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This report will cover the first year of the Wikipedia Education Program in Brazil with WMF support


Based on a successful experience of a course where Wikipedia assignments resulted on high quality Wikipedia articles, Wikimedia Foundation has decided to start a small pilot in Brazil of the already existing Wikipedia Education Program, working with a few professors in the first school term of 2012. A partial time (20 hours/week) contractor had been hired at the very end of 2011 to plan, outreach, document, manage, create tutorials and involve the community, working remotely with a project manager from the former Global Development efforts, based in San Francisco. Some of the learnings of an education pilot in India have helped to start a Pilot in the country.[1] Whilst still running the first phase of this pilot, Wikimedia Foundation decided in March to expand the program to 12 to 15 professors [2] through an open call in the end of the first school term[3], focusing in the cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. From July on, the contractor hired for the education program got a full time position, working with the Brazil Catalyst consultant[4], who dedicated from 20 to 30% of her time supporting the coordination of the program.

In the first school term of 2012 we have worked with 5 professors [5] and in the second with 15 [LINK], 13 of which were selected through an open call (we received 36 proposals in less of one month). Among the 5 professors, we have had one very good case in terms of high quality articles creation and some satisfactory [ADD DETAILS ON RESULTS] (OBS: I don't reccommend addind details here in the summary. I would rather do that separately, in a specific section below for results)--Oona (WMF) (talk) 22:02, 23 January 2013 (UTC), which was crucial for our learnings [LINK] on how to expand this classroom model in many Brazilian universities to improve articles in the Portuguese Wikipedia. A series of learnings have been developed during this second phase of the pilot and they are still under development, since about half of the professors we have been working with were affected by a general strike of federal universities, which resulted in a delay for most of them, each one with a different calendar.[reply]

[SUMMARY OF THE RESULTS, MAIN CHALLENGES AND RECOMMENDATIONS] Great!--Oona (WMF) (talk) 22:02, 23 January 2013 (UTC) [SUMMARY OF THE CONCLUSION] Wouldn't the conclusions basically be the same as "RESULTS, MAIN CHALLENGES AND RECOMMENDATIONS"?--Oona (WMF) (talk) 22:02, 23 January 2013 (UTC)[reply]

Key findings[edit]

1. There is a considerable number of university professors willing to join the program in Brazil

2. There is not enough online and campus ambassadors for a sustainable growth so far

3. There is room for the program growth, as long as we improve guides and online training materials for a course mainly driven by the professor

4. The program may also focus on complementary activities of translation of high quality article of other Wikipedias, preferably with experts of the subject to review, for a faster improvement of the Portuguese Wikipedia quality

WMF supporting activities in Brazil[edit]

Professors recruitment[edit]

  1. Open call:
    • 36 proposal in less than 1 month (all over Brazil, but mostly from São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro)
    • 15 professors involved
    • "Spontaneous" media coverage

Differently from the first phase of the pilot, in which the majority of professors were reached directly by the contracto, who analyzed their responses and potential for participation and selected a small group of 4 to 5 classes, for the second semester we decided to open a call [LINK] to which professors would submit a proposal for the program. The open call was focused in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, where the organization has its two contractors. Nevertheless, we had proposals from all over the country, being the majority from cities we wanted to focus on. We decided not to ignore good proposals from other places and took into account the following criteria: 1) Is that a good proposal? 2) Does the professor have students who can support them as ambassadors? 3) Does the professor have a (minimum) good infrastructure to develop the work he/she is proposing?

For selecting the best proposal we would give support through campus ambassadors, workshops and eventually online trainings, it was created a committee composed of WMF employees and community members. [LINK] There were 9 professors not affected by the strike from universities near São Paulo which we invited to join the program that would attend the August workshop in the city, out of which we ended up with 6 working until the end of the school term (3 gave up in the very beggining because their reality wasn't exactly the one described in the proposal). For those universities that had to delay the starting date of their courses, we have selected 7, all of them still working until the first quarter of 2013. From the 5 professors of the first school term, 3 have continued using and outreaching Wikipedia in the classroom.

Training events, tutorials and online training[edit]

  1. 5 workshops: São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba, Porto Alegre and Vitória

It was planned initially to organize two workshops in the beginning of the school term, one in São Paulo and one in Rio de Janeiro. The later had to be delayed because most universities that applied to the open call were affected by a strike on Brazilian federal universities. During the second school term we have organized 5 workshops for the program[6] and supported some professors online using Web conference.

It was noticed through professors feedback during the first phase of the pilot and discussing with the Portuguese Wikipedia community that there was a lack of a more step by step tutorials for professors, students and ambassadors. For this reason, three guides were created to facilitate professors, students and ambassadors on how to adapt a Wikipedia assignment to its classroom. Bellow you can check the three guide created, the ambassadors guide created with some help of the community (all in Portuguese):

Web conference was an interesting and efficient experience, although it had to be done one to one, to explain to some professors the basics of Wikipedia and about the program. Soon we will have a Web conference to the students of one course to try to teach them on the basics of the program and Wikipedia. This can save time in comparison to cases where contractors had to go to the classroom and further analysis is neeed to see how efficient is this method.

