Wikimedia Education Greenhouse/Unit 1 - Module 3

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Training education actors on Wikimedia education projects

Workshops and training programs for education actors[edit | edit source]

In this lesson we will explore the main characteristics of workshops and training programs. We will go through recommended best practices and the stages of planning and developing these events that can best respond to the needs and opportunities of our local education contexts.

As you go through the contents of this module keep in mind that language and context can influence the way that these events (workshops, training programs, training sessions) are understood. To start, reflect on the following questions:

  • Have you organized or participated in events as part of an education initiative? What kind of events were they?
  • How did you decide on the objectives and development of these events?

Incorporating effective teacher development principles in our work[edit | edit source]

Remember the reading from Module 2 on professional development for teachers, "Effective Teacher Development: What does the research show?". Here are some of the main ideas it presented:

  • Professional development should be intensive, ongoing, and connected to practice.
  • Professional development should focus on student learning and address the teaching of specific curriculum content.
  • Professional development should build strong working relationships among teachers.

Additionally, in her article "Six strategies to improve teacher training workshops", education specialist Mary Burns[1] states that:

"Professional development—whether observation and feedback, coaching or workshops—only works when it is ongoing and continuous versus sporadic and episodic. One of the most successful models with which I’ve been involved occurred over three years where every month we held a Saturday workshop followed by five days of in-school coaching. Eventually, in year three, when teachers did not need such intensive support, we shifted to workshops every two months and coaching even less (teachers no longer needed me; they had each other). As teachers become more comfortable with new content and approaches, the role of external PD expert will attenuate. Ongoing workshops that actualize the suggestions outlined in this post can do much to address existing weaknesses of workshops. They can help teachers, not simply learn new information, but wrestle with the affective, behavioral, and cognitive dimensions of that information. They can provide the time, space, support and social context for professional learning and relationship building around the same set of topics with the same cohort of people over an extended period. They can help teachers design and implement new classroom practices and provide teachers with communities to support those practices so they are more “ready” to apply them in their classes. They can promote the risk-taking, shared practice, honest reflection and self-examination so necessary to help teachers begin to transfer learning from the “training room” to the “classroom.”"

Is it possible to incorporate these reflections and recommendations into the trainings we develop as part of our Wikimedia education initiatives? Why or why not? Document your answers in your Course Portfolio or share your thoughts in the Discuss section of this page as well!

Examples of training events[edit | edit source]

Let's check some fictional scenarios of workshops and training programs for education actors. As you go through these examples, reflect back on the previous readings and pay attention to the following:

  • What went well?
  • What went wrong?
  • How could this activity be improved in a future iteration?

Example 1

A school principal contacted the local Wikimedia user group and invited them to give a workshop about Wikipedia in the school to 40 students. The Wikimedia volunteers prepared a 1-hour workshop where their goal was to teach teachers and students the different parts of a Wikipedia article, how to create an account, and where to ask for help from the community. When the Wikimedians arrived to give the workshop, they realized the principal had not secured a computer lab, but instead all the students had been asked to wait in the auditorium with no access to laptops nor cellphones. The teachers took that hour to enjoy a break and did not participate in the event. The Wikimedians did their best to keep their presentation dynamic and interesting.

Example 2

A group of Wikimedians organized a professional development program for 10 teachers in partnership with a local think-tank. The course consisted of 15 hours of training divided in 5 sessions every Saturday. Every session focused on a different Wikimedia project and its use as a pedagogical tool. The program developed smoothly and the teachers seemed to enjoy the sessions and were excited to apply their newly acquired knowledge and skills in their classrooms. After the program was over, the Wikimedians interviewed some teachers to get their impressions about the experience but there were no follow-up strategies. A month later, it was not possible to know if the participating teachers were using any of the Wikimedia projects in their classrooms.

Example 3

Representatives of a school district contacted a local Wikimedian who is also a teacher in a university to give a 3-hour workshop about Wikisource. They agree to invite 3 teachers of 10 different secondary schools to receive the workshop and learn how to bring classic texts of their city library to Wikisource while practicing typing in their mother tongue. It is expected that these teachers will in turn teach their students how to do the same. The Wikimedian leading the event prepares in advance: a detailed and hands-on presentation, surveys applied before and after the event to measure learning goals, a laptop ready for each teacher, and the teachers have created their Wikimedia accounts in advance. The day of the workshop, teachers get easily distracted while waiting for support during the practical exercises because there is only one Wikimedian conducting the workshop. Because the Wikimedian had to give one-on-one guidance to many teachers during the workshop some activities are not finalized and the teachers are asked to return for a second edition.

We would like to hear your reflections about these examples! Share them in the Discuss section of this page.

