Education/Newsletter/September 2012/EduWiki Conference 5-6 September 2012 Leicester, UK

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Annie Lin and Charles Matthews at EduWiki

The first week of September saw the first EduWiki Conference at the University of Leicester, England, bringing together educators and Wikimedians for two days to talk about the Wikipedia Education Program and other ways we can support each other.The keynote speakers were Annie Lin from the Wikimedia Foundation; Leigh Thelmadatter from ITESM Mexico; and Amber Thomas, a programme manager for the Jisc, a publicly-funded body for information technology in education and research.

The topics included assessing student work on Wikipedia, using Wikipedia’s corpus of 4 million English articles for language learning, creating customised reference books using the Wikipedia book tool, and Wikiversity. Video and slides are being added to the conference programme.

Both the Wikimedians and the external speakers were surprised at how much we shared a common vision for the future. Amber Thomas created an infographic to express how Wikipedia fits into the opening up of research and education. There was much less agreement about how we should accredit the informal learning that goes on in online communities. Doug Belshaw of the Mozilla Foundation prompted a vigorous debate when he introduced Mozilla’s Open Badges project.

Audience reaction to EduWiki has been very positive: “I wasn't sure what I was expecting when I signed up for this conference, but looking back it was easily the most thought-provoking event I have been to for some time.” writes AJ Cann on the Science of the Invisible blog. Sarah Currier, who runs a national repository of open educational resources, titled her post-conference blog post “how this skeptic was won over” and wrote in praise of “brilliant, reflective and committed Wikipedians everywhere”.

The conference has started off a number of working relationships, including training workshops and joint events that we will carry out over the coming months. Wikimedia UK is planning to do a similar conference for pre-university education in the coming year, as well as regional workshops for campus ambassador training in universities.

Martin Poulter is a Wikimedia UK volunteer Associate who works on building relations between Wikimedia and academia. He was the convenor of the EduWiki Conference