Wikimedia Education Greenhouse/Unit 1 - Module 4

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Working with the Wikimedia community on education projects


Many communities, one movement[edit | edit source]

What do we mean when we talk about our "Wikimedia community" or the "Wikimedia movement"? In this section we will think about the different online and offline Wikimedia communities we are part of and how we communicate and collaborate with them in our education projects. This isn't in any way a determining or exact classification, it is just an exercise to get you thinking about the groups of volunteers and allies that you can engage with when conducting a Wikimedia education project.

Wikimedia logo family complete-2013

Our online and offline communities[edit | edit source]

When we talk about our Wikimedia communities we could be thinking about:

Wikimedia projects The community of volunteer editors in the different Wikimedia projects: Wikipedia, Wikidata, Wikimedia Commons, Wikisource, etc. and their particular language editions. Which of these communities are you a part of?

As you know, each Wikimedia project has its own set of rules, distinct community dynamics, and communication channels. How do you make sure that education actors are aware of this differences?

Affiliates Chapters, user groups, thematic organizations that independently organize online or offline to promote Wikimedia culture and open knowledge. Is there an affiliate group near you? Are you already part of one?
Movement organizers The group of Wikimedians developing outreach projects, campaigns, organizing events in your local contexts. Would you consider yourself a movement organizer?

Who are we missing? Who else would you consider to be a part of your online and offline Wikimedia communities? What communication channels do you use with them?

Working with the Wikimedia communities[edit | edit source]

Watch the video below. Do you relate to the testimonies shared here? Do you agree with the statements expressed in the interviews?

Wikipedia in Education (8 of 12) Work with the Wikipedia community

So what are the benefits and challenges of collaborating on education projects with the diverse Wikimedia education communities? Let's reflect on this in the next section!

Benefits of engaging the Wikimedia community in our education projects[edit | edit source]

By engaging the Wikimedia communities we mean: making sure they are informed of our education projects and their goals, establishing clear lines of communications in case problems arise, and/or inviting various members of the community to actively collaborate with our projects whether it is online or offline. So why engage the larger Wikimedia movement in our local education projects?

Group photo, Wikimania 2018, Cape Town ( 1050886)
  • One of the main pillars guiding the principles of Wikipedia is "Wikipedia's editors should treat each other with respect and civility". This sets the tone and openness of the community to engaging with newcomers, dealing with conflicts, etc.
  • Communicating our actions and goals to the community can help our projects to receive the support, feedback, and positive attention they need to thrive. It helps to prevent our contributions from being misunderstood, decontextualized, and therefore deleted from the Wikimedia projects our participants are working on.
  • When Wikimedians collaborate with education projects, their volunteer work reaches a new level of impact in the free knowledge ecosystem. It is important to communicate this aspect of our collaboration to raise awareness about the value of Wikimedia education projects in our own communities.
  • Learning opportunities are not exclusive to the participants of our education projects. Engaging the different Wikimedia communities in our education projects allows us to connect fellow Wikimedians with a larger field of practice and opportunities. In our projects we develop relationships with education and cultural institutions that can become allies to the development of our local Wikimedia communities.
  • By working with our fellow Wikimedians in education outreach projects and activities we are growing our community's capacities, we are reaching out to a group of talented and resourceful allies, and we are creating a culture of constant learning and engagement within our local Wikimedia communities.

Engaging the larger Wikimedia movement in our education projects is a WIN-WIN. Can you think of more benefits coming from these collaboration opportunities?

Challenges faced when engaging the Wikimedia community in our education projects[edit | edit source]

As we engage the Wikimedia community in our education projects we also need to be aware of some of the challenges we might face during this collaboration.

  • Disinterest: Responses from the community might take a while, don't get discouraged by that. Instead make sure you are communicating through the Wiki channels that are most appropriate to reach the Wikimedians you need support from (for example, the Village Pump or a Project Page)
  • Misunderstandings: Online channels and written communications, especially among a highly global cohort of volunteers can give room to miscommunications. Be patient, kind, and assertive in the way you communicate with others on the Wiki platforms (and train your participants to do the same). Remember and refer to the respect and civility pillar.
  • Different community rules and standards: Every Wikimedia project, every language community, oftentimes have distinct standards and rules for the content that is created. Making sure that we understand the different processes, policies, and channels of communication of the communities we work within will go a long way!

What other challenges have you encountered when communicating your education projects on Wikimedia? How did you overcome these challenges?

Stop and reflect: your Wikimedia communities[edit | edit source]

There is power in community and we believe community engagement is key for the sustainability of a project.

  • How would you describe your Wikimedia community?
  • What are some communication channels you would use/recommend to successfully connect with this community?
  • What are some challenges newcomers should be aware of when engaging with this community?

Engaging with the Wikimedia communities - best practices and recommendations[edit | edit source]

How can we communicate our projects to the global Wikimedia communities and engage them online and/or offline? Let's explore the options in this section!

