons, where students can not only create articles but also receive souvenirs for them. (Wikimarathon is an annual event for the birthday of Ukrainian Wikipedia, when everyone can write articles and receive souvenirs from the NGO "Wikimedia Ukraine").

Svitlana is the co-author of the handbook on the use of Wikipedia and sister projects in the educational space, which is freely available to all educators.

Online meeting of educators 04.19.2023

Olga Loboda from the Khmeliv Lyceum, northern Ukraine, talked about the use of Wikipedia in literature lessons. This year, many Russian works have been replaced by foreign ones, but there are no new textbooks yet, so Wikipedia is the first place that students turn to. Olga says that this is not just a job or a hobby, Wikipedia for teachers is a mission that unites them.

When teachers participate in Wikimarathon and other projects and create new articles, their rating among students immediately increases, because students understand that this article was written by their teacher.

Online meeting of educators 04.19.2023

Olga gives the following examples of tasks that can be given to students using Wikipedia:

  1. Instead of homework, so that it is not simply copied from ready-made tasks, find information about writers or their works that are not in Wikipedia articles and add it. For example, find and add information about Hanna Hawald's childhood and travels.
  2. Study the biography of famous people by comparing biographical information in the textbook and in the wiki article.
  3. Make notes of the key points from the wiki article.
  4. Solve the crossword using Wikipedia.
  5. Fill in the gaps in the text based on the information in the wiki article.

Also, Svitlana and Olga noted that students like working with Wikiquote.

Olga offers the following types of work:

  1. Analyze quotes in Wikiquote and choose which ones you agree with and which ones you don't.
  2. Read the writer's aphorisms and draw a psychological portrait based on them.
  3. Add your favorite quotes to Wikiquote.
  4. Make your own "Basket" - quotes that you want to keep for yourself.

Olga Loboda is also an annual participant of the Wikimarathon and this year; despite the difficult situation with power and Internet outages, she and other teachers wrote articles for the campaign.

Andrii Hrytsenko, Doctor of Pedagogical Sciences, Associate Professor, Head of the Department of History, Jurisprudence and Teaching Methods of the Oleksandr Dovzhenko Hlukhiv National Pedagogical University defines the main principle as "no coercion". This stimulates both schoolchildren and students to write even more. He has a course "Multimedia Technologies in history education" where the main task is to write articles in Wikipedia, and in parallel these articles enter a general competition - Wikimarathon or other competitions with prizes.

He tracks the progress of the students he taught five years ago. Some of them write purposefully for separate contests several times a year, but there are also those who write regularly, about 10% of them.

Wikimarathon in 7A class at Gymnasium No. 6

Another factor is the example of a leader because students are stimulated when they know that their teacher is writing articles. He also notes that the main thing is to live it, transferring your passion and your hobby to work.

Souvenirs for schoolchildren - participants of Wikimarathon 2023

Yevhenii Shybetskyi, a teacher of mathematics and computer science at I.V. Zhitnichenko Gymnasium No. 6 in the city of Berdychiv, says that during the 2018 Wikimarathon, he had an idea to hold the Wikimarathon not with teachers, but with students. He thought about it for almost a year and decided that it is impossible to teach students the basics of Wikipedia articles during the Wikimarathon itself, so it is worth preparing them in advance. For this purpose, propaedeutics was conducted: familiarization with the Wikipedia site, its main features for users, registration in the environment, work with wiki markup on the user page, and connection of the translation tool. Creating and editing math articles with formulas was difficult because it involves using LaTeX markup, and students could only search and use data from Wikipedia. But it became highly useful in computer science classes.

Yevhenii says that, for example, if computer science teachers teach text editors, it doesn't have to be MS Word or Google Docs – it can be Wikipedia's text editor because it has tools for editing and formatting texts. You can use Wikipedia for various computer science topics.

It is important to involve students in editing Wikipedia both to help develop the Ukrainian language and to help them belong to a certain community united by a common goal; it is also a place for creativity.

Yevhenii is especially proud of a sixth-grader who created an article about his school; it is not perfect, but this article is still used, and in the meantime, the student has already graduated from school.

In 2019, Yevhenii held a Wikimarathon in almost all classes, and a year later the students themselves remembered and asked to hold the Wikimarathon again. Now the Wikimarathon at the school is an annual event, and Yevhenii involves students in other activities as well. For example, this year it was WikiGap — a marathon of creating articles about outstanding women, last year it was "Wikipedia for school" competition in Wikiquote, etc. It was an off-curriculum task, but the students themselves became interested in it. Yevhenii says that this motivates him to do it himself.

Also, through a template, he keeps statistics of all the students who participated in the activities, in order to monitor their progress and, if necessary, help improve the articles.

We plan to make such meetings regular and hold them once a month so that educators can discuss their positive experiences, as well as the problems they faced, in a circle of like-minded people and jointly seek solutions to the issues that arise. Follow Wikimedia Ukraine's announcements to join and learn more.