Train the Trainer Program

Posted by Subhashish Panigrahi at Nov 18, 2013 07:52 AM |
Wikipedians, about 20 of them, from 10 different cities, speaking 8 different languages, joined together for the first ever four days "Train the Trainer Program" organised by the Centre for Internet and Society's Access to Knowledge (CIS-A2K) team in Bangalore from October 3 to 6, 2013.
Train the Trainer Program

Wikipedians Supriya Kankumbikar, John Noranha and Nikhil Kawale during at the CIS-A2K Train-the-Trainer Program (by Subhashish Panigrahi, CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Read the original published on the Wikipedia meta page

CIS-A2K organised the residency training program to build capacities amongst different language Wikimedia communities. A good diversity of Wikipedians from various language communities such as Bengali, Gujarati, Sanskrit, Malayalam, Hindi, Marathi, Telugu, Odia, came over for the event.

CIS-A2K identified two prominent reasons for organizing the event: (1) Limitations of a virtual sphere, and (2) Limited number of Wikipedians leading outreach activities.

Limitations of a virtual sphere
Most open source communities face problem of a lack of time and space for sharing ideas in a non-virtual sphere. Similary Wikipedians, who are voluntary contributors and authors of the articles posted on Wikipedia merely get time and opportunity to meet fellow editors because of the limitations of a virtual platform on which Wikipedia is built. There are twelve active Indian language Wikimedia communities that are spread across the world and moving the bandwagon of collaborating with each other and carving their historic mark of compiling the world's largest encyclopaedia and its other sister projects. To keep this movement alive there is a need of cross-sharing ideas of working together for a common goal and strengthening the leaders of these communities.

Limited number of Wikipedians leading outreach activities
Only a handful of Wikipedians devote their time in leading outreach activities and bringing new blood to the community. Indian language Wikimedia communities are in need of empowering Wikipedians who would lead outreach sessions in order to expand their editor community and strengthen their language projects.

The inception of this program began with the discussion of organizing a training program for the Wikipedians who are willing to conduct more activities in their home cities. Finally on October 3, 2013, Bangalore heard the voices of prominent Wikipedians from Punjab, West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala. The Wikipedians delivered presentations on various topics such as — why Wikipedia is needed for the society, why Wikipedia in Indian languages, importance of starting new Wiki projects and so on.

Their presentation delivery skills were judged by Vishnu Vardhan and Nitika Tandon and all other community members present. They gave individual assessments and feedback for improvement towards the end of the day. Personal trainer Sachin Nagarajappa spent time with Wikipedians discussing mistakes that trainers do while conducting workshops and gradual improvement techniques for impactful outreach. Wikipedia is built on the concept of crowdsourcing and Malayalam Wikimedian Viswanathan Prabhakaran carried out a session about “Crowd Sourcing from the Future” explaining the various layers of crowdsourced projects.

The first day ended with a task where different language Wikipedians formed groups to prepare presentations for the following day.

Groups were given a challenge of imagining the audience as new wikipedians. Five groups presented on the second day. Sachin conducted an advanced presentation skill improvement workshop based on the inputs from the participants and the assessment of the group presentations. Veteran Wikipedian Hari Prasad Nadig shared learnings from Challenges & Opportunities in building an Indian Language Community online. Open source activist and CIS's Executive Director Sunil Abraham conducted two sessions — a spectrogram based activity to simplify the "Criticality of Neutral Point of View" and an interactive session called “Speed Geeking” on offline and online outreach followed by a one-on-one discussion on the presentation skill improvement.

Typing in Indian languages is not easy especially when it comes to multiple typing layout standards followed in the public and private sectors in India. Dr. U.B.Pavanaja conducted a session on Unicode standard for Indian languages and its usefulness with a brief context on the fonts and their different operating systems. Social media expert and Wikimedian Tinu Cherian shared the secrets of popularizing Indian language Wikipedias and bringing outstanding contributors to the limelight, how media played an important role in showcasing initiatives for free encyclopaedic content contribution in India and tips of social media. With fun activities Vishnu Vardhan shared case studies of making Wikipedia workshops interesting. Wikimedia Foundation board member and writer Achal Prabhala shared stories of documenting Oral traditions in Kerala and South Africa for Wikipedia referencing and how copyright laws evolved in the context of copyright issues that Wikipedia contributors face. Achal also threw light on content donation on WikiSource and other platforms that would be useful for people to consume for knowledge production on diverse platforms where Wikipedia could play a central role. Viswanathan and Subhashish Panigrahi demonstrated how to set up a handheld digital camera based prop to easily digitize books without using any scanner and then create electronic books.

The most vital part of Wikipedia articles is referencing. Wikimedian Shyamal Lakshminarayan demonstrated how finding sources of references and citing them for the facts on Wikipedia could be made easier through detailed research and by using several tools available. Wikimedia India's founding member and veteran Telugu Wikipedian Arjuna Rao Chavala gave a talk about the history and future plans of Wikimedia India. Wikipedians then went to M.G. Road boulevard to see the weaving work by Gandhians, Philately exhibition on Gandhi and spent some time with Namma Metro's staff to know about the metro operation. Dr. U.B. Pavanaja and Kannada Wikipedian Om Shivaprakash guided Wikipedians to the office of Deccan Herald Prajavani where they got to see the entire newspaper production and spent time with the technical staff to learn about the use of Kannada Unicode fonts for newspaper printing. Editors and staff at Prajavani got to know about the use of WikiCommons as a free image repository.

The four action filled days involved learning new concepts, training on presentation skills, collaborating to create outreach documents, sharing stories from different language communities, understanding new mediums of outreach, meeting Wikipedians from different cities and also having lots of fun. Wikipedians left Bangalore city with happy faces and we hope to cultivate new editors in their communities.

List of Participants