Brazil Program/Reports/wep-20120602

June 2: progress of the program after the May 15 report.


Status overview

Here is a partial report of the last two weeks. We have seen some progress in the extension course organized at UNIRIO, started discussions about intitutionalization of the Wikipedia Education Program with some universities we are already working with and engage into some outreach activities already thinking on the next semester. We have also started the planning for the next semester.

See also user:jwild notes on May 2012 trip.

Classes progress

Classes progress since last update

The main progress with all classes we have seen in the past two weeks, after the last report, was the starting of the extension course[Note 1] at UNIRIO, where we have had the the 15 course places quickly filled, but about 10 people have shown up so far in the first two classes. The main goal of the course is to teach Wikipedia editing skills developing articles of the fields of students attending to this course. We could observe in the first class among the public undergraduate and graduate students, and also professors, where again we have seen a great interest from people of library science.

It was also possible to discover an experienced Wikipedia editor, showing excitement in becoming a Wikipedia ambassador and a way to return to edit Wikipedia. The professor coordinating this course has observed an increased interest from students, as compared to the previous experience with a history undergraduate class, since those attending now are doing it spontaneously. There is the possibility that in this course we can see a larger number of articles being edited by students, since it will be related to their fields and subjects of interest.

Regarding the other courses, we have not had much progress related to activities in Wikipedia. The electromagnetismo course at UFRJ will have the second deadline in the mid of June, where students are expected to improve their articles after suggestions made by the professor on each article talk page. The cultural policy course will also have all the encyclopedic articles submited by mid June, then we will have a full day to add online the articles prepared during the semester by students.

Finally, for the other two courses, we have seen only a few activities. On the mainling list set by the ambassadors at USP there were a few email exchanges, but since all of them, including ambassadors, are in the exam period, they seem not to have had the same time to set meetings as in the previous weeks. This can be summed by the fact that Wikipedia activities are not mandatory and not during the class time, as reported previously. At UNESP, similarly, we have seen only a few students discussing on Moodle system about the articles they are editing, as the example of a student having her article in the main domain of Wikipedia proposed for deletion, which was solve with the help of online ambassadors. According to the professor, we will have more than five students creating their articles. As in the cases where professors have set a deadline, it is more likely students will start editing a few days before the deadline.

It is important to notice that a threat for the program activities when the universities we are working with have a strike, as is happening now on more than 40 federal universities in Brazil.[Note 2] We will have a better idea on the statistics of each course when the semester ends.

Professors and ambassadors

General overview on professors and ambassadors participating of the program

Professors: We have discussed with some professors new to the program on the program situation and their experience thus far. Two of them have been having a good pedagogical experience with the methods they have adopted and are willing to do similar activities in the following semester. It was not possible to talk to two professors, one because has been more difficult to access during the semester and one because of her and ours actual commitments in the last weeks, making a tight schedule for us. We have sounded the possibility of making a workshop for the next professors and ambassadors joining the program in the next semester and each city we are working with, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, has its own agenda, which makes more sense to have one workshop for each place at the beginning of the school semester.

Professors with a course milestone have been easier to track during the semester and what we are expecting from the Wikipedia activities, mainly when they have campus ambassadors with a constant communication with the professor.

Campus ambassadors In one of the course where we do not have a campus ambassador and support have been given online and throught one single presential class (where not all students have appeared), it has been more difficult to understand what is happening, showing the fundamental importance of campus ambassadors, even when they have been communicating with professors only through emails and not having to go to the campus that often.

As previously said, we also have to consider the possibility campus ambassadors' exams period coincide with the students of the course partipating of the program, then we have to figure out how to solve this situation where we can be without campus ambassadors to give the support we need - and, in any way, ambassadors should affect their studies because of their volunteer work.

Online ambassadors: Online ambassadors have been supporting students when they ask for help, mainly throught mailing lists or online forums, such as the Moodle system used at UNESP. We have had also a few cases where students could make questions using the talk pages on the wiki, but in this case it seems again campus ambassadors responses were quickier, likely because they seemed to be aware when the activities were going to happen. She has show for us that campus ambassadors play an essential role in leading the activities that are going to happen in Wikipedia and when they are going to happen, then we have to improve this important point during the trainning of campus and online ambassadors for the next semester.

A few online ambassadors have been helping to improve articles created by students and, beyond the reason explained before, the main reason is because we still have a few activities on the wiki.

Campus and online ambassadors: For some models adopted by professors in their courses, campus and online ambassadors should have been trained in advance aware on how the professor was going to work, as in the case some had to learn how to use Moodle or when they had to join a mailing list set by the professor during the semester. That is an important learning point for the professors we are going to work with in the next semester, because the ideal is to know beforehand the semester starts what are the models we are going to and prepare on time the training material focused on both type of ambassadors, and also for professors and students.

