Excellent report, Bala. Let's please document such reports at 
http://outreach.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page and/or wikimedia.in apart from 
emailing to the list.

- Sundar

"That language is an instrument of human reason, and not merely a medium for 
the expression of thought, is a truth generally admitted."
- George Boole, quoted in Iverson's Turing Award Lecture

From: Bala Jeyaraman <sodabot...@gmail.com>
>To: Discussion list on Indian language projects of Wikimedia. 
>Sent: Tuesday, March 8, 2011 10:30 AM
>Subject: [Wikimediaindia-l] A tale of two workshops
>Hi all,
>This is a brief report on the two Wiki workshops in Tamil Nadu in the previous 
>two weeks
>Coimbatore - 26 February 2011.
>This workshop was conducted in the PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore, as 
>part of their Technical festival Kriya 2011. I arranged for this workshop 
>through cold calling - I mailed a dozen colleges in the Coimbatore area, 
>proposing a wiki introduction section and the students union head of PSG 
>replied with a request for a formal proposal to present to their dean. I did 
>so and the workshop was okayed. It was a closed workshop - only for students 
>attending Kriya 2011 and had a registration fee of Rs. 100 (for which the 
>attendees got a participation certificate from the college).
>150 students had pre-registered for the workshop and about a 100 turned up on 
>the day. The capacity of the computer lab was 50 and we had arranged for three 
>separate sessions. The sessions were about 1.5 hours in length with 45 of 
>minutes of me talking and another 45 minutes of editing wikipedia live. All 
>the computers in the lab had internet connections and so it was easy to teach 
>them edit directly (and earned the lab's IP a couple of warning templates in 
>en wiki). The first two sessions had like 75 people and the last one 10 people 
>(post lunch only a few turned up). It was a typical engineering college crowd 
>- familiar with social networking/file sharing/search the internet for 
>assignment "research", but nothing more than that. They all had used wikipedia 
>but were unsure about editing it - the most cited excuse was they didnt think 
>they were upto it. 
>The sessions were a mixed success - half the crowd had turned up for the 
>participation certificate and it was difficult to retain their attention. But 
>the other half was eager to learn something new and there were a few very 
>enthusiastic people eager to contribute
>(photos and report in Ta wiki - 
>March 5, Puthanampatti, Trichy
>This was a completely different experience from the previous week. While i had 
>arranged the PSG workshop, this one came looking for me. Two of the faculty 
>members of Nehru memorial college at Puthanampatti near Trichy had attended 
>the NIT -Trichy workshop on Feb 20 and had liked what they saw. They asked me 
>if i could do a workshop in their college. It is a rural arts and science 
>college sitting in the middle of nowhere. It has excellent infrastructure - 
>faculty that cares, good labs and a fantastic library but the students are 
>terminally shy.
>This workshop was organised under a UGC scheme for students appearing for govt 
>exams, so the theme was slightly different - how to use wikipedia as a 
>learning resource. There were the usual two sessions - a couple of hours of me 
>blabbing and an hour of hands on editing. Nearly 100 students attended the 
>first session where i introduced wikipedia and taught them how to use it as a 
>learning resource (chasing the references, ref desk, commons, wikiversity, 
>wikibooks, wiktionary etc) and how editing an article on the subject would 
>require researching which leads to learning on their part. There were a few 
>IAS/competitive examinations aspirants in the audience and i was to able to 
>show how wikipedia would help them learn faster than say competition success 
>review et al. The intro session went well, but when we reconvened for the live 
>session after lunch, the non-computer science students didn't turn up at the 
>lab. The organisers said they left because they
 are unsure of using internet. But the compsci crowd remained and we spent a 
good one hour editing Tamil wikipedia. We created an article in Ta wiki for 
their college, added references, photos, internal links, external links, 
categories etc and they got the general idea of wiki editing very quickly 
(which led to a rash of experimental articles and an increase in workload of ta 
wiki admins :-)). Since this was the compsci crowd, teaching them wiki markup 
was remarkably easy - they immediately grasped it and started editing articles.
>The college paid me 2500 Rs allocated to the "resource person" by UGC for such 
>activities.  It was an awkward situation accepting money - but they had to 
>present their accounts and show that the money allocated by UGC was actually 
>spent, so i couldnt say no. I took the money and  donated 2100 Rs (minus my 
>travelling + pamphlet expenses) to the foundation. Maybe the chapter can work 
>out some sort of guidelines for this whole getting paid in the line of 
>outreach thing. (The donation to foundation minus expenses was an idea i got 
>from the prevailing paid editing practice in en wiki)
>Photos and tamil report here - 
>What i took away from these two workshops is this - urban students have more 
>exposure to internet, but (as is the norm) distracts them from doing anything 
>productive. Rural students haven't been "corrupted" yet by social media and 
>other shiny things, but are very very shy in coming forward to do new things. 
>Bala Jeyaraman 
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