Pune Pilot FAQ

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India Education Program FAQ


What is the Wikipedia India Education Program?


We understand the importance of access to free, quality information and the positive impact this access makes on people’s lives. Our mission as a global movement is to make all the world’s knowledge freely available for anyone to access and use however they like. We’re inviting students and educators in India to join us in this mission by taking part in the India Education Program.

Information about India and contributed by people from India is not adequately represented on Wikipedia, and we want to change that. The India Education Program is one initiative we’re piloting to achieve this, and it’s our hope that the academic community in India will join us in this work.

We plan to kick-off our education work with a pilot project in Pune. Our goal is to encourage professors and teachers in Pune to join a growing global community of educators who use Wikipedia as a teaching and learning tool in their classrooms. Universities and colleges chosen for the pilot will have the opportunity to participate in the early stages of an innovative educational model that enables students to contribute to the world's largest online encyclopedia while increasing the breadth and quality of information found in this important global public resource.

How does the program work?


We’ve worked to make the program as simple as possible for students and educators. We will provide teaching materials and example lesson plans, and professors will assign their students Wikipedia articles to write or improve as part of the class.

At the core of the program, we propose replacing or augmenting some student reports and papers with Wikipedia articles. To this end, we will work with professors and teachers (through Campus Ambassadors) to identify potential articles on Wikipedia that can be created or improved through classwork for that particular semester.

What are Campus Ambassadors?


Campus Ambassadors are volunteers chosen by the Wikimedia team, and are everyday people interested in volunteering to help with this program. Campus Ambassadors will train students how to edit (i.e., write) articles on Wikipedia, and will support both students and teachers during the course of the semester.

Participants will be pioneers in new and innovative teaching practices in India and will set an example for the rest of India's educational system.

Have you selected your Campus Ambassadors?


Yes. 700 people from all over India submitted applications to be our very first Campus Ambassadors in India. From this pool of applicants, we’ve selected 26 people who will work with educators in Pune.

Once we extend this program, there will be additional opportunities to take part in this program.

What are you hoping to accomplish?


Our main goal is to encourage more people from India to use and contribute to Wikipedia. Again, information about India and contributed by people from India is not adequately represented on Wikipedia, and we want to change that. In turn, we hope to help create educational materials in the form of quality articles, including those about topics important to Indians, as well as people all over the world.

What colleges and universities are you currently working with?


We are in the process of recruiting a diverse range of universities and colleges in Pune, and we’re hoping to secure partnerships in the next few weeks. We would like to partner with institutions with strong academic reputations and a deep, sincere interest in innovative teaching and learning practices.

We encourage any professors or higher learning institutions to contact Hisham Mundol, who leads programs in India. His email address is: hmundol@wikimedia.org.

Why was this program created?


In 2010, Wikimedia Foundation launched a pilot project in the United States, the Public Policy Initiative, to explore the potential of formally using Wikipedia as a teaching and learning tool in higher education. Professors at universities in the United States (including Harvard University, University of California, Berkeley, Syracuse, and Georgetown University) have implemented Wikipedia into their class curricula, asking their students to create and improve articles on the English-language Wikipedia.

Students and professors from universities all over the world have increasingly expressed interest in using Wikipedia in the classroom, too. The early successes of the Wikipedia Public Policy Initiative encouraged us to extend our education-based program activities globally – starting with India.

How successful was the initial US-based pilot program?


The program in the US has been incredibly successful in terms of both the amount of information added to the English Wikipedia, as well as the quality of information. While the execution and format of the program might differ, we fully expect similar success in India. Given the strength of the education system and the drive of students and faculty alike, we are confident of highly thoughtful and quality contributions.

At the end of our 2011 Spring semester, we’ve accomplished the following:

  • 33 classes at 22 universities participated (including Harvard, Georgetown, and University of California, Berkeley)
  • 32 professors implemented this teaching model into their curricula
  • 54 Campus Ambassadors volunteered to work with students and educators
  • 91 Online Ambassadors worked virtually to support students and educators online
  • 824 students participated in the program
  • more than 8.4 million characters added to the article namespace the equivalent of 5,605 pages (1500 characters per page) were added to Wikipedia
  • An estimated 140 percent increase in article quality on articles edited by students

Why did you select Pune as your pilot city?


