Organizing online education activities in the pandemic situation
The pandemic situation has forced the Education Team of Wikimedia Indonesia to shift from offline activities to online activities. It has been a challenging responsibility for the Education Team. However, we realized that the shift from the offline to online activities must take place because we still have growing communities to be supported, as well as the duty to spread free knowledge, even during the unfortunate circumstances. We see this as the opportunity for us to grow and to learn in developing and organizing online activities which we believe will be beneficial in the long run.
To facilitate the contributors to greet and have a discussion with one another in the middle of this pandemic, we still organized the meet-up for the contributors of the Wikimedia projects. The online meetup consisted of a series of meet-up activities that were held once in a month, in the second week of every month. The participants that registered and came to join the meet-ups usually did not exceed 20 people.
In some meet-up sessions that we had, we did not only edit on Wikipedia but we also introduced Indonesian Wikibooks to the participants and urged them to write on Wikibooks. The participants were enthusiastic with this idea, because it was a different new experience for them.
The first time we organized the online meet-up, the sessions were held every week in a month and lasted for 3 hours per meeting. However, as the time passed we felt that the interval between each meeting was too short while also the duration of the meetings were too long. Consequently, the participants tend to feel bored due to the frequent and long meet-up sessions. To overcome this, we decided to shorten the duration of the meet up sessions, and we only held the meet-ups once every month.
The online meet-up is actually a great activity to do. The usual (offline) meet-ups that we had were usually only centered around particular communities who held the meet-ups, but with the online meet-ups, many more contributors who live in different parts of Indonesia could join the editing activities as well as greeting other contributors who joined the meet-up sessions. So we did get to see many new faces joining the online meet-ups which was very refreshing.
We also tried experimenting with the format of the meet-up sessions. From having all the participants in one big group during the session, until dividing the participants into groups in which they can be more engaged in the discussion. However, two of these formats have not yet been proven successful as a way to provide comfortable, enjoyable, yet effective sessions. Either the participants were too busy chatting with each other and forgot that they had to do some editing activities, or they did not even talk to each other, so the sessions became awkward and boring until the sessions ended. Until the middle of the term, we still have not been able to find a better way to organize this online meet-up so that they can be more enjoyable for the participants. We figured that this had been a very challenging issue for us to overcome.
Because the situation makes it impossible to create offline activities, we formulated several new formats for Wikilatih. Usage of these new formats is dependent on the targets and participants.
Our most comprehensive training format. It’s also the most challenging for the participants because we offer certificates of completion if they manage to finish the course and meet the requirements. The duration of the online course is two weeks at first, and then we extended it to three weeks. In this format, we use Google Classroom for organizing WikiLatih where all the materials, for example, videos and supplementary documents, are available to participants that they can watch and read. This course consists of three units.
- Unit I. This unit mainly introduces the Wikimedia Foundation and its projects, Wikimedia Indonesia and Wikipedia Bahasa Indonesia. Participants also learned how to sign up and create their user pages. At the end of this unit, participants are given the assignment to analyze the basic structure of an article in Wikipedia, e.g., references that are used in the article, images and its license, category, and writing styles.
- Unit II. This unit focuses on describing rules in Wikipedia, i.e., notability, reliable sources, encyclopedic tone, plagiarism and paraphrasing, and neutral point of view. At each point, there is an assignment to evaluate the understanding of participants. At the end of this section, there is a final task to analyze articles based on these rules.
- Unit III. This unit is a tutorial on how to write an article. Participants were introduced to the visual editor interface and shown about adding a reference, insert a link and category, etc. At the end of this course, participants must create a start class and a C-class article each.
There are four online class sessions between these units, explaining things that are not covered in the units, e.g., Creative Commons, user talk page, and Wikimedia community. Participants might pass the course if they got a score of 80% and above, join two of four online class sessions, and have 30 edits from articles other than their Unit III articles.
From three batches of the online course, the number of participants that passed the course varied. In the first batch, only 2 of 15 participants passed. We realized that we did not interact much with participants in the first batch. We tried to have more interaction in the second batch. The result was better than we expected, with 18 of 20 participants passing the course. In the third batch, however, just 9 of 18 participants passed.
There are several suggestions from participants. Participants felt if two weeks' duration is not enough to finish all of the tasks, and we extended the period for an extra week. We are also concerned with participants who have difficulties in writing an article. In the fourth online course, we changed the duration to three weeks. Participants also have difficulties finishing 30 edits from other articles. We decided to decrease the minimum edit from 30 edits to 20 edits in the fourth course. There are also some advice for the course material. We implemented some changes in the fourth course. For example, supplementary documents are merged into one file because it’s easier to download and read. Assignments in the class also changed to make question instructions clearer and have standardized assessments. There is a list of article examples to be created on Indonesian Wikipedia as an inspiration for participants.
