Wikipedia talk:India Education Program

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IEP draft[edit]

A draft for the new IEP is up at meta. Since the current design excludes communication with, I thought you all should be informed of its existence. Danger High voltage! 00:52, 1 February 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for that.
  • "to mobilize and empower"
It's about the students, not the encyclopedia.
  • "human-knowledge generators"
WP:OR is now WP:OK
  • "Students represent one of the most promising group from which to recruit new editors."
We have learned nothing from IEP #1
  • "a reasonably high identification with the community's values and endeavors."
We have really learned nothing from IEP #1
  • "to recruit new editors."
Screw the rest of you. You'll put up with anything, and keep coming back for more. Everything is to revolve around that graph of new editor registrations. Editor retention is nothing, nor is encyclopedia quality.
Andy Dingley (talk) 02:22, 1 February 2012 (UTC)
I think it's rather illuminating to look at the presentations that have been prepared for students. There's a lot more emphasis on familiarising students with Wikipedia's editing interface than there is on educating them about the sort of content that students are supposed to add. On the first presentation is a brief summary of the five pillars, but the fifth pillar is stated as "Wikipedia does not have firm rules besides the 5 general principles stated here", implying that students will be fine as long as they write neutrally, behave politely and (possibly) don't plagarise. The third presentation is focused on policies, and students are introduced to NPOV, "plagiarism" (even though most of what the presentation is talking about is copyright violation) and referencing (much of which tells students how to add references rather than whether they should do so). That's it. In particular there's no mention of original research or notability and no discussion of which areas might be appropriate for students to add content. To make matters worse students will be left with the impression that Wikipedia doesn't have any rules beyond the handful of very vague principles in the presentation and since whoever wrote the presentation doesn't understand the difference between copyright and plagiarism students might get the idea that it's OK to copy text as long as they acknowledge the source. Hut 8.5 10:22, 1 February 2012 (UTC)
I still don't know what the main goal of IEP is, and whether this is even compatible with the project scope. "Bringing in new editors" is in-line, even though clearly somewhat difficult to achieve well. "Giving students some editing to do, purely as an exercise in coursework" might offer benefits to colleges and even students, but it is not something that offers anything to the encyclopedia project. My concern with the IEP, from the vague pronouncements there have been, has always been that its main goal is closer to the second and that the encyclopedia was being ignored. I'm not here to be a volunteer teaching assistant. Andy Dingley (talk) 10:37, 1 February 2012 (UTC)

Students as editors? Now it's students as administrators![edit]

From User:Jaobar, a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media at Michigan State University

No doubt well meaning, but how are the students going to react if they find they don't become admins at the end? Or even worse, if they're thrown to the wolves of RfA?! Andy Dingley (talk) 19:40, 9 February 2012 (UTC)

It doesn't appear to me that the point of this class is actually becoming an administrator, but--rather--learning how Wikipedia is administered. I don't think I see any problem here. Calliopejen1 (talk) 20:04, 9 February 2012 (UTC)
Hm. On the one hand, it sounds like Jaobar is aware that he isn't going to be able to take his students from zero to admin in one semester, and intends to focus more on the "this is how it's been done" than the "you must do this". On the other, it does sound rather like he expects to have them ticking all the boxes "required" for adminship and then opening RFAs, and I think he and the students will both have a rude awakening when they find that the community frowns on box-ticking, especially for editors with little experience otherwise who are visibly "aiming" for adminship.

There is some really interesting research work to be done here, about how people become admins, and how the process varies over time and between interest areas (and in fact, when I agreed to be interviewed for this class, that was what I thought it was about), but I think that would be best done when disconnected from "...and then we'll make you an admin, too!" Quite possibly it's too late now to change the course syllabus so substantially, though, and as long as Jaobar is prepared to stay engaged, really engaged, with both Wikipedia and his students and is truthful with them about the likelihood of the class actually resulting in adminship (and is willing to modify the syllabus on a dime if the current plan becomes clearly unworkable, intolerable to the community, or detrimental to the students), I'm willing to wait and watch with the hope that this will work out. A fluffernutter is a sandwich! (talk) 20:07, 9 February 2012 (UTC)

