Very Valid Points Aswin & pune community.  This is extremely useful. Putting
blame on students and educational system does not help us to study from
this experience . In addition , i was always wondering how we omitted
addressing copy-vios from the programme plan, since it is always expected
in "assignment" based IEP model .


On Mon, Nov 14, 2011 at 9:13 AM, Ashwin Baindur <>wrote:

> *On Sun, Nov 13, 2011 at 4:28 PM, Srikanth Lakshmanan <>
>  wrote:*
> *I would also request people not to fork any more new threads on this
> with same thoughts, *
> CAMPUS AMBASSADOR SETBACK - The Local Community Viewpoint
> The recent hiatus in the Campus Education program proved what the Pune
> Community knew. That the statue had feet of clay. For a long time we have
> kept quiet, not wanting to disturb the boat but the time has come to tell
> the tale. So it helps all concerned to revisit the previous decisions,
> actions  and provides for better opportunities for improvements in future.
> Hisham first came to Pune in February to our meetup on his trip around the
> country to meet communities. He is smart, very likeable, intelligent,
> focussed and erudite. We were impressed and happy that a suitable person
> would support communities through the India program.
> In his subsequent visits over the next two months, whenever we met, there
> was no mention of the campus ambassador scheme or of a pilot project. The
> ambassador project was launched without any intimation and/or consultation
> with the community. The launch of the pilot project in Pune came as a
> complete surprise to the Community who read it from news reports.
> Ignoring the slight, on the basis of an email received rather late in the
> day, we looked forward to participating and hoped to make a meaningful
> contribution. We felt that with our contacts, experience, knowledge of
> local language, customs, etc. It would be a mutually beneficial partnership
> with campus ambassadors, which would result in adding to the strength of
> the very small community in Pune. We had no illusions that we could add
> great editting power to the venture because of the size of our community.
> Instead, we hoped to play the role of friend, philosopher and guide. We
> hoped to bring the following to the venture:
> * Wiki editting experience - we had a small handful of veteran editors
> including an admin (Srikeit). Whereas Hisham had none and little knowledge
> of the environment or knowledge of the way Wikipedians think.
> * Huge experience in event management, FOSS, crisis-management in wide
> fields of experience etc.
> * Intimate life-long knowledge of the educational system in Pune. One of
> our communities member Harshad is a notable cog in the academy machinery.
> Sudhanwa has been instructor in half a dozen colleges and has a valuable
> network of contacts in Pune as well as insight into attitudes, local
> politics, expectations etc. The Community also has well-wishers such as Mr
> Lalit Kathpalia, Director SICSR besides others.
> * A permanent long-term continuing presence in Pune (which Hisham or his
> staff do not have even today).
> * Capacity to act as mentors to campus ambassadors and provide moral and
> other kinds of support to CAs.
> * Capacity to act as “train the trainers”.
> * A limited capacity to edit the offerings of the students (which we
> considered, the least of the value that we could bring to the table).
> * Expertise for the Indic wikipedia aspects of the initiative, especially
> Marathi Wikipedia.
> Somehow, I do not know why, involvement of the community itself was
> bypassed, not wanted or not required by the program team. We were always
> asking for information, it was not directed purposefully towards us. The
> time came for the first Campus Ambassador. When we suggested that it was
> time to develop the syllabus, we were sent the American syllabus used to
> train the CAs which had a different setting to ours. We were wondering how
> such a thing was to be implemented. We prepared our draft points for how
> the training should be organised and waited to discuss the issue but by the
> time we could meet again, it was just a few days away from the training.
> To our surprise, we came to know of an airlift of PPI bigwigs from America
> - Frank Schulenberg, Annie Lin and PJ Tabit (an American CA on sabbatical
> to Pune). When we met just two days before the training became, we were
> told that Annie was driving the show. When Annie was asked what role she
> expected us to play, she asked Ashwin to give an opening address and we
> played some part in some discussions and case studies. Sudhanwa and Ashwin
> were there on Day One and Madar Kulkarni on Day two. Srikeit was there on
> both days (we came to know he is being co-opted into the CA program on a
> fellowship).
> Mr Lalit Kathpalia, a well-wisher of the Wikipedia Pune Community and
> Director, Symbiosis Institue of Computer Science and Research and Mr
> Harshad Gune, Deputy Director and member of Pune Wikipedian community
> provided the facilities for conduct of the CA program.
> During the training, the CAs were eager, excited and charged up. Frank,
> Annie, PJ did a great job in the training, even though it was clear to us
> that what was the need of the moment was not being taught. Without even the
> know how of how to do a single meaningful edit, CAs were being motivated to
> be effective campus ambassadors - the horse was put before the cart.
> During the training, we felt there was a disjunct between what the Pune
> community was propagating as the points for immediate action and the
> message being given in the training. For example, the need for being a
> competent editor was being glossed over, in fact we felt that the message
> was that editting and Wiki experience is over-rated, that newcomers do a
> better job than Wikipedians.
