2013 Annual Review/Education

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Wikimedia UK can deliver a real, lasting, positive impact in the realm of education. Obviously much of our work has a broad educational theme but we delivered a number of specific activities in this field in 2012-13. In 2013-14 we will continue to broaden our activity and delivery.

The highest profile educational project we worked on in 2012 was our EduWiki conference which took place at the University of Leicester in September. The event brought together Wikimedians, academics and technologists to look at Wikipedia, Wikiversity and related projects, not in terms of educational resources, but educational practice, including collaboration, open review, and global participation. It was a chance to talk about innovative work in classrooms, institutions and online communities, and shape the future of Wikimedia UK's work in this area. Delegates explored the ways that open educational projects can support innovative education. We discussed the Wikipedia Education Program (in which university students improve Wikipedia articles for course credit), learned from universities where the program is already embedded, exploring the educational opportunities and drawing lessons from the experience so far.

Another key piece of work was the development of an online Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). The VLE has been created in order to support learning and training on topics related to Wikipedia. There has been substantial progress on the population of the VLE with course content and we expect the VLE to be released for use early in 2013. This will make it much easier for people to learn to interact with Wikimedia projects in a much more structured way that the learner can manage themselves.

A project related to this has been our “Train the Trainers” programme, specifically created to provide professional level training to Wikimedia UK volunteers to give them the skills and confidence to go to institutions and events and deliver training to people new to editing Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects. This is a sustainable way of ensuring that we always have a bank of trained trainers to call on when there is interest from groups or institutions to offer this to volunteers.

We have found that student societies are an excellent way to reach out to students and improve understanding and participation of students related to our projects. In 2012 we supported Freshers' Fairs at both Imperial College and Cambridge University. We are keen to extend this in 2013 so please get in touch if you'd like some support in establishing a society at your university.

In related work, we've recently embarked on a joint project with Demos and Digital Disruption with a focus on wiki literacy, critical thinking and digital fluency among young people in education. The project will assess these skills among both learners and educators and will utilise our projects to implement a programme of open educational resources (based on Wikimedia projects) to improve these skills. To support our work in this area we have established an Education Committee which reports to the WMUK Board. Over 2013-14 the Committee will become more involved in helping to shape and progress our work in education.