Submissions/Educational Project Be'er Sheva (Beersheba), Israel

From Wikimania 2014 • London, United Kingdom

After careful consideration, the Programme Committee has decided not to accept the below submission at this time. Thank you to the author(s) for participating in the Wikimania 2014 programme submission, we hope to still see you at Wikimania this August.

Submission no. 3010
Title of the submission
Educational Project Be'er Sheva (Beersheba)
Type of submission (discussion, hot seat, panel, presentation, tutorial, workshop)
Author of the submission

Danny Waks, Nimrod Rapaport

E-mail address;
Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organisation, company etc.)
Personal homepage or blog

The wikipedia project page (in Hebrew)

Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

Innovative Education Project in the City of Be’er Sheva


Our project has two primary goals: first, pedagogy – to contribute to writing skills of high school students. Second goal – to expand the pool of articles about the city of Be’er Sheva, Israel. By these two main goals, we expected to strengthen the affinity of the students to their home town (as part of our sustainability educational view) and to encourage them to actively take part in wikipedia as editors.

Our program is compiled from different elements, as described:

Multi-Level Cooperation:

The project includes entrance into almost all high-schools in the city of Beersheba, for a full academic year, as part of their learning program in the field of "Hebrew expression". The project is a unique collaboration between three different elements:

  1. Wikimedia Israel
  2. Beersheba Municipality education administration
  3. The Ministry of Education of the State of Israel

For this purpose, a steering committee was established, in which representatives of all elements took part, and held regular meetings to update of the progress in the classes, decision making and collaboration.

Scope of the Venture:

About 350 students in ten schools participate in it (approximately all schools in the city, one class per school). The students are aged 15, from ninth grade. The classes participating in the project are all part of Advanced Placement program, mainly expanding science learning.

Within the framework of our project, students are learning the basics of effective, unbiased writing relying on reliable sources. The highlight of the project will be the development of a unique article in Wikipedia by each group of students.

The Link between the project and the Curriculum of the Ministry of Education: Students choose subjects related to the city of Be’er Sheva – its history, geography, residents, surroundings, etc. Thus exercise ensures that students:

  1. . Learn how to locate and utilize source materials
  2. . Develop writing skills, and the formulation of content suitable for an encyclopedia
  3. . Learn to determine the ultimate importance of content in regard to public needs and usage
  4. . Learn to work together in groups.

All activities, as part of the “Hebrew Expression” program, are supervised by the Ministry of Education. The students will prepare drafts in the Hebrew Wikipedia sandbox. Those articles that are sufficiently effective will be posted on the articles domain of the Hebrew Wikipedia.

What are the major challenges for The program?

A. Contact with the Ministry of Education

The project was made possible thanks to cooperation with a representative of the Education Administration of Be’er Sheva's Municipality, who coordinates environmental education in the municipality. In addition, a representative of Wikipedia, with experience in similar projects, contacted the Education Administration to lobby for the project. But to achieve the required cooperation in the classes, approval of the Ministry of Education was a pre-condition. The solution: A Wikipedia writing program was developed. It involved identifying sources, formulation and development of content, and adaption of the study program to the ninth grade level within the framework of the curriculum of the Ministry of Education. This was a major factor in achieving Ministry approval.

B. Apprehensions about the Abilities of the Students

There was some apprehension among the organizers that 15-year-old students lack the necessary experience and would not be able to carry out serious searches in the source materials or be able to write in a fashion acceptable to Wikipedia. The solution: A group of gifted ninth grade students was selected. They proved their ability to express themselves and proved that they were sufficiently mature to participate in the project.

C. Concerns of the Teachers

Most of the teachers were not familiar with Wikipedia and some of them had serious negative pre-assumptions about the encyclopedia. Some were worried about the use of computers as learning tools and working with students who would write on-line rather than on paper. The solution: To alleviate concerns of teachers, Wikimedia Israel held a seminar at the beginning of the process for the teachers. It was supported by the Ministry of Education and supervised by the Education Administration of the Be’er Sheva Municipality. The seminar leaders explained to teachers the scope of the project. They were given a lecture on Wikipedia, an editing workshop was held for them, and this was followed by a question and answer session. At the end of the meeting, teachers were given a project-accompanied booklet.

D. Preventing the involvement of political elements in the writing of the wikipedia articles by the students

Since the joint Steering Committee did not have a majority of Wikimedia Israel representatives, there was some apprehension that articles written by the children might lack sufficient public importance or might involve a political agenda based upon the influence of stakeholders in the municipality. The solution: At the first meeting of the Steering Committee, prior to the commencement of the project, it was confirmed that the representatives of Wikimedia Israel on the Steering Committee had full veto rights with regard to the selection of the articles written by the children within the framework of the project. Furthermore, all articles will be reviewed by representatives of Wikimedia Israel (outside from the steering committee). The representatives of Wikimedia Israel in the project are experienced editors with in-depth familiarity in Wikipedia. One of them has Admin permissions (System Operator). All subjects of the articles, proposed by the students and teachers, were scrutinized and reviewed. Furthermore, the accessibility of sufficiently reliable sources was verified. Some were rejected. Subjects that passed the initial approval were confirmed as research projects.


Education Outreach

Length of session (if other than 30 minutes, specify how long)
30 minutes
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Slides or further information (optional)
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  1. גארפילד (talk) 15:33, 26 March 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  2. User:Danny-W
  3. Graeme Arnott (talk) 18:38, 1 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  4. LiAnna (Wiki Ed) (talk) 20:24, 1 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  5. FKoudijs (WMF) (talk) 22:37, 7 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  6. --Samir I. Sharbaty (talk) 07:05, 23 May 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  7. Your name here!