Education/Newsletter/June 2016/A New Online Course in a New Virtual Campus
Snippet: Wikimedia Argentina is working with educators to create a new virtual campus.
During the first months of this year, the staff of Wikimedia Argentina found itself working on the design and the pedagogy of creating a virtual campus where teachers and educators from different parts of the world can share their experiences in their classrooms by using Wikipedia as an instructional tool. The campus is divided in differents interactive spaces. The main one refers to the massive and virtual courses, like the one we are doing now "Wikibridges: Bridges between school, digital and free culture," an innovative distance learning training about the Wikimedia projects. Another space within the campus is the one used for sharing resources, where you can find all of WMAR's publications, our documentary films and many tutorials about how to use Wikipedia in different contexts and how to became an active editor, among others. Last but not least, the community space has been designed as a place to build community and share experiences and where all of the people involved in our online activities can share their impressions about education, technology, the digital gender gap, and anything else that they might consider interesting, in order to cooperate and collaborate on our daily work regarding the construction of free knowledge.
"What makes a distance learning experience a successful one? How can the same content be relevant for different educator's profiles and contexts?" These are some of the questions that guided Wikimedia Argentina through the process of reviewing, detail by detail, the learning proposal that we launched for educators all over Latin America back in 2014 and 2015. From the very beginning, the proposal was built on the basis of it being something that everyone can relate to: school culture. The next step is to find ways to articulate school culture and digital culture (one of the recent challenges that national education policies have presented to schools throughout the country, bringing the material and cultural consumption patterns of younger people into the spotlight). Last, this exercise of articulation necessarily brings into question the ethical aspects of digital culture: "What are the rules of the game in the digital scene?" It is here that free culture can provide answers. We are then able to build bridges between school, digital culture, and free culture – bridges which are strong yet flexible, relaxed and structured, solid but adaptable all at the same time.
With this in mind, in the 2016 online course edition, we continue working on the importance of creating spaces where professionals, educators, and teachers from different education grades levels, can think about the development of educational tools that generate alternative strategies by using Wikimedia projects in their teaching sequences. The virtual course Wikibridges 2016 is divided in six virtual classes. One of our leitmotivs is to promote activities which motivate educators enough to guarantee their continuity and active participation in our distance learning course. We want to put forward an innovative proposal which is solid, keeps our participants motivated week by week and engages them enough to continue with the educational itinerary. To achieve this, we implemented different strategies, such as individual follow up, flexibility, and constant interactions with the participants through different means: for example, the course platform, mailings, and social networks.
We have many expectations regarding the virtual course that began a week ago. We are finding a lot of participation and willingness to meet and share experiences in editing Wikipedia and pedagogical proposals that may arise from this space. So far more than 900 people have shown interest in participating in our online proposal. While we believe that our retention rate is going to be less that the original number, having these amount of people interested let us know the importance in the educational agenda regarding the Wikimedia projects.