Please discuss this at Wikipedia_talk:United_States_Education_Program -- it is not remotely related to the India Education Program, and the U.S. program participants will not be following a discussion that happens on the India program talk page. -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 21:35, 9 February 2012 (UTC)

Editors with past experience of the IEP car-crash are precisely those who need to be fore-warned in case this should turn out equally badly. Andy Dingley (talk) 21:38, 9 February 2012 (UTC)
Prof. Obar has been working closely with Maggie and myself to be sure that expectations are accurately set. In addition, his students are doing extensive interviews of existing admins. I don't think we need to worry about that aspect of it. If you have further questions, please feel free to email me. :) Philippe Beaudette, Wikimedia Foundation (talk) 22:00, 9 February 2012 (UTC)
I have no problem with leaving messages on this page directing conversation to the US page, as editors involved in the IEP program likely have this page on watchlists more than the US program page. I just want to make it clear that if you would like anyone involved in that class or the U.S. program as a whole to read your comments or answer your questions, you should make those comments and questions on the talk page for that program. I personally find it really useful to have comments like the three you've posted here to see the varying reactions to the program, and I think the U.S. participants will too, so I hope you are willing to post your comments in a place where the U.S. program participants will see them as well! -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 22:03, 9 February 2012 (UTC)
It seems to me that editors would find it beneficial to have a central forum on en.wp to discuss the education programs generally, to develop a coherent overview rather than engage in piecemeal analysis. The education programs seem to disproportionately affect the English Wikipedia community, and yet Wikipedia:Global Education Program is a redirect and its talkpage a redlink. I understand the rationale for having much of the documentation on the outreach wiki, but it's not optimal for an initiative so heavily reliant on local community engagement and participation. Regards, Skomorokh 22:09, 9 February 2012 (UTC)
Yes, but the local engagement is by program. Obviously, the India, Canada, and United States programs share a language, but we also have programs starting on the Arabic Wikipedia and the Portuguese Wikipedia starting this spring, and it's unfair to ask them to talk about concerns that stretch program-wide on the English Wikipedia. Instead, we are engaging with the local communities on the Arabic Wikipedia about the Cairo Pilot and the Portuguese Wikipedia about the Brazil Pilot. That's why we welcome any program-wide comments at outreach:Wikipedia Education Program. Otherwise, in a case like this where it is a comment about one class in one geographic region, please direct the comments to that region's talk page. -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 22:26, 9 February 2012 (UTC)
To clarify, students in this class are learning specifically about WikiPolitics. As a case study, they are studying how an RfA works and interviewing administrators to learn what is actually involved in the selection and the role. They won't be applying for adminship and will likely be discouraged from doing so as they learn just how rigorous the RfAs usually are. Rob SchnautZ (WMF) (talkcontribs) 17:39, 26 March 2012 (UTC)

Welcome Rob Schnautz, new Education Program community liaison[edit]

I'm really pleased to announce that Rob Schnautz has joined the Wikipedia Education Program team as an online communications contractor. Rob has been editing Wikipedia as User:Bob the Wikipedian since 2006, and he self-identifies as a WikiDragon, working mostly with the Tree of Life WikiProject. He also helped develop the automatic taxobox system. In 2011, he became the Regional Ambassador for part of the Midwest, and he joins the team now to serve as a liaison between the existing English Wikipedia editing community and the Education Program team.

This means I'll be less active on talk pages and IRC and return to a traditional communications role (writing blog posts, outreach to news media, etc.). Rob will now be the program's primary point of contact on-wiki; if you have questions, feel free to reach out to him either on program talk pages like this one or on his talk page. Welcome, Rob! -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 22:32, 6 March 2012 (UTC)

Update on India Education Pilot[edit]

Hey Everyone,

The context for this note is the Wikipedia Education Program that is currently running in a number of countries. A pilot was run in India in 2011 - which failed for a number of reasons. We have been studying the India pilot, WEP experiences in other countries and reflecting on the movement context in India. I have put together a summary of lessons and suggestions here and here.

