Wikimedia in education
Serbia takes the stage with Filip Maljković
The Wikimedia Education Program currently spans 60 programs around the world. Students and instructors participate at almost every level of education. Subjects covered include law, medicine, arts, literature, information science, biology, history, psychology, and many others. The Wikimedia in Education 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.
- Based on an email interview with Filip Maljković, President of Wikimedia Serbia
Can you describe how the Education Program started in Serbia?
”Presentation of Wikimedia Serbia at Ivanjica Youth Office”, 2014
- It all started in late 2005, when we first held lectures about Wikipedia in two educational institutions (universities). In 2006 we had the first official cooperation with a faculty, where students had assignments (writing articles on Wikipedia), and that gave us a boost to start cooperations with several other faculties.
How many instructors and students currently participate in the program?
- There are about 5 people on our side that participate in the program, but there are only a few instructors. There are about 300-400 students currently participating in the program.
Which areas of the country currently participate?
”WMRS Educational program, Info room of Belgrade Youth Office, 2013”
- It's mostly Belgrade, but we are trying to include some other parts of Serbia. Beside Belgrade, we have cooperation with educational institutions from Niš and Vranje (southeast Serbia), as well as Ivanjica (southwest Serbia).
What grade levels are the students who participate?
- Mostly, it's college-level students (1st-3rd year mostly), as well as some secondary schools (high schools, aka Gymnasiums).
What languages do students use when editing? Is there any translation work between wikis?
- They edit almost exclusively in Serbian. In some institutions, students do translation work from mostly English Wikipedia, but in the majority of them, students write their own articles. Some Spanish language students did some work on English Wikipedia as well.
As you probably know, Wikipedia editors are predominantly male in most languages. Approximately what percentage of the students who participate in the Serbia education program are female?
”Wikimedia Serbia workshop and lecture within Wiki student project at the Faculty of Mining and Geology, Belgrade”, 2014
- In many institutions, the number of male and female participants is balanced, but in the past year, we've had a slight majority of female participants, mostly due to the inclusion of Faculty of Philology, University of Belgrade.
How are instructors and students trained to use Wikipedia?
”Student workshop of Wikimedia Serbia and Faculty of Mining and Geology, Belgrade”, 2014
- We hold lectures about Wikimedia and Wikipedia (regarding both policies and editing). Usually, a set of workshops is held so that students can have hands-on experience, in order to be better prepared for their assignments.
Do students and instructors usually use VisualEditor?
- It's been used to some extent only in one institution, mostly because it's been turned on later than for most wikis, and because some tech-related problems still need to be addressed, because of the conversion between Latin and Cyrillic scripts that is used throughout MediaWiki.
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?
- During classes, students participate in workshops, where they are given a set of tasks to complete (usually on their user pages). The assignments that involve main namespace are usually set as homework or project, and are done at home. Those assignments can include translating, editing existing articles and/or creating new articles, depending on the agreement with the professors and specific circumstances at the institution at hand.
Has the program received any endorsements from government agencies? If so, who in the government endorsed the program, and how did the government decide to support the program?
- The program isn't systematically endorsed by the government, but we have been recently accredited by a government body for holding seminars for teachers and professors, as a part of their continued professional improvement, so in a way they are supporting us.
Outside of Serbia, how widely used is the Serbian Wikipedia?
Map showing where Serbian is recognized as an official language (dark blue) or minority language (light blue)
- It is mostly used in Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially in Republic of Srpska (its constituent state), as many Serbian-speaking people live there, as well as in Montenegro (since there's still no Montenegrin Wikipedia). Serbia has a large diaspora, so there are visits to srwiki from several countries (such as Austria, Germany, Canada, Australia, Sweden, the US etc).
How do you expect the program to develop in the next few years?
- We would like to have someone employed full time to address these projects and help make the program more sustainable and broaden it to include various institutions. We expect to have cooperation with many schools, with teachers and professors having enough knowledge to hold lectures to their students about Wikipedia.
Is there anything else you would like Signpost readers to know about the education program in Serbia?
- In March this year, we held an educational conference, which was the first of its sort in this part of the world. Its full effects yet remain to be seen, but we deem it a successful event that gathered several people from abroad and interested local audience that had a chance to learn something about Wikimedia educational programs and the ways they can be included.