Centre for Internet & Society

Wikipedia has entered Indian undergraduate language classroom in Christ University, Bangalore. Recently the Access to Knowledge team from the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS-A2K) organized a series of events in Christ University. This blog post provides a brief analysis of the outcome.

Every year, universities worldwide and in India recognise the need to revise their curriculum to provide up-to-date knowledge for their students. Fresh topics are identified and prescribed replacing the ones which have become obsolete. As technology advances, the need for redesigning the syllabus is not just restricted to the theoretical elements of the academic programme, as the need for a paradigm shift in emphasising the practical implications of the acquired knowledge is recognised universally.

In line with this, universities and colleges across the world have introduced innovative ways of making their curriculum more contemporary than traditional and more pragmatic than academic. One of the leading examples of such initiatives was the "WikiProject Medicine"  started by the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine (UCSF School of Medicine) which aimed at making quality article writing on medical subjects a quintessential part of the syllabus completion. The result of this exercise was startling — 25,825 articles produced under the project received 189,908,947 hits — a record achievement for any Wikipedia project (Source: http://bitly.com/wikiprojmed).

Universities and colleges in India also realise that internet is a boon for educational system. Students often refer to informative websites for their projects and assignments, with Wikipedia articles topping the list of the reference resources that are easily accessible. Although English Wikipedia is more viewed and referred by the students, of late there has been an increase in both readership and voluntary editorial contributions to the Indic language Wikipedias such as Hindi, Tamil, Kannada and other language versions of Wikipedia.

Keeping in view these developments, CIS entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Christ University, Bangalore to make article writing on Wikipedia a core exercise for their continuous internal assessment of its 1600 undergraduate students. The state-of-the-art university which also has a recording studio agreed to host the first of its kind Wikipedia video tutorials in two languages — Hindi and Kannada.

During the month of December 2013, 10 videos each were recorded in both Hindi and Kannada for the respective language Wikipedia editing. While the video scripts were prepared by CIS, the students of the Christ University played an active role for the introductory videos and rendered their voices for the other video tutorials which featured various Wikipedia editing screenshots. These videos have been uploaded on the Moodle Learning platform of the Christ University website, Wikimedia Commons and the "Access to Knowledge (CIS-A2K)" Channel on YouTube.

In order to help the students assess their grasp of the knowledge disseminated in each video, each uploaded video on the Christ University website ends with a set of objective questions. Students were also given the right answers along with their scores. The questions were designed by CIS staff in consultation with Christ University professors.

During December 2013 and January 2014 separate campus ambassadors’ orientation programmes were organized by CIS for Hindi and Kannada second language students at Christ University. A training programme was also held for Urdu students. An orientation programme for Tamil students was organized by CIS at Christ University with support from noted Tamil Wikipedian Bala Sundara Raman. Similarly, an orientation programme for Sanskrit students was organized by CIS at Christ University with the support from Shubha of Sanskrit Bharati.

Beginning from January 23 to the first week of February, 2014 is the timeline for Christ University students to finish their assignments. With the video tutorial, training and orientation programmes, constant monitoring by CIS,  and with support from Christ University, it is hoped that students will contribute significantly to the five different language Wikipedias — Hindi, Kannada, Sanskrit, Tamil and Urdu.