Some of the professors enrolled in the pilot were:
not comfortable working with computers.
had little inclination to understand the wiki project and wiki editing.
Since professors will be guiding and grading the students through the program, its essential that the professors:
are comfortable working with computers
or at least have the inclination and the ability to learn basic wiki editing.
It's not a good idea to encourage a faculty to use Wikipedia as a class assignment unless they are willing to roll up their sleeves, gain adequate editing experience first, and then work side-by-side with their students for the duration of the assignment.
Professors enrolled in the program should have fundamental knowledge about computers, internet browsing, wiki editing or at least have the inclination to learn.
The professors should be actively involved in supporting students writing their assignments, interacting with CAs and OAs on regular basis.
Directors of both the schools were super enthusiastic to include wiki assignment as a part of education system in their school. They both understood how wiki will help their students learn effectively in a global collaborating environment. They both were open to adopting new techniques of teaching and learning.
If Director is on board he is able to share his vision of - innovation, effective learning, global collaboration - with the staff. He is also able to pressurize his staff to work efficiently and within deadlines.
It is essential for Director to understand the importance of wikipedia as a classroom assignment.
We'd enrolled couple of final year graduate classes. Final year students are usually preparing for entrance examinations or are busy looking for jobs. They are overburdened with other things and do not pay too much weight to internal assessments. Many of them decided not to write wikipedia assignment and forgo all grades associated with it.
It's probably not a good idea to enroll final year students who are already over stretched with lots of work. Non-final year students would be a better lot to enroll for the program.
Avoid enrolling final year students into the program.
Few of the students enrolled in the pilot were not comfortable with the language in which they were editing.
If students are editing in English, it is essential that they are reasonably comfortable with English reading and writing. Or else formulating simple sentences might be a challenge for them.
Before enrolling students we should make sure that they have a high degree of competence in the language in which they will be required to edit wikipedia as a classroom assignment.
Few of the students enrolled in the pilot did not have fundamental knowledge about working with computers or internet browsing.
Computer skills and internet browsing form the basic necessary core for learning wiki editing. It would be extremely difficult for students to learn wiki editing if they are not comfortable working with computers etc.
Students with basic computer/web browsing skills should be enrolled in the program.
Some of the classes enrolled in the program were very small, with only 18 students. Whereas there were some classes with as many as 180 students.
Smaller size classes demand equal number of in-class presentations/editing sessions/refresher sessions as any bigger class would do. To get maximum impact, it makes logical sense to enroll classes with larger number of students.
On the other hand, too big a class becomes unmanageable and difficult to track for the professors and wikipedia ambassadors.
We should try and get reasonably sized classes to enroll for the program. Class size of 45-50 students would be ideal.
From the 1st Generation CA recruitment we had CAs who were either students from a different university or working. From this lot we had very few CAs who were students on campus. This posed few problems:
CAs from other universities/working CAs had their own classes/office during school hours and hence were unavailable on campus for in-class presentations, coordinating with professors, clarifying students problems etc.
Students preferred to reach out to CAs during school hours, have more face time with them - but their CAs were unavailable during these hours.
From the 2nd Generation CA recruitment we primarily had CAs who were students on campus. However, we realized that it would be best to club 1st Gen off campus CAs with 2nd Gen on campus CAs. This was done due to various reasons like:
Most of the off campus (working) CAs were older and had a higher level of maturity to handle issues.
Several times on campus CAs could not differ or go against the professors opinion/suggestion, that's when off campus CAs were required to pitch in and take control of the situation.
It's necessary to have balance between on campus and off campus CAs.
On campus CAs are required because:
It's more convenient for CAs - They are already on campus and its easy for them to coordinate with professors, students, give in-class presentations etc.
It's more convenient for students - They can reach out to CAs within schools hours to clear their doubts, have more one-on-one interaction with them.
It's more convenient for the professors - They can coordinate with CAs easily since they're available on campus.
Off campus (working) CAs are required because:
They have higher level of maturity to handle issues.
If required, they can discuss and put forth a different point of view in front of the professors.
A good mix of on campus and off campus CAs should be recruited.
Campus Ambassador Applications
A lot of Campus Ambassadors had done zero wiki editing until the training day. It is necessary we make sure that we select CAs that are ready to take initiatives and have the motivation to learn by themselves. Motivation and Initiative should be the two primary qualities on which we should select/reject the CAs along with various other parameters.
There should be certain pre-requisites for the applicants before handing in the CA application like:
Make at least 5 edits before sending in their applications.
Include their username in the application.
Having certain pre-requisites for CA applications will also help us filter the applicants and only those who are dedicated and serious about the program will end up applying.
Campus Ambassador Allocation
In most of the classes, CAs were allocated to a class as a whole. For example A, B,C were CAs for Class Z with 90 students. This was not the best way to allocate CAs to a class because of several reasons like:
In this scenario, A, B, C were unclear on which student's talk page they should post the welcome note, check for student's progress etc.