After several changes implemented in the fourth batch, however, only 8 of 20 participants passed. Again, many of the participants' progress stalled in writing an article assignment.
The retention of participants after the course is still far from satisfactory. Only a few participants from these courses actively participated in the other program, e.g., online meet-ups or competitions. In the next semester, we will try a different approach to retaining our former participants. (Read: WikiSedaya)
Live (Incubator version)
This format is very similar to offline WikiLatih. We explained the basic rules in Wikipedia and additional information about Wikimedia Incubator to participants. There are differences between offline WIkiLatih and WikiLatih Live, for example, the medium we used and the duration of training. We’re using Zoom to deliver our training. We break the activity into two sessions, two hours each. In the first session, the tutor explained Wikipedia and Wikimedia Incubator. The tutor also showed a tutorial for creating an article. At the end of the first session, the participants must write an article in Incubator as their homework that is evaluated in the second session. The second session is an evaluation of the article and Q&A with the participants. At the end of the training session, there is a quiz. The winners of the quiz and the most active participants were rewarded with a voucher.
We organized the WikiLatih Live for several Incubator volunteers from Batak Toba, Nias, Mandailing, and Madurese. For the former three, we observed low retention of participants. The bad timing of training causes that. Initially, the training started at 15:30 and ended at 18.00 Western Indonesia Time (UTC+07:00), when most of the participants were still working and may not have joined the next session. In the Madurese Wikilatih Live, we changed the timing, began at 19:00, and finished at 21:00 Western Indonesia Time. As a result, most of the participants can join two sessions.
We evaluated several indicators of the tutors’ performance in each WikiLatih, for example, proficiency in Wikipedia and Wikimedia Incubator, skills in reading the participants’ mood, and timekeeping. Our main findings are that some of the tutors, mostly the first-timer, have not reached their best performance yet. The first-timer has difficulties in knowing the participant's mood. Thus the participants feel that they’re ignored. The tutors also struggled to keep the speech tempo consistent. We will address this problem in our next program, Mini WikiPelatih.
In the future, we will expand this format to smaller communities that have their own Wikipedia, e.g., Buginese, Banjar, Gorontalo communities.
Advanced WikiLatih is targeted to contributors who finished previous WikiLatih or used to write an article in Wikipedia using Visual Editor but still not familiar with the advanced skills, e.g., source editing, templates, and image galleries. This WikiLatih lasted for 2 hours and was emphasized in practice. The participants would be guided to insert templates and editing in wikitext.
When we organized Advanced WikiLatih three times, we realized that not all of our volunteers have online presentation skills as good as offline presentations. Some of the tutors don’t know how to engage participants to be more active in online activities. As a result, the participants feel if the training was mundane and not all of the training materials can be delivered. However, when the tutors know how to give online presentations and courses, the participants can be more active in discussions and practices.
Mini WikiPelatih (Training of Trainers)
Mini WikiPelatih is our simplified version of the training of trainers. We scaled down the training covering presentation skills and administrative procedures within Wikimedia Indonesia, which are often encountered by first-time facilitators and other projects in Wikimedia Indonesia. The duration of this ToT is 4 hours and divided into two sessions. Mini WikiPelatih is an invitation-only event. We invite participants from small Wikimedia communities and beginner tutors, i.e., Buginese, Gorontalo, Banjar, Batak Toba, Nias, Mandailing, and Madurese communities.
Overall, the participants were satisfied with the training activity. The participants are given a chance to demonstrate their presentation skills, and we gave them feedback about their results. The participants also have a better understanding of administrative procedures. Two of the main issues in Mini WikiPelatih are an unstable internet connection and timekeeping of activity, so Mini WikiPelatih ended thirty minutes late than we scheduled.
Wiki Masuk Sekolah (WMS/Wiki Goes to the School)
We have not been able to conduct the WMS program this semester because WMS depends on offline teaching-learning activities, while every teaching-learning activity in Indonesia must be held online due to the pandemic. Apart from that, we do not have the permission to organize offline activities yet.
In this situation, a volunteer of ours arose an idea to seize the opportunity to try out our online program by collaborating with the universities for the WMS. However, after we had internally discussed the matter, we decided not to go further with the idea because we realized that we did not yet have a stable online program that we could offer to the universities.
From our observation during the first few months into the pandemic until now, many educational institutions still struggle very hard with the online teaching-learning activities that they must do. In that case, we think it will be difficult to collaborate with them for the WMS program if we ourselves do not have a solid and steady program that can be applied in the universities’ online teaching-learning activities.
We still are not able to project the possibility of implementing this program online while we still have not been able to do offline activities.
After releasing two versions (General version and Educator version) of WikiGuidebook in the last year’s program, and creating a short video version of the Guidebook, we have translated the Guidebook into 4 local languages. At first we planned to translate it to 3 local languages which were Sundanese, Javanese, and Minangkabau but in the process, one language was added which was Balinese and we now have 4 language variants of the Guidebook available.
