TAO/Silver Knowledge/Comparison of different locations of activity

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Introduction: Comparison of different locations of activity[edit]

Several places with different approaches will be presented on this site to get an impression of the activities of Silver Knowledge. It is about the locations Worms (senior academy), Hilden-Haan (Volkshochschule) and Ulm (senior university), that will be compared with each other.

The comparison refers to a master´s thesis with the focus on researching the activities of Silver Knowledge concerning the methodical-didactic approach with regard to the activation and integration of seniors in Wikipedia. The analysis is based on individual interviews with coordinators of different institutions, Wikipedia speakers and participants as well as on an observation of the events.[1]

Recommendations[edit]

The conclusions drawn from the comparison of different locations lead to following recommendations:

Recruiting suitable institutions

  • The initial sceptism of an institution towards the project Silver Knowledge must be expected (e.g. because of a possible participation free of charge). Wikimedia Deutschland can dispel initial doubts by presenting the project at a local institution that gives information about the project.
  • An esteeming attitude towards older people and their experiences seems to be an important link between an institution and the project Silver Knowledge.
The identification of the institution with the idea of Silver Knowledge may facilitate a successful continuation of the project.
  • The recruiting of an institution for the project Silver Knowledge and furthermore is connected with a successful recruitment of participants. A successful recruitment of participants and consequently an enlargement of the number of participants contributes to the willingness of an institution to carry on with the project.

Recruiting participants

  • An identification of participants with an institution can make the recruitment of participants easier. A straight approach of established members especially in the field of the “Volkshochschule” (= adult education centre in Germany) could make sense for a successful recruiting of participants for future measures.
  • If older people in employment should be addressed it should be ensured that all events take place at an adequate time.
  • A wide choice of communication of the project is recommended, e.g. by an announcement of the project in the offering of an institution (e.g. in the program, on the institution´s website, etc.) or in the communal calendar of events. Newspaper articles in the local press including interviews with seniors who have already shown an interest in the activities may also be possible. Moreover a personal contact with potential participants as well as the correspondence with other local adult education centres or senior institutions should not be neglected.
Existing connections to former participants in form of address or mailing lists can also be used. Furthermore, the deposit or distribution of flyers might be an option to make the project known locally.

Setting of the activities

  • The setting of the activities, consisting of a motivational presentation and two workshop dates, seems to be adequate as a first step towards the implementation of the project at a location. Not only people who are from the beginning interested in getting a Wikipedia author, but also seniors who are just interested in Wikipedia´s mode of operation as a user would feel concerned and may possibly discover their interest in getting a Wikipedia author in the course of the events.
  • For participants who really want to get a Wikipedia author, three events are not enough, because many important matters can´t be discussed because of lack of time. It is therefore not recommended to let the participants be left to their own devices immediately after these events. Moreover the seniors should be assisted by an experienced Wikipedia author until after the measures.
  • The implementation of a workshop should not last longer than four hours. A break is recommended in any case.

Content

  • Some participants are especially interested in getting actively involved in the production of Wikipedia articles and less in being part of the Wikipedia community. But the integration in the Wikipedia community can be a helpful incentive for a senior to get active as an author in Wikipedia regularly. Therefore an own user account for every participant should be created in any case. This makes the participation in different Wikipedia sister projects and in writing Wikipedia articles much easier even for those authors, who are less interested in the community idea. In doing so, the created personal user namespace can be used as a sort of “sandbox” particularly in the context of the first steps as an author without having to expect the automatical cleaning or the overwriting of the content by other testing users.

Methods of instruction

  • A round of introduction at the beginning of the first part of the course is recommended. Thus the participants will have the opportunity to present their experiences with Wikipedia and to name a topic which they could imagine to write a Wikipedia article about. This can also help the speakers to identify the fields of interest of the participants and the motivation behind their participation in the workshop. According to this, the realization of the course can be adapted. By realizing such a round of introduction the participants can also learn more about the other seniors and discover fields of common interest. It can even contribute to create a relaxed atmosphere, in which each participant feels free to ask or to comment on something.
  • Some seniors have difficulties with the method of a step-by-step demonstration and they are not able to follow the speaker´s instructions straight away and at the same time work with their own computer. This is for example indicated by the repeated demands of the participants for a repetition of the demonstrated steps. Therefore, especially before important explanations are given, the participants should be required to only watch the demonstration before reconstructing the steps on their computer.
  • In order to introduce the seniors to editing an article it makes sense to use the “sandbox” of their personal user namespace, since the changes that are carried out are not threatened by deletion as much as it occurs in Wikipedia articles or the general Wikipedia sandbox. This way of introducting is also recommended as the editing of an existing article takes much more preliminary work before the editing can actually be made.
  • To illustrate the possibilities of collaborative working in Wikipedia the speakers may suggest to the participants that they swap the computer workstation in the classroom. Thus, the seniors will realize that after the successful editing of an article it is now available on every computer using the internet and can be edited by any user.
  • Homework that can be done voluntarily can be considered as a specific tool to use the limited time during the events more effectively and to prevent the participants from forgetting the previously discussed topics.
This preparatory work can also lead to an increased motivation, as in this way the participants’ individual interests can better be picked up in the workshop and in addition to that a feeling of success can be expected earlier.

