For trainers/Sample sessions

From Wikimedia UK
Jump to navigation Jump to search

There may be a need for an archive of exemplar material for use by trainers and a rationale for adopting particular approaches. The content at present is just one trainer's thoughts and reflections on delivering Wikipedia training in general and some successful sessions in particular.



Presentations are akin to a mail shot: you send out the same information to a mixed audience and have no idea whether it has been received and understood. Although a presentation may be suitable for an academic audience, it addresses only one learning style and it is generally understood to be an inferior method for students to acquire skills (as opposed to acquiring the underpinning knowledge, where presentations do have value).


When it comes to teaching skills, you should consider a sequence of (1) instructor explains; (2) instructor or assistant demonstrates; (3) trainee attempts; (4) instructor gives feedback; (5) trainees repeats; with 4 and 5 repeating as necessary.


For 'hands on' sessions, you can't predict what ratio of trainers to trainees you need; so much depends on the nature of what is being learned and the layout of the venue. The key point for trainers is to get feedback, and for exercises that take place on a computer, the easiest way to do that is to be in a position where you can see the trainees' screens. If you don't know the layout beforehand, you can't possibly guess how many trainers you need. A layout of parallel rows of trainees all facing forward may be checked by a single observer; a U-shaped layout with a projector screen at the open end might need as many as three observers to keep track of the trainees' progress.

Before you start

Get there early. Leave time to check the room well before the trainees turn up. Check the projector is working, level and focussed. Ensure all trainees have a decent line-of-sight to the projector screen. Make sure that the largest assistant can comfortably move around the room to reach any trainee who needs assistance. As the trainees arrive, talk to them. Get an idea of what their expectations are, and make a preliminary assessment of their abilities - you may need those later on.

Sample sessions

These are written from the perspective of guidance for "You" taking the part of the trainer who is leading the session. "You" are the person who is doing most of the talking in that session and guiding the "assistants". The roles should be rotated during an event to give all of the trainers an opportunity to develop their training skills.

Accounts and userspace

[Time: 60 min to 120 min, 90+ min typical]

This follows the introductions and housekeeping (who are the trainers; sign the list; fire exits and assembly points, etc.). It is made up of:

  1. a brief talk (a few minutes max) on user accounts; their value; and how to get one - no more than that.
  2. a demonstration of how the main page looks to a logged-in user; mention sister projects; redlinks and bluelinks; demo of user page; explanation of talk page; demo of sandbox;
  3. a hands-on session where trainees create content in their sandbox.

You need everybody to have created an account on Wikipedia, preferably before you start. Stress the importance of remembering the password as forgetting a password is a genuine barrier to editors continuing to contribute beyond the initial sessions.

If some do not have accounts, the best way of coping is get an assistant trainer who has the "Account Creator" right to log in and create the account for those who do not have them, while you carry on presenting. The assistant should already be logged in to their own account and use the Special:CreateAccount page, ticking the box "Ignore spoofing checks".

Start by having an assistant working on the computer attached to the projector. They need to be logged in to a non-admin account using a vector skin with no custom css or javascripts. (If no assistant is available for this, pick the most able trainee and get them to do this job). You are talking from about the middle of your audience and should be able to see as many screens as possible with a minimum of movement. Other assistants can be positioned to check on the screens of trainees that you can't easily see.

Ask if the trainees can see where their username is on the screen. (You may want to move to the side of the projector screen and point to where that is.) Look and listen for assent. If at any time you "lose" a trainee, i.e they can't follow a step, either repeat the point or get an assistant to offer individual help. Ask if there is any difference between their username and the assistant's username (or any other obvious bluelink) - use this to explain redlinks and bluelinks (only briefly). Get everyone to click on their own username. This will probably produce a different effect from what they see on the projector screen so all assistants need to be on their toes here to help the trainees past this step. You need to tell them to look for the phrase "Start the User:XYZ page" and click on it; repeat that as needed until you are certain everybody has the editbox open. Take this opportunity to briefly explain what the editbox is for.

Ask the trainees to type something about themselves into the editbox. Explain that as this becomes visible to the whole world, they should not write anything personally identifiable, so no addresses, email accounts, or very personal details! Suggest they write a sentence on what they are interested in, or a place they like, or their favourite music, etc. Help them find the [Show Preview] button and start getting them into the habit of previewing their edits before they save them. Show them the Summary box (assistant on projector will help) and get them to all type a summary like "Created my userpage". Promise them you'll show them how useful an edit summary is a bit later. Then get them to save the page. (Your assistant can help demonstrate this if they have previously blanked their demo-user's userpage).

Watch them all as they save the page; congratulate them on their first edit and on having a user page - try to gauge any feedback from expressions on faces and look for who is keen and who is struggling. Take a minute to explain why we have user pages and user talk pages; explain that all articles also have talk pages (but don't leave the user page for now; you can remind them of what you said here when they are in the session about contributing to articles).