Planning and developing workshops and training programs[edit | edit source]

On this section of the module we will look at some case scenarios and analyze challenges, best practices, and impact of workshops and training programs.

How do you plan Wikimedia education events with education actors?[edit | edit source]

In the presentation below you can find an approach based on "backwards planning". As you review the information in the slides, reflect on the following questions:

  • How similar or different are these suggested steps to your regular planning process?
  • Are these suggested steps helpful?
  • What suggestions could you immediately integrate into your planning process?
  • What suggestions would be challenging to integrate?
NSaad (WMF) / CC BY-SA

Quiz: According to the backwards planning approach you just analyzed, which step should be taken first?

  1. Determine what evidence you need to collect
  2. Identify desired results
  3. Plan the learning activities

Delivering professional development events[edit | edit source]

You are going to read the article "10 Tips for Delivering Awesome Professional Development" by Elena Aguilar. As you go through the article identify:

  • the most innovative tip on the list
  • the most challenging tip to implement in your context, and
  • the tip that is easiest to implement in your context.

Share your reflections about this reading using the Discuss section of this page.

What works in your education context?[edit | edit source]

Let's reflect on our experiences organizing (or participating in) workshops or training programs for Wikimedia education initiatives.

Think about the most successful Wikimedia education event you have organized (or observed/participated in) in your local community. Use the Discuss section of this page to share your answers or document them in your Course Portfolio.

  • What kind of event was it? Who was the audience?
  • What were the goals of this event?
  • What was done in advance to prepare for the event?
  • What were some key skills that facilitators of the event had?
  • How did the organizers know that the goals were achieved?
  • Were there any follow-up steps after the activity was over?

Lessons and resources from our community[edit | edit source]

In this section we will explore best practices for the design, delivery and assessment of workshops and training programs for an audience of education actors.

Wikimedia Argentina[edit | edit source]

Luisina Ferrante (WMAR)/CC BY-SA

When it comes to developing workshops with education actors, the team from Wikimedia Argentina offers the following suggestions:

Organizing your workshop:

  • It's always important to keep in mind the technical requirements: internet access, projector, computers. It's not necessary for every participant to have a computer, team work is possible (specially at schools).
  • If you are giving a general presentation about Wikipedia or any of the other Wikimedia projects, 90 to 120 minutes is enough. If you want to edit you need at least 3 hours or break the workshop in two parts.
  • If you are editing, it's important to keep in mind what happens after the workshop. It's necessary to follow up on what the participants did, if it was deleted/changed and why, etc. Always ask the participants to share their usernames so we can follow up on their work.

Communicating your event:

  • Use the communication channels that teachers use. In our case, social media works really well to spread the word about our activities.
  • Partner with education allies that allow you to expand your initiatives on the local level. For example: online education platforms, civil society organizations that work in education, universities, etc.

General tips:

  • Think of projects that respond to the schedules, interests, and seasons of the schools in your country.
  • It's important to have teachers in the organizing teams of your education initiatives. They know the education system or have general ideas about education in different contexts. This way it's easier to engage with other teachers and think of initiatives that interest them.
  • Teachers are key to partner with education institutions. While it's true that many education institutions require formal approval of the administrative level, it's very important that the teachers who will carry out the activities bring them forward and are interested in working with you.
  • It's recommended to always do a first workshop with the teacher in charge of a class, to get to know them and to provide them with a first encounter with Wikipedia. Later they can think about ways of bringing Wikipedia into their classrooms themselves. By workshop we mean providing an understanding of the Wiki philosophy and also the basic editing norms.
  • If you are going to work editing contents in high schools it's recommendable not to let the students freely choose the topics or articles to edit. It's important to work with the teachers and focus on a topic they are already working on. First, focus on improvement and updating of existing content. To work on creating new content we suggest it happens on a second stage of the project.
  • We put a lot of emphasis on what we can and we can't edit on Wikipedia. For example, articles about schools. This is a subject that education actors are always interested in and we tend to dedicate some time in the workshop to present solid arguments about why we do not suggest or encourage the creation of a school's institutional profile on Wikipedia.

Published resources:

Construyendo nuevos horizontes (Spanish)

Sumando conocimiento al mundo (Spanish)

Wikimedia Serbia[edit | edit source]

Dungodung/CC BY-SA 4.0

On their Education Program brochure, the education program managers of Wikimedia Serbia share the following reflection:

"It is possible to realize a program in numerous ways with respecting its principles. It depends on the educational priorities, interests, and needs of the students and teachers. We especially support the development of other Wiki projects, such as Wikibooks or Wiktionary. Working on networking the teachers and professors involved in the program is equally as important. They are the ones who know best about how a program like this could thrive in their classrooms, so the experience and the suggestions of their colleagues mean a lot to them. This is why we made a portal called Seminars[2], where the participants can find all the necessary material, but also discuss relevant questions or just share their experience with the colleagues."

