Education/Newsletter/December 2015/First Wiki Education Workshop in Bulgaria

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By Vassia Atanassova (Wikimedians of Bulgaria) and Anna Koval (Wikimedia Foundation)

Snippet: Bulgarian educators collaborate at the country's first wiki education workshop

Participants at the first wiki education workshop in Bulgaria.

On 8 September 2015, just prior to the Wikimedia CEE Meeting 2015 in Estonia, Wikimedians of Bulgaria organized the first ever wiki education workshop in Bulgaria at the Academic Complex of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

For the first time since Wikipedia and wikis entered the academic space, teachers who over the years have included Wikimedia projects in their educational practices, met to exchange experiences and ideas. The seminar was organized on the occasion of the visit in the region of Anna Koval, the Wikimedia Foundation's education program manager for the regions of Eastern Europe and Asia.

The meeting included a brief presentation of the Bulgarian experience with educational activities in the wiki environment, which is quite comprehensive compared with many other countries.

The first university course involving Wikipedia began in 2007 on one campus. It was followed by courses at the New Bulgarian University, Plovdiv University, Sofia University, the Telerik Software Academy, the University of Library Studies and Information Technologies, and the University of National and World Economy.

Courses ranged from "Art and Culture" to "Electronic Learning", Political Science, Political Philosophy, "Psychology", "Online Media and Public Relations", and "Knowledge Sharing and Teamwork". In all of them, wiki software and Wikipedia were used as a platform in which students had the task to develop a topic within the academic discipline as an alternative to traditional coursework transmitted on paper.

In two other university courses, Wikipedia was present as an object of study by students. The first of these courses "Wikipedia and Wiki Technologies", which has been offered for 7 trimesters through the Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Information Technology at Plovdiv University. The other course was "New Media and Participatory Culture" for students majoring in European Studies at Sofia University. In both courses, the students were acquainted with the details of Wikipedia, its online volunteer community, its collaborative nature, its mission to create encyclopedic content, and the fact that it is one of the largest projects under a free license.

One last wiki educational project was discussed at the workshop: a unique collaboration between the Bulgarian Wikipedians and Masters and PhD students at the Sofia Zoo's Environmental, Educational and Research Centre. It was partially funded by a Wikimedia Foundation Project and Event Grant. And it resulted in a QRpedia project that made biological and ecological information more readily available to young learners who visit the zoo, as well as notable impacts for the Wikimedia movement.

The wiki education workshop on September 8th considered the perspective of both the teachers and the community of Wikipedians. Participants shared success stories and common problems and discussed best practices in the design of university wiki projects. Participants learned about the global Wikimedia Education Program as well as the Wikimedia Foundation's mechanisms of support for wiki training, resource development, and plans for future work.

The workshop was highly motivational. Professor Justine Toms aptly summarized the sentiment shared by the participants at the end of the day: "I now have so many new ideas!" :)

Spiritia (wiki mentor and teacher), Maymay (wiki mentor), Laveol (wiki mentor and assistant), Justine Toms (New Bulgarian University), Katerina Zareva (Educational and Environmental Centre at Sofia Zoo), Plamena Popova (University of Library Sciences and Information Technologies), and Anna Koval (Manager, Wikipedia Education Program, Wikimedia Foundation).
Announcement in the Village Pump, Announcement in the User Group's blog, Facebook event page
Slides from the Presentation

Read the blog post in Bulgarian here.

Read more about the Wikipedia Education Program in Bulgaria here.