Grants:IdeaLab/Wikipedia School (Athens, Greece)
What is the problem you're trying to solve?
I have been promoting Wikipedia since 2011 (workshops & lectures in schools, libraries, educational institutions etc, interviews, radio & tv broadcasts).
- During the two year period of Wikipedia promotion by EEL/LAK, the best case was a workshop series that took place, once a month, in the Great Music Library of Greece, Lilian Voudouri, for a whole year. The lessons started on Feb 15, 2012, and the last one was on Mar 6, 2013. People that came to attend again and again, did forget how to write. Once a month from lesson to lesson is a long time.
- An incubating Wikipedia writer gets easily discouraged as soon as he/she loses contact with his/her mentor.
- There is (was?) no physical place in Athens where an adult could learn how to write wikipedia articles.
- The opinion of many teachers at schools is that Wikipedia should be avoided, generally.
What is your solution?
My solution is a number of Wikipedia Schools in Athens, Greece, or any city. I have managed to get the permission from the Municipality of Kaisariani to teach Wikipedia writing to adults as part of the «Education for Lifetime» program of the Greek Ministry of Education. The Wikipedia lessons were delayed by the Municipality emploees and started some months after the other lessons of lifetime education, during the elections time (that is when I got approval to start officially) and are now held during summer. Wikipedia School in Kaisariani is hosted inside a public school (2nd Gymnasium of Kaisariani) and after the summertime pilot phase we are planning, with the Headmaster of the public school, on extending the lessons to the students of the school officially, inside the cultural activities frame. After school hours, teachers from local schools are going to attend the Wikipedia classes, along with the other adults, in order to promote Wikipedia in their schools, too.
2nd Gymnasium of Kaisariani provides us roof, electricity, heat and air conditioning, desks, chairs, a wall projector, internet connection and old computer equipment. All seats are based on Windows 2000 Professional (we have license & hardware limitation) and that is a drawback. I have already provided the school with 2 cathode screens, a flat screen and 3 pentium4 windows XP PCs I got from donors. The idea to overcome our limitations is a Microsoft Multipoint Server that will turn all old computers to dummy terminals on a modern host operating system and provide control to the teacher, to co-work on any seat from his desk, project any seat's screen on the wall, block all screens to get attention, etc. The cost of hardware and software (academic license), to support 20 learning seats, is a little above 3000 euros. This will be a good kick start and, in time, old computers and trembling cathode screens could be replaced, as they break down, with thin clients and proper screens.
The Wikipedia School in Kaisariani is up and running, and as you see, we already have results, even if we started at the end of the school year. The Headmaster is very excited and is willing to commit on providing the facilities of the school for 2 years, for Wikipedia lessons. Let's support this.
We already have the 24th Gymnasium of Athens that has worked as a wikipedia school  under the supervision of its Headmaster, Ttzavaras. This time we target not only students but teachers and adults too, going beyond the student school frame.
This project is time consuming for one person to run it. Each Wikipedia School's student progress has to be followed, press announcements have to take place from time to time, and Wikipedia School should be presented properly. We still have to consider resource management and human resource management in time.
- The first goal was the decision of the Municipality Council of Kaisariani to support the idea of Wikipedia School. It took more than 2 years. Even if it was well known (I did visit every one or two weeks to get things done), Wikipedia School was not announced and not suggested along with other lessons to people who were interested in participating in the For Ever Learning program. It has been announced now but it still is not part of the list of lessons. The lessons are announced as officially over for the summer, when someone asks information for participation. I have been told Wikipedia School will be part of the list form September.
- We did have this article published on a credible news site. The chief editor did not change even a word of the interview. It is a reference for the School's purpose and lightens up conscience anout Wikipedia. Reading of this page is extremely low compared to others from the same site, as seen from the likes and also the comments below the post. It still is a source of people who visit the Wikipedia School page, as it stays visible inside the education theme page of the site.
- There was a fine announcement about Wikipedia School lessons form the For Ever Learning department of the Municipality. It did not really work for participation (it was a bit late), but it is a good presentation of what has been going on.
- , Wikipedia School has been also announced at the portal of the Municipality of Kaisariani on the internet.
- EEL/LAK did publish an announcement that also helped publicity, as it became a credible source for reproducing the school to other sites, as seen from the references on them. The School's page has had its hits from there, too.
- Google knows Wikipedia School (Σχολείο Βικιπαίδειας) and brings up more than a page of related results.
- Half of the people that were interested came from the internet. People that declared participation online did not show up yet.
- The School's poster was a magnet. They did like it and maked them call the Municipality for participation and did show up for the lessons.
- We did have a lesson for teachers. They did not follow the next lessons, and I also did not have much time with them as they were instucted by their teacher who is a wikipedian and he is the one that brought them to the first lesson. Of course the teacher of 2nd Gymnasium did follow up. There has been found a way to attract them back, we will see.
- Students of the school that have been watching regularly are special. They are people who are willing to evolve inside.
- 25 people have declared interest, 8 never showed up, 6 are now regular students.
- The Headmaster of 2nd Gymnasium is happy with our presence. She is very willing to help us, provide us the facilities in priority and inject Wikipedia lessons inside 2nd Gumnasium cultural frame activities. We have been announced as an activity at the end of school year celebration and we 've been put on the school's web page.
- This is a school (we have not been in touch with before their post) that like our idea and they will try to reproduce Wikipedia School, as we can see from their post. They are willing to teach it under the "For Ever Learning" program for adults. For Ever Learning has not announced Wikipedia School officially for its learning centers (yet), and they also cut down other learning programs. Zografou (where this school is) is very near Kaisariani. We have now contacted the Headmaster of the school and offered them our help.
Apart of the immediate content contributions, the extend idea is to make one good thing happen so that others reproduce the idea of Wikipedia School. Wikipedia is being defamed inside schools, not only universities, and the impact is noticable. This can be changed, a new school is always a new hope and source of optimism. More people will tend to engage in order to get skills and testimonies they can use in their CVs. More people will know how to properly engage in contributing in Wikipedia, when they decide to. And if you get taught of something, you tent to teach it back. Wikipedia School will warm up people in favor of Wikipedia and will also produce immediate results (well, it already does).
Welcome, brainstormers! Your feedback on this idea is welcome. Please click the "discussion" link at the top of the page to start the conversation and share your thoughts.