Next, show them how to edit an existing page by using the "Edit" link near the top-right. Get them to write another sentence on the line immediately below. (You assistant should be doing the same on the projector screen). Now preview - ask if they expected that? Ask how they might get a separate paragraph? Get them to add a blank line between the two sentences and preview it. Add an edit summary and save.

Next, get them to edit the page again and this time help them to add two blank lines at the top of the edit box. Now ask them to add this at the very top of the page:

{{new user bar}}

Tell them that the 'open-curly-brackets' are just to the right of the letter 'P' on most keyboards and 'close-curly-brackets' are just to the right of that, but shift key is needed. Lower case is fine for the words. Now preview it. "WOW! Where did all that come from?" Explain that wikis can include a page that somebody else has written and this is one of those. (This helps de-mystify templates, but try not to call it a template at this stage). Tell them it contains useful links and they can come back to this page tomorrow at home and read the links as well as add some more about themselves.

In last part of the demo section, get them to click the link to their sandbox and explain what it's for. Ask them to make an edit: one sentence about the town where they were born; preview; add an edit summary; and save. Explain about how articles bold the first mention of their subject. Get them to edit the sandbox to make the name of the town bold; preview; edit summary; save. Give out the 'cheatsheets' and point them to the "Help" dropdown on the editing toolbar.

Now give them some time to edit freely in their sandbox; create content about their town; add wiki-markup as they please; you and all of the assistants should now patrol the room looking for anybody needing or requesting help. Use a 'light touch' approach, particularly on anybody struggling. Always ask if you may use their mouse or type for them; be conscious of not infringing into their personal space - try to help them from the side, at their own eye-level where possible, and avoid criticism in this session: all feedback needs to be as positive as possible while they are involved with completely new material.

Ten minutes before the end of this session, bring everybody back into plenary mode to discuss what they have done; what went well; what didn't go so well; what they enjoyed most. If possible, get each trainee to say briefly what the most interesting thing that they learned was.

Social interaction and Conflict-of-interest

The UserTalk and Articletalk session to follow.


Assistant working the pc with the projector - logged in to a plain account; other Assistants as needed to patrol parts of the room that the Lead can't work so easily.

Start by ensuring everyone can see the screen and ask them to copy and follow in their Sandbox. Make sure everyone has their sandbox open and that they have the proper edit toolbar with the word 'Cite' as the last entry on the toolbar (This is important!) - You probably need to be front, centre, near enough to screen to point to particular words on-screen.

Get the Assistant to type into the sandbox:

== Ombre ==
Ombre is a card game for two players.

Now get them to preview, give edit summary and save it. Then ask "What is wrong with that?" Deal with any wrong answers kindly, but if nobody suggests it, tell them it's actually a card game for three players. Talk about 'how do we know that what we wrote originally is wrong'; explain Verifiability.

Tell them you have a book called A History of Card Games - Ombre is described on pages 124 and 125 and page 124 is where it says it's for three players. Now get them to edit that section of the sandbox; change "two players" to "three players" and then put the cursor to the end of the line. Show them how to click on 'Cite', then 'Templates', then 'cite book'; they now should have the popup window to fill in the parameters for the reference. Your Assistants must be checking that everybody has been able to do this and be helping anyone with problems. Show them that they can fill in the ISBN - in this case 0198691734 and click on the symbol next to it (Magnifying glass/Search/Autofill icon) then the rest of the fields are filled in for them. You only need add the page number as 124. If there are problems with the tool here is the full citation:

<ref>{{cite book |last=Parlett |first=David |title=A History of Card Games |year=1992 |publisher=Oxford University Press |location=Oxford |isbn=0198691734 |page=124}}</ref>

Now get them to click the button to [Insert] the citation. Then [Preview] and show them that they get a message in red explaining that they need {{reflist}} at the bottom of the article. The Assistant adds that and you make sure everyone has copied it. Now [Preview], edit summary and [Save]. Assistants make sure everyone is successful: give praise and feedback as needed.

Tell them that Ombre is played with a "short pack" of 40 cards. The Assistant edits the section and adds the following after the first line and before the reflist:

Ombre is played with a "short pack" of 40 cards.

and the trainees edit the section and copy that. You & Assistants ensure that they all have it in the right place. Tell them that the book verifies that fact on page 125. Set them the task of adding another reference to the same book, but referring to page 125. The Assistant working the screen does not demonstrate this for them. You & Assistants patrol to help/check that everyone is able to do this. It doesn't matter whether they go through the "Cite -> Templates -> Cite book -> ISBN -> Autofill" route, or simply copy & paste the previous ref then amend the page number. Make sure it's all saved; praise; discuss what the trainees did and how they felt about it.

When teaching a skill, you should aim to (1) describe (2) demonstrate (3) get trainee to attempt (4) feedback (5) get trainee to repeat unaided (6) evaluate. Check where you are doing each of these in the above session.


The Group-pic to follow.