Each student did not have an assigned CA just for him/her.
Students had 3 points of contact which was more confusing for them.
Allocating specific students to individual campus ambassadors would be a better idea. For example, A would mentor roll numbers 1-30, B would mentor roll numbers 30-60 and C would mentor 60-90 roll numbers. This way:
CAs would have a clear picture which students they are mentoring.
CAs would have clearer direction which 30 students talk pages are they required to write a welcome note on, check student's articles etc.
Students would have one point of contact.
It is better to allocate specific students to individual campus ambassadors.
CA to student allocation should be done as soon as a class is enrolled in the program.
Campus Ambassador Training
During the two day CA training, we spent only 1 hour teaching the basics of editing.
We should spend more time on basics of editing to make sure that CAs are comfortable with wiki editing. Only then they'll have the confidence to conduct in-class presentations and handle editing quires.
We could also ask CAs to bring their own laptops and practice wiki editing during the training session.
Spend more time teaching CAs the basics of wiki editing.
Campus Ambassador Selection
Later in the program we realised that a lot of CAs had made copy vios. This gave out strong negative feeling to the community about the imporatance and authenticity of the program.
It’s necessary to make sure that CAs edit substantial amounts and get these edits checked to make sure that they are copyvio free.
CAs should be asked to edit atleast 5 stub articles and these edits should be checked.
Importance of having experienced Wikipedians as CAs
Couple of our first generation CAs were existing wikipedians and had reasonable experience in editing wikiepdia.
It is good to have CAs who have experience in editing wikipedia as they understand the community and wikipedia editing fairly well. They have vaulable insights to share with other CAs, studnets and profs.
It is good to have CAs who have reasonable experience in editing wikipedia.
CA Mailing Lists
We have a common mailing list for all Pune CAs. Due to this even if we want to discuss problems/issues about either college; we (CAs/staff) have to post the mail to the larger group. A lot of CAs complained that their inboxes were unnecessarily being spammed with issues they were not concerned.
It would be convenient if we could create separate mailing lists for CAs of each university. For example mailing list for CAs of University 1 would be different from mailing list for CAs for University 2.
Create separate mailing lists for CAs of each university.
We opened OA applications somewhere in the middle of the semester. By the time OAs were selected, trained and were ready to contribute - we just had couple of weeks before the end of the semester.
That didn't leave us with a lot of time to work closely with OAs
That didn't leave a lot of time for OAs to do a whole range of tasks like posting welcome note on students talk pages because all that had already been done by the CAs.
OA recruitment should happen in parallel to CA recruitment.
OA training should happen in parallel to CA training.
OA applications should be invited a little earlier during the semester. And OA selection and training should be done parallel to CA selection and training - or at least there shouldn't be a big time lag between the two.
OA Student Allotment
Very much like the problem we faced in allocating students to CAs we also faced problems allocating students to OAs. This was majorly owing to the fact that we did not have complete student list from each class.
We should take the student list from the professor while enrolling a class into the program and then allocate students to OAs & CAs.
For example. Students with roll number 1-30 are allocated to OA 1 and CA 1. Students with roll number 30-60 are allocated to OA 2 and CA 2 etc.
Allocate specific students to individual Online Ambassadors.
We'd given a whole list of To-Dos to the OAs. But we did not think of ways in which we'll track/monitor their progress.
We could either share a status board (in form of a google spreadsheet) and ask each OA to update it weekly with various numbers like no. of welcome notes each posted, no. of articles they went through, no. of articles that are copy-edit free, no. of articles they found students copy-pasting, on an average no. of IRC questions they are addressing on daily basis etc.
Or ask each OA to send weekly update on the OA mailing list with specifics of what they had done the previous week to support the students and the program.
We conducted one editing session where we taught the students how to create usernames, user pages and basics of editing. Within a session we had given a lot of information to students which they found a little overwhelming.
Editing session should be broken down into two different sessions:
Session 1: Teaching how to create usernames and user pages; and selecting articles.
The basic editing session should be conducted only after we’ve made sure that students have created usernames and selected articles. This will also help us make sure that students have initiated and completed the first step and now ready to move on to the next step and start editing.
Schedule larger number of editing sessions with smaller durations and teach students part by part.
Multiple refresher sessions
Even after the editing sessions, a lot of students hadn’t created usernames. It was necessary for us to understand the kind of problems students were facing and the reasons for the delay in starting with wiki assignments.
CAs gave a quick 10-15 mins in-class refresher sessions. These sessions concentrated on:
Reminding students to create usernames/userpages/select articles and start editing.
Addressing various problems students were facing while creating usenames/userpages/selecting articles.
Encouraging students to start editing as soon as possible.
Give crash course on basic editing.
Students found these 10-15 mins short refresher sessions were very helpful as it gave them another opportunity to get their doubts clarified.
CAs found these 10-15 mins short refresher sessions very helpful to encourage students to start working on their wiki assignments and keep a track on the progress of their classes.
