This has been nagging away at the back of my mind for a few months
now. On IRC earlier, I was talking to Rock Drum, and it finally seemed
sensible to propose it. Since the OTRS workshop, a few different
groups have said "wouldn't it be good if we had a _____ workshop at
the WMUK offices?"
Only, why not bundle them all together and have an intensive one-day
event of skill sharing. I had initially thought of proposing a sister
projects day, but the idea of this would be to have sister projects
and other stuff all bundled together with the idea of enabling
existing Wikimedia volunteers to try new things, and to increase
cross-project coordination (really, despite what you may have heard,
Wikinewsies and Wikisourcers and Wiktionarians etc. don't bite).
I've put a page up on the wiki with the broad idea and some ideas for
sessions. Feel free to throw more ideas on the wiki, even if they are
a bit half-baked or not well thought out. If the event actually
happens, we'd obviously have to determine a schedule.
Is anyone interested in this? What steps would we have to go through
to make this a reality?
Wikimedia UK mailing list
This dovetails with the training programme I have been writing up at
This aspect of it isn't written up yet, but here are the principles
I'm working on:
The design of training sessions will be volunteer-led and
collaborative, but I'm *hoping* that we can agree to follow the
approach that I'm setting out.
There will be different levels of training: at the most basic level,
training involves a well-defined list of steps, which the trainer is
of course encouraged to customise to the setting and audience. As
learners progress beyond that, training is more based on group
activities (I've put some ideas at the above link). Above that level,
training takes the form of skill-sharing between peers, along the
lines suggested by Tom.
The key idea is that we use a simplified form of problem-based
learning, meaning that we don't have separate sessions for "learning
how to be a Wikipedia admin" and "learning how to be a trainer".
Instead, you have one session in which people learn *by teaching each
other*. This means that the person who's leading a session on, say,
how to write for the Signpost, doesn't have to prepare hours and hours
of presentations. Instead, their role is more relaxed, breaking the
core question ("How does Signpost get written?") into a set of small
research topics, then challenging the room to research those topics
for themselves and feed back. The role for the learners is more
active, self-directed and it builds confidence because it involves
being useful to other people.
This method involves everybody stepping a bit out of their comfort
zone and is somewhat counterintuitive: if you're an expert on Commons
and a novice about Wikisource, you don't attend the event to teach the
others about Commons; you learn about Wikisource, then teach others
what you've learnt *and* mentor someone who's teaching the room about
Commons. It may seem arse-about-face, but this is how we make
skill-sharing truly active and involving while helping a lot of our
community become trainers.
Of the proposed sessions on the WMUK wiki, we should regard "Basic
Wikipedia Training" as road-tested, because it codifies a session that
has been delivered to various audiences by various trainers, with
broadly positive feedback. The others are mere proposals, and they
need road-testing and tightening up: somebody actually has to deliver
them with a suitable audience, and report back on-wiki about what
worked, how much time different objectives need and so on.
Regarding demand for training, we have lots of individual queries, as
Richard explained in an earlier post. I've put some advice for
inquirers here <http://uk.wikimedia.org/wiki/Training> to the effect
that the best way to get a training session is to request on behalf of
a group. Thanks to the networking we did last year, we have interest
from more than a dozen learned societies such as the Geological
Society, Royal Society of Chemistry, Medical Research Council and
British Psychological Society. Then there's our growing relationship
with Girl Geek Dinner groups around the country. The Society of
Geology have requested a training event in London for 30th March, the
day after their big conference, and I'd like to hear from people
willing to lead or help with that training. Obviously any background
contributing geoscience content to Wikimedia projects would be a great
The question had been asked before about an audit of training needs.
Right now it's simple: we need to give as many of these external
groups as possible a basic level of training to get them over the
"hump" of the intimidating interface and give them the confidence to
edit. We need also to be running train-the-trainers events to share
skills between ourselves. It'll be more complicated when we have
people trained to multiple different levels.
Reflecting this priority, Wikimedia UK has a meaty budget to support
trainer-training events. It's great that we can use the Development
House facilities, but we really need to be doing events far from
London as well. Tom or others who want to take the lead on setting up
these events will get a lot of help from myself and other Board
I've also been thinking about how we recognise good training, and how
we trainers can get constructive feedback and continual improvement.
There are people doing an amazing, professional-quality job of
training on behalf of WMUK, and we should more formally recognise this
and make sure those people share those skills. I work in Higher
Education, so I've seen how bureaucratic evaluation processes
demoralise people- we simply can't risk that approach. So we need a
lightweight peer-observation process that isn't about dividing
everyone into "satisfactory" and "unsatisfactory" but about helping
everyone improve. Given the importance of getting this right, I'm
sharing ideas with the Board before drafting on-wiki.
Feedback welcome here or on-wiki as always,
On Sun, Jan 29, 2012 at 1:34 PM, Tom Morris <[hidden email]> wrote:
> This has been nagging away at the back of my mind for a few months
> now. On IRC earlier, I was talking to Rock Drum, and it finally seemed
> sensible to propose it. Since the OTRS workshop, a few different
> groups have said "wouldn't it be good if we had a _____ workshop at
> the WMUK offices?"
> Only, why not bundle them all together and have an intensive one-day
> event of skill sharing. I had initially thought of proposing a sister
> projects day, but the idea of this would be to have sister projects
> and other stuff all bundled together with the idea of enabling
> existing Wikimedia volunteers to try new things, and to increase
> cross-project coordination (really, despite what you may have heard,
> Wikinewsies and Wikisourcers and Wiktionarians etc. don't bite).
> I've put a page up on the wiki with the broad idea and some ideas for
> sessions. Feel free to throw more ideas on the wiki, even if they are
> a bit half-baked or not well thought out. If the event actually
> happens, we'd obviously have to determine a schedule.
> Is anyone interested in this? What steps would we have to go through
> to make this a reality?
> Tom Morris
> Wikimedia UK mailing list
> [hidden email]
> WMUK: http://uk.wikimedia.org
Dr Martin L Poulter
Board member/ Trustee, Wikimedia UK http://uk.wikimedia.org/
Wikimedia UK mailing list
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