In a post entitled Preparing for the Wikimedia Serbia EduWiki Conference published on this blog on 20 February Brian Kelly described how he would attend the Eduwiki Serbia conference and learning day and report on educational developments taking place in the UK. This post provides his reflections on the events.
The Eduwiki Belgrade conference was organised by Wikimedia Serbia and held at the Belgrade Youth Centre on Monday 24 March 2014. The conference provided an opportunity for sharing of experiences of educational use of Wikipedia in Serbia which was complemented by summaries of similar activities in the US, UK, Germany, the Czech Republic and the Ukraine. Prior to the conference a learning day event was held in the Wikimedia Serbia offices.
The Learning Day
The Learning Day event provided an opportunity for Wikimedia Serbia staff to outline education activities taking place in Serbia and receive feedback from those working or involved with other national Wikimedia chapters (the Wikimedia Foundation and chapters in Germany, the Czech Republic, the Ukraine, Macedonia and the UK).
The learning day was structured so that feedback was provided for a number of areas, which helped to provide focussed attention and helped to ensure that the day was valuable for all participants. The topics covered were project metrics; leadership; target groups; quality and quality of articles; attracting new editors; feedback on the educational projects and opportunities for cooperation across Wikimedia chapters.
As can be seen from the accompanying photograph of a slide which summarised plans for the future, the Wikimedia Serbia organisation is ambitious, with the intention that “in 3-5 years Wikipedia [will be] a part of the Serbian educational system“.
The Eduwiki Conference
The Edukwiki conference provided a series of presentations about Wikipedia and related activities. Following the welcome to the conference from Rod Dunican, Wikimedia Foundation and members of Wikimedia Serbia the morning session provided an overview of Wikipedia, details of the education programme and examples of the educational projects which are taking place in schools and colleges. The morning session also included presentations on Creative Commons and open access. The afternoon session provided details of activities taking place beyond Serbia. Following an overview of the Wikimedia Education Programme given by Rid Dunican, Director of Global Education Programs at the Wikimedia Foundation, details of national activities were provided from speakers from Germany, the Czech Republic, the Ukraine and myself who summarised activities in the UK.
I had previously written a blog post on Open Education and Wikipedia: Developments in the UK which went into some detail of some of the key activities I would describe in my presentation: highlights from the EduWiki UK 2013 conference, the Jisc Wikimedia Ambassador post and the forthcoming Wikimania conference, to be held in London in August 2014. However after I submitted my slides I discovered that I would only have 15 minutes for my presentation, rather than the 45 minutes which the layout of the conference timetable suggested! I was able to provide an edited summary of my slides (which are available on Wikimedia Commons) although the original slides are still available and are hosted on Slideshare.
The Eduwiki Serbia conference only attracted small numbers of participants, many of whom were speakers at the event. It would seem that the value of Wikipedia in education is not yet being appreciated beyond the early adopters. It seems to me, therefore, that there is a need to explore outreach strategies which go beyond the early adopters and appeal to the early mainstream community who may be willing to make use of Wikipedia if they see benefits for their mainstream activities.
Such approaches may require use of communications and outreach channels which go beyond use of mailing lists, blogs and wiki resources which are managed by Wikimedia chapters. I found it interesting to observe how Wikipedia Serbia has a Facebook page and makes use of this Facebook page for its outreach activities, with 678 current ‘likes’ of the page. Might monitoring metrics of social media uses by Wikimedia chapters provide useful insights into potentially valuable outreach channels., I wonder?
I also created a Storify summary of the two events. I decided to do this after making use of Storify to provide a report on the WIKIsymposium which took place in the University of Stirling a few days before the events in Belgrade. As I described in a blog post on Emerging Best Practices for Using Storify For Archiving Event Tweets Twitter has the potential to enable discussions and ideas shared at events to be made available with a wider community and if there are enough people tweeting at an event a useful summary of the event can be produced. Perhaps this might be a useful approach for raising the visibility of Wikipedia events within the Twitter community? I’d welcome your thoughts.