The version that was translated to the 4 local languages was only the Educator version. We involved two community members from each language to translate the Guidebook. One person did the translation and another one did the proofreading process to ensure the quality of the translation.
Some people in Wikimedia Education also encouraged us to translate the Guidebook into English so that they would be more easily accessible by a broader audience and people in Wikimedia Education as a part of their learning materials. We excitedly accepted this idea and even if it is not our current main priority we will work on the translation slowly but sure.
Online Talk Show
Since we started doing online activities during the pandemic situation, we have noticed that there was a slight drop in the volunteers’ enthusiasm to join our activities. Hence, we wanted to provide them with a breath of fresh air, by organizing an online talk show that they can enjoy from their smartphones, tablets, or laptops while lying down. Not only that they get to enjoy the show while relaxing, but at the same time, they also get to acquire new information regarding the particular topics that are discussed in the talk show.
The online talk show is called “Wikipedia:Warung Kopi” or loosely translated into "coffe shop" which was taken from “Wikipedia:Village Pump” namespace in Indonesian Wikipedia. This means that the online talk show will be the place where the invited contributors can share their ideas, their insights, or their contribution stories in Wikimedia projects, while the audiences are able to drop some questions that the contributors will answer at the end of the show. In determining the person that we would invite to the show, we distribute a form to be featured or to take part in the show which can be filled up by our volunteers, contributors, and community members.
The talk show is broadcasted online on YouTube every Friday once a month at 07.00-08.00 p.m UTC+7. We hope that by broadcasting the show on YouTube, this will reach broader audiences, not only those of our contributors but also other people out there who are interested in learning about Wikimedia projects. The recordings were then archived in Wikimedia Indonesia’s Youtube Channel.
The only difficulty that we had with arranging the talk show is finding the contributors who were willing to be on camera, and sharing their stories because there were not many people filled up the form that we shared. In that case, we needed to do a more personal approach by personally inviting several people to join the show.
We hope that in the next term more people will be willing to step up and take part in the online talk show.
Lesson learned & Next Steps
There are a lot of things that we have in mind for the next steps we take for the rest of the term. Many of these include things that need to be prepared in case that we have to go online for the rest of the term because of the pandemic.
Survey for contributors regarding Education programs
Due to the drop of volunteers’ enthusiasm in joining our program, we decided to make a survey that we would distribute to our active volunteers to find out what had troubled them in joining our activities and what they expected our activities to be in the near future while we were still unable to hold any offline activities.
Even though we had distributed the survey to as volunteers as possible, there were not many of them who filled out the survey. There were less than 100 people who participated in the survey, therefore, we could not really get the expected results that we needed.
Some of the things that we obtained from the survey were the biggest impediment that hinders the volunteers from participating in our online programs, and what kind of online activities that they would expect to be held, the frequency, as well as the duration of the activities.
Most of the participants of the survey answered with “dealing with personal matters”, “having unstable internet connection”, and "lacking direct interaction and the sense of togetherness”. These three points are really important and do have a massive impact on our online activities that involve our volunteers. Other responses that were given by the volunteers were the interval between each activity or the frequency of the activities. Most of them answered this question with “twice a month”, which means only two activities in a month with the duration of 120 minutes or 2 hours at most per activity.
WikiSedaya (Mentoring for Wikipedia’s beginner users)
In next semester’s program, we will focus on retaining our relations with former participants of previous programs while actively seeking new volunteers. However, as we projected that our activities are still going online next year, it would be challenging to improve interaction and togetherness in our online activities.
To address this challenge, we have planned to introduce a new program, WikiSedaya. This program will combine editing Wikipedia activities and support groups where volunteers can share their problems outside of Wikipedia matters. In this program, five participants will be assembled into a group, where there will be a mentor that is also a veteran volunteer from the Wikimedia community. The participants will be given some tasks from simple editing (e.g., cleanup or adding links) to writing an article. This program will use the Welcoming Newcomer feature from The Growth Team of Wikimedia Foundation. The tasks are entirely optional. However, If participants manage to finish some of the tasks, they will be rewarded with our memorable souvenirs.
The mentee and mentor will communicate with each other via WhatsApp Group (or Telegram). In that group, they can ask questions related to Wikipedia or share their stories even if it's not related to Wikipedia. This group aims to substitute the feel of togetherness that is missing from the other online activities.
Once we are in a safer situation and are allowed to hold offline activities, we expect the mentees will join and be active in Wikimedia Community events. We also hope that some of the mentees will be our new mentors ready to teach Wikipedia editing to others. After all, we dream that community regeneration will run smoothly and Wikimedia Indonesia will have an enormous impact on Indonesia.