We propose a new pilot on education in India.

Why India?

The main aim for WMF's India Program is clear from the following

  • India has about 1.2 billion people and one of the world's largest youth populations (with about 50% of the total population younger than 25.) It has 28 languages with hundreds of dialects.
  • India is one of the fastest growing nations on the Internet. The current level of 80m of Internet users is expected to increase to 237m by 2015. Also, between 400-700m Indians have mobile phones, and a growing number have Internet access through their mobiles. Today, India represents only 2.0% of global page views and 1.6% of global page edits on our projects, even though India has 4.7% of global Internet users and about 20% of the world's population.
  • It has a long and interesting history and a wonderful diversity. On English Wikipedia, there are only about 115,000 articles on India (out of a total of 4 million articles.) Even within these, it is estimated that as many as 90,000 are Start or Stub.
  • There are 20 Indic language Wikipedias - but they are all very small. The largest have about 100 active editors. The average article count is less than 40,000.There are many strong reasons to increase participation from India - and that is India Program's primary objective.

There are many strong reasons to increase participation from India - and that is India Program's primary objective.

Why Students?

  • Globally, it estimated that 50% of editors are less than 25 years of age - which would put them in school or college / university.
  • Students are a very promising group to bring in new contributors who are educated, teachable, and diverse.
  • Also, they are in a environment of learning - which involves them discovering and studying knowledge and reproducing it as part of a teaching regime.
  • Additionally, India has one of the world's largest youth populations - with more than 50% below the age of 25.

Why an Education Program?
Where such programs have run well, such as WEP in the US, analysis has shown that:

  • Contributions made by students have 3 times greater probability of remaining on Wikipedia than by a regular newbie. This stands to reason because students in a well-designed & implemented program
  • have received multiple rounds of Wikipedia training
  • have people they can reach out to for help such as Campus or Online Ambassadors
  • know that there are online and printed resources they have access to
  • feel part of a larger group as their classmates are also involved
  • have their faculty watch over their progress
  • Classes using Wikipedia more than doubled by the second semester
  • Quality of articles edited for classes improved approximately 60 percent on average
  • Student clubs emerged without much external support

Our next step?
After studying this in detail and after several discussions with community members (from different languages), we've approached the Simple Wikipedia Community to see if they'd like to support the India Education Program. There are many reasons for this:

  • Simple Wikipedia Community is extremely welcoming and supportive to new editors, especially towards students and those for whom English is not a native language.
  • The Simple Wikipedia Community has had some programs running where classes have already used Simple Wikipedia for projects before and we'd like to partner with them to build and grow with these projects.
  • With about 84, 000 articles on Simple Wikipedia, there is a nice opportunity to add/improve articles in different subject areas.
  • Not sure how how many India-related articles there are on Simple Wikipedia right now, but this pilot can help build this content and Simple Wikipedia could be the rich centre of India centric articles.
  • On aspect we want to encourage is for students to remain active and we hope that they will become long-term active editors and members of the community.

We've already spoken with some of the admins, sysops and bureaucrats on Simple Wikipedia. We've also initiated discussions about this project with the Simple Wikipedia Community on Simple Talk today. If you're interested you can follow the Simple Wikipedia community's discussion here. Please add any comments you have below, unless it is something specifically useful to the Simple English community.

Thanks Nitika.t (talk) 10:06, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