Before your education project starts[edit | edit source]

Here are some suggestions of actions you can take to make sure you are communicating your education project to your Wikimedia communities (both offline and online):

  • Create a space where you can present the details of your project (for example, Meta or Outreach). You can link back to it when you are communicating your project to the larger communities.
  • Post about your project in the Village Pump (or the equivalent in your language Wikipedia). Make sure you include clear timelines, and add if needed a request for feedback or participation from the community (with a clear timeframe as well).
  • Create a template to include in your contributions to the Wikimedia projects, make sure it links back to your project page on Meta or Outreach.
  • Ask your students/teachers/participants involved to include a paragraph about them in their user pages (Don't let these stay as red links!). Better yet, create a userbox for your students to display.
  • Reach out through non-Wiki channels of communication. Many communities use social media or other instant messages channels to communicate, take some time to find out which are the most popular channels and use them to engage. If you want to reach the global Wikimedia education community, send a message to the Education Mailing List.
  • Invite people from your local Wikimedia communities to participate offline or online. We can't do everything by ourselves. There are certainly Wikimedians in your communities who have wide experience and knowledge on certain topics, invite them as guest speakers if you are giving a presentation on their subject area! If they can't physically attend the training, you can try to arrange their participation through a virtual channel.
  • Take time to have a face-to-face discussion with collaborators. If a physical meet-up is not possible, it can be a brief virtual meeting to go over details of the project, divide responsibilities, exchange feedback, discuss next steps, etc. If there is a need for more specialized skills, you can even start by organizing specific capacity building sessions with your team.
  • Use the Programs & Events Dashboard to start collecting data of your project development that you can later share with the community.
  • If you are just starting, you can connect your education project to larger more established WikiProjects or institutions (for example: Women in Red ) and reach out to experienced volunteers who can be willing and ready to support you. You can also connect your project to global online events, contests, and other initiatives (for example: Wikipedia Asian Month, or Wiki Loves Monuments)

What other steps could you recommend to take before starting a Wikimedia education project?

During your education project[edit | edit source]

Here are some actions you can take while your project is under development to make sure your participants and the Wikimedia community are engaged:

  • Show your participants where to ask for help. Show them how to leave messages on on-Wiki discussion spaces (talk pages, Village Pump, Teahouse, etc.) and other relevant non-Wiki channels. Invest time and attention to help your participants (specially teachers) understand the Wiki-verse and become active and confident on community discussion.
  • Make sure you are not the only contact point for students and the community. Engage other volunteers with different fields of expertise that your participants can reach out to for help. If you are developing a project as part of a team, make sure there is at least 2 of you available to be contacted by community members regarding your project as well. Team work makes the dream work!
  • Develop friendly relationships with your fellow Wikimedians! Take time to connect through online and offline events around you. For example, check out the Calendar on Wikimedia Space to see if there's an interesting event happening near you. Strengthen your network of collaborators!

Which suggestions on this section were the most helpful for you?

After your education project[edit | edit source]

Your education project does not end when the last edit has been made by one of your participants. You can continue promoting a positive experience and future successful iterations of your project by following some of these suggestions:

  • Say thank you! Showing gratitude goes a long way. Make sure you take some time to send a thank you note to Wikimedians who supported you in one way or another in the development of your project (offline and online). Share the positive feedback and testimonies from your students with them!
  • Share your story! Write an article for the monthly Education Newsletter. If you are part of an affiliate group, discuss including your education initiatives in the progress or annual reports. Don't forget to link to any localized resources you created for your project. It is ok if they are not in English, they bring value to your language communities!
  • Don't lose contact with the volunteers who helped you! Check in every now and then, join or create stay-in-touch groups. This could also be done with your participants so they can be on the loop and participate actively in future iterations of your project.
  • Use your skillset to advance the work of others! By developing Wikimedia education projects you and your team are gaining valuable skills that you can share with fellow Wikimedians in your local communities. Set up skill-sharing sessions, host meet-ups to exchange learnings, etc. This will also help strengthen your relationships and your own expertise in the movement.

Have we missed something? Share your advice in the Discuss section!

What does a good engagement strategy look like?[edit | edit source]

Jon Urbe-Foku/CC BY-SA

Think about Wikimedia education projects you are or have been involved in:

  • How did the organizers work with their local and global Wikimedia communities?
  • What successful strategies did they use before, during, and after their education projects?

Feel free to share your experiences in the Discuss section!

If you haven't been involved in a Wikimedia education project before, you can find a compilation of them on this Wikimedia Education Database (part of a growing Mapping Exercise). Browse that database and find a project that shows a successful strategy, you will find links to articles in the Education Newsletter archive or other platforms.

Course Portfolio Assignment: Designing a strategy to engage the Wikimedia community in our education project[edit | edit source]

Choose an example of an education project that you have developed or you would like to develop and discuss what your plan would be to engage your Wikimedia community. Think of your Wikimedia community in terms of local affiliates, language communities, project communities, etc. Use the most appropriate strategies from the ones that we have explored earlier or propose new ones that are better suited for your context and purposes.

Include the following information:

  1. Which Wikimedia communities are you engaging with in this strategy?
  2. What is the main purpose of your engagement with this community?
  3. What will you do before your education projects starts to inform your Wikimedia community of your project?
  4. What will you do while your education project is developing to keep your Wikimedia community informed?
  5. What will you do after your education project is completed to share your experience with your Wikimedia community?

Document your thoughts in your Course Portfolio or share your work in the Discuss section of this page as well!


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