Network of educators and revitalizing WikiProjects[edit]

For a program like this to be successful and scale in Brazil, it is fundamental that we form a engaged network of educators supporting the use of Wikipedia in the classroom who understand this in a broader sense of the free culture movement. While focusing in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro initially, it was discovered later that that is doable in other regions. As an example, we have found 3 professors of the Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo (UFES) that are now in touch and can support each other, be it though exchanging their experiences, or even exchanging students that are working as Wikipedia ambassadors and can go to other campi to engage other students and professors. One of the professor have been using Wikipedia successfully for year and now is in touch with the other 2 we found through the open call.[7]

Because of our resources limitations and the nature of Wikimedia projects, it was also discussed with the Portuguese Wikipedia community about the idea of revitalize WikiProjects[8]m while consulting them about the future of the Wikipedia Education program. The community received the idea very well and one volunteer from Portugal led the discussion and a proposal to reformulate the Portuguese Wikipedia Wikiprojects to adequate them to the reality of the actual community[9], where much less volunteers exist when you compare to the English Wikipedia (~31 thousand vs. 1,5 thousand active editors, i. e., those with more than 5 edits per month).

The idea of forming a netwoking of specialists in particular fields of knowledge to retain editors to improve the quality of Wikipedia articles and revitalizing WikiProjects, diminishing their number and increasing their scope was supported by the Portuguese Wikipedia that engaged in this discussion.[10] because of that, the Ministry of Health in Brazil was contacted so that we can reach a network of School Hospitals and medical associations in the country, thus a small pilot to revitalize the WikiProject on Health Sciences will be tried in the first semester of 2013.

This is also similar to the idea to form a network of professors, but for a particular field. In the same way it is recommended that efforts are made to form a local network of professors supporting the Wikipedia Education Program, which can be extended to an international network, aligned with the global nature of its purpose, a network of experts in a particular fields, be it students, researchers, professors or the interested layman, can be a key element for improve the quality of the encyclopedia, retain editors, outreach Wikimedia projects and raise awareness on the importance of free knowledge.

Community meet ups and their involvement[edit]

"Wikimedia belongs in education."
Editing cheat sheet done by one wikipedians.

Even before the WMF pilot has started, although its bad timing in starting almost in the professors holidays, outreach of the program has started previously with some members of the Brazilian community getting involved and outreaching Wikimedia projects for educational purposes, such as Wikimedia Brasil activities and some volunteers of the Portuguese Wikipedia helping to translate presentations, tutorials and the WMF program pages.

Since the very beginning of the program, one of the things that the project coordination tried hard to do is to have the community involved in any single step of its implementation, from outreaching to other Wikipedia editors, to helping the production of the tutorials. We have found some very experienced editors from Brazil and Portugal really commited to the project, supporting it with templates, outreaching, preparation of tutorials and excellent ideas through discussions about the importance of education on Wikimedia projects. See for instance the discussions in the ambassadors talk page and some threads created for discussing the program with the community.

Regular support[edit]

During the school year since the beginning of the Wikipedia Education Program in Brazil, there was a pro-active support to all professors and when requested, from finding campus and online ambassador for them, when available, to answering e-mails, phone calls or giving additional support in person. In some cases, even when professors attended to the workshops and had trained campus ambassadors, they seemed to feel constrained to the Wikimedia Foundation contractors and did not have confidence enough in themselves and in the campus ambassadors. This added some extra time spent by both contracts, manly the program coordinator, which was also important to have a better feeling on what was going on in the classes.

The Portuguese Wikipedia[edit]

What have we learned


First school term of 2012[edit]

2012 - first school term
  • Number of Universities: 4
  • Number of Campi: 5
  • Professors who joined the pilot: 5
  • Number of classes: 5
  • Total possible students: 126
  • Number of usernames created: 49
  • Total articles: 31; 20 to mainspace
  • Total bytes: 194,694 (mainspace)
  • Bytes/article: 9735 (4x > average)
  • Number of ambassadors: 17 (8 Campus, 9 Online)

  • 5 classes
    • 1 very succefull
    • 1 with modest results (in terms of articles improvement/creation)
    • 1 professor without time to participate
    • 1 professor with articles stuck on sandboxes
    • 1 professor leading workshops and different models

Initially, the main goal of the first school term, when the pilot was starting, was to involve in the Wikipedia Education Program 4 to 5 professors of key Brazilian universities and learn from this initial pilot how could we use Wikipedia in Brazilian universities classrooms. For this specific goal, the first phase was very successfull resulting in important learnings[11] so that we could improve and expand the project in the second school term.

Regarding high quality content made by students in the classroom, we have have some very successful cases and others not that good, which was fundamental to identify better important factors to choose professors we want to work with and how to work with them. The first phase of the pilot also resulted in a lot of media attention, which is quite important in Brazil to bridge the gap among academia and Wikipedia, where a lot of prejudice exist due to the very low quality of the encyclopedia on more academic subjects.

