Wikimedia Fellowships/Project Ideas/Secondary School Integration

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List of Project Ideas Wikimedia Fellowship Project Idea

This project is developing a convincing program to integrate lessons of Wikipedia style and sourcing into public school curricula. This includes integration into secondary school language programs (the whole department, not as a single class gimmick) as a more engaging and modern alternative to traditional instruction. The idea is to build sample programs that teach Wikipedia style and editing conventions as a means for understanding the social use of language (as per the aims of education itself). This establishes the Wikipedia community platform as a public forum for research instead of a distant, unreliable body of information. It will naturally engage students' inherent tendency to create in self-interesting topics and change the way in which rising academics perceive of Wikipedia's role.

Districts and states are more likely to accept such change (as they are already tending to) if the curricula work is developed for them, and thusly, the project would be open and designed for wide-distribution on district and state levels. For instance, in America, a ninth-grade curriculum could include markup, style/grammar, notability, original work principles while contributing to alternative wikis, and graduate to fringe topics and WikiProjects towards the end of their schooling, perhaps even as senior projects. It grows collective human knowledge, it grows Wikimedia assets, it grows students. Everybody has everything to gain from it.


The benefits of Wikipedia in the classroom have been documented, but to recap, they include a sense of civics in the worldwide information community, understanding of writing in markup, an applied sense of style, and an outward-building method for developing research-based work. These ideas mark a paradigm shift in the way students construct arguments, one that encourages engagement with material for the sake of learning as opposed to today's standards of exploded outlines, strategic repeating of book passages, word count minimums, and citations as garnishes (instead of deep arguments). Hypermedia still hasn't yet permeated public education, and such a program is not only good for building trust in Wikipedia, but a virtuous good for otherwise stifled youth.

The progressive UK Studio Schools project noted in their education reform research that older students want to work on practical projects and collaborate. Schools that adopt Wikipedia ideas for sharing information will become more open to sharing in collateral damage I cannot predict (but nevertheless, is bound to include more of what students want, which is what will let them grow). Creating work develops a better sense of purpose in an educational system rigged for regurgitation. Pursuing knowledge qua knowledge offers students a clear break from a history of stultifying, top-down assignments. Students will naturally pursue their interests, and creatively. Wikipedia just provides the platform. Editing also will take a larger role in the creative process. Research is a form of remixing data, considering the modern mind as in constant post-processing of raw input (sight, sound, information, symbols), and encyclopedia-editing is a mental exercise that encourages the development of nuggets into boulders, solidified through citation. Current research work reads more like a marathon, racing to the next point of the outline and accommodating sources later. Wikipedia style offers a fuller idea of research.

It is targeted for youth, otherwise without representation in WM's programs. It gears them for later participation in Wikipedia and related Wikimedia projects as a creative medium for research. As you can tell, I personally don't believe the solution to editor retention is in programs for editors, but in creating a greater influx of editors in the general public. Similar to the freemium model in web app development or the 1% rule, vigorously promoting Wikipedia's use in public education is the most sensible way of attracting editors and educating a user base that will depend on Wikipedia's articles for the rest of their lives. As previously mentioned, it's also a form of civic outreach. As a recent product of the American public education system, I know that students are not trained in the fundamental principles of verifiability on the Internet—a lesson learned through hands-on participation and investigation, and not by being told that some information is false.

It increases participation and reach like no alternative project, and encourages innovation in new, untouched, non-Wikimedia-affiliated communities, and preps participants for integration. It also trains them young.

The project's drivers should expedite a prototype for integration in progressive districts for rapid iteration and expansion into similar schools. The prototype consists of teacher training in Wikipedia standards and co-development of curricula as a replacement for research paper assignments. The principles exported from these lessons can be used by students in later research-based work, including traditional papers with annotated bibliographies. A final project should be a gauntlet to be picked up by teachers and superintendents alike for presentation at conferences, and professional development and curriculum development sessions. Collaboration on project implementations can bring more traffic and curriculum-sharing to the Wikiversity network. Districts have the opportunity to save on costs, and will receive accolades for tech-savvy improvements in a stagnant learning environment. Such a system can rapidly spread (with no drag or reproduction costs other than speaking time) if designed for growth by bright, smart fellows.

It serves the many, and not the few. It offers a wonderful prospect for youth interest in learning. Freedom in academic pursuits will make children happier and better equipped to participate in 21st century society.

The project is sustainable by the participants it brings to Wikimedia efforts. In fact, its intention is to become owned by existing educational fiefdoms once architected.

It can easily expand to non-English locales via translation and the natural process of educational accommodation from influencers to the influenced.

The project will be successful if schools adopt the program and recommend it to other schools.

Submitted by Mxdxcxnx 04:56, 16 January 2012 (UTC)


This section is for endorsements by Wikimedia community volunteers. Please note that this is not a debate, vote, or poll, but is rather a space for volunteers to describe in detail why they think a project idea is of value. If you have concerns or questions rather than an endorsement to make, please use the idea Talk page. Endorsements by volunteers willing to work in collaboration with a fellowship recipient on a project are highly encouraged.