Education/Newsletter/November 2013/EduWiki Conference 2013 convenes in Cardiff

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by Stevie Benton

Rodney Dunican delivering his keynote at EduWiki 2013

Educators and Wikimedians from around the world met this weekend in Cardiff for Wikimedia UK’s second annual EduWiki Conference.

The conference addressed issues that concern both the education sector and the Wikimedia movement. These include: how we promote digital literacy, how we discourage plagiarism, how we assess learner contributions, and how we can use the data about users and their behaviour (“learning analytics”) that online tools give us.

The two day conference brought together academics, students, librarians, and support staff-as well as contributors to Wikipedia, Wikiversity and Wikinews-for talks, presentations and workshops including three keynotes. Gareth Morlais, Digital Media Specialist at the Welsh Government, spoke about the difficulty of getting minority languages recognised by the web’s big names such as Google. The size of Welsh Wicipedia is one marker of the importance of the language, and this is one way Wicipedia creates opportunities for Welsh speakers. Gareth delivered his presentation in Welsh, with live translation through headsets.

David White from Oxford University used his keynote to report on interviews with students about their use of Wikipedia. He contrasted the official disapproval that many schools and universities show for Wikipedia against the success learners find in using online tools to efficiently answer homework questions. The resulting “learning black market” discourages learners from being honest with their lecturers or teachers about their use of Wikipedia. White challenged universities to rediscover their original ethos of educating for leadership rather than for retrieval and synthesis of facts.

Day two’s keynote came from Rodney Dunican, the Director of Global Education at the Wikimedia Foundation. He reported that there are now sixty countries with a Wikipedia Education Program, including dozens of different universities and colleges in the US and Canada. He highlighted the great motivation that students can get from writing for Wikipedia’s global audience.

Dr Toni Sant, Education Organiser for Wikimedia UK, said: ”I feel privileged to have been entrusted with the opportunity to convene the second annual gathering of the main Wikimedia operators in the UK’s education sector. We’re also blessed with the presence of similar collaborators from various other countries around Europe, Australia, and North America. We are now well placed to extend the international reach at Wikimania 2014 in London next August, where the future of education will be among the main themes.”

The presentations were filmed and will be shared over the coming few days on Wikimedia Commons and YouTube once editing is complete. If you have media files from the conference, such as photographs or video, why not upload those to Wikimedia Commons, too? You can also read reactions on Twitter by searching for the hashtag #eduwiki.