Monday, September 05, 2011

A #Wikipedia club at a #University in #Mexico

Leigh Thelmadatter
Sometimes the stars align and one can combine something one loves with what pays the bills. This is what is happening to me this fall semester with Wikipedia and the teaching of English.
I’ve worked to promote Wikipedia as a way to improve language skills, but it hadn´t received much traction. This semester, I proposed a Wikipedia Club at my university, ITESM-Campus Ciudad de México, and it has been a hit! Thirty five students have signed up, at least three departments (languages, communications and journalism) have pledged support, we had our first event, a “translate a thon” last 20 August, and I now mentor about ten students who are working with Wikipedia either for partial credit or, in the case of four students, independent study for their last English class.

The network of organizations behind Wikipedia is what draws interest to the Club and working with Wikipedia as a school project. Grade inflation and other factors have made getting the degree only the most basic requirement for getting work after graduation. Students need ways to enhance their résumés and create contacts before leaving school in order to stand out from the multitude that also have a sheepskin in their hand. Wish I had learned this a long time ago!
Working with Wikipedia and Wikimedia offers opportunity for students in many different majors, from technical fields, law, business and straight up humanities as the “wiki-world” not only needs people to do research and writing, but also to promote, sort out disputes and improve the dang wiki-code!
In countries such as Mexico, where learning a second language is extremely important but hard to “sell” to students, the international nature of Wikimedia is a great way to demonstrate the opportunities that speaking English, French, German, etc. offers to them. Most don´t even realize the interest the world has in Mexico!


Anonymous said...

I am a student involved in this project, and I can say that this has been really useful for practicing our english skills. By now we have acquired, in combination by our own experience plus communication through wikipedia, the skills to deal with intercultural communication. And this is not only going to help us to approve the subject, but in the rest of our lives.

Fernando Rosas

Itzel P said...

I'm also involved on this project, and until now I've really learned a lot of things, and I'm not talking only about english language skills, but I've learned about culture in general and how this is applied on Wikipedia too, I really think participating in this kind of activities makes you want to learn more about a language because you can see how useful is to know (in this case) English!

anakmalaysia said...

This is what secondary schools and colleges in my country could use to promote the virtue of building knowledge repositories in my country's beleaguered national language, Bahasa Melayu, as I put it.