WikiWelcome: Students creating history and sharing knowledge about their neighborhood in present, past and future
Sofia Dahlquist, Stockholmskällan, Sweden
AbstractWikiWelcome: students creating history and sharing knowledge about their neigborhood in present, past, and future. WikiWelcome is about connecting the physical environment with digital development; students in K-12 are participating in making history and creating digital content on different Web platforms. The main Web platforms that are involved are the free encyclopedia edited by children, "Wikimini," and "Wikipeida.org," together with the website platser.se, run by the Swedish National Heritage Board for crowd-sourcing the collective memory in Sweden. The session will explain and provide examples to demonstrate the WikiWelcome project in Sweden. It will examine some of the project’s discoveries and their final outcomes. The examples presented are based on a Swedish model, but the method is transferable to various learning environments. The session will inspire museums, archives, and educators worldwide to generate their own local WikiWelcome projects, creating an educational program to promote a platform where free knowledge can easily be shared.
Keywords: open source, sharing, education, wiki, history, OER (open educational resource)
Every day in classrooms, great knowledge takes form. Students are constantly being engaged in speaking, discussing, researching, and writing. They discover new facts, write exciting stories, and through this, learn how to make sense of the world around them. However, the major part of this body of knowledge will never make it beyond the bounds of the classroom.
The WikiWelcome project wants to change that by opening up classroom practices. We will do this by using a method of useful teaching examples and resources for students to participate in writing history and independently creating digital content and shared knowledge online on a set of open platforms (Mörtsell, 2016). WikiWelcome forms a bridge between the digital media landscape and the local knowledge of culture and history, demonstrating how open learning environments enable digital diversity and real-world impact for students in K-12 education.
Local history and cultural heritage
WikiWelcome will enable the students to learn more about their local history and cultural heritage. The learning procedure will start by exploring familiar places focusing on their past, present, and future. This method creates a deeper understanding that history has an ever-evolving and ongoing nature (Szczepanski, 2013).
The project takes place within the school’s local geography, culture, and historic environment, encouraging a pedagogical approach of examining the neighborhood’s past, present and future. The students learn about local places and culture through historical sources, such as museums, archives, and libraries; by doing so, they and become active in connecting the physical with the digital.
Sweden is a diverse country with students from all over the world and from different socio-cultural and financial backgrounds. Familiar places situated in proximity to the school have the potential to unite all students, regardless of their backgrounds (Szczepanski, 2013). With a starting point in what is familiar, such as a nearby location, the classroom activities permit them to explore complex questions about the present, past, and the future.
A collaboration between different organizations and schools
Stockholmskällan, the Stockholm digital archive for schools (https://stockholmskallan.stockholm.se/) and Wikimedia Sweden, the Swedish Chapter of Wikimedia (https://se.wikimedia.org/wiki/Huvudsida) piloted the program, which was supported and funded by Vinnova, the Swedish Innovation Agency, with grants explicitly focused on how digital technology can innovate education. WikiWelcome is based on practical experience from our OER-project (open educational resource) with 230 students in K-12 education from both minority and dominant communities in the city of Stockholm. Together with their teachers, students have tested and evaluated the method and its process.
WikiWelcome: the method
The WikiWelcome classroom project entails a series of four assignments. These will be outlined below. The educators are able to make local adaptations, and it is possible to include all four tasks or less. The activities are designed somewhat differently between age groups; students aged seven to 12 worked with Wikimini, while the older students worked with Wikipedia. There are various possibilities for museums, archives, and other cultural institutions to be involved in the process. The institutions could run WikiWelcome as an education program, set the parameters for the project, and encourage schools to take part. Another possibility is to support the students with sources and references.
Assignment 1: Choosing a local site and sharing a personal story
The students’ first task is to choose a local site where they like to spend time, or a place that has significance to them. The location should be within walking distance of their school. Playgrounds, sports venues, candy shops, libraries, and nature spots became popular sites among the students. The students wrote a personal story about their favorite place and documented it with photographs or drawings. Many students chose to describe their site and linked it to a personal memory that explained why the place was important to them. On the website called “Platser med berättelser” or “Places with stories,” (https://app.raa.se/id/platser/) the students published their stories with a photo. The idea of “Platser” is that anyone geotag a place on a map of Sweden and contribute with their own personal story. The story will be published online, accompanied with photos, drawings, film clips, sound, etc. “Platser” is a free, crowdsourced, online community for the collective memory of the landscape surrounding people in Sweden; the website is run by the Swedish National Heritage Board. The aim is to collect and share everyday life and to form a larger, historically encompassing picture of Sweden (Riksantikvarieämbetet, 2017).
Student example: assignment 1
A student in the 6th grade wrote about his special place “Enskede IP.” Below you will find an excerpt of his personal story. The story shows a young person’s perspective on his local area. It also gives a glimpse of the local life and everyday situations for people living in the neighborhood.
Enskede IP is a sports ground located in a Stockholm suburb called Gamla Enskede. Enskede IP has four artificial turfs, one green, one gravel, and two others for athletics. You can play football and do other athletic sports. During winter, the gravel turf transfers into an ice rink. We go to Enskede IP to practice or just have some fun. On the Swedish National Day – 6th June – 2016, there was a party at Enskede IP for newly arrived immigrants in Sweden. The night before the party, a terrible thing happened. Some Nazi people came at night and cut a swastika in the artificial turf. After that, lots of people were worried about coming, but the event organisers still ran the event and it was a great party for both young and old. There were various games and food trucks. Many famous artists came and played music. It resulted in a football tournament for young people, where newly arrived immigrants and the local community played together. We thought it was a lot of fun to be there and we saw many great football players. We all agree that Enskede IP is the best football area for young people in Enskede (Enskede 6B, 2016).