> After the training, Ashwin wrote a note of dissent on the talk page of the
> CAs at the time:
> In the light of how the community perceived itself, we gave address on a
> number of issues, which were voiced to Hisham over a period of time. At
> that point of time, the involvement of the Pune community in the
> WikiConference work had not yet started. A large number of issues were
> raised. These included:
> * Need for a project management approach, with deliverables, stages,
> identification of scaling resources, check-backs, etc was emphasised.
> * Attitudes of local college managements and how to function in Pune
> academic environment were given.
> * Intricacies of academic systems in the colleges, universities in Pune
> were explained.
> * Cultural differences between colleges, their goals and priorities, as
> well as their mutual relations were told.
> * It was indicated that this was the wrong timing to start the program
> from point of view of forthcoming exams and vacations.
> * We asked an important question - what is the take home for the stake
> holders? There were adequate take-homes for the CA (a certificate, a T
> shirt,  learning experiences. opportunities in Wikiworld, recognition and
> some marks for the exam). The participating students were only getting
> wiki-knowledge and assignment marks. Was that enough to motivate them?
>  There was no formal training for the actual editors.
> * Most important of all, what is there in return to the stake holders like
> colleges? This question is still unanswered. There has to be something for
> all the stakeholders (CAs, students, college teachers, college management,
> community, IEP program team) in the program. Right now, only Wikipedia is
> the ultimate beneficiary. and partly CAs and some students. For a win-win
> situation, everybody must have something reasonable for take-home.
> * We repeatedly emphasised the need for the staff person to be recruited
> from Pune and function from Pune 24x7, who should preferably be
> Maharashtrian, and having local contacts, rather than be from Delhi,
> stationed there and fly in here for a few days a week (as we were told it
> would be).
> * The need for rigorous training of campus ambassadors and formal training
> for student editors.
> The community felt that it was not quite being listened to. Slowly contact
> with Hisham dwindled. We never came to know except through grape-vine when
> Hisham was in town. It appeared to us that the community mattered no more
> and the IEP (India Education Project) was the whole-soul focus. Our contact
> with local CAs was not encouraged. When a request was made for at least one
> Pune community member to be on the CA mailing list so that we could be in
> the loop and available for ready support and advice, it was not agreed.
> This led to the community being effectively excluded from CA. Hisham had
> never seriously advocated interaction of CAs with us and only a few
> Wikipedian CAs and some other interested CAs interacted with us
> sporadically. Some of CAs turned up at our last monthly meetup only after
> they got a bashing about the copy-vios asking for some help. And then
> vanished again when some suggestions and action plan was given.
> There was one exception. One of the Pune community members, Prof Radha
> Misra is running a quiet, efficient IEP in her department and college. The
> community was invited by her to conduct two wiki-academies in different
> workshops in her College which were successfully conducted. We thank her
> for the support to the community.
> Reluctantly we came to the conclusion that the local Pune community had no
> role to play in IEP. We decided to support the initiative passively. Soon
> the WikiConference planning started and our attention and energies were
> drawn away.
> From time to time some news leaked through and we got the idea the CA
> program was being grilled by the world community. Out of sheer lack of
> interest, we had stopped inquiring into CA affairs, we no longer watched
> IEP pages though we came across some activity going on from time to time.
> Because of this, the true state of affairs and scope of the setback came to
> us only with the latest Signpost.
> Now a lot of blame has been put on the educational system, students
> attitudes etc. That is true that they are a contributory cause but the
> blame must also lie with those responsible for planning. If the priorities
> in training CAs were got wrong, it takes no leap of imagination to imagine
> other decisions may not have been optimal either.  The Campus Ambassadors,
> God bless them, are mostly blameless.
> The Pune Community had a clearer idea of what was involved right in the
> beginning than the India Programs office. Its decades of experience in
> academicia (Harshad & Sudhanwa), FOSS (Sudhanwa), industry (Mandar),
> teaching (Sudhanwa & Ashwin), marketing (Mahitgar), retired marathi expert
> (J), business (Suhel), armed forces (Ashwin), Wikipedia experience (in
> en:WP, mr:WP, Commons) and the general management experience and detailed
> on-site knowledge etc were a very valuable human resource, and these were
> made available to Hisham. He chose to sip sparingly. Perhaps, just perhaps,
> if he had drunk deeply - recognised that the miniscule Pune community was a
> true well-wisher, and had made us a true partner, the outcome may have been
> different.
> The purpose of this feedback is to educate people about the need to engage
> local communities. Communities are not easily engaged. Each has its own
> complexities. Their capacities to help you forward your plans may be
> limited and nuanced. They cannot be taken for granted either. Often you
> have to prove your worth to them. Some communities may even be of nuisance
> value unless engaged. But if properly engaged, they can bring you unique
> viewpoints, opportunities; they will stand by you in difficult times,
> sometimes a critical breakthrough may come from them. They are an important
> stakeholder, no matter what your opinion of them is and they will play a
> role in your activities. It is up to you to help make them an asset or a
> liability and that, in our opinion, is a vital lesson to learn in addition
> to all the others.
> We are really unhappy that the Pune pilot should falter and that all this
> has to come out. But the lesson needs to be learned, so the story needs to
> be told.
> Warm regards,
> Sudhanwa Jogalekar, Mandar Kulkarni, Ashwin Baindur and other members of
> Pune Community
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