Pune is reported to have the largest number of colleges and universities of any city in the world: about 100 colleges and universities are attended by more than 200,000 students. Pune’s student community comes from all over the country, making it an ideal place to engage a diverse group of participants. In addition, the largest part of the success of any Wikimedia program is the community of active volunteers, of which there is an organised local community in Pune.

Will this be an India-wide program?


The Pune project is a pilot program we’re using to experiment and learn from before any roll-out of large-scale programs throughout India. We do think the Wikipedia India Education Program has great potential, but we want to make sure to begin in a manageable way so we can learn from our experiences and course-correct as we go.

We want to be thoughtful about how we implement our programs and be careful to evaluate as we go in order to ensure future programs are productive and successful. Having said that, we have high ambitions for Pune and future India-wide programs.

How will students benefit from participating in this program?


Our vision is to create a world where every single person has access to the sum of all human knowledge. We believe that using Wikipedia as a teaching and learning tool is an important step toward achieving this vision. Students make great contributors to Wikipedia because they're immersed in a culture of learning, so sharing that knowledge with the world is a logical next step.

Students get a lot out of Wikipedia editing assignments, according to our professors. As opposed to simply writing a paper that will never be seen again, students work collaboratively with other Wikipedia editors on a living document that thousands of other people all over the world could reference for educational purposes.

Wikipedia-editing assignments also hone a variety of other skills for students - which are useful in their future professional and personal lives:

  • Writing Skills: Students learn how to write in a neutral point of view in an encyclopedic tone.
  • Critical Thinking: Students have to evaluate sources and translate academic works for the general public.
  • Literature Review Skills: A Wikipedia article can often form the literature review section for a larger paper.
  • Collaboration: Other Wikipedia editors often work in conjunction with students as they contribute to articles.
  • Media Literacy: Students gain a much better understanding of how Wikipedia works when they're required to contribute to it. When you understand what goes into a good Wikipedia article, you gain media literacy skills – you can evaluate the quality of other Wikipedia articles very easily.
  • Technology Fluency: Students learn how to use wikis: software that is internally used by many organizations.

How will professors and academic institutions benefit from participating?

  • Leadership in Educational Innovation: Educators have the opportunity to be the first to showcase excellence in innovative teaching practices throughout India and the world. The impact and quality of students will also be recognised in a friendly competitive spirit.
  • Public Impact: Participants will help provide new and innovative educational standards in India that will be used in our programs throughout India.
  • Engagement with the Global Academic Community: Participants will engage and become part of a wider global community of educators who, like them, are on the forefront of implementing new and innovative teaching and learning practices and engage with a larger, global academic community.

When will the pilot program in Pune start?


WMF Trustees are currently laying out the basic groundwork to plan this and other details. It is likely to coincide with the start of the next academic year - which tends to vary by college /university / subject area (June/July 2011).

Will the Wikipedia campus program be expanded to other parts of India?


Yes, this is our goal. Ideally, a successful semester in Pune will result in demand in other parts of India.

Wikimedia India FAQ


What is Wikimedia and the Wikimedia Movement?


Wikimedia is a global, volunteer-driven movement shaped by a mutual vision and a set of core values shared by millions of people all over the world. Together, we “Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.” As a community, we are focused on this goal which is realized by the creation of a number of important projects including Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons, Wiktionary and eight other free knowledge projects.

Wikimedia is a decentralized movement comprised of readers, editors, advisers, the Wikimedia Foundation, 32 global chapters, and like-minded organizations -- each playing different formal and informal leadership and support roles.

We believe that knowledge should be free and shared with everyone because access to information empowers people to make important decisions about the world around them. We strive to provide the most reliable, unbiased and complete information available, and we prioritize efforts that empower disadvantaged and underrepresented communities.  

What is the Wikimedia Foundation?


The Wikimedia Foundation is the nonprofit organisation that operates Wikipedia and 10 other free knowledge projects. Based in the United States in San Francisco, California, it is led by Sue Gardner, its Executive Director. The Foundation staff supports the work of the thousands of people who contribute to the Wikimedia projects. The Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees articulates the mission, vision and strategy of the Wikimedia Foundation and is the ultimate governing body of the Foundation.


