Editing workshops/Prague (Czech Republic), Spice Summer Academy, August 28, 2011
"The Wikipedia Start-up Wizard"
The name of the workshop was my response to the organizers' request for a "catchy" title:)
This editing workshop was presented in the context of the Spice Summer Academy, an event promoting the Spice project, which was carried out by European Schoolnet and other European education agencies. Spice is one of the projects under the Scientix community "umbrella". Aimed at encouraging practices of Inquiry-Based Science Education (IBSE), Scientix seems to have an active interest in promoting Wikipedia editing in the classroom. User Saintfevrier won first prize with the poster "Why the High School Student Became a Wikipedia Editor" in the poster competition of the Scientix European Conference on 6-8 May 2011 in Brussels, Belgium, and was awarded free participation including accommodation and travel in the Spice Summer Academy. Two months later Saintfevrier accepted Scientix's proposal to present a Wikipedia workshop at Spice Summer Academy.
Venue - equipment
The venue was the amphitheatre of Prague National Technical Library. Wifi access was available, and the amphitheatre was also equipped with a large screen & projector. The allotted time was 45 minutes (30 minutes presentation + 15 minutes Q&A) with no allowance for extra time, as a different workshop immediately followed.
Due to the restricted duration, a quick-paced concept needed to be devised; thus the "Wikipedia Quick Start Guide" was created. Based on the popular concept of "quick start guides" for installing e.g. new peripherals to a computer system - which "bypass" instructions and manuals to get straight to the point - the objective of the Wikipedia Quick Start Guide was for the participants to have opened a Wikipedia account and made their first edit by the end of the workshop. The four key steps (create account, find topic, edit-preview-save, check contributions) are presented in screenshots, with the insertion of textboxes, arrows and circled/magnified text as necessary. Overleaf, information about Wikipedia editing was provided in a Q&A format, with "callouts" and text boxes showing the basics of "help" facilities on the Wikipedia homepage, uploading multimedia to Commons and formatting.
Needless to say, the theme had to be one familiar to all participants, regardless of country or scientific field of interest. European cuisine was chosen, as it is widely represented on English Wikipedia (the working language of the event was English). Participants were encouraged to make a one or two-line contribution to the cuisine of their country.
A total of 27 participants attended, most with their own laptop. After a 5-min. introduction, the Wikipedia Quick Start Guide was handed out. The Guide was printed in A3 format, a familiar and easy-to-read size.
An interesting detail was that the event itself included a "European cookie-tasting session", an idea suggested by one of the participants; we had been informed by e-mail beforehand that we should bring along some typical/traditional cookies or sweets from our countries to share at the first coffee break. This was the perfect opportunity to gather "Wikipedia-worthy material": the photographs taken were briefly presented and participants smiled on recognising their own "cookie contributions". If at lack of their own ideas, the participants could be inspired by the cookie images, as I was: while presenting I created the article Akanes, which was one of the sweets I had contributed to the coffee break.
After allowing approx. 30 minutes for the participants to go through the steps while watching my own edit on the screen in real time, I asked what they had done. All participants had created an account, and several had completed a minor edit (e.g. a participant from Hungary mentioned that she had added two spices to the list of Hungarian cuisine spices).
Closing of the workshop
At this point I showed a 4-minute slideshow of Wikipedia/-media contributions made by my students. The slideshow was accompanied by Handel Messiah from Wikimedia Commons, to demonstrate the fact that even classical music is available on Commons.
The workshop was by no means exhaustive, and too brief to go into important aspects of Wikipedia policy (e.g. citations). It did however manage to "spark" a fire in several of the participants; hopefully they will go back to Wikipedia to check their contributions, and perhaps embark on an editing "journey" of their own...
Although the amphitheatre was a well-equipped and pleasant space, perhaps the workshop would be better set out in a flat room, as this would enable the presenter to go round, check on the participants' progress and offer help when needed.