- 1 Introduction
- 2 Recommendations
- 3 Examples
- 4 Background Information
- 5 Links
This article presents the activity Silver Knowledge (“Silberwissen”), a series of workshops aiming at making older adults Wikipedia authors. In a first section, the article includes some recommendations drawn from an evaluation of Silver Knowledge. These recommendations are of particular interest to people who...
... organize workshops for older adults and/or
... work with ICT and older adults.
Silver Knowledge in a Nutshell Among Wikipedia authors, the generation 50+ is underrepresented. This means that their experience and knowledge are not to be found in the online encyclopedia. One of the main goals of Wikimedia Germany is the diversity of its authors. Winning seniors as new authors therefore is an important aspect of fostering the diversity of knowledge in the Wikipedia. The target group 50+ comes with diverse and extensive knowledge which can enrich the Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects. Among certain groups of seniors experiences in scientific research and writing are available. They can be used for the concept of Free knowledge. The Silver Knowledge programme aims at attracting people with extensive professional and life experience as authors for Wikipedia. In Silver Knowledge, a series of workshops (implemented in different locations) familiarizes small groups of around ten people with the most important techniques and rules in Wikipedia. Experienced authors lead workshops and can adapt to the wishes of the participants. The courses also provide space for questions and individual exchange in the group.
The following recommendations result from our evaluation of different Silver Knowledge locations. They concern different topics – see the headlines for those that you find interesting. We tried to include recommendations that are valid not only for this specific programme.
Recruiting suitable locations
- Establish personal contact with partner institutions to prevent skepticism.
- Choose cooperation partners that show a high esteem for older adults and Wikipedia.
- Suitable cooperation partners are for example:Organizations, clubs or groups that are willing to share their topics in the Wikipedia; Senior universities also belong to the group of suitable potential partners- here the possibility of finding cross links and interconnections to their courses of studies should be checked.
In general cooperation partners should be able to motivate, activate and support seniors and therefore become part of an active community.
Workshops and follow-up
- A single workshop should not last longer than four hours.
- A series of three workshops is enough to get people interested in being a Wikipedia author and to teach basic skills, but not to keep people motivated in the long run.
Sustainable integration into the community
- In order to integrate workshop participants sustainably into the Wikipedia community, follow-up activities should be offered (regular research meetings, outings, personal contact with a mentor etc.)
- Arrange meetings with community members during the workshops and as follow-up activities
Methods of instruction
- Attempt to create cohesion in the group of participants, e.g. by starting with some introductory activities and encouraging cooperation during the workshops.
- Use a live broadcast of what you’re doing on the computer during the presentation.
- Give a demonstration of the project topics as an introduction – but have the participants make their own practical experience on their computer as soon as possible (in Wikipedia, have them use the „Sandbox“).
- Provide a computer for each individual so that all participants can advance at their own pace – and encourage participants to bring their own laptop (to avoid problems due to a lack of familiarity with the computer)
- Homework allows the participants to make use of the time between courses and increases motivation for the next workshop.
Participants with common fields of interest
- A common field of interest may increase the sense of belonging of each individual in the group of participants. Therefore it is recommented to address organizations or clubs with a topical focus, they often show interest in sharing their topics in the Wikipedia. Starting with this motivation a sustainable cooperation can develop quite often.
- If there are common interests in a group of participants, they can be used for cooperative practices, supporting speakers in their duties.
Different Locations – Different Approaches
Silver Knowledge workshops have been implemented in many different locations. For some of them, we have evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of their individual approaches to the organisation and the target groups.
See the Wikiversity site "Comparison of different locations of activity" for the results of these evaluations.
"In Wikipedia, I can bring in my knowledge from 25 years of academic research in natural science. At first, I only improved some articles, but by now I've been able to publish a series of new articles."
Generation 50+ Underrepresented in Wikipedia
The international surveys of Wikipedia authors show that “age” is a very significant predictor of active contribution. Only 6.3% of Wikipedia authors are between 40 and 49 years of age, and people between 50 and 85 years – a span of more than three decades – make up only 5.2% of authors (Gosh, Glott 2010; http://www.wikipediasurvey.org).
The project Silberwissen is led by the association Wikimedia Deutschland e.V. in the framework of the AAL project TAO. The Centre for General Scientific Continuing Education (ZAWiW) of Ulm University consults and supports Wikimedia scientifically in its coordination of the project Silberwissen.
Objective of Silver Knowledge
- The objectives of Silver Knowledge are
- To win over and activate older persons as Wikipedia authors.
- To coach and support Wikipedia authors at regular meetings, to take part in editorial groups, workshops, and the mentoring program.
- To find additional locations of activity in cooperation with institutions, initiatives and local educational bodies, and – if possible – establish permanent structures.
- To develop community activities ensuring a sustainable activation and integration of senior authors in the Wikipedia community.
Activities of Silver Knowledge
As an initial stage of Wikipedia author training, interested seniors took part in a motivational presentation and a multi-part course or workshop at the different locations of activity. In selecting the locations a deliberate effort was made to choose cooperation partners that varied with regard to the type of institution, the range of offers, the main focus and target groups, and the priorities in the course of the project.
In the further course of the project seniors will continue to acquire competences and skills for the production of Wikipedia articles. This will be done at the respective locations by following an approach of small steps and sticking to a low-threshold communication. Apart from being trained as authors of original Wikipedia articles the activity options will also include new roles/tasks, e.g. the correction and amendment of existing articles (orthography and grammar), entering links to other sources and web pages, carrying out tasks of categorization as well as getting involved in related projects such as Wiki Commons and Wiki Sources etc.
Information for cooperation partners
On the basis of previous activities a checklist was created for carrying out Silver Knowledge activities together with cooperation partners. It addresses the cooperation partners but it is as well useful for the Wikipedia speakers. To the Wikiversity site "Information for cooperation partners"
Development of materials
For example a short introduction to write the first article in Wikipedia:
- step for step to the first Article
- Lemma (name/titel of the article): it must be short!
- a good introduction: short and concise; Make the Importance clear at the beginning (relevance, for example performance or achievement by people)
- write in a neutral tone (no enthusiasm, facts speak for themselves)
- reduce to significant (no anecdotes, important facts, sometimes less is more)
- provide evidence and references
- only links with an actual connection
- categories, personal data etc. could be made by experienced Wikipedians
- Make articles well known (link)