The WoW Project in Year 9
During Term 4, students in 9DCA have been undertaking a unique project in collaboration with Radio National and Wikipedia. The Women on Wikipedia (WoW) project aims to increase the number of significant women represented by Wikipedia articles and engage teenagers with the Wikipedia editing process in the hope that they become lifelong contributors to the site.
Currently, around 10 percent of Wikipedia’s editors are women and there are fewer and less comprehensive articles on female novelists, scientists and entrepreneurs, than their male counterparts.
Throughout the term, students have been busy undertaking research about women who are either unrepresented or have limited information about them on Wikipedia. The women researched included Indigenous rights activists, aviation pioneers, feminists, scientists, musicians, war heroes, and authors.
To make sure students understood how to access the most relevant databases and search for information constructively, the help of Library Coordinator Rosalie Austin was enlisted. Her presence in the classroom for the entirety of the project was an enormous help to the girls. With Rosalie’s guidance, students learnt to refine their searches in the Trove databases and access online resources in the form of old newspaper articles and primary sources from state and national libraries.
One of the challenges associated with the project was understanding the technical process associated with creating a Wikipedia profile and starting pages for people who had previously not had one. Students had to learn to build their articles in a ‘sandbox’ online and accurately cite every piece of evidence they had to back up their research. To help the students with this process, Pru Mitchell from Wikimedia (the media arm of Wikipedia) came into the classroom to work with the students and mentor them in their projects. Her expertise was an enormous help and the students gained a wealth of knowledge from her tutorship.
Every one of the students faced challenges during the process, particularly in relation to accessing information and formatting pages, but their persistence and dedication to the task was impressive.
Some examples of the finished pages can be accessed here:
In addition to having their research online, students have been invited to the Wikipedia 15th year anniversary celebrations in the city during the holidays so that their efforts can be formally recognised and six students have volunteered to present their project at a teachers’ conference in early 2016.
A video interviewing some of the students about their experiences can be accessed here (thank you to Jain Poovely, Cherry Wei, Chantelle D’Vaz and, in particular, Jessica Olofsson for creating it):