The Wikimedia Foundation is the nonprofit organization that supports Wikipedia. Wikipedia is just one of the free knowledge projects supported by the Wikimedia Foundation. A full list of our projects can be found here: www.wikimedia.org

Why is Wikimedia supporting programs in India?


We understand that the information Wikimedia provides is only as complete and comprehensive as the diversity of the people who contribute to the projects. It’s our thinking that contributions from people living in the Global South, as well as contributions *about* topics related to the Global South, are sorely missing. We aim to change this.

The Wikimedia Foundation recently finalized an open, strategic planning process with our community of volunteers that produced a five-year roadmap for the Wikimedia movement and the Wikimedia Foundation. One of the top priorities is the need to help volunteers self-organize and grow readers and contributors in the Global South.

India was identified as a priority for a number of reasons including: the large number of people coming online every day; the fact that Wikipedia is actively used; and the potential for the existing local community of active volunteers to grow. We also see India as a great place to learn about nurturing newer language projects, as well as mobile and offline product development.

How will Wikimedia support programs in India?


The India Programs Team, under the leadership of Hisham Mundol, is developing and managing a series of program activities that will support the growth of the Wikimedia reading and editing community in India.  

The work in India is an important pilot. Lessons learned from the work conducted in India will help determine the path for our broader global work. We also see opportunities to develop global capabilities around mobile and offline products, since India is at the forefront of innovations in these areas.

What is the central goal of these programs in India?


The Wikimedia mission is to help create a world in which every single person is given access to the sum of all human knowledge.  For our programs in India, this means more people from India contributing to Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects. The most important outcome for our work in India is that more people all over the world have access to information about India-related topics and more people from India are contributing to any topic that they choose.

We hope to encourage Indians to join the Wikimedia movement, and, ultimately, we imagine a world with a wealth of information found in Wikipedia about India-related topics written in English, as well as Indic-language resources that most Indians can read and benefit from.  

Are you asking people to contribute to Indic language projects?


We’re agnostic about the language Wikipedians choose to work in--it’s the contribution that matters most. But those who are interested in working in Indic languages are encouraged to do so.

There are more than 18 million articles on Wikipedia and about 3.6 million of those are in English, but only 96,000 are in Hindi, 33,000 in Marathi, and 18,000 in Malayalam as of May 2011. We see contributions to local language Wikipedias as a way to provide an important service to the people in India and all over the world who read and learn using these languages.

Where will the India Programs Team be located?


The India Programs Team will be located in the National Capital Region (NCR), and their primary function is to grow Wikimedia readers and contributors throughout India. A list of several criteria was used to select the location of the team including: opportunity for building new communities across the country; cost of operations; and travel accessibility to all corners of India.

This team location will act as a homebase for staff who will be expected to travel frequently and will manage programs in a range of geographies. The location does not represent a desire to focus activities in any single locality. For example, the initial pilot of the Wikipedia Education Program will be held in Pune.

What are the different parts of the Wikimedia India community and how are they releated?


The Wikimedia community in India can be described in three parts: the Wikimedia India Chapter, Wikimedians living in India contributing to the projects, and independent Wikimedia volunteers living all over the world who contribute to India-related topics. These three groups work in support of the common movement, but do so in varying ways.

Wikimedia India Chapter refers to the volunteer-led, independent nonprofit organisation based in Bangalore that is affiliated with the Wikimedia Foundation. It is registered as a society in Karnataka state.     Wikimedia India independent volunteers consists of Wikimedians or Wikipedians living in all parts of the world, including India, who self-organize by the project or group they work with.  Project groups can be based on a particular language or subject; for instance, there are projects dedicated to contributing to Marathi Wikipedia, as well as groups representing certain geographic regions of India.  

Together, they make up the Wikimedia India community. Many of these community members participate in the Wikimedia chapter structure, but many are volunteers who prefer to work independently.

How is this new team in India different from the Wikimedia India Chapter?


The team in India will be a small, full-time team of four people who will report to Hisham Mundol. This independent team will work to fulfill certain goals derived from the Wikimedia movement’s five-year strategic plan and will work independently to achieve this.

In contrast, the Wikimedia India Chapter is a group of independent, active Wikimedians who have self-organized in support of our broader mission. Although we are aligned in our mission and will collaborate on initiatives where appropriate, the Chapter does not report to the India team (or vice-versa), and will orient its activities as it chooses.