This has been suggested before, and it doesn't strike me as a very good idea. The fact that most IEP participants have poor English skills doesn't mean they would be better off on the Simple English Wikipedia. If anything I would expect that writing simple, clear language requires more advanced language skills. The Simple English Wikipedia is a lot smaller than this one: they have 786 active users, 27 admins and 9 active admins The corresponding figures for the English Wikipedia are 134,588 active users, 1,468 admins and 705 active admins. (In fact since the definition of "active" is more strict for "active admin" than "active user", we have more active admins than they have active editors.) If large numbers of people turned up and started adding poor-quality/copyvio content they would be overwhelmed. Hut 8.5 16:53, 19 June 2012 (UTC)
Not overwhelmed Hut, I think the intention here is go unnoticed. Given the fewer pairs of eyes noticing and checking up, poor-quality is more likely to go unnoticed, while copyvio will only take longer to be found, and in both cases generate less of a backlash from a small, friendly but unique local community. BTW I originally suggested simple wiki in March because I edited there for a while, but no one bothered following up with me on what the idea was, even after personally knowing half of the individuals running this. Theo10011 (talk) 20:46, 19 June 2012 (UTC)
I agree with Hut 8.5. It's a mistake to suppose that writing Simple English is simple - it's actually much more difficult, because you have to express ideas with more limited language resources, and you have to know what the allowed limits of Simple English are. Your students would face a worse learning curve, because they would need to learn how to write Simple English, as well as learning Wikipedia. It's good that Simple WP are welcoming, but make sure they know what they are letting themselves in for, and in view of their limited resources it would be even more important that the next pilot is really small-scale. You cannot afford another disaster. JohnCD (talk) 22:05, 19 June 2012 (UTC)
I raised my questions on Simple, as it seems that they may be more useful there. But I guess my concern is that this time around there is an uncertain number of students who will be involved, and so the question of adequate supervision is an important one. The supervision here wasn't adequate, noting that it is difficult to get enough people to supervise any class, so I guess I'd be worried about whether or not the level of supervision with the required skills will be high enough to manage what sounds like an uncertain number of students. - Bilby (talk) 06:28, 20 June 2012 (UTC)
The Simple English Wikipedia community is a lot smaller than English Wikipedia; and hence we'll be taking whole host of precautions and steps like:
  • Keeping the initial pilot extremely small with no more than 50 students; we definitely don't want to overwhelm or overburden Simple English community with influx of large number of editors.
  • 50 students shouldn't bring too much workload 10 Simple English Wikipedia admins/editors agree to get actively involved in this project. Those are the numbers we are looking at. The idea is that we can tie up each of the 10 admins/editors to 5 students (10 admins/editors taking care of 50 students in total); to review and check contributions of students on regular basis. In addition, we'll make sure that students start by editing in their Sandbox, so any kind of problems can be dealt there itself. And it's only after the admins/editors give a go ahead sign on students' contributions that the article will be moved from Sandbox to article mainspace.
  • Providing extensive training to students, professors and CAs way before they start editing. Training them based on simple style guide and policies of Simple English.
  • Some of the admins have already agreed to run some kind of mini CCI work page to support the program.
However, Simple English Wikipedia being small also brings some set of opportunities with it like:
  • With only about 84,000 articles on Simple Wikipedia, there is a good opportunity to add/improve articles in different subject areas. An IEP pilot will help to improve content on Simple Wikipedia.
  • Since most of the India centric articles are under covered on Simple English (and most of our projects), students will write articles from arts or humanities, all from an Indian context, e.g., Indian history, Indian economics, Indian geography, etc. This pilot can help build this content and Simple Wikipedia could be the (global) hub of India centric articles. This can be used by other Indic language, non-Indic language as well as English Wikipedia communities as a base from which to improve the articles about India on their respective projects.
  • The community is extremely friendly and supportive towards new editors since they want more editors to join forces to grow their project. We'll encourage students to continue editing event after their in-class assignments and help them become long-term members of the community and help build the project.
To make things extremely clear and transparent right from the beginning we have initiated a discussion with Simple English community on Simple Talk. One of the main reason for this discussion is to take their consensus and see if they'd like to support a program like IEP. Nitika.t (talk) 07:45, 20 June 2012 (UTC)
I'd like to see this go ahead, so I hope none of this reads like I'm necessarily opposing the idea at all. :) That ratio sounds great, and much better than what we had (and have), with the other education programs here. As you mention that students will volunteer I presume that the number of students who can be involved will be capped at 50 to make that work, as I'm assuming that the number of students in the classes covered will be greater than that.
My only concern with the admins is whether or not they have experience identifying copyright violations - we have few enough people who are good at it here, but based on the issues last time it is probably going to need to be a focus. It seems that many administrators on en.wp don't have these skills, unfortunately, and I assume that it is the same on Simple. - Bilby (talk)
Given the extreme copyvio problems the previous round had, I would like to propose that all participants be very explicity warned (make them sign a document acknowleging that they understand the rule) that any copyvios would result in expulsion from the project and they will be blocked from editing WP. Roger (talk) 08:33, 20 June 2012 (UTC)
Before students start editing we'll tell them about the severe issues if they copyvio. We'll provide extensive training to students, CAs and professors to avoid copyvios. I agree with you Bilby, we'll make sure that we have sufficient mentors who are familiar with different ways and tools in place to detect copyvio content. Thanks for your inputs, there are extremely helpful.
Having said the above, a lot of these details will be discussed with the Simple Wikipedia community and the specific way forward will be determined collaboratively with them.Nitika.t (talk) 08:53, 20 June 2012 (UTC)
Based on what I've seen before, the only point where these problems can be effectively stopped is at the OA side. I teach hundreds of university students each year, from a huge range of cultural backgrounds, and it doesn't matter how strict the warnings are, (or the punishments), as in the end some will always plagiarize. Not necessarily because of an urge to cheat, but often just because rewriting text so that it says the same thing as the original source without close paraphrasing is hard, and requires surprisingly high language skills. Campus ambassadors and professors will say not to do it, but it the end it is the Simple Wikipedia admins who will be the ones checking and approving the final text, so that will be the main point of failure. So it will be necessary to ensure that they have the skills to identify the problems. - Bilby (talk) 09:14, 20 June 2012 (UTC)
Yes, all 9 of the active Simple wiki admins will have to decide. I'm not sure you realize the tiny size of the simple wiki community. The currently active editing base of the entire wiki, is around 30. It has 9 active admins, majority of whom oversee several wikis and have a considerable workload on them already. I don't see how anyone can support adding 50 individuals with a track-record of creating a mess, on a wiki with 30 active editors and 9 admins. Theo10011 (talk) 23:00, 20 June 2012 (UTC)
Someone corrected me and mentioned that even the figures of 9 active admin and 30 editors is generous. Theo10011 (talk) 04:12, 21 June 2012 (UTC)


