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August 28, 2014 / carlispina

Wikimania 2014 – Education Preconference

Wikipedia Ambassador LogoEarly this month, I had the opportunity to attend Wikimania 2014 in London, England. Spanning five days, the conference included a hackathon, preconference workshops, and over 200 presentations and had a total of more than 2,000 attendees. While the entire event was very interesting (and warrants more exploration given that many videos are available online), one area that I think may be of particular interest and use for readers is the education preconference. Over the course of two days, the event focused on empowering educators to find new ways to use Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects in the classroom. We heard from a number of experts who have used Wikipedia as part of college level courses, ranging from foreign language teachers who use Wikipedia for translation projects to professors who focused instead on having students create Wikipedia articles and immerse themselves in the Wikimedia community over the course of an entire semester. On the first day, much of the focus was on the Wikipedia Ambassador program, which encourages Wikipedia enthusiasts who are students, professors, librarians, or staff at colleges and universities to act as “ambassadors” to provide support and encouragement for those interested in using Wikipedia in the classroom. The program has had some success in England, where a few ambassadors have been active at universities and have helped professors to find new ways to use Wikipedia as a teaching tool.

The second day started with Wikipedia editing training for those who have not used the platform (which I did not attend, so I can’t comment on it) followed by an afternoon devoted to presentations by educators already using Wikipedia in a variety of ways (including one educator who uses Wikipedia to create open access teaching materials in the sciences). The session ended with an opportunity for attendees to work on designing a curriculum that incorporated Wikipedia in a subject area of their choice.

The event provided a lot of inspiration and ideas about new ways to work with Wikipedia in the classroom, but beyond this abstract inspiration, it also offered many concrete resources. In particular, presenters introduced us to some great resources that are available on the Wikipedia Education Program portal. If you are interested in using Wikipedia for education, I would recommend looking at their resources page and in particular the case studies that they have prepared. They are guaranteed to give you new ideas about how to use Wikipedia in the classroom and excite you about the possibilities that the platform offers.

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