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Wikipedia for ImmigrantsEdit
To start using the Internet as an adult is hard but also extremely rewarding. In 2013 Wikimedia Sverige decided to try to reach a very underrepresented group of people when it comes to online activity – the immigrants. In Sweden, research has shown that immigrants learning Swedish as their new language are very interested in learning more about how they can participate online and want to use it in their education. However, teachers find it tricky to integrate web participation into the curriculum. We figured (surprise surprise) that multilingual Wikipedia would make a great tool for these teachers to use! Both to teach the students basic Swedish language skills and also to naturally integrate computers into their education.
We partnered up with GR Utbildning and managed to find external funding from the Internet Infrastructure Foundation (.SE) for a project aiming at changing the current situation, one teacher at the time. (We strongly suggest that you look around for funds available in your country too – and feel free to ask us for pointer). We then teamed up with three Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) teachers in two different schools and started teaching them about Wikipedia.
In order to work efficiently on Wikipedia, it's necessary to know a thing or two about writing from the start. After a discussion with the teachers, we focused on students with academic backgrounds. These students turned out to be more proficient in reading than writing Swedish. We decided that the most suitable way for them to contribute would be to translate from Swedish into their respective native languages.
What we liked most about adding to other versions of Wikipedia was that the learners also aided integration since immigrants who do not yet speak Swedish or English still could find relevant information about Sweden in Wikipedia articles in their own language. Strangely enough, there hasn't been an extensive amount of well updated texts covering Sweden in Swahili, Tagalog or Somali - or most languages in the world for that matter. This project, we figured, could help change that! The fact that many people in developing countries (through the awesome work of the Wikipedia Zero project) could access this information without cost, thrilled everybody!
We asked volunteers to support us by guiding the beginners to the right help pages, proofreading and just greeting them in their native language. We had a fantastic response and created an international list of mentors on Meta. In the future we will guide teachers to this resource so please add yourself if you are willing to help out!
Over the course of the project, 23 students were involved in creating 23 articles in 12 different languages. On average, each student has contributed 384 words of encyclopedic content.
Thanks to the bold teachers, who not only were brave enough to try this but also endured a number of surveys and interviews to gather input from their experience, we identified what they needed help with the most and what they thought worked the best. This knowledge is the foundation for our current work in finalizing a set of instruction pages and assignments to make it as easy and accessible for more teachers to use Wikipedia in their teaching in the future.