Wikimedia Blog/Drafts/A province mobilized by Wikipedia. Over 1,000 Students edit about local history.
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- A province mobilized by Wikipedia. Over 1,000 Students edit about local history.
An innovative educational experience with 1000 students in a province of Argentina, who edited about local history. An unprecedented work along with Wikiambassadors, teachers, and a WMAR´s volunteer.
Melina Masnatta, Education Manager Wikimedia Argentina and Education Collaborative´s member
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- An innovative educational experience with 1000 students by who edited about local history. An unprecedented work along with Wikiambassadors, teachers, and a WMAR´s volunteer.
During two days more than 1,000 high school students across Misiones took part as participants in special edithatons: Use the cultural and educational excuse of the 400th anniversary of the capital foundation to improve the content in Wikipedia regarding this issue. The results of the activity can’t be understood without taking in mind the previous work done, which can be described as follows: training for educational references, virtual meetings and research in schools. To instal capacity by empowering students and teachers in how to edit Wikipedia, even with lack of connectivity, was a challenge to face and achieved during the activity.
A place in the world
Misiones has the distinction of having a largely immigrant population (from countries like Poland, Sweden, Germany) that co-lives along with the native population. It is located among the countries of Brazil and Paraguay, which means an impressive cultural mix within the society; a very rich culture in terms of Wikipedia purposes, needs and content. However the literacy rate is not high, a matter that has been and is being treated by the national government through province public policies.
Technology: an educational and cultural opportunity
Education opportunities were not always the best in the province of Misiones, for that reason, several years ago the policies aimed at technology as a resource to equalizing opportunities and access to the digital knowledge. The lack of connectivity is an issue,as the distances between cities are big.
Since June we started working along with the coordinators, responsible for the implementation of the technology national policy in the province (see more about the educational policy 1:1 Model Conectar Igualdad). The goal was to approach the history and the culture of Misiones with the excuse of the celebration of the 400th anniversary of Posadas,the capital city, generating an unprecedented event: to bring students from different cities across the province to the capital to edit Wikipedia. Another main goal was to empower the young students as protagonists and made them become digital citizens using technology as a key tool to spread their local history.
Most of the students had never visited the capital of the province before, so this activity and the venues chosen for it, made the experience even more special for the participants.
A different educational proposal: An itinerant digital proposal
The first challenge was to face the lack of connectivity. For this reason, mainly, is why we trained and conducted virtual and in-site meetings in advance.These first meetings were the key to design the strategy and to build a community of Wikiambassadors. After the in-site trainings, each education coordinator worked along with their students in more than 200 schools around the province of Misiones. As way to made them feel special for their commitment, we design specific merchandising, t-shirts where you could read "If you edit Wikipedia, You edit the world," thus to be easier to identify them.
How to organize high school students, outside the school in non-educational spaces? How to ensure their attention and commitment throughout the day? Many of them had travelled during all the night, hundreds of miles to attend the meeting, so they would probably feel tired. To motivate them they received two welcome gifts: Wikipedia information and pins with the logo of Wikipedia.They loved them.
The meaning of the Wikiambassadors previous work: High School students along with the education referents (Wikiambassadors) and teachers realized offline work to edit the day of the event.With a great previous work done it, the workshop was focused in learning how to edit in Wikipedia.
During the two days we organized the work within different workstations in which students rotated: a digitizing station (they called it "Scannpedia") where they learned how to improve Wikimedia Commons uploading their images and documents, and above all, what free culture means and how impacts in their daily life. And the Wikipedia station where they were able to upload with the help of a Wikipedian, their own productions. They also had a rest area where they could take a break and where the could find an entertainment space with a photo booth Social networks were also used with the hashtag #Wikimisiones, to share what was happening at each station.
The activities started with a panel between the WMAR´s team and the local education coordinator Flavia Morales, where teachers and students had the opportunity to ask us questions.
Inspiring role: Testimony of a local Wikipedista volunteer
Leandro Kibisz, who is currently living in Buenos Aires, is native of the Misiones province, where he not only took his first steps in editing Wikipedia but acquired a remarkable position within the wikimedia community. For this reason we felt it was a great opportunity to invite him to participate in the event as a way to inspire students. His testimony can be summed up as follows:
For me it was a great joy to had the chance to be part of Wikimisiones. It was an idea that I had in mind many years ago, and now, finally was done. I started editing Wikipedia 10 years by adding content of Misiones and now It feels great to know that I could transfer those skills and that experience to thousands of young people who attended the event. To see kids froms cities like Bernardo de Irigoyen (the easternmost town of the country) or San Pedro, involved, which are populations commonly isolated for in terms of technology access, fills me with emotion and makes me believe that we are closer to this utopia which is Wikipedia: Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge Thanks to this event our encyclopedia will be able to nurture useful information, and the guys that were just readers of Wikipedia, will now be able to be active editors
Leandro took part as an active participant of the panel and he helped to coordinate workstations along with the Wikiambassadors.
The following experience
The experience was valuable: students and their teachers were very excited to know more about digital and free culture. However the lack of internet didn’t help us, and we had to make a long-term proposal.
In this sense we have invited active Wikipedians from our community to become volunteers or mentors to help the students with their editions. We are currently organizing emails and a Facebook group. As well, the Wikimisiones project has been positioned in the Andresito provincial education portal.
Although the school year is ending and this situation makes it difficult for the project to be continued during summer holiday, we decided to take the challenge as the experience can been considered as a success in terms of participation and worked well in terms of content added with more than 40 articles edited by students from 12 to 17 years.
Likewise, last week, Wikipedians ambassadors carried out an Education Edith-a-ton about their city: San Pedro (a small town of Misiones).
It is, as well, a great learning tool for Wikimedia Argentina and how to face our education strategy within the provinces outside Buenos Aires from now. We also hope to analyze the data and generate new metrics to inspire activities for the whole community.