Wikimedia Education Greenhouse/Unit 3 - Module 3

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Advocacy Skills

How do you say "advocacy" in...?[edit | edit source]

One of the strengths of this online course is the diverse backgrounds and regions that participants come from. Your perspectives are so unique and rich! Let's start this new module with a bit of a language practice in it to explore the concept of "advocacy". We would like to know:

  • In your opinion, what are the best two synonyms of "advocacy"?
  • How do you say "advocacy" in your mother language? (indicate the name of the language too, please)

Share your responses in the Discuss section of this page!

Speak up for education![edit | edit source]

Introduction to advocacy[edit | edit source]

In this video, Sailesh Patnaik answers some general questions about advocacy, its importance and challenges. As you watch this video, reflect on the following questions: Is this practice relevant for your Wikimedia education project? Have you done this or a similar process before?

W&E Greenhouse - Advocacy Skills (Unit 3, Module 3)

You can find the full transcript of this video on this link.

What and why[edit | edit source]


Have you ever:

  • promoted a cause that you are passionate about?
  • taken time to patiently explain a topic you care deeply about to someone who didn't understand its importance?
  • contacted local or national authorities to bring their attention to an injustice or issue that concerned your community?
  • gathered with like-minded individuals to bring about a positive impact in the world?

If you have replied "yes" to at least one of those questions it means you have already been involved in advocacy!

Advocacy at its core is a set of actions that seek to bring attention to an issue and promote change. You can participate in advocacy efforts as part of an organization/movement or using your personal platforms and spaces to demonstrate public support for an issue. This can take different forms: researching and building evidence to support a cause for change, joining global campaigns and conversations around a topic you're passionate about, organizing events to bring attention to these issues, etc. Can you think of any other examples?


Advocacy initiatives can promote social change, connect like-minded individuals, and spread learnings and success stories with different audiences. Working in the Wikimedia education community, for example, puts you in a valuable position to speak up about the importance of improving access and quality of education in your country, championing the value of open knowledge and open educational resources, or promoting equitable opportunities for students to develop 21st century skills in schools. Your experiences and stories have power! Don't hesitate about the importance of sharing the valuable projects you are conducting, the lessons you have learned, and the ideas you have for the future.

Where do I start?[edit | edit source]

If you are not sure where to start on your advocacy journey, pay attention to:

Examples. On the first module of Unit 1, we proposed a quick exercise to create a tweetstorm around the value of Wikimedia in education. Check more examples of advocates on social media and how they use these platforms to promote education campaigns.

Role models. Think about the people that inspire you! How do they express the causes they care about? What platforms do they use? What makes their message powerful? What networks do they use? Keep these pointers in mind when building your advocacy skills.

Yourself! What do you stand for? What are your strengths? When do you need to take a break? Knowing yourself, what motivates you, what skills you need to improve, etc. will greatly support your journey as an advocate.

Best practices for advocacy efforts[edit | edit source]

What does powerful advocacy look like? What are some key advocacy skills to develop?

Below you can find three examples of advocacy efforts in different mediums. Choose one to analyze and answer the corresponding questions on the Discuss section of this page.

Example 1 - Rita Pierson[edit | edit source]

Watch this video by Rita Pierson advocating for stronger human connections between teachers and their students. As you watch the video reflect on the following questions: How do you feel as you listen to her message? What is catching your attention? Can you relate to the experiences she is sharing?

Now let's share! In your own words:

  • What are two skills or strategies that Rita uses to deliver her message?
  • Would would you add or change to her presentation?

Example 2 - Lisa Lyons[edit | edit source]

Read this blog post by Lisa Lyons advocating for the value of extracurriculars activities to improve the school experience. As you read her post reflect on the following questions: How do you feel as you read her message? What is catching your attention? Do you support the arguments she is presenting?

Now let's share! In your own words:

  • What are two skills or strategies that Lisa uses to deliver her message?
  • What would you add or change to her presentation?
Alina Vozna / CC BY-SA

Example 3 - The 1lib1ref campaign[edit | edit source]

Read this blog post by Felix Nartey advocating for the participation of librarians in Wikipedia. As you read his post reflect on the following questions: How do you feel as you read his message? What is catching your attention? Do you feel encouraged to take action?

Now let's share! In your own words:

  • What are two skills or strategies that Felix uses to deliver his message?
  • What would you add or change to his presentation?

Building effective advocacy strategies[edit | edit source]

The 5 steps[edit | edit source]

You are going to watch a TEDx Talk given by Joseph R Campbell here. Joseph is a sports administrator who has lived in many different countries throughout his life.

Before watching the video, reflect on the following questions:

  • What could Joseph be advocating for?
  • What do you think he is passionate about?

After watching the video, reflect on the following questions:

  • Which of the steps he shares seem easier for you to follow?
  • Which seem more challenging?
  • Did Josephs's presentation motivate you?

The 9 questions[edit | edit source]

After getting motivated by Joseph's presentation it is time to go a bit deeper into advocacy strategy.

We are going to start by reviewing the 9 Questions suggested in UNICEF's Advocacy Toolkit[4] to plan advocacy efforts around the world. As UNICEF states:

"Answering these questions leads to concrete approaches for advocacy. The questions can be used for both long-term planning and to develop specific advocacy initiatives"

As you go through the questions and examples, keep in mind the Wikimedia education project you are developing. Is this information relevant and easy to use for you? Let's start!

  • Question 1: What do we want?

Our advocacy efforts must be marked with intention and a goal in mind. Reflecting on the results we want to achieve, the change we want to see happen, will be the compass that guides our strategy. A few ways to answer this questions are: creating a list of priorities, reviewing the problem tree and objective tree (logic model) we have created for our initial project, or collecting information that supports our mission.