Assignment 2: Local cultural history
The second task makes use of the local site that students already have a connection with, and is often the same location, or a location very close to the location in the first story. The objective here is to shift the perspective in time and language while keeping the same location.
Searching for history and searching for facts
The next step is to search and find facts to discover the past history of their selected sites. This is a challenge for the students. Local history is rarely or never part of traditional history books (Szczepanski, 2013). WikiWelcome offers teachers and educators ways to identify useful sources of reference for local cultural heritage. Stockholmskällan therefore became an important source to the students in WikiWelcome, as the students and the sites were all in Stockholm. Stockholmskällan, the Stockholm digital archive for schools (https://stockholmskallan.stockholm.se/), is a database containing over 30,000 archive materials and historical sources about Stockholm and its citizens. The website is a cooperation between different archives, museums, and libraries together with the Department of Education in the city of Stockholm. The main group targeted are students and teachers, and the aim is to enable digitized historical artifacts to the public in general, but especially to schools, in order to make it easier to use primary sources when teaching history (Starck Lindfors, 2013). In Stockholmskällan, the general history of history books at a macro level meets the micro level stories. Through the combination of archival materials in the database, it is possible to add specific details to the greater, general story. By conveying many voices of everyday life experiences of the past through texts, photos, music, or documented artifacts, history becomes more present and available to the public (Severin & Malm, 2006).
The students found old photographs and maps of the area around their specific schools in “Stockholmskällan.” Along with written documents and letters, the students were able to catch a glimpse of the history of their special places. By comparing the archival material with contemporary material, the students could clearly discover how their places had changed over time.
Sharing local history on Wikimini and Wikipedia
The students conveyed a fact-based text about their location, paying attention to accurately citing the information and historic material they had found. The younger students published their texts on Swedish Wikimini (https://sv.wikimini.org/). Wikimini is a free encyclopedia for children, edited by students aged eight to 13. It is organized on a Wiki platform just like Wikipedia, but is age appropriate and has a lower barrier for entry (Pålsson, 2014). It is open to the public, and editors must agree to share the space respectfully with others and cite sources. Anyone can contribute with a new article or improve an existing one. Texts are linked together through hyperlinked words.
The older students contributed to Swedish Wikipedia (https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:Huvudsida), as it is more age appropriate than Wikimini. Publishing text on Wikipedia rises high demands on source management, and gives practical insight and experiences in the process of peer review. Students gain an understanding of sharing knowledge as they observe how other editors edit and improve their contributions (Mörtsell, 2016).
Student example: assignment 2
This excerpt is from the Wikimini article ”Gamla Enskede,” written by a student in the sixth grade. It gives an example of what the student thought was interesting history to share about their local area.
Gamla Enskede is a small district in Enskede, south of Stockholm. Gamla Enskede is the first garden-city in Stockholm. Built according to the Swedish architect P.O. Hallmans ideas from 1908 and inspired by urban planners from England and Germany. As more people settled in the district more houses had to be built. It was possible for people to live in two rooms with a kitchen, a basement, an upstairs area and a garden for the same price as a two-bedroom apartment inside the city of Stockholm (Gurrakallerman, 2016).
Final assignment: Thinking about the future
The third task allows the students to reflect on how they wished their local areas to develop in the future. The younger students also drew their vision for the future. Many students wanted their local sites to be left unchanged so that their future children would be able to play and visit the same space. Some students wished for more fun things for the children in the area. The project ended with an oral presentation where all the students presented their work and their thoughts about the future.
Activity: Visiting each other’s chosen places during an excursion
Every school class made an excursion in the area, to have a look and to show each other their personal places. One school simultaneously visited a nearby excavation where archaeologists told the students about life on the site during the Iron Ages. The students’ project evaluations clearly shows how the excursions of the other students’ place of choice provided them with a greater understanding of each other and the different places around the school.
Outcomes of working with WikiWelcome
By working with the WikiWelcome project, the students are given the chance to develop their media and information skills by taking the step from passive media consumption to becoming active producers of digital content. Educators can help students experience crowdsourcing, source criticism, and the link between the physical and digital space. The understanding for how the information on Wikimini and Wikipedia is created and edited is an important skill, because that is where many of us turn to seek knowledge today (Mörtsell, 2016). One teacher clearly pointed out that the students became better Wikipedia users after they had been working with Wikimini. The teacher recounted that students could more closely examine and scrutinize the texts in other ways, and comment on the references.
The efforts of WikiWelcome have been recognized via the Pedagogy Award of the Year in 2017. The award is given by FUISM, the Association for Pedagogical Development at Swedish museums, to highlight projects and collaborations with significant value.
WikiWelcome has been demonstrated to give students a stronger democratic voice by allowing active participation in examining and surfacing local cultural heritage from their point of view on open and public online platforms. The project develops history skills as students experience that we are all a part of the process of creating history (Riksantikvarieämbetet, 2017) .The knowledge that anyone, anywhere, can access and read what they write, made the students want to get involved in the WikiWelcome project in Stockholm. Furthermore, it inspired and motivated them. As one student said: “My knowledge feels more real this way.”
Enskede 6B. (2016). “Enskede IP.” Platser med berättelser, Riksantikvarieämbetet. Consulted January 15, 2018. Available https://app.raa.se/id/platser/utforska/berattelse/ff98028c-61e5-4a45-8643-ce65bbf2c220
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Dahlquist, Sofia. "WikiWelcome: Students creating history and sharing knowledge about their neighborhood in present, past and future." MW18: MW 2018. Published January 15, 2018. Consulted .