Research:Wikipedia Primary School SSAJRP programme/Meeting South Africa June 2014

Wikipedia Primary School SSAJRP programme Timelines & progress

Report Meeting in Cape Town South Africa June 2014; further discussion in Johannesburg during Wiki Indaba
In June 2014, members of the research group involved in the project Wikipedia Primary School have met in South Africa to discuss about the project and to define more precisely its strategy. This report only highlights the key results of the meetings to facilitate their implementation.

Methodology edit

  • 18 June 2014, Cape Town. Meeting of the working group: Tobias Schönwetter, Kelsey Wiens, Isla Haddow-Flood, Luca Botturi, Iolanda Pensa. Presentation of the project, discussion about its structure and timeline.
  • 19 June 2014, Cape Town. Meeting with a group of representatives of institutions working in the field of education in South Africa. Presentation of the project and focus groups. The participants were divided into 3 groups and asked to brainstorm and suggest approaches and share their experience. The
    • How to choose the 100 articles the project aims?
    • How to write the content?
    • How to build a community?
    • How to review the articles?
  • 20-22 June 2014. Wiki Indaba, regional meeting of the Wikimedia community in Africa. Members of the research group have attended the meeting: Tobias Schönwetter, Kelsey Wiens, Isla Haddow-Flood, Iolanda Pensa.

Vist to primary schools in Cape Town edit

  • 20 June 2014 Luca Botturi visits primary schools in Cape Town with Izak VanZyl, who works at the University of South Africa UNISA and has organized the meetings.

Three schools has been identified for a pilot research subproject to test articles and discuss with teachers about the use of Wikipedia as a resource for primary education. All schools are multilingual.

  • Zimasa Primary (visited), Langa township. Meeting with the outgoing principal M.G. Njengele and the new principal Mr Mguqulwa. School in Xhosa and English.
  • Moshes Primary (visited), Langa township. Meeting with the principal Mr Tyron Peta. School in Xhosa and English.
  • Thembani Primary
  • Rosmead Primary

The visit was related to the authorization from the Western Cape Government Education, directorate Research for the pilot between 15 January 2015 till 30 September 2015.
The authorization (23 May 2014, reference 20140522-29916) states:
Research Proposal: wikipedia primary school
Your application to conduct the above-mentioned research in schools in the Western Cape has been approved subject to the following conditions:

  1. Principals, educators and learners are under no obligation to assist you in your investigation.
  2. Principals, educators, learners and schools should not be identifiable in any way from the results of the investigation.
  3. You make all the arrangements concerning your investigation.
  4. Educators’ programmes are not to be interrupted.
  5. The Study is to be conducted from 15 January 2015 till 30 September 2015
  6. No research can be conducted during the fourth term as schools are preparing and finalizing syllabi for examinations (October to December).
  7. Should you wish to extend the period of your survey, please contact Dr A.T Wyngaard at the contact numbers above quoting the reference number
  8. A photocopy of this letter is submitted to the principal where the intended research is to be conducted.
  9. Your research will be limited to the list of schools as forwarded to the Western Cape Education Department.
  10. A brief summary of the content, findings and recommendations is provided to the Director: Research Services.
  11. The Department receives a copy of the completed report/dissertation/thesis addressed to: The Director: Research Services, Western Cape Education Department

Key results of the meeting edit

The project main 4 phases.

In summery the project process is divided in 4 phases.

  1. Identifying content gap from school programs (curricula).
  2. Trigger the production of content: new articles, improvement of existing articles, production of articles based on OER Open Educational Resources.
  3. Peer-review process: on Wikipedia, with the involvement of scientific and academic journals, and with the involvement of experts.
  4. New content available on Wikipedia or for Wikipedia.

Identifying content gap from school programs (curricula) edit

The project aims at producing and reviewing 100 articles. We decided to focus on the primary school program of South Africa and – more specifically – on content related to natural sciences and social sciences Intermediate Phase (grades 4-6).

This is meant to:

  • Take full advantage of the joint nature of the project and of the involvement of the University of Cape Town and its network
  • Limit the first phase of the project to one primary school program. In realty – even if we focus on one primary school program – certain topics can be relevant for more than one primary school curriculum.
  • Consider both transferal (i.e. topics related to natural sciences) and site-specific articles (i.e. topics related to South African history). In general natural science is perceived to present on Wikipedia articles which are structured and complete; they might need eventually to be improved (please refer to the session existing articles). Articles related to social sciences are in general perceived to be less available; in particular topics related more specifically to South Africa and Africa might need more specific improvements. In general in the curriculum, topics related to social sciences are more site-specific.

Luca Botturi will analyze the South African primary school program. He will focus on content related to natural sciences and social sciences (two subjects the program already identifies) and he will specifically look at the fist years of primary education (due to the fact that teachers in those grades are not specialized).

Erica Litrenta will check the topics highlighted by Luca Botturi and their potential relationship with Wikipedia. Not all topics can become Wikipedia articles or can be included in Wikipedia (because Wikipedia is an enciclopedia with its own rules).

Typology of content gap edit

  • The article exists.
  • The articles is a stub and it needs to be expanded significantly.
  • The article does not exist and it can created.
  • The article does not exist and it can be created as a paragraph within another article.

According to the typology of content gap, the production of content can be triggered in different ways.

Relevant topics according to the focus group edit

  • The South African primary school curriculum is very specific; textbooks are build around the curriculum and they exclusively include content related to the curriculum. Having access to further content on Wikipedia is valuable to enrich lessons and to trigger the interest of students. Wikipedia is also a relevant tool for parents when students are assigned with individual projects.
  • Teachers are interested also on transversal topics related to their teaching environment: i.e. bullism, safety at school. Those topics are partially included in the South African curriculum in the subject "life skills".