  • Question 2: Who can make it happen?

On Unit 2 you conducted an initial stakeholders analysis for your Wikimedia education project. Through this analysis you explored who are the influential actors that can make or break your project, who is already supporting you, and who are those actors or organizations that you still need to reach. This analysis can also feed your advocacy strategy! By mapping the interest and power of the stakeholders involved in your project you will know who to approach and how to approach them in your advocacy efforts.

  • Question 3: What do they need to hear?

Once we understand the people we are engaging with we can also tailor the messages we share with them. As we explored in the grant writing module, aligning our project message with the focus areas and values of stakeholders can help us advance our mission and achieve our project goals. The same applies to advocacy efforts: we can highlight the importance and impact of our projects and connect this with the audience's interest and language. What moves this audience? What is important to them?

  • Question 4: Who do they need to hear it from?

Choosing who delivers your message is another key step you can take to improve the impact of your advocacy efforts. Different actors and mediums can have a different impact on your stakeholder and audience in general. Think about: Who does my audience trust? Whose voice can be more powerful here? The answers can vary: from respected actors in the education field to trusted Wikimedians, students participating in your projects, or even parents.

  • Question 5: How can we make sure they hear it?

This questions helps us focus on the opportunities we have to deliver our message, the best format to transmit it, and the channels we can use to make sure it reaches the intended audiences. In this sense, for example, we can plan advocacy efforts around regional education conferences or opportunities for one-on-one meetings with education actors. We can decide if our audiences respond better to videos, written documents, or more graphic presentations. And finally, we can make a list of the communication channels we can take advantage of: social media, local TV stations, news outlets, etc.

  • Question 6 & 7: What do we have? & What do we need?

As you have probably realized by now, advocacy demands resources: time, staff expertise, space on communication channels, etc. But you do not have to start from scratch. The information you are collecting through monitoring and evaluation activities can be used to create well-targeted messages to communicate the value of your project. The partnerships you have in place with different stakeholders can be an important step to getting time and spaces in professional forums. This will in turn make it easier to identify the gaps in resources you have and the support you need.

  • Question 8: How do we begin to take action?

At this point in the planning stage you have a very clear idea of: the goals of your advocacy efforts, your audiences, the messages and messengers you want to transmit, and the channels and resources you need to use. This allows you to prioritize the first action steps you can take in your advocacy efforts.

  • Question 9: How do we tell if it is working?

The same monitoring and evaluation principles and strategies you have learned in this unit can be applied to you advocacy activities to measure how effective they are. While advocacy is usually a long-term effort that involves many actors and a multidisciplinary approach, we can still integrate monitoring and evaluation practices that will help us identify if we are reaching the intended audience, creating the social changes we intend, and if the channels we are using are helping us to do so, just to mention a few examples.

Do you consider yourself an advocate for Wikimedia in education?

Course Portfolio Assignment: Advocacy using evidence-based messages[edit | edit source]

We are going to create a communication piece that will help us advocate for the impact of the projects you are developing in Wikimedia and education. To do this, we are going to follow the guidelines presented in UNICEF's Advocacy Toolkit.[5]

The goal of this exercise is to summarize and present your advocacy message in three or four sharp sentences. A primary message could be comprised of the following:

Statement + evidence + example + action desired

This kind of message can be tailored to more specific audiences including narratives and information that they can better connect with. For this exercise we will focus on creating a primary message about the Wikimedia education project you have been developing in your Course Portfolio, and tailoring the information you provide to engage a specific stakeholder of your choosing. Let's begin!

  • Step 1: Focus on the Wikimedia education project you chose for your Course Portfolio and choose a stakeholder you want to engage with in your advocacy message. You can look back at your stakeholder engagement plan to review your stakeholders and they ideas for engagement you had already considered. This can be the chance to fully develop one!
  • Step 2: Use the following table to create your message:
Elements Examples
Statement: What central idea do you want to transmit in this message? Why is the change you try to achieve important? The immediate priority is to stop transmission of polio by end-2004 in the seven remaining endemic countries: Afghanistan, Egypt, India, the Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan and Somalia.
Evidence: hat evidence supports the statement? What facts, figures, data can we use to communicate this clearly? Since 1988, more than 200 countries and 20 million volunteers have cooperated to immunize more than 2 billion children against polio.
Example: What testimonies from our participants or internal stakeholders could we use? Who is a compelling messenger for this audience? There have been nine importations of polio from endemic countries into previously poliofree countries. This is what the medical professionals on the field tell us: ...
Action desired: What do we want our audience to feel/do/learn? What is the solution they can support? France, Germany and Italy must follow the lead of their G8 counterparts and fulfill their financial pledge and commitment to polio eradication.
  • Step 3: Choose the medium and channel you would use to transmit your advocacy message: Will it be a video? A poster? A series of tweets or posts on social media channels? A quick presentation at a conference? If you have the time, create the final piece! If not, include the message you created in the previous table on your Course Portfolio.
  • Step 4: Share your work in the Discuss section for others to see!

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Theirworld (2020-07-01). "What is advocacy?". Theirworld. Retrieved 2020-07-01.
  2. "Communication for Development at UNICEF". UNICEF. Retrieved 2020-07-01.
  3. The Education We Want: An Advocacy Toolkit. Plan International
  4. "Communication for Development at UNICEF". UNICEF. Retrieved 2020-07-01.
  5. "Communication for Development at UNICEF". UNICEF. Retrieved 2020-07-01.

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