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Nichole Saad from the Wikimedia Foundation visits Christ University

Posted by Manasa Rao at Dec 12, 2017 12:00 AM |

Nichole Saad, Program Manager, Wikipedia Education Program, Wikimedia Foundation visited Christ University, Bengaluru to conduct a periodic review of the Wikipedia Education Program. The meeting was conducted along with CIS-A2K and Department of Language faculty: Dr. Mallika Krishnaswami, Dr. K.A. Sebastian, Dr. Rathi and Dr. Shivaprasad.


The review kicked off with an introduction to Ms. Saad regarding the work that has been going on at the University. Registrar, Dr. Anil Pinto addressed the gathering of faculty of the Department of Languages and CIS-A2K team members. Student representative Shamama was also present.


Upon giving an introduction to the University itself, Dr. Pinto spoke about the genesis of the Program which was, at its heart, a loss of interest in languages. He spoke of the various ways in which the program has engaged with language: promoting science in regional language, publishing Christ University books on Wikisource, digitising old/ rare books, in addition to editing of articles, creating articles and creating articles in their specialities. On the future of the program, he felt that moving ahead to asking "faculty member in other disciplines if they can accept assignments submitted in languages other than English(despite the fact that the medium of instruction is English)” would be a good way forward. Dr. Pinto continued, “Wikipedia is the best tool available to us to go digital. We are happy that Wikipedia builds in the process and our students also learn.” He said that there were also plans to get all PhD students to go through a Wikipedia workshop to create knowledge specific to their subject.


Speaking next, Tanveer, Program Manager, CIS-A2K, expressed his gratitude to Christ University for enabling CIS-A2K to conduct the Wikipedia Education program at the University. He pointed out that even before the WMF started thinking about the New Readers program, CIS-A2K had engaging students at Christ University who had not previously engaged with Wikipedia. This marked a shifting away from digital learning to critical thinking in knowledge production and creation.


Just as in other WEP programs, there has been an inclination towards a specific topic. For example, Pune University has been working on gender. When this all comes together, it gives a composite view of knowledge production in indian language. There is also the need to escalate the discussion to a core academic level- a fruitful engagement mode with different points of view.


CIS-A2K’s WEP interventions have also been offering certificate courses for students as well as internships in order to understand a) the work their peers have done and b) the value addition they can do. This is exciting because this results in a large outreach and lends to learn and thinking on our feet constantly. As with every intervention, there are challenges that astonish that we need to think about and integrate into our work. In conclusion, he pointed out that the WEP at Christ is a challenge that CIS-A2K relishes.


The attendees further discussed the need to not only keep the community abreast of WEP activities but to also acknowledge and understand the feeling of ownership that comes with working on Wikimedia projects. Another commendable feature of the WEP at Christ remains the fact that students take on the role of campus ambassadors. The outcomes of the program have been documented in the Kannada media with a paper presentation as well. The attendees discussed possible research outputs as well.


Finally, Ms. Saad spoke of the importance of sharing wisdom and experiences in review meetings like these. She said that the focus of the Wikimedia movement is to go to places where people don’t have access and go to marginalised communities and make education accessible to them. This has the potential to change people’s lives as they will get access to information and skills to navigate a digitally literate world. Ms. Saad also spoke about using Wikimedia projects in classrooms. She said, “it can’t happen overnight, can’t become familiar with it right away or comfortable with it. However with pioneers like Christ University in this space, who areopen minded to it, the impact is greater than just number and statistics."


During the later sessions, Ms. Saad conducted activities that enabled students to ponder the following questions:

 

  • how can technology enrich the learning of students in India?

  • what are WEP challenges in India

  • what are some of the improvements you would need to make WEP better?

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