Comparing the Pune and the Cairo Pilot – what we are doing differently
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This page aims at giving an overview of the measures the Wikimedia Foundation's Global Education Program team took based on our learnings from the pilot project in Pune.
- We took more time to investigate the situation on the ground. Prior to starting the program, we visited Cairo three times (in October 2011, December 2011 and January 2012). As a result, we had more opportunities to talk to instructors and students and we also built stronger ties with the local community of Wikipedians.
- We involved the community on the Arabic Wikipedia in the planning process from the first moment on. We started to reach out to the community on November 14th, that is two and a half months before the semester starts at Cairo University and Ain Shams University. Each time before we took the next step, we asked the community for feedback.
- We decided to make the planning and implementation processes as transparent as possible. On January 9th, we published a detailed program plan on the outreach wiki (http://outreach.wikimedia.org/wiki/Cairo_Pilot_program_plan). We also decided not to use Google documents and to keep all information on-wiki in order to achieve a higher level of transparency.
- We decided to start small, in order to make sure the existing community on the Arabic Wikipedia doesn't get overwhelmed by a high influx of new users. In addition, we're involving only the most interested, mission-aligned, and qualified students and professors. More specifically:
- We strictly limited the number of students that will participate in the pilot.
- We also changed the way of recruiting instructors for the pilot. We limited the number of professors (to just 6–7 professors) and asked only those who showed the highest level of alignment to our mission to participate.
- We asked each professors to only let their best 5–15 students participate in the pilot. We anticipated that only those students will have the research and writing skills to make meaningful contributions to Wikipedia. In other words, the assignment is not mandatory to all students in the class; instead, only the most interested and qualified students will contribute to the Arabic Wikipedia.
- The Ambassador-to-student ratio – as well as the Wikipedian-to-class ratio – will be higher in Cairo than it was in Pune, to make sure we are providing adequate support for the participants. This is in line with the new participation requirements for the Wikipedia Education Program we enacted in January 2012.
- We made the professor orientation mandatory. We assumed that instructors who have a solid understanding of Wikipedia's guidelines, policies and structures will be more successful in enabling their students to contribute high-quality content to Wikipedia.
- Both the professor orientation and the Campus Ambassador training will be run mainly by local Wikipedians. We met those Wikipedians prior to the training events and agreed on a list of priorities for the trainings.
- Both the professor orientation and Campus Ambassadors training in mid-January 2012 will put significant emphasis on issues related to copyright violations and plagiarism.
- We recruited experienced Wikipedians as Online Ambassadors early on. These Wikipedians will get an orientation and will help us to monitor what the students are doing on the Arabic Wikipedia.
- We set up an A/B testing framework (A: students write articles based on their own research / B: students translate articles from other Wikipedia language versions into Arabic) to investigate different options of using Wikipedia in the classroom. The second semester will be based on the learnings around which model proves to be more successful in generating high-quality content.
- We decided to run general outreach events on campus (e.g. general editing workshops) in addition to the classroom model. That way, we hope to gather information about which kind of campus-related events creates the highest number of contributors.
- We are planning to inform the community about the ongoing status of the program in weekly newsletters.
- We involved Adel Iskandar, professor at Georgetown University, as a program advisor from the early beginning of the planning phase on. We also invited Rochelle Davis, professor for Arabic Studies, to help us with our professor orientation in Cairo (January 2012). Both professors participated successfully in the Public Policy Initiative and provided us with valuable information and support.