The Wikimedia Education Program currently includes 60 programs around the world, in which students and instructors participate at almost every level of education. The subjects covered include law, medicine, arts, literature, information science, biology, history, psychology, and many others. This Signpost series presents a snapshot of the Wikimedia Global Education Program as it exists in 2014. We interviewed participants and facilitators from the United States and Canada, Serbia, Israel, the Arab World, and Mexico, in addition to the Wikimedia Foundation.
Education presentation by Dr. Martin Poulter of Wikimedia UK
Wikimedia education in Mexico
Based on an email interview with Leigh Thelmadatter, regional ambassador for Mexico and instructor at Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, ITESM). This report focuses on Leigh’s work with ITESM, which is also known as Wiki Borregos after the school’s mascot, borregos (rams). ITESM is a private university with 31 campuses in 25 cities throughout Mexico that enrolls 90,000 students. ITESM is noted for its internationally ranked business school and its high volume of patent applications; it was the first university in Latin America to be connected to the Internet. There is a separate education program at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), which is the largest public research university in Latin America; international rankings place it among the top 200 universities globally, and among its alumni are three Nobel Prize winners.
Can you describe how the Education Program started in Mexico?
Leigh with Wiki Borregos participants in servicio social (community service), May 2014
”Students from the class of Dr. Ernesto Priani in a talk on the Wikipedia Education Program of Wikimedia Mexico (in the) Faculty of Arts", UNAM, Mexico City.
There is no one Mexican education program. I work with the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM). I did my first classes with Wikipedia in 2007 when I worked at the Toluca campus. Activities at the Mexico City campus, where I am currently at, began in 2011, with use of Wikipedia in English as a foreign language classes and the establishment of a student group. (This was followed shortly by efforts made by Wikimedia Mexico).
Editor's note: see also Leigh's post on the Wikimedia blog, "Wikipedia as a foreign culture", which describes the beginning of her education work with Wikipedia in more detail.
How many instructors and students currently participate in the program?
We have five instructors and the campus librarian of the Mexico City campus currently active. Wikipedia was just accepted by the system administration as part of the Tec 21 program to encourage innovation in teaching, especially with technology. This is particularly important because we have 31 campuses spread over various parts of Mexico.
Currently we have 23 students working with us for the summer session. Most of these are students doing "servicio social" a community service requirement for all Mexican undergraduate students. These students, after training, set up projects and receive hours negotiated beforehand upon the completion of said projects. Our goal for the fall semester is at least ten classes participating with Wikipedia in some way, which will give us about 300 students along with the servicio social participants.
Acceptance into the Tec 21 program has meant so far that we have had 3 major teacher training sessions (June 6, June 19/20 and July 3/4) with a total of 28 teachers now knowing the basics of working with Wikipedia. We are also scheduled to do three 3-hour workshops for three weeks of what the Tec is calling "National Teachers' meetings" These are meetings of professors from all the campuses grouped by field, to discuss innovative ideas with the ultimate aim of redesigning the system's curriculum (plan de estudios). Wikipedia is being presented as one of the options to look at implementing systematically.
Which areas of the country currently participate?
Law Professor Jorge Luis Esquivel Zubiri of Universidad de Ecatepec. Esquivel’s students wrote about subjects such as custody agreements and intellectual property. Esquivel said that the Wikipedia Education Program is “...a form of open government and for the students a way to develop their professional skills to contribute to a noble project”.
Right now efforts are concentrated in the Mexico City area, but we have had presentations and workshops for professors and others in the system in Monterrey and Puebla. We have a two-day workshop for instructors this month to train more people in working with Wikipedia.
What grade levels are the students who participate?
The system has a college and high school division and students from both levels participate.
As you probably know, Wikipedia editors are predominantly male in most languages. Approximately what percentage of the students who participate in the Mexico education program are female?
About a third are female. For example 7 of 22 students currently working with Wikipedia to complete community service hours (required by law for Mexican undergraduate students) are female. It is interesting to note that the most innovative students working with Wikipedia so far have been female. Natalia0893 was the first to create sound files as part of her work, RaquelSchaar created the first map/illustration project and currently, Alma Cebrian is creating simple digital animations. She did some on chess pieces and is currently working on a series of how the letters of the alphabet are drawn.
How are instructors and students trained to use Wikipedia?
Until this summer, training for professors was nearly-non existent, with those who did projects heavily dependent on me for guidance. As noted above, the acceptance into the Tec 21 program changes this as professors are starting to take Wikipedia seriously. We have a four-hour session for my department this past June 6. We have 11 professors registered for the two-day workshop on 19-20 June.
Do students and instructors usually use VisualEditor?
Only for minor corrections and at the very beginning. Much of the work done by our students has been translation from English to Spanish and working with Commons. This is best done in the regular editor. Once students have done a translation project, they are comfortable with the normal editor.
What kinds of assignments do students receive when using Wikipedia in the classroom? For example, are they translating, editing existing articles, or creating new articles? Which languages do they use?
Translation has provided the most bytes to Wikipedia, all into eswiki. We have calculated the stats last semester and you can see them here. The next most common assignment is with Commons and we have had some interesting activities including Day of the Dead photo contests sponsored by the campus library and a Spanish as a foreign language teacher who had her students go and explore aspects of Mexico City such as markets, bakeries and residential streets that most foreign visitors do not go to see. We have had some article creation, including article creation in English (especially the Medical English class and this summer's community service group has been doing more article writing than past groups. (They chose their own projects)
Students primarily work in Spanish Wikipedia. The translation assignments are to take advantage of the fact that most of our students have an advanced level of English (with some in French and German as well), but students rather work in Spanish.
How do you expect the program to develop in the next few years?
We expect major growth over the next year, again because of formal acceptance by ITESM administration. The main question for us is how we will relate to the rest of the Wikimedia community. We put in for user group status a year ago and that application is still pending.
Is there anything else that you would like Signpost readers to know about the program?
We were the first campus to use translation regularly as a classroom assignment, a practice that the Wikipedia Education Program brought over to Egypt and other places. Our work is regularly covered in the This Month in Education bulletin as well as the Wikimedia Blog. I have a list of other coverage here and our main web page is here on Meta).
ITESM Global Studies professors and librarians at a Wikipedia workshop, June 6, 2014