Additionally, here are their top tips for Wikimedians organizing workshops and training programs for education actors:

  • If the group has not met with our projects before, definitely pay attention to the essence and ignore the details. The first workshop should focus on the most important things, it should be concise and clear. Interactive activities are supported and encouraged. In practice, it often happens that facilitators go too much into detail (especially when explaining how to edit Wikipedia in code) which deters the target group from our goal.
  • Always ask for help. If you do not have enough experience and you work with a group with whom you can not achieve your goal on your own, it is necessary to ask for the help of our volunteers in order to make the workshop successful.
  • Consider how you will follow the work of the group after the workshop. I always recommend the use of tools such as Dashboard, but new suggestions are welcome. The group needs to be aware of it as well as their rights and commitments. They need to know what is expected of them.


Education program of Wikimedia Serbia (English)

Manual for Wiki Ambassadors (Serbian)

Wikimedia Israel[edit | edit source]


On their Commons category, Wikimedia Israel has diverse resources you can use as inspiration to include in your workshops or training programs with education actors.

Here are some key ideas they recommend communicating to teachers when you are are developing Wikimedia projects in a higher education setting:

  • Wikipedia is not just a site, it is also a community: it's stunning to note how very little people know about how Wikipedia operates and how the information got there, despite the fact that they use it daily (aware or unaware, as the content is often reused).
  • Unlike regular essays or seminar papers whose target audience is the academic instructor, a Wikipedia assignment is written for the general public to read. This means it needs to be written in a language that anybody can understand, without prior knowledge. To achieve this, students need to distill the important information about the topic and re-write it in their own words. This process requires a deeper assimilation and "owning" of the information, rather than reiterating what one has read in the academic literature.
  • Wikipedia will never replace academic literature. It's not meant to. It's meant to allow people who do not have the privilege of an academic education to learn and access that knowledge - and by doing a Wikipedia assignment we are helping in that.

And here are some additional ideas for workshop management:

  • Divide the event between a frontal lecture and then a workshop where teachers are invited to practice what they learned about Wikipedia (for example, "recent changes", "talk pages", ...).
  • Meeting with a Wikipedian was a meaningful experience for teachers, especially when he spoke about topics' notability, or dispute's resolution in Wikipedia.
  • Much can be learned from a good article, but when you speak to teachers, perhaps even more can be learned from others' mistakes by a critical reading of a draft entry.

Published Resources:

Wikipedia in the Classroom: the guide introduces the skills acquired in the project, and suggests various wiki-activities (e.g. Analytical tasks: comparing articles between languages/Wikipedia with other knowledge resources, discussion pages; Gnome-edits; writing new articles, improving existing ones). Currently developing an updated version of this guideline in Arabic, through which the teachers will be introduced to Wiki Warsha (the instructional website). More to be found on the following webpage.

Videos in collaboration with The Center for Educational Technology and MoE (Hebrew): What could be learned from reading Wikipedia?, Learn about Wikipedia homepage

Information Leaflet about Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects (Hebrew)

Course Portfolio Assignment: One challenge, one lesson, one question[edit | edit source]

On the previous module we reflected about our local education systems and actors, and how to best collaborate with them. Understanding the needs, challenges and opportunities of our local education allies is key to design Wikimedia education initiatives that are impactful and meaningful. On this module we reflected on recommendations and best practices for workshops and training programs with local education actors.

After reviewing the resources and tips from some members of our global community, let's continue reflecting on our experiences. When you conduct or participate in Wikimedia education events in your community:

  • What is the main challenge you face?
  • What is an important lesson for success you have learned?

Document your answers to these questions in your Course Portfolio or share them in the Discuss section of this page.

Additional resources and activities[edit | edit source]

Fátima Iturríos (Wotancito / CC BY-SA)
  • Reflect on past experiences organizing Wikimedia education projects? What kind of training opportunities did you provide? Who has been the main audience of the events you have organized as part of your education projects? What are some key learnings you have gathered from these experiences that can help you improve future iterations? If you haven't organized a Wikimedia education project yet, think of the opportunities you have had as a participant or observing these kind of initiatives.
  • On the episode "How your nonverbals impact your teaching" Jennifer Gonzalez and Jack Shrawder discuss how posture, voice, eye contact, etc. affect your effectiveness in a classroom setting. These are other factors to consider when conducting impactful professional development events.
  • This guide provides practical activities that support participation and engagement.
  • This compilation offers additional effective practices for workshops.
  • The Mozilla Science community offers these facilitator tips and tricks, pay particular attention to the "During the event" section.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Mary Burns | Global Partnership for Education". Retrieved 2020-06-25.
  2. "Семинари". Retrieved 2020-06-25.

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