Proposal for using Wikipedia as a teaching tool at universities in India

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WIKIPEDIA INDIA EDUCATION PROGRAM[edit]

Using Wikipedia as a Teaching Tool in Universities & Colleges in India[edit]

Context[edit]

In 2010, Wikimedia Foundation launched a pilot project to explore the potential of formally using Wikipedia as a teaching tool in higher education. Professors at universities in the United States (including Harvard University, UC Berkeley, Syracuse and Georgetown University) are participating in this pilot project by asking their students to create and improve articles on the English-language Wikipedia as part of class. Wikimedia Foundation is providing professors support in the form of lesson plans, video tutorials and Wikipedia Campus Ambassadors (who are serving as mentors for the first-time contributors to Wikipedia.)

Students and professors across disciplines and universities have increasingly expressed interest in using Wikipedia as a teaching tool. These early successes, in addition to the impact potential of universities, encourage us to expand our education-based program activities globally – starting with India.

This document outlines the basic elements and benefits of this innovative new learning model and to serve as a basis for in-person discussions about possible cooperation.

Introduction to Wikimedia Foundation and Wikipedia[edit]

Wikimedia Foundation is a non-profit charitable organization based in San Francisco, California. Its mission is to empower people around the world to collect and develop free educational content, and to disseminate it effectively and globally.

The flagship project operated by Wikimedia Foundation is Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia written by volunteers. With more than 18.2 million articles in 270 languages and 10 million freely licensed multimedia files, it is used by more than 400 million unique visitors every month, making it the fifth most popular web property worldwide.

Wikipedia's reputation has been growing over the last years in academic communities. A notable early study (in 2005) in the journal Nature suggested that Wikipedia scientific articles came close to the level of accuracy in Encyclopædia Britannica. By 2010 reviewers in a variety of scientific fields comparing Wikipedia with professional and peer-reviewed sources found that Wikipedia's depth and coverage were of a very high standard, often comparable in coverage to scientific databases and considerably better than well known reputable print media. Wikipedia articles have been cited as references in journals and as evidence in trademark and higher court rulings.

Wikipedia India Education Program[edit]

This year, Wikimedia Foundation is launching the Wikipedia India Education Program. Our goal is to encourage professors in India to join a growing global community of educators who use Wikipedia as a teaching tool in their classes. As a first step, we decided to run the program at select universities in Pune. We chose Pune as the region for the pilot because the city has a strong reputation for education in India - and is reported to have the highest concentration of education institutions in the world. Universities and colleges chosen for the pilot will have the opportunity to embark on a new teaching and learning model that enables students to participate in the world's largest online encyclopedia and to improve their media literacy skills. These institutions will set new standards for education all over India.

At it's core, we propose replacing or augmenting reports and papers that students are required to prepare with Wikipedia articles. To this end, we will work with professors & teachers (through Campus Ambassadors) to identify potential articles that can be created or improved on Wikipedia that are part of the syllabus for that particular semester. Campus Ambassadors will train students on how to edit (i.e., write) articles on Wikipedia. Campus Ambassadors will support students and teachers during the course of the semester and periodically report progress back to teachers.

As the internet has gained a larger and larger role in education, civic life, and everyday life, digital media literacy has become a core skill for students in the 21st century. Participants in the Wikipedia India Education Program will learn how to access, analyse, evaluate and create articles on the world's biggest information site. Both teachers and students will receive guidance and support from trained Wikipedia experts as well as free educational materials developed by Wikimedia Foundation and tested at first-class universities in the United States.

Benefits of Participating in Wikipedia India Education Program[edit]

  • Better research, critical thinking, writing & collaboration skills for students

We know that the use of Wikipedia as a teaching tool in university courses offers a number of opportunities for students. They will sharpen their research and critical thinking abilities, improve their writing skills, learn how to work collaboratively amongst themselves and by interacting with readers and writers around the world in real-time. These factors make it very attractive for education insititutions to explore using Wikipedia as a teaching tool.

  • Students who are more motivated and engaged.

Universities and colleges participating in this program will foster an increase in student motivation and drive in the classroom. Professors who have participated in the program have reported that students tend to be more motivated to do Wikipedia-editing assignments than "throw-away assignments" (as a few U.S. professors call traditional paper writing assignments) - because the former allows them to reach a massive global audience rather than just an audience of one (their professor) and gives them a greater sense of accomplishment since the writing will outlast the class. Wikimedia staff have also conducted qualitative focus-group studies in which students themselves expressed the same sentiment.

  • Collaboration with educators in India and across the world.

By participating in the program you will be able to share your experiences with educators nationally and globally. We will work towards fostering a community for professors and teachers to collaborate on this program as well as other education initiatives.

In summer 2011, Wikimedia Foundation will stage the first Wikipedia in Higher Education Summit (July 7–9 in Boston, USA), an event that is aimed at building a global community of teachers and volunteers who participate in Wikimedia's Education Program. Expected participants include professors from Harvard University, UC Berkeley, Georgetown University, New York University, and other prestigious educational institutions. We have reserved a limited number of slots for participants from India to come to Boston and to join this new teaching and learning community. We will also organise similar events in India to promote the local community.

  • Support for teachers and students.

Wikipedia experts will provide in-person support (as Wikipedia Campus Ambassadors) to faculty and students throughout the academic year. An intensive two-day training is mandatory for the Wikipedia Campus Ambassadors, to ensure that the support you receive is of an adequately high quality. It will also be our endeavor to start student clubs on campuses to provide additional support to students and staff.

  • Opportunity to show-case excellence with other institutions.

We are planning to facilitate a friendly competitive spirit among participating universities and colleges. We will create a leaderboard that shows how much content was added to Wikipedia by individual students and how that adds up for the participating institutions. By taking part in the program you will have the opportunity to measure, show and recognize how much your students are able to achieve.

  • Free educational materials.

Printed materials (e.g. sample lesson plans, learning activities, Wikipedia editing guides), online, and video materials will support current educational activities, and will be available for reuse, with or without modification, in future classes. Wikimedia Foundation will provide all these materials free of charge.

  • Recognition and media coverage.

In the U.S., various national, state, local, and campus press – including newspapers, radio, and magazines – have covered Wikipedia in classrooms. We expect the same to happen in India. (In fact, press interest has already started building in Pune about our recruitment for Wikipedia Campus Ambassadors.) That means that your institution could gain recognition through media coverage if you participate in the program.

Next steps[edit]

If you are interested in participating in our program, please contact Hisham Mundol, who is heading Wikimedia programs in India. You can reach him at hmundol@wikimedia.org or at +91 750 300 1971. Hisham will set up a meeting with you to discuss the next steps.