Include detail information about plagirism
One of the major problems during the pilot was that a lot of students made copyvios on the main article space. This is a more cultural issue since most Indian students would not have written a full fledged article until their graduate/PhD school. Because of this many of them don't understand the importance of plagiarism and continued to copy from other websites and simply pasted the content on wikipedia.
It's important to train students on plagiarism and brief them about paraphrasing and rewording. In the initial stage we could also ask students to write only in their sandbox with paraphrasing and complete referencing. Only once their work in the sandbox has been approved by the prof/CA should they start writing in the article space.
Include training on plagiarism in the in-class session
Ask students to write at least the first two paras in their sandbox and get it approved by the prof/CA before moving it to the article pace.
Protocol of talking to the community members/ administrators
Several students are unaware of the wikipedia community and the admins.
It's necessary to brief students about the wikipedia community/admins and how they have been building up wikipedia since the last so many years.
Brief students about the wikipedia community/administrators and their roles.
Brief students on the protocol of talking to community members/ administrators
We had recruited and trained about 20 CAs. However, when we approached universities, we had over 1000 students enrolled in the Program. Problems faced were:
CA to student ratio was extremely low, 1:50
Our CAs were completely outstretched and overburdened with all the work.
Recruiting CAs and enrolling classes/students should go hand in hand. It is important that we have enough active CAs so that they can comfortably manage the students.
It is essential to decide CA to student ratio before CAs are recruited. If each CA has a large number of students allocated, he might be overburdened with work.
1 CA to 25 students should be an ideal ratio.
Full time fellowship
During the earlier stage in the program we had a full time fellow was enrolled whose main task was co-ordinate with profs, students and CAs. However, towards the second half of the program we were working without any fellow support.
The main responsibilities of the fellow were to:
schedule in-class session
monitor the progress of each class
direct the CAs with the to-do list
schedule faculty meet ups
schedule CA meet ups
manage the program calendar
regularly update the status board etc.
It's important to have someone 24*7 on the ground who can constantly keep in touch with profs, students and CAs and make sure that everything is well co-ordinated.
In both the colleges we had one faculty co-ordinaor.
It is important to have an extremely active faculty member who would help us co-ordinate with the Director, and other teachers. For example, we could approach this professor if we wanted to organise faculty meetings, organise meetings with the Directors, discuss issues, request a room for CA training, comp labs, sending out mass mails to students etc.
It’s important to have 1 point of faculty contact at each university who can help us co-ordinate with the institute as a whole.
A lot of articles/content that the students had worked on got ruthlessly deleted. Because of this a lot of students were de-motivated and did not want to continue editing on Wikipedia.
We should have students put a banner on their user page and on the articles they are writing indicating that they are enrolled in the IEP program. This way the community would also know that this editor is enrolled in the program and they would be a little more tolerant, lenient and forthcoming to offer help to the students.
Ask studnets to put a banner on their userpages.
Student information on different class pages was organised in different ways. This also possed confusion for the stduents as some of them were writing only roll numbers and article selection on class page and did not meniton their usernames.
We should have one common format for all classes. This way students will not be confused as to what all information needs to go under this section.
It will also help CAs and profs to track progress of their studnets in a more systemtic way.
Have a standardized table with the following headers:
Leaderboard for live edits
We had included Leaderboard as one of the main tabs on the WP:INDIAEDU page.
Leaderboard provides a good way to generate healthy competition amongst students. They are able to see not only how the class is performing as a whole but also as how each students is performing individually.
We should include Leaderboard on the WP:INDIAEDU page. However, it should only account for the amount of work students has done on the article space and should discount any work that has been reverted.
During the pilot we did not have any banner/information on wikipedia project pages because of which the community members did not know that the students enrolled in the program were writing articles on these subject topics.
Information should be posted on all major project pages such as WP:ECONOMICS indicating that there is work being done in their interest areas by students - so the community is gentle but also more proactive in reaching out and helping.
Post information/banner on corresponding project page.
We organized two separate weekly updates one with the faculty and the other with the CAs.
It is necessary to schedule these weekly updates to:
discuss the progress of each class in the previous week - maintain a weekly status board which shows % of students selected articles/created usernames/started editing etc to see how these % have increased over the past week.
discuss any issues/problems/success stories
provide weekly to-do list for the coming week to each faculty and CA. For eg. professors would be asked to address the issue of plagiarism in class, CAs would be asked to schedule more in-class sessions with specific group of students etc.
Schedule weekly updates with the faculty and the CAs
Limiting the number of mails on CA mailing list
CAs tend to get irritated if large number of mails are sent to them on the mailing list and start ignoring/deleting these mails from their inboxes. As a consequence, when its something urgent and we need to reach out to CAs they do not read our mails.
Hence, its really important to control the number of mails that are sent to the list. Few, well thought, and structured mails would be better than sending several mails. We should even inform the CAs to limit the number of mails they are sending to this list.
There is a need to keep a control on the number of mails that are sent to the CA mailing list.