Learning patterns/Outreach to educators
What problem does this solve?
You have a good idea about the best program model for your education program, but you do not know how to get educators involved. This learning pattern will help you determine who you need to talk to and the best way to approach them.
What is the solution?
Look for educators in your social or professional network.
- Many education program leaders have found the easiest way to conduct outreach to educators is to speak directly with people they already know, or can be introduced to.
- Consider contacting past professors, lecturers or teachers who you think might be interested in trying something new.
- Ask your local Wikimedia board (if you have one), volunteers, friends and family if they know professors, teachers, librarians or other educational staff who you can be introduced to.
- Check if any of the GLAMs you have partnerships with have relationships with educators or academic institutions.
- Contact staff in teaching and learning centers. Many universities have departments with staff trained to assist professors on various ways of enhancing student learning. These centers, for example, help create class blogs or manage the Blackboard or Moodle systems. They may also have staff willing to be trained in how to use Wikipedia as a teaching tool, who can then recruit instructors who might be interested.
Target outreach to educators who are likely to work with you.
- An educator who can make independent decisions about coursework for students.
- An educator who is comfortable with technology and enjoys learning or trying new things.
- Several program leaders have reported that working with private schools is a good way to start an education program because educators and administrators have more control over what they will teach.
- Schools that require students to complete volunteer, social service or internship hours.
Have one-on-one conversations with prospective educators.
- Wait to speak with an educator after class.
- Make an appointment to speak with an educator in person or by video call.
- Keep outreach personal. Sending out mass emails, letters or making presentations to groups does not generally lead to partnerships with new educators.
In your first meeting with an educator, focus on a few key points.
- Focus on how educators and students will benefit from contributing to Wikimedia projects.
- Share local success stories, if you can. It also helps to share metrics about numbers of schools, teachers and students participating.
- Talk about what you can offer the educator, such as training materials, tracking tools and volunteer support for teaching and evaluation.
Ask the community
- There are Wikimedians with significant experience in education projects willing to help you. This is where they congregate :-).
Things to consider
- Follow up with educators who seem interested. Plan a longer meeting where you discuss course planning and set timelines and expectations for the collaborations.
- Be conscious of timing and academic terms. You want to give educators enough time to plan a course for the next term, but not so long that they lose interest.
- Start local. Conducting outreach at education conferences and through academic associations is more likely to be effective after you have run a successful pilot project.
- Be mindful that some educators may seem enthusiastic at first, but will not follow through.
When to use
- One of the goals of the Wikimedia Community Ireland Outreach Program in 2015 was to build strong relationships with several Universities in Ireland. To facilitate this, we gave talks/workshops at several education based conferences. While this put us in front of a lot of educators, it generally did not develop into working relationships. After reading this learning pattern we changed our approach. We found that when we interacted with educators on a one on one basis, we were able to engage them, leading to more interaction in the future.Sameichel (talk) 12:20, 15 March 2016 (UTC) 
- This is partially based on Wikimedia Czech Republic's experience and while not completely up-to-date is still very true. Vojtěch Dostál (talk) 09:39, 28 February 2016 (UTC)
- The education program leader training offers additional advice about finding educators to work with.