Our activities for lifelong learners and the university community aligned closely with Recommendation 7 in the 2030 strategy: Invest in Skills Development. In so doing, we also responded to Switzerland’s educational experts, who have said that the education system must prepare students and workers for the technological demands placed on the workforce of today and tomorrow.
Our chapter’s Zurich Wikidata Network is key in helping us define the skills that our community needs and deliver training to develop those skills. The network is three years old now and still growing. Based around the University of Zurich, it includes researchers, students and professionals. In November, Wikimedia CH and the Wikidata Network supported a first-of-its-kind Wikidata Zurich Training 2019 in collaboration with Wikimedia Germany, the University of Zurich, the Statistical Office of the town of Zurich and the canton of Zurich. The maximum, i.e. 60 participants, joined the event and learned to develop tools and to consult, integrate, populate and modify Wikidata. They practiced what they learned with live coding and support. Expert trainers hailed from Germany and Poland as well as Switzerland. Because of the event’s positive feedback and to extend our network into Switzerland’s French-speaking region, we are planning a similar event in Lausanne for 2020.
The successful outcomes and feedback from Wikidata Zurich Training 2019 demonstrate that the demand exists for skills-based events, particularly in specialist areas such as Wikidata. The same level of demand was further illustrated in other 2019 events. One is the Wikidata workshop in Lausanne, which advanced the proficiency of GLAM professionals. Another example is the Wikidata Zurich Hackathon 2019, described in the next section, which uses a format that allows for skills development among professionals and university students alike. We intend to launch new modules in 2020 that conform to this new strategic approach.
Topics for Impact
Among all the levels of education, we have had the longest-running and most robust relationships with faculty and students at the university level. For this community, we offered more specialized programming in 2019, such as activities focused on Wikidata and Open Science. Giving our programming thematic coherence helped to cultivate longer-term relationships with community members whose interests lie in learning life skills. In other words, we prioritized topics for impact per Recommendation 10 of the Movement’s 2030 strategy.
Our main activities were carried out in collaboration with key partners, such as the University of Zurich, University of Neuchâtel and University of Fribourg. Our work with the University of Zurich was described in the previous section. With Neuchâtel and Fribourg, we focused more on digital humanities, achieving a good merger of Program GLAM and Program Education. We integrated didactic activities with professional training, using a combination of theoretical lessons and practical activities to connect classroom lessons to the work responsibilities that students will encounter in their future professions.
For this reason, edit-a-thons, hackathons or datathons matched well to the needs of universities. Student participants could interact with real-world professionals – students in the humanities could network with museum and library professionals, technology students with software development firms, science students with research laboratories, etc. The Wikidata Zurich Hackathon 2019, for example, continued a popular format for the third year. In November, 40 participants formed teams around shared interests, with students and professionals working side by side on innovations of their choosing, such as a tool for Wikidata editors or a visualization of Wikidata content. We encouraged diversity among the teams so that they could learn from each other’s expertise, inviting collaboration among front-end coders, database masters, geographical data analysts and others.
Tools for Teachers
For the community that serves students in primary and lower secondary education, Wikimedia CH focused on recruiting more teachers and trainers to become long-term users of and contributors to Wikimedia tools. This train-the-trainer strategy adheres to the Wikimedia Movement’s Recommendation 8: Manage Internal Knowledge, which states that the Movement’s knowledge must be “easy to capture, discover, adapt, and consume by all stakeholders to facilitate both individual skill development and growth in an equitable way across all communities.”
Following this direction, Wikimedia CH continued its three-year collaboration with the faculty of pedagogy of Locarno to deliver #theLab, a laboratory where teachers prepare lessons with the lab team (pedagogists and Wikipedians) to introduce students to learning through games. We also supported a similar event called Media in Piazza, which promotes learning in the fields of media and digital technologies. The Swiss Federal Commission for Child and Youth Affairs named Media in Piazza among the most innovative educational projects in Switzerland in its report called Growing Up in the Digital Age.
Both #theLab and Media in Piazza were held in Switzerland’s Italian-speaking region. The plan for 2020 and beyond is to further define and refine these types of educational models and tools, using our 2019 experiences to scale them up in other cantons.
Across all levels of education, both innovation and diversity are necessary to ensure that we share knowledge openly and easily. To support knowledge equity – one of the two main pillars of the Wikimedia Movement’s 2030 strategy – we designed activities with disadvantaged students in mind, aiming to reduce educational gaps. We focused on two main issues confronting Swiss schools: how to educate students with learning differences and how to ensure inclusivity.
First, we continued a project with Albinit that we began two years ago – a project that aims to identify how we can innovate for people with visual impairments. In 2019, four testers checked four Wiki projects: Wikipedia, Commons, Wikivoyage and Wikisource. The testers were students, and they encountered most of their problems when studying, mainly at the university level. We applied the results to improve accessibility for the target audience as well as students who encounter similar issues due to other learning challenges (e.g., dyslexia).
The second diversity issue that the chapter addressed was inclusivity, and for that, we cohosted Wikipedia for Peace Switzerland 2019 with SCI Switzerland. It was the country’s second Wikipedia for Peace event, and we imposed new participant requirements to ensure gender equity and to encourage participation from students, researchers and immigrants in Europe. At the 2019 event, we had 13 editors, taught by three Wikimedians, with a high percentage of women and students and with many coming from Eastern Europe.
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