In some cases the project coordinator had to contact directly ambassadors (talk pages, email or phone, the last only in urgent situations) to ask they to do some of the activities, and that is mainly the case when some of them arrived to help some courses after they have started or when we have not seen much activity on the wiki.

Trainning: We will have to improve a lot the trainning materials for ambassadors and professors before the semester starts and a feedback from ambassadors on this. We need to try to involve ambassadors and, if possible, other wikipedians, to help to develop those resources as clean and didactics as possible through these and other learning points. If we are going to have new wikipedians to be online or campus ambassadors, which seems to be necessary for the number of classes we want for the next semester, they will have to attend the mentoring program - the ideal is before the semester starts, but it is also possible at the beginning of the semester when the wiki activities starts later during the semester. Some campus ambassadors which joined the program and Wikipedia now have attended to this mentoring and that was essential for improving their wiki skills and enough for an efficient work on the wiki thus far.


Possibilities of institutionalization

During the past two week we have talked to representants os the east campus of USP (EACH) and the director of the library system at USP (SIBI). The feedback from all professors present was positive and we need to follow up the conversation to see how the university managers can support the Wikipedia Education Program.

Somethings we have discussed for support:

  • outreach inside the campus
  • scholarships for campus ambassadors
  • stands inside the university libraries where we would have campus ambassadors to support students
  • help with advertise materials
  • certificates for professors, students and ambassadors attending to courses involved in the program

The follow up conversation will be described in full details in the institutionalization page.


Outreach activities over the past 2 weeks

In the past two weeks we have engaged into some outreach activities at USP and UNESP and a dinner with professors from user:ocastro network who might be interested in joining the program.

New professors


We have a meeting with three professors to explain to them about the Wikipedia Education Program. One of them seemed really excited in joining the program and said with optmism the possibility of trainning around 20 students to attend a campus ambassadors trainning, where we should select some of them to work in the courses of his university. The same professors also pointed out that, in his opinion, it would be difficult to have professors accepting to be trainned by students (wikipedians).

We are going to follow up with these professors while analysing which universities we are going to work with in the next phase of the program.



USP: At USP, campus Butantã, where we have the biggest figure of campus ambassadors working together, four, two of them have been extremily helpful in organizing a presentation (check out the full exciting convesation on br.wikimedia wiki) made by user:jwild, user:everton137 and themselves when talking about the role of the ambassadors and their motivation for joining the program. There was about 30 people, professors and, mostly, students, who engaged into an interesting discussion during and after the two hours presentation. The main challenge on how to reduce the prejudice on Wikipedia was raised at the end, but the discussion has shown how important will be the program to explain what Wikipedia is and how people can contribute, beyond other more specific issues, such as what is free knowledge and its importance. Professors present seemed to be aware of changes that are hapenning on actual the publishing system, but we are not sure how deep they know issues related to open access. A connection between a movement supporting open educational resources to open access was made to raise awareness on the importance of free knowledge.


UNESP: There we have had a live streaming for all its campi, similar presentation made a few days before at USP, which was recorded for future reference and outreaching (we should edit this video and add subtitles). There was two students attending online the UNESP course that joined the program and they seemed excited in bringing the program for the arts institute locate in São Paulo city where they stydy. The feedback from professores during and after the presentation of people watching us, online or in person, was positive, with students making questions on how to get more in the program and professsors willing to participate in the next semester. We were asked if there will be the possibility a online participation in the program, which we should analyse the possibility and how could we do it. Even with the opportunity of the elearning expansion in the Brazilian university system, we will not have campus ambassadors supporting the course, which has shown to be an essential part of the program, but videos and online ambassadors trainned for specific tasks could be enough depending on the tasks - maybe we could try to prepare a more well planned module where professors could adapt to their course with activities on Wikipedia for the first semester of 2013.

Planning the future of the program

Starting the actions plan for the program in the next semester

user:ocastro and user:ezalvarenga has started planning the schedule for the next steps for the Wikipedia Education Program in the next semester. We are analysing carefully all the learning points during the pilot phase to expand the program successfully in the second school semester, which starts in the beginning of August. Evaluation of the models adopted within the courses which joined the program, professors choosen, students feedback, engagement on Wikipedia activities and so on will be ready only at the beginning of July, after the semester ends. At the same time, there are some basic actions we need do in June and July for the program, such as:

  • preparing outreach materials for professors and students
  • an open call for new professors to join the program
  • improve trainning materials for professors, ambassadors and students
  • workshop for the beginning of the next semester

Those things among other that will appear are being described (see this draft, questions and suggestions welcome) for a general report to be finished around Mid June, where the Actions Plan resulting from all the learning points during this pilot phase.

See also



  1. By extension course we mean a course outside the typical courses of the university and open to any person from other places, which was focused, in this case, on undergraduate students doing a scientific trainning, graduate students and experts from other fields.
  2. Besides this news on a general strike among federal universities in Brazil, it is not always the case that all professors inside a university adhere to strike.