Existing articles edit

Issues which needs to be checked on existing articles.

Once available, content on Wikipedia might need to be improved. In particular it is important to consider that articles should be

  • Understandable. Written in a way that a high school student can understand them. This is not always the case on Wikipedia since certain articles are complex and they could include a summery and paragraphs which present the topic in a more general way i.e. malaria.
  • With a clear summery. The summery needs to properly summarize the article. This is not always the case on Wikipedia since articles are often created by different people and the summery is not necessarily updated and reviewed.
  • International relevance. Examples and descriptions should include the world. This is not always the case on Wikipedia since often articles provide a specific prism on a topic. i.e. Winter associates winter to a very specific iconography which does not correspond to what winter is in South Africa.
  • The title of the article corresponds to the content. This is not always the case on Wikipedia since articles can include content very specific compared to the title of the article. i.e. Climate; this article should explain what climate is and it should present the different types of climate of the world and the main issues related to climate; other article can provide emote specific information (classification systems, measurements).
  • The article is not too long and heavy. This is important to facilitate access to content on mobile phones and low speed internet connectivity.

Review of the list of topics and articles edit

The list of topics and articles identified as relevant will be submitted for reviews

  1. The scientific committee will be addressed and involved to check the list and to provide feedback.
  2. A survey will be distributed to school teachers in South Africa to collect feedback and proposals to make the project relevant for them.

Trigger the production of content: new articles, improvement of existing articles, production of articles based on OER Open Educational Resources edit

Details on the process.

Content can be produced in different ways:

  • By involving the Wikipedia community.
    • Suggesting corrections/improvements to existing articles
    • Adding articles to the list of articles needed
    • Inviting the Wikipedia community (through discussion pages, projects and quality assessment) to review articles by triggering their interest and defining a deadline.
  • Commissioning articles with the involvement of scientific and academic journals. Call for contributors through journals and call for contributors to specific scholars.
  • Providing relevant OER Open Educational Resources which can be used to improve and enrich articles. Content can be listened in a specific page (or on the article discussion page) and institutions producing OER not compatible with Wikimedia projects can be invited to release their content with a compatible Open License.

Relevant communities according to the focus group edit

  • Parents can be involved in the production of articles. They can understand the relevance of the project for their children. Targeting scholars and potential contributors who are also parents can be a relevant working direction.
  • Teachers are valuable contributors in brainstorming and in providing feedback; they are not necessary active editors and writers.
  • According to the topics it can be relevant to involve specific interest group. For topics related to natural and social sciences it can be relevant to involve societies and associations (i.e. friends of the museum of natural sciences, societies of people interested in local history).

Peer-review process: on Wikipedia, with the involvement of scientific and academic journals, and with the involvement of experts edit

All the documentation produced or triggered by the project needs to be peer-reviewed. The peer-review can not be accomplished by involving scientific and academic journals only because it would be too difficult and too long to have 100 articles peer-reviewed this way. Therefore we will use different peer-review systems:

  1. Involving scientific and academic journals (rely on their internal peer-review system)
  2. Involving wikimedia communities (wikiprojects and inviting the community to review articles)
  3. Inviting specific experts to review the articles.

All the results of the peer-review will be included in the discussion page of each article.

The peer-review process is based on the idea that Wikipedia is already a peer-reviewed enciclopedia in which the community monitors articles and exchange about them and reviews them constantly. This process is efficient when a topic is of interest of a community; when there is no community or only few people (1 or 2) involved in the production of articles, the process is not really implemented: articles are not monitored, there is no or very limited exchange and there is no review. The review process proposed by our project is not meant to be in conflict with Wikipedia internal peer-review process; it simply wants to make sure there is indeed a peer-review also for articles with limited community interest. Triggering the reviews can be accomplished directly on Wikipedia (by involving people to contribute online or by involving people already active on articles and wikiprojects), but it can also be accomplished indirectly (by involving people who are not necessarily active on Wikipedia and online).

New content available on Wikipedia or for Wikipedia edit


If the production of articles is accomplished on Wikipedia content will be automatically available on Wikipedia. If the articles are produced outside Wikipedia, they are proposed to the community (compatible license, credits and attribution, Wikipedia Scientific Journal as a container of articles peer-reviewed and externally produced); those articles proposed need to be further reviewed by the Wikimedia community. Once articles are reviewed and considered relevant, they can be translated.

Translations edit

The project will trigger translations of articles already reviewed. According to our discussion with people working in education in South Africa, having access to articles related to natural and social sciences in local languages (South Africa has 11) can be specifically important for teachers.

Relevance of translations:

  • Teachers feel more comfortable in accessing documentation in their own language
  • Currently only few content related to natural sciences is available in more languages in South Africa.
  • Having access to content in local languages can facilitate teaching in particular for topics with a certain complexity (i.e. topics in natural sciences, such as heat and temperature).

Pilot project in South African schools edit

To make sure the project is linked to primary schools, Luca Botturi will implement in South Africa a pilot experience by involving a series of schools. During the meeting in Cape Town, Luca has visited few schools, discussed with teachers and identify how to involve them. The visits were authorized by the South African authority.

Distribution edit

Once the project is concluded it is important to make sure content can be easily used. Brainstorming about the distribution will be the focus of our second research meeting in South Africa. Among the proposals emerged during this meeting:

  • Creating an interface to facilitate access to content relevant to the South African primary school curriculum (i.e. website, portal on Wikipedia).
  • Involving mobile operators in facilitating access to Wikipedia.