Another positive achievement was a really positive feedback from professors who participated of the program, even those where the articles creation were not very successfull. Some of them have continued in the program, other will continue in other opportunities and one has lead her own initiatives and projects to outreach the use of Wikipedia in the classroom.


Second school term of 2012[edit]

2012 - second school term[12]
  • Number of Universities: 11
  • Number of Campi: 13
  • Professors who joined the pilot: 15
  • Number of classes: 15 (only 6 finished because of the strike)
  • Total possible students: 337 (classes without strike)
  • Number of usernames created: 79 (classes without strike)
  • Total articles: 44 (16 pending to be moved to the mainspace)
  • Total bytes: 274 349
  • Bytes/article: 5 824
Dinner with the first group of professors selected through the open call that participated of the first workshop in São Paulo.

In the very beginning of the pilot, it was decided[13] to expand the program to 12 to 18 classes. For achieve this goal, it was decided to use an open call, focusing in the cities where WMF has contractors (i. e., one in São Paulo and other in Rio de Janeiro). In less than one month of this open call, before the first school term ended, we received 36 proposals from professors of all the country, most of them in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Most Brazilian federal universities, in the first school term, were in strike, which change our planned chronogram during the second school term. Thus we had choosen 9 professors to the planned workshop in São Paulo, 5 in Rio de Janeiro, and other 4 professors in other cities we decided we could give the necessary support. Since most professors out of São Paulo had their agenda delayed to the beginning of 2013, the analysis here will focus in the results of the 6 professors that finished their school term in 2012.

Learning Points[edit]

Main learning points in progress, you can check the first and second phases learnings.

On the program[edit]

  1. This education program is not about bringing new contributors to Wikipedia in the short term: if we regard the profile of who contribute to Wikipedia, which is a volunteer work, and how school tasks are generally assigned to students, where they need to proove they learned somethings from what was taught, according to our results only a few students can become active Wikipedia contributors. On the other hand...
  2. This education program is about improving the Wikipedia quality and retaining professors to support the sharing of free knowledge and Wikimedia projects: improving the Wikipedia quality may be understood in many different ways and this should be more clearly define for the program as a whole. Although we can have high quality content of specific fields of knowledge when the Wikipedia assignments are successful, this may not be what will have the biggest educational impact on potential readers for a educational project. To mobilize and empower the next generation of human-knowledge generators, we should retain professors after participating of the program that can understand: 1. the importance of freely sharing online educational resources of high quality; 2. how to set Wikipedia (Wikimedia?) assignments on their courses - having in mind the benefits for students and for the readers of the content that is supposed to be created. It is important to realise that Wikipedia is not a cause, open educational resouces with high quality is and Wikipedia have to be seen as one possible tool.

On the goals[edit]

  1. Involve Brazilian universities to implement a pilot with Wikipedia assignments in the classroom
  2. Improve Portuguese Wikipedia articles quality through students assignments in the classroom

Portugal, its volunteers and their universities[edit]

There are a considerable number of volunteers from Portugal that significantly contributes to the Portuguese Wikipedia content, projects and discussions. Some of them were of condiderable importance to the online support of the Wikipedia Education Program in Brazil, such as helping with templates for the courses, userpages, discussions, ideas, students and professors support and so on.

During the last year some professors from Portugal pro-actively contacted us and volunteers of Wikimedia Portugal, but there was no continuity in the conversation for joining Portuguese universities in the program. It was discussed in the begining of 2013 with members of Wikimedia Portugal the idea of having someone there supporting activities to involve univerties in the Wikipedia Education Program, similarly to what is happening with other Wikimedia chapters. Wikimedia Portugal is going to return if they want this kind of position in their country in the end of January 2013.


  1. Self-sustaing project and scalabe:
  2. Autonomous project with WMF support: Massive open online course using Wikipedia

Challenges and concenrs[edit]

Highlighting some points

Wikipedia ambassadors growth: increase the number of volunteers willing to work as wikipedia ambassadors: inside Wikipedia community and among students inside universities we are working with. Ambassadors should be the main catalystis for new ambassadors together with the professor.

More professors joining the program with the adequate infrastructure and support: convince the academia on the importance of sharing free knowledge using Wikipedia. Professors commited to education should understand the importance of making knowledge available freely to everyone and teach this to his students. It was learned that professors really like the idea of Wikipedia and the program, but they become afraid of Wikipedia assignment when they realise the software limitations can interfeer in their pedagogical goals.

Find ways to make the program sustainable: the program must be community driven.

Good newbies acceptance: contributions from students of courses joining the program should be well accepted by the community and we have to find ways to convince the community on the importance of having new editors.


Althought we already have some excelent outreach material, we still need to prepare resources so that professors can lead the project in their classroom more independently.
  1. Improving support material: printed and online on how to engage their students on Wikipedia
  2. Ambassadors expansion: this will not work solely with one contractor. For a successful expansion in one region, it is strongly recommended to hire a partial time person to work on outreach activities
  3. Support for chapters of other Portuguese-speaking countries