List of editing workshops/Athens, FEST11, December 17, 2011

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Students Pavlos Tsekos and Sotiria Simota shortly before their presentation.
Mina Theofilatou and Giorgos Xalkias presenting the project "ENA PIATO FAGHTO" = "A PLATE OF FOOD".

"The Open Community in the School of Today"

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“The Open Community in the School of Today” was chosen as the title of the presentation, as it served a dual purpose: for those acquainted with “opensource”, “open-content” and “open-community” resources in the ICT sphere it would suggest how to employ such technologies in the teaching process. For those without a clue, it could be received as “the school opening up to the local community”. In practice, our school does both:)

The event

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FEST11 (Festival of Science & Technology) was held from Thursday 15 December to Sunday 18 December 2011 in Athens, Greece. The organizers were the National Hellenic Research Foundation, the British Council in Greece and the science portal openscience.gr. The venue was the NHRF.

Background

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User Saintfevrier is a teacher of Computer Science & Technology at an evening secondary school in Kefalonia, Greece, who has integrated Wikipedia editing and contributing to Wikimedia Commons in her classes since 2007.

In November 2011 Mr. Kostas Karpouzis, researcher at Athens Technical University and coordinator of FEST11, contacted Saintfevrier by e-mail to propose holding a Wikipedia editing workshop in the context of the Festival. Saintfevrier suggested that perhaps it would be more appropriate instead to hold a “mini-seminar” on good practices in using open-content technologies in the teaching process, as the audience would be primarily comprised of teachers at secondary education level. The interested participants could then either begin editing on their own with the aid of the supplied handouts, or find an editing workshop in their area under the Greek Wikipedia Outreach Programme. Saintfevrier also suggested that it would be interesting to have several pupils participate in the presentation, so they could share their experience with the audience in a “hands-on” way. Both suggestions were accepted by Mr. Karpouzis.

The presentation

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Our presentation was planned as the first session of a series of lectures and happenings starting at 5 p.m. on Saturday, 17 Dec. 2011. The conference hall was large enough to accommodate 200 persons, however an audience of only around 20 – 30 persons turned up. (We shouldn’t complain though, it was the last shopping weekend before Christmas!) Although initially disappointing, the fact that we had a small audience helped us put behind our “stage fright” from the very first moment. The presentation lasted approximately 90 minutes and was held in an informal, enjoyable way: we departed from our strictly timed “layout” and actually had fun delivering a lively account of how we use and contribute to Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons and open-content schemes in the classroom.

The first part was dedicated to Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons, during which Saintfevrier talked about the benefits of assigning related projects and homework to high school students. The students themselves then took the floor and discussed their contributions: Sotiria Simota, a 44-year old adult student and mother of three showed her photo contributions to the article «Ελιά» (Olive) on Greek Wikipedia. Pavlos Tsekos, a 21-year old plumbing apprentice and student in his junior year of High School showed us his articles: “Kefalonian Robola” (the PDO wine of our island) and “Kefalonian Robola Wine Cooperative” on Greek Wikipedia, and noted how a classmate contributed in real-time by photographing the premises of the co-op in her home village and sending via Facebook so we could upload to Commons in the school computer lab.

The second part was about a project that was carried out in the first semester of the freshman class for 2011-12. The project involved building a platform for the distribution of free meals to those in need on the basis of a supply-demand system, by matching each volunteer’s contribution of a single portion of his family’s fare to the dietary needs of the recipient and the distance that needs to be covered to deliver the meal. All the material has been uploaded to the dedicated site “enapiatofaghto.wikispaces.com” and is available under a CC-BY-NC-SA 3.0 license. The presentation was delivered by Saintfevrier and Giorgos Halkias, a 17-year old freshman student: Giorgos’s task was to design the logo for the project, and his creation is on the home page of the site.

Feedback

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The presentation was exceptionally well-received by the audience: the closing was met with an enthusiastic round of applause, with most attendees walking up to the panel to congratulate and thank us in person. This especially gratified the students and boosted their self-esteem. A comment received online several days later by a participant read “thank you for your astonishing presentation… I like the way you included the slackers” (I had warned those pupils in the freshman class that had contributed next to nothing to the project that I would show them in the video of the making of the project as just that: "slackers"… having knowledge of self, they didn’t mind… but I think they got the message that I wouldn't cut them any slack in next semester’s project!)

Comments

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This was probably the most enjoyable and rewarding presentation I have ever made:) Only one thing went wrong: just as we were about to demonstrate how the volunteering platform works, we lost our wifi connection… next time I’ll make sure I have an Ethernet line! But as mentioned above, what made the whole experience so gratifying was that the students themselves played an active role in the presentation… and not only did they live up to my expectations: they by far exceeded them! I’m so very proud of them… we celebrated with a budget gourmet dinner after the event:)

Dissemination – Follow-up

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The event was communicated to the local press and reported in news portals and newspapers – some publicity also reached national press & media. The second part of the presentation was also communicated to and published on the "European Year of Volunteering 2011" website.

Our next goal is to translate all appropriate material into English (with the help of our English teacher!), i.e. material that could be added to English Wikipedia articles and all the volunteering platform documentation, and upload accordingly.

Conclusion

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This experience has shown me that getting the students involved in presenting their Wikipedia – Wikimedia Commons – Creative Commons work “rewards” their efforts and helps them to build a lasting relationship with creating and sharing knowledge. All three participating students are eager to work on new articles, new projects, new ideas… hopefully this enthusiasm will spread to other students as well!