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Projects launched in Brazil and the Middle East as advisors sought for funds committee

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By Resident Mario, Jan eissfeldt, and Mathew Townsend

Education Program launches Brazil pilot

The Wikipedia Education Program (WEP) has launched a pilot program in Brazil for editing the Portuguese Wikipedia. This has been a recent goal of the Brazilian community, which, in late 2011 and early 2012, discussed the idea with professors from universities in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. These professors had an overall positive response to the idea of "Wikipedia as a pedagogical tool in their classes". After discussions, five professors and 150 students were included in the pilot program, covering the topics of history, sociology, physics, and public policy.

The new program is the latest in a long line of developments relating Wikipedia to the classroom – a budding number of projects and programs spearheaded by the Public Policy Initiative conducted in 2010 and 2011. The approach has already seen success in Brazil, with a smaller solo project revolving around articles on Roman history. The five professors are Pablo Ortellado of the University of São Paulo, whose classes will collaborate on articles on cultural policy (of 11 proposed articles, only one exists); Edivaldo Moura of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, whose 13 students have each chosen to expand an article related to electromagnetism; Vera Henriques, whose class will improve articles related to biological systems; Heloisa Pait of the Universidade Estadual Paulista Júlio de Mesquita Filho, whose sociology students are to "explore their cultural memories"; and Juliana Bastos Marques, whose 60 freshmen will encounter Wikipedia in their history class.

As with all pilot programs, professors have been given creative freedom to shape their participation as they think best suits their specific coursework, and the community is keen to see the results of their varied models of participation. The second component, the program's ambassadors, are coming together as well in the face of geographical and logistical challenges; WEP participants and local meet-ups have helped spread the word in that regard. The community will track student contributions and motivation to gauge the effectiveness of the program; potential ambassador candidates are encouraged to introduce themselves on the program's page.

Call for advisers on new funding committee

A call for participation in the new advisory group of the Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) was issued on the foundation-l mailing list on April 9 (the list has since been renamed wikimedia-l). The group is to advise the FDC, which was created by the Board of Trustees by resolution at the end of March in Berlin after months of debate over how funding ought to be distributed (chronicled in the Signpost most recently in an interview this week and a report on the resolution in last week's edition). The committee-to-be is intended to provide recommendations to the Wikimedia Foundation on how to handle the distribution of all funds, except core and operative reserve as defined in the resolution, collected for the Wikimedia movement through Wikimedia project sites such as the English Wikipedia.

According to the formation process page on Meta, several seats (up to three of maximal eleven) of the new advisory board are open to all community members meeting the criteria—notably experience in finance and administering projects within the scope of the body, as well as a time commitment of roughly four hours per week on average over 18 to 24 months. In cooperation with the Bridgespan Group, the group will draft recommendations to the Foundation's board on how to make the FDC work and support the implementation of the resulting new volunteer-run committee.

The open nomination period will end on April 17 and the first meeting of the advisory board is scheduled for the week of April 30th. (Self-)nominations are invited on Meta.

Arabic Language Initiative gets off the ground

Chief Global Development Officer Barry Newstead at the Arabnet digital summit. The presentation can be accessed here.

The Wikimedia Foundation's Arabic Language Initiative to boost participation in Arabic language projects made progress at the end of March, as Moushira Elamrawy, Consultant for the Arabic Language Initiative, reported on the Wikimedia blog on April 6.

She and the Chief Global Development Officer Barry Newstead conducted a series of outreach visits to local Wikimedia communities, conferences, NGOs, educational and research institutions in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Morocco. Among the events in the North African kingdom was a consultation with a potential GLAM partner, the Moroccan Bibliothèque Générale et Archives.

Notably, while in Cairo, Newstead took part in a meeting on the nascent Cairo Education Pilot (in preparation since October 2011). The program is being conducted during the 2012 spring semester (February to June), at Ain Shams University and Cairo University. Documentation of the results is scheduled until the end of June.

Brief notes

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