Use of media and materials

  • Using a presentation at the beginning of the first event is helpful to communicate the most important background information about Wikipedia, that are not easily accessible to the participants, such as the idea of free content or the ideals behind other Wikipedia ideals.
As soon as it refers to the integration of the seniors as Wikipedia authors, the “live” broadcast of Wikipedia should be used, since Wikipedia is an interactive project that keeps changing and never looks the same.
  • In the workshops the use of their own laptop computer is recommendable for some participants. These seniors often don´t complain as much about the handling of the computer as those participants using someone else´s computer (e.g. of the institution.)

Participants with a common field of interest

  • Indeed a common field of interest may increase the sense of belonging of each individual in the group of participants, but if the speaker pursues an individual support of the participants in the workshop it is less important than in teamwork practices.
  • But if there are common interests in a group of participants, they certainly can be used for cooperative practices, and thus relieve the speakers in their duties. Therefore thematically focused groups of participants seem to be predestined for cooperative learning in a team.

Relationship between the participants and the speakers

  • Creating a relaxed personal relationship between the participants and the speaker is very important. It can help to increase the impact of the educational measures by maintaining the intrinsic motivation of the participants. It also contributes to a pleasant learning environment in which the participants have no inhibitions about asking questions. Furthermore it can enhance identification of participants with the institution.
  • The interviewed participants associate the speaker´s effort to create an atmosphere of trust with the fact that he tries to pick up all their questions. For the participants the reports on his own experiences as a Wikipedia author indicate as well, that the speaker is trying to create a relaxed personal relationship. These reports may also transfer to the seniors the speaker´s enthusiasm as a Wikipedia author.

Relationship between the participants

  • The fact that the participants of a measure already know each other is extremely valuable in some speaker´s estimation, because in this way the participants are often less self-conscious and are not afraid of making a fool of themselves. Moreover, the willingness to help each other is higher than among strangers. Activities that strengthen the personal relationship among the participants (e.g. rounds of introduction, breaks in which they can communicate with each other, etc.) may therefore be recommended especially in groups in which the participants have not met each other before.

Location of activity in Hilden-Haan (Volkshochschule)[edit]

Silver Knowledge event in Hilden-Haan

The institution[edit]

The Volkshochschule (abbr.: VHS) in Hilden-Haan is an organization funded by the two cities Hilden and Haan.

Seniors as a target group
By this institution the group of older people is seen as a very important target group, because retired persons have much more time to attend the learning opportunities of the VHS than persons, who are still working. The relevance of this target group is also reflected in the existing VHS department called “Getting older actively”. This department is especially arranged for seniors and it includes language courses, gymnastic courses and computer courses and in this case the activities of Silver Knowledge, too.

Identification of participants with the institution
The identification of the participants with the VHS is often not initiated by the institution itself but moreover by the speakers or the participants themselves. Often the speakers are the real figurehead of the VHS and the participants´ identification with the speakers is generally bigger than the identification with the VHS.
The VHS database of participants showed that 80-90 percent of the registered participants in the activities of Silver Knowledge belong to the group of regular or constant participants in the VHS activities.

Interest of the institution in the project of Silver Knowledge
The responsible person of the concerning department of the VHS mentioned her personal estimation of the online encyclopedia as one of the reasons why the VHS Hilden-Haan participates in the project of Silver Knowledge. Beside that, the idea behind the project Silver Knowledge is also seen as a reason to participate. The aim to recruit as many people as possible for an event and to enlarge the number of VHS participants on the whole was secondary.


Basic conditions[edit]

Events (length in hours) number of participants number of speakers
Motivational presentation (1,5)
Workshop part 1 (2,25)
Workshop part 2 (2,25)
7
4
4
1

Learning targets, content & method of instruction[edit]

Learning Targets
The activities in Hilden-Haan were focussed on the activation of the seniors as authors. The integration of the seniors in the Wikipedia community was another aim of the activities, but not the main learning target.

Content
In the first workshop the participants learned how to create an own user account and how to edit an article. The second workshop was about how to upload files in Wikimedia Commons and use them in an article. This thematic setting corresponds to the intended concept of content that Wikimedia Germany had worked out.
In the first event (motivational presentation) the selection of content was mainly defined by the structure of the speaker´s presentation, whereas in the third workshop-event the selection of content was adapted to the participants´ questions.

Use of media and materials[edit]

Noticeable problems[edit]

Silver Knowledge event in Hilden-Haan

Other References[edit]

Location of activity in Worms (senior academy)[edit]

Silver Knowledge event in Worms

The institution[edit]

Basic conditions[edit]

Learning targets, content & method of instruction[edit]

Use of media and materials[edit]

Noticeable problems[edit]

Other References[edit]

Location of activity in Ulm (ZAWiW: Spring academy)[edit]

The institution[edit]

Basic conditions[edit]

Learning targets, content & method of instruction[edit]

Use of media and materials[edit]

Other References[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Annette Kintzi (2012): Seniors and online communities: analysis of educational measures to activate and integrate seniors in the online community Wikipedia within the framework of the project >Silberwissen<. PH Heidelberg.