Education/News/August 2018/The reconnection of Wikimedia Projects
The reconnection of Wikimedia Projects in Brazil
At the end of the twentieth century, the French philosopher and sociologist Edgar Morin promoted a series of discussions on one of the great challenges of contemporary education: "re-connection" of natural and culture sciences, so to speak, since contemporaneity eventually strengthened the model of fragmentation, specialization and disciplinarization. Subsequently gathered in the form of a book entitled “Relier les connaissances” the perception that pedagogical activities must also concern ourselves with the excesses of an extreme fragmentation has led us to think about it on the use of Wikimedia projects as pedagogical tools and, in this context, to promote in a similar way, a “re-connection” of the Wikimedia projects. In this way, students can do more than write articles for an (amazing) online encyclopedia, but also understand several aspects that involve the production of knowledge, copyright and how structured information can be reworked and re-presented in several other projects and platforms, just like Wikidata.
In recent years, many of our educational projects have maintained an objective concern in taking students beyond the editable online surface of Wikipedia. For example, our Commons Project of the Cásper Líbero College, which encourages students to go to specific points in São Paulo, an alpha global city and the most populous city in Brazil, to photograph unique aspects of its buildings and monuments, paying attention not just to the photographic record itself, but also to many copyright contexts, just like "freedom of panorama" and "de minimis" cases. Secondly, through partnerships and facilitated ways of communication established previously with São Paulo libraries and research centers, the same students are encouraged to attend to all these referenced cultural institutions that were previously informed about our activities, which facilitates access to the relevant works or even to allow access to works of restricted circulation. In this second moment, the students have a clear dimension of the context related to the knowledge production, identifying and avoiding cases of original research, comparing and prioritizing the most reliable sources, dealing with conflicting information present in the sources etc. Finally, in a third and last moment during a semester, the work of research and photographic record finally materialize in writing not only articles in Wikipedia, but even of books in Wikibooks, and this leads us to our educational projects more recently.
In 2018, in addition to the many educational projects inside the Faculdade Cásper Líbero, a leading communications school in Brazil and often ranked among the top-five journalism schools in the country, we can point to at least three other educational initiatives that we are supporting right now. The first one is being led by Professor Silvio Nihei, together with other professors from the Institute of Biosciences at the University of São Paulo, the largest Brazilian public university and the country's most prestigious educational institution, being ranked 100 worldwide in reputation by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. Together they have been conducting activities related to the entomology universe, the biology field that studies insects. Our expectation throughout the process is that the these educational activities may map out most of the potential collections of the Institute of Biology that may be converted into new GLAM partnerships, which can certainly bring numerous valuable images to Wikimedia Commons, especially the ones of endemic species in Brazil. A second project taking place is at Centro Universitário Belas Artes of São Paulo, a college related to areas of arts in general. Over the years, important Brazilian art figures were closely linked to the Belas Artes institution: Pedro Augusto Gomes Cardim, Mario de Andrade and Menotti Del Picchia, for instance.
Inside this new Belas Artes Wikimedia educational project, one of the collections that results from our previous GLAM with the Museu Paulista was selected to be worked with the Belas Artes students: the Werner Haberkorn collection. Haberkorn was an engineer, photographer and German businessman, based in Brazil, who founded in the 1940s one of the most important postcard companies in the state of São Paulo: the Fotolabor. In these postcards, there is not only an amazing photographic record of the process of urbanization and the historical landmarks of São Paulo city, but also a series of branding advertising that plays a prominent role in the history of the advertising market in Brazil. Thus, the idea is that students can identify and map these "tags" inside files that have already been uploaded on Wikimedia Commons and later to turn all the work into a wikibook, as you may see an example here. Finally, our most recent support is starting with Modern History teachers at the Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp), a Brazilian public higher education institution located in the state of São Paulo, one of the three federal universities in the state. The project is still in its first weeks, but it solidly marks our activities and commitment in some of the very top higher education institutions in Brazil.