Wikimedia Education SAARC conference/Feedbacks/KCVelaga

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Hello, thanks for participating in Wikimedia Education SAARC conference. This is the feedback time.

Please write in details on areas such as

  • Event planning
  • Training
  • Logistics
  • Management
For private feedback, send an email to tito+wep(_AT_)cis-india.org. For unidentified feedback, please use this form

Please share your detailed feedback below:

  • Please summarize your experience in this conference in 2-3 sentences? (How was your experience, was it helpful? Be innovative! You may write in text, or upload a video/audio etc)
Answer: Though it was a good initiative, the way things were organised could have been better. My experience with the conference was OK, but not very good. I felt some sessions failed to establish a connection between the subject of the presentation and what they mean to Wikimedia and Education. Also, there were changes to the program at the last moment. The rules and restrictions of the campus had been a problem. The major ones were the WiFi, and not able to move in/out of the campus or at least the building where were accommodated, between 10 pm and 5 am created a lot of discomforts.
  • In a scale of 1–5 (where 1 means the lowest and 5 means the highest), would you join a similar conference in future and why? (write in details, please)
Answer: 2/5. I would be happy to join only if it is better organised, and the logistics concerns are taken into consideration.
  • Please explain in details what went well during the conference?(write in details, please)
Answer:
  • It was good to meet a diverse set of participants, from example, there was a participant from Assam.
  • The morning session on the second day of the conference went very well. People from different communities presented about their work, and it had been a good experience to share thoughts with the audience during the presentations, which worked out well.
  • The BirdWalk, though it only planned on the first day of the conference, went well. Such efforts should be encouraged in all the events. It involves no extra cost and results in something meaningful.
  • Though this point is not related to the conference, I think it is worth mentioning. I met Jayanta Nath for the first time, and with his help, Logonathan and I, were able to resolve a long-pending OTRS licensing issue of the public domain books from Tamil Virtual Academy during the conference. This license is now going to be used on thousands of PDF books on WCommons.
  • Please explain in details what would you have liked to be different and why? (how could we improve the conference, write in details, please)
Answer: There are a lot of things which could have been better. Please follow the points below:
  • Firstly, as this was a first of its kind event, there should have been more community involvement. There was no community member involved apart from the CIS-A2K staff during the planning of the event. Though it had been in the later stages, not when on the initial idea. The problem is that India, as of today, doesn't have a very strong EduWiki community. There are only a few programs scattered across the country, with almost no communication with each other. I think at this point, a conference of this level is not an ideal thing to do. I say this because I have observed many participants not having a clear picture of what EduWiki is, and are learning everything at this conference. This doesn't add value to the program, and it doesn't make sense for a conference, but more of a training. It could have been more of training focused event, where you could have brought some existing Wikimedians working with EduWiki, and experienced Wikimedians and institutions, who are interested to work with Wikimedia and Education, and mapping needs + skill sharing.
  • Though the OER session on Day 1, and a remote session by an OER expert on Day 2 were good, they failed to establish a connection with EduWiki. The sessions were purely focused on the OER movement and the technicalities around them. Most of the participants were clueless about their connection with the Wikimedia movement, and their application in EduWiki activities. The Wikisource session on Day 3 also had the same problem. There wasn't much about the use of Wikisource in Education.
  • What surprised me was that, in spite of conducting the event in the university, with all of the uncomfortable restrictions, there were no students from the Christ Wikipedia Education Program participating in the conference. There have been a lot of concerns from the Hindi and Kannada community about the content produced by the students from this program – some of the participants voiced these concerns at the conference as well. But there was no interaction between the students and the community members, which could have solved some issues. Also, a community member asked to arrange for interaction during some free time, the same was not entertained as well. Day 3 of the conference ended at around 3 pm, and this time could have easily been used for this interaction.
  • The "Group activity" on Day 1 was good, I got a lot of new perspectives on how various problems in Education were being dealt across India. But the problem was with breaking the session and continuing on Day 2. This derailed the process, and on Day 2, when the participants were presenting about, including our group, we missed a lot of points and felt disinterested. Hands-on sessions shouldn't be split, not at least on different days.
  • The inauguration ceremony was quite strange and it should not be in this way for Wikimedia events. I have seen no Wikimedia events doing such a ceremony. The main concerns were the prayer & the lighting of the lamp should not be encouraged at Wikimedia events, I felt it be an imposition. We have people from various faiths, and it was clearly not neutral.
  • I am not happy with my role in the organising. One of the core organises asked me to be on the Program Committee for the conference. But the whole committee never convened to discuss the program, if there was any such. I was asked to work on the "Revolving cafe" topics schedule for Day 3 of the conference. The schedule designed by me was put on the program for the conference. However, one of the resource persons expressed a concern that she would not be able to lead the topic assigned to her, and I had to change the topic which suits her expertise. As I assumed to be on the Program Committee, I went ahead with changing the topic on Wiki. But alas, everything was changed in less ten minutes, the scheduled I designed was completely discarded without any information. Also, the new topic assigned to me and my co-lead was not our area of work – we had not been consulted before the topics being assigned to us. We had to literally think of what we were going to talk about in about five minutes. Firstly, discarding the schedule designed by me (as a Program Committee member) without any information implies insignificance of community members in organising the event. Secondly, people should be asked before they are assigned something.
  • How do you plan to use and share your learning in near future?
Answer: I have made some good connections, and I plan to follow-up with them for future activities related to EduWiki, and the larger Wikimedia movement.
  • Do you have anything to share?
Answer: CIS-A2K has been consistently doing a lot of good work in various areas and has been supportive of many community activities and members, to their maximum capacity. But the way this conference had been planned and organised remains disappointing.