Education/Newsletter/December 2015/Israel: Dozens of articles were created by dint of a structured teaching process that incorporates new training tools and involvement of scientists

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By Shai Katz (WMIL)

WMIL - A Guide to Writing Articles about Awards Winning Scientists
WMIL's education volunteer guides students in editing Wikipedia
Students of the Alfa gifted program in a Gala editing workshop
WMIL's education volunteer guides students in editing Wikipedia

Snippet: Dozens of articles about scientists were created by students in an intensive workshop that was the highlight of an educational process led by Wikimedia Israel in cooperation with the Youth Unit at the Tel Aviv University

Over 50 scientists who are laureates of the most prominent awards and prizes in the scientific world (such as Nobel and Wolf Prizes) have recently been acknowledged through an article about them in the Hebrew Wikipedia. This was achieved thanks to the work of 10th graders from all over Israel, Arabs and Jews, who are participants of the Alpha gifted program that is being operated by The Dov Lautman Unit for Science Oriented Youth (Hebrew site) at Tel Aviv University (TAU).

The writing process was directed by WMIL's staff and volunteers, in cooperation with the staff of the Science Oriented Youth Unit that includes scientists carrying out research in TAU. One of the unique features of this work process was separating between article content creation and providing the students with technical editing skills: first, the work on content was done using a Word file draft, and only when the content was ready for upload did the workshop take place, providing students with technical editing skills. The separation proved to be quite effective: writing the drafts using the familiar Word platform, enabled the staff and students in the program to concentrate on creating content without distractions and technical challenges - and arrival of the students to the workshop with content that is already completed, was equally effective in allowing them to be more open to learning the technical editing skills.

One of the keys to success in this project was the construction of a structured process for assisting students in several stages. Initially, the teams of the two leading organizations created lists with names of accomplished scientists who do not yet have entries in the Hebrew Wikipedia. The next steps took place during a Summer Camp for the students, held at TAU: the students were given an Introduction to Wikipedia lecture followed by an “Auction” game, in which the students selected their writing topics from the list of scientists that was created in advance.

Towards the final stages of the summer camp, the students were given a workshop in writing articles about scientists. In the spirit of the project, the workshop did not deal with technical editing skills but was rather devoted only to issues relating to the content: what information we, as readers of an article about a scientist, would want to obtain about her or him? Which sources of information are acceptable and valid? According to which layout should the information be formatted? A written guide with practical instructions for content writing was created by WMIL and distributed to the students after the workshop to assist them in their independent work (for the English version of this tutorial, click here.)

After the summer camp was over, the students went on to independently work on the drafts they created. The students sent their drafts to scientists from the program team for revision and were required to correct them according to the corrections or comments. When the drafts reached an adequate level, they were approved for uploading to Wikipedia.

At this point a Gala editing workshop was held during which the students experienced editing the content they have created using drafts in Wikipedia. Towards the end of the workshop, to the sound of roaring applause of their friends, one by one the students transmitted the outcome of their work, to the article sphere. WMIL has created on behalf of this workshop, a useful presentation that guides users how to transfer an article from a Word document to Wikipedia (for a Hebrew version of this presentation, click here.)

Following the success of this project, the Unit for Science Oriented Youth at Tel Aviv University announced that they would like to continue the collaboration around the writing of articles about scientists. Much to our delight, the unit’s team requested that the next project will focus specifically on women scientists in order to increase their visibility in the Hebrew Wikipedia, and to provide science enthusiastic girls who participate in the program, with female role models. Thus, the Unit for Science Oriented Youth joins forces with the “HaNagid” middle school in Herzliya, who is going to have their gifted students write entries in Wikipedia about women scientists.

Read more about the Wikipedia Education Program in Israel here.