In order to create new partnerships Wikimedia Armenia held a roundtable discussion in May 2017 and invited potential educational partners - Teach For Armenia, AGBU, Ayb school, Luys Foundation, American University of Armenia, Birthright Armenia etc. Below are the highlights of the discussion.
Partnership with Teach for Armenia
After the partnership meeting organized in May 2017 Wikimedia Armenia started a collaboration with Teach for Armenia NGO (TFA). The aim of this particular NGO is to improve education in Armenia and make it accessible to all children regardless of where they live and what socio-economic background they come from. Teach for Armenia was represented by Teny Avakian, Director of Recruitment and Selection. The following points for potential collaboration were discussed:
- There are no after-school activities in the distant villages where Teach for Armenia works. During the meeting, TFA suggested that the WikiClubs could potentially become after-school activity where kids will learn to edit and make friends. Their teachers run various after-school clubs and they might be interested in establishing WikiClubs.
- Teach For Armenia has a monthly meeting for its teachers in Yerevan. WMAM can present the educational program to them and find potential coordinators or leaders for the Wikipedia Education Program.
- Teach For Armenia also has an annual meeting for the new teachers - Summer School of the Teach For Armenia. WMAM can add a training component on the Wikipedia and media literacy.
After this meeting, 13 teachers have been invited to attend the upcoming Teachers’ WikiWeek, where they were introduced to the Wikipedia Education Program and learned the ways to include the wiki activities in their teaching process. As a result three of the teachers went back and have initiated setting up WikiClubs in their respective villages - Arshaluys, Urasar, and Vardenik. In order to support their initiative, some students from these villages were later invited to WikiCamps. Another follow-up was the participation of the Teach for Armenia teachers in the WikiCamp as group leaders and advisors for the campers. One of the active editors and volunteers of WMAM - Volodya Grigoryan, who has applied to join the Teachers team of TFA took part in the Summer School and introduced wiki editing tools and wiki movement.
Partnership with Ayb school
Ayb was represented by Aram Pakhchanyan - the Principle of the school, who suggested to have a Wiki ambassador at AYB, who would really want to constantly support wiki activities. Mr. Pakhchanyan suggested several working models that would be the most effective. One of them emphasizes the importance of research by students who would learn first and contribute․ Students would work on large articles which might consume a lot of time but it would be a good way to make the work creative and collaborative. In its turn, the ambassador or WMAM would provide the students feedback on how useful their articles were (e.g. number of views) and how appreciated it was by the readers.
After the meeting, Ayb School has nominated a Wiki Ambassador who is the Ayb School librarian, a participant of the Collab Meeting. She was also invited to take part in teachers training to learn to edit and pass on the knowledge to Ayb students. As a result, it was decided that Wikimedia Armenia would reshape its education program with Ayb in September 2017.
Partnership with Birthright Armenia
Birthright Armenia, also known as Depi Hayk, is a volunteer internship enhancement program that also offers travel fellowships to eligible participants to assist in the development of Armenia․ Ruzanna Sargsyan, the job placement specialist of Birthright Armenia introduced their program and suggested that their experts, professionals, and volunteers engage in various Wikimedia educational projects. Right after the meeting, we had our first volunteers from Canada and USA who got involved with WMAM.
Partnership with Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU)
AGBU preserves and promotes the Armenian identity and heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian programs, annually serving some 500,000 Armenians in over 30 countries.
During the meeting AGBU representatives mentioned the following areas for collaboration with WMAM:
- Assist the institutional capacity development of Wikimedia Armenia through its Civil Society Capacity Development project - Together4Armenia (http://www.together4armenia.am/en)
- Support Wikimedia Armenia in studying the impact of Wikimedia Armenia’s educational programs such as WikiCamps and WikiClubs on youth (especially rural and underprivileged youth).
Memorandum of cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Science
During the first quarter Wikimedia Armenia has initiated a collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Science (http://www.gov.am/en/) with the aim to increase the quality and the number of articles in Armenian Wikipedia, to support the educational-scientific events organized by WMAM. It has been decided to sign a memorandum of cooperation where parties agreeing to the following:
- to ensure the transparency and the accessibility of free knowledge and the content in Wikimedia project,
- to support all educational and scientific events organized by Wikimedia Armenia which are aimed at addition and improvement of the content of Wikimedia projects.
- introduce Wiki editing in schools and universities as part of the curriculum.
We already have the first draft of the Memorandum, which will be finalized and negotiated with the Ministry of Education and Science in 2018.
Every Saturday Wikimedia Armenia organizes open workshops edit-a-thons at the WM AM office where new editors are taught how to edit different wiki projects and the experienced editors participate in edit-a-thons dedicated to different themes. Anyone interested in wiki projects, Wikipedia, wiki editing and needing assistance, as well as wiki editors, who want to edit in pleasant atmosphere participate in these workshops. We have about 15-20 participants in each workshop. Among them there are also active wiki editors of hywiki, hywiktionary, hywikisource, Wikidata who help to conduct the workshops.