I am not going to comment on the known issues of IEP which is well documented. Should Simple Wikipedia accept this program is completely within their autonomy and only the true Simple Wikipedia community can decide on it.

However, I don't understand the involvement of "India programs" in developing "Simple Wikipedia". "India Programs" which is a part of "Global south strategy" is expected to increase the reach of Wikimedia projects in India. However, I have never seen Simple Wikipedia coming up in search results or anyone using it from India. (Please let me know the visitor stats for the project from India if this could be considered an Indian language Wikipedia.) It has around 15.2 M page views per month "globally". To put it in context, Hindi Wikipedia has 6.2 M page views per month. So, what is the point of spending resources in the name of India programs? Which Indian or global south citizen is this program going to benefit? Who actually are using Simple Wikipedia? Just because Indian students are involved doesn't make it fit to be seen as a "India program". I just see it as outsourcing ;)

If English Wikipedia's high standards pose a barrier for students, then the program can be tried in non-Wikimedia projects like Wiktionary / Wikibooks / Wikisource or in a welcoming Indic language project. If language is a barrier, then students of language studies and humanities can be involved. I would like to reiterate the point many others have mentioned here that writing in simple English may need better mastery of English. One hope for this program as I understand is expecting the students to migrate to other Wikimedia projects. Unless we have solid data on this conversion we can't comment on this. Another hope is that the content may be used by other Wikipedias which I think is very unlikely. Based on my experience as a Tamil Wikipedian, we either refer English Wikipedia or relevant local language Wikipedia for better content. Never have we refered Simple Wikipedia for anything.

Even if we drop the India tag and assume that this program is run by WMF directly, considering the cost (at least two staff involved for months, other logistic costs for organizing) the program will have more ROI if done in any other Wikipedia project which has a better reach. Say, Chinese or Arabic :)--Ravishankar (talk) 07:36, 21 June 2012 (UTC)