Education/Newsletter/April 2017/Key to recruiting seniors as Wikipedians is long-term work

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Key to recruiting seniors as Wikipedians is long-term work


Author: Gabriela Boková


At the end of 2013, the Seniors Write Wikipedia program started in the Czech Republic. At first we arranged lectures and courses in Prague, but in 2016, we extended the project to 8 other Czech cities. More and more Czech seniors write Wikipedia article and the interest of institutions in the program is ever-increasing.


In 2016 we arranged 19 courses for beginners and advanced users in which 111 newly registered seniors participated and together wrote 216 articles and added 1 971 065 bytes to the main namespace. Why do we have so good results in recruiting seniors? We think that it is because of the focus on long-term work with them.
We do not provide one day workshops but we rather organize courses with at least 4 lessons (usually six lessons) for complete Wikipedia beginners. Every lesson takes two hours and the participants are asked to work on their homeworks in between the lessons. We continuously communicate with them and consult their technical and copyright issues. It is very important to stay with touch because when you are able to create a kind of relationship with seniors,it increases probability that he or she will attend the lessons again.
We start every lesson with a reminder of things learned during the previous lesson. We teach them at a leisurely pace and when we have more than six participants we have an assistant who helps the slower ones.
One must keep in mind that seniors have some specific needs. There isn´t only the need to be useful (and write a lot of beautiful articles in Wikipedia of course). There is also very strong need of social contact with the others and sometimes also the need to get attention of the others (especially lector´s attention). The “need to learn” is just a tip of the iceberg.
Here are some useful tips on working with seniors:

Seniors write Wikipedia in Ostrava
  • to thank for edits
  • to give awards for the completion of the course - we prepared a Methuselah´s graduation star
  • organize a special event, f.e. scanning workshop where they can bring their old pictures or slides

In Prague, we also started to organize the course for advanced seniors. Unfortunately, it is only possible to arrange it in Prague because in other cities there are not enough advanced participants so far. It give us an opportunity to stay in touch with seniors, make their knowledge stronger and motivate them to continue in editing (because they can show us what they did during week).
And what can they do after graduating the advanced course? They can join a Wikiclub! This once-a-week meeting is for everybody - for experienced wikimedians, seniors beginners or advanced, students, public. Anyone can come and ask us about what they need. It is very popular especially among seniors who can visit Wikiclub at any stage of their learning process.
According to our small research which included 195 users we know that the most active seniors are those who have also visited a course for advanced users or have participated on Wikiclub (it is possible only in two cities now).
We are proud of our seniors and we would like to spread the idea to even more places. We do not have enough teachers so we started instructing wikimedians and educating librarians who organize Wikipedia-oriented events in their libraries. Currently, we work on teaching resources for the courses for beginners and prepare trainings for wikimedians and librarians. Wish us luck.

Some examples what our seniors did:

Tags: Senior Citizens Write Wikipedia