Education/Class activities database

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The purpose of this page is to collect exercises, classroom tasks, homework patterns and other materials / assignemtns that have proved useful in teaching wiki and teaching with wiki.

We can embellish the list one day, but for now let's keep things simple and see where it gets us. The structure below should be pretty self-explanatory.

Wikipedia in general[edit]

Wandering posters. User:Halibutt hovering over one of the groups.

Wandering posters[edit]

The purpose of this activity is to teach the attendees the basic principles of Wikipedia through shared learning. The basic premise is that most people nowadays know the rules of Wikipedia, even if they do not know the actual wording of the rules. We as Wikimedians love our rules and regulations, we use a plethora of fancy abbreviations (NPOV, OR, WP:UE, 5F, you name it), we could hammer newcomers to death with them. At the same time most newcomers already know what Wikipedia is, what it is not, what information should be included in an article, and what is definitely non-notable. They just don't know the names of our policies. The fun part is, you do not have to explain the rules in advance, just let the group do the hard work and tell them at the end: this is what our rule X or rule Y is all about.

The task[edit]

  1. Divide the audience into smaller groups. Groups of five or so people work best, smaller or larger groups are also possible. Distribute one sheet of paper (poster/flipchart size) per group. At least two groups are needed.
  2. Give each group a task of preparing a list. Depending on what you are trying to teach, it could be a list of:
    1. What should be included in a Wikipedia article on a city (or a person, or a company) - a question of WP:NOTABILITY
    2. What should never be included in a Wikipedia article on a city (or a person,...)
    3. What motivates Wikipedians, why do they spend their time creating Wikipedia
    4. What sources could be used to expand a Wikipedia article
    5. What sources should never be used to expand a Wikipedia article
    6. What places/people are "automatically notable"
  3. Now, the fun begins. Give the groups some time (10 minutes at most) to prepare their lists. Be prepared to clarify the task at hand, be careful not to give the groups too many clues though: it should be their work, not yours.
  4. Now shuffle the partially-filled posters around and give them to different groups to expand / comment on. Ideally, every group should have enough time to fill at least two posters: one they start with and another started by another group.
  5. Now give back the posters to the groups that started filling them and ask them to present their work. What did they discover, why do they think that not all actors are notable, were there any disagreements among the groups and so on. The presentation does not have to be extensive.
  6. When all groups have finished presenting their posters, tell the audience which rules (if any) have they just discovered, and point out any potential problems ("You decided that all actors are notable. Some, however, have only acted in one film and their articles might get deleted on our wiki due to lack of notability").
Students presenting the effects of their work at the end of the exercise

Resources needed[edit]

  • 1 large sheet of paper (poster/flipchart) per group of 5 or so
  • 1 pen per group
  • tables or enough room on the floor for the groups to comfortably sit around their posters

Time needed[edit]

  • some 20 minutes + time for presentation


Copyright & open licenses[edit]

Drawing a hamster[edit]

Kamil Śliwowski arranging hamsters according to licenses during his WikiWarszawa class on copyright
Students drawing hamsters during a WikiWarszawa workshop in 2015

The purpose of this exercise is to teach the group the basics of copyright law and the ideas behind open content in under 10 minutes, without using too many actual legalese terms. Most people under 30 in developed and developing countries already are active users of the Internet, they know the basics of copyright law, have heard of (or committed) internet piracy, plagiarism, shared pics on Facebook, and so on. Yet, this hardly translates to structured knowledge of the concept of authorship, what the local copyright law is, what free vs. non-free content is, what could legally be shared on Facebook, or what a creative work is in the first place.

I tested the exercise during WikiWarszawa (workshops for high school students), but also during copyright workshops for adults, and it was fun every time. Halibutt (talk)

The task[edit]

  1. Ask the audience to draw a hamster[hamster? 1], it doesn't have to be pretty, a very sketchy stick-hamster is ok, as long as there is some free space left on the piece of paper. 3 minutes is more than enough for this part.
  2. Ask them to add their signature to their work of art (yay, we now have what it takes to call their work a piece of art, or the subject of copyright law! - tell them they're artists now)
  3. Now ask them to put down any conditions they can think of, under which you could use their hamster drawings: publish it in a newspaper, print it on t-shirts or use it to illustrate the Wikipedia article on hamsters. Provided the group is large enough, you'll get the full spectrum. Again, 3 minutes is enough, we don't want page-long licenses written in legalese.
  4. Collect the works of art from the students and speedily arrange them on the floor according to the openness of the licenses: bizarre conditions ("re-use only on Wednesdays", "feed my hamster squirrels") to the right, then the typical "don't touch it's mine" copyright, then the CC-like licenses in the centre, all the way to Public Domain/CC-0 licenses on the left.
  5. Now pick an example from each pile and talk them through the licenses. "Look, you just released your work under CC-by-NC" or "The copyright protection of this hamster is very strict but don't worry, we'll wait 'til 70 years after you die and use it on Wikipedia anyway". Just remember, this is supposed to be fun, not a typical lecture with a boring PowerPoint presentation.
  6. You can secretly add a prepared hight-quality picture and ask who draw it. As (hopefully) nobody will assign it to himself / herself, you can clarify that it is anonymous work and unusable in Wikipedia for long time.

Resources needed[edit]

  • 1 pc of paper per student
  • 1 pen per student

Time needed[edit]

  • 10 minutes


  1. The name of this exercise is a pun on the fact that chomikuj (literally hamster-ise) is a well-known Polish file-hosting site, popular among youngsters and filled to the brim with pirated content. Any simple object could do. When organising a workshop for youngsters, it's good to chose some funny topic, but of course you can ask the group to draw any other object; a hamster might not be an inherently-funny word in your culture or among the target audience. I asked radio journalists to draw a radio for instance, it really doesn't matter. Squirreling away material on your hard drive may be grounds for calling up a squirrel to be drawn.


Go on, type something :)