After more than two years of work, trial and thought, we are glad to announce the launching of Wikeys, a classroom game designed by Wikimédia France. Created with the help of Prismatik and financed by the French Ministry of Culture, this open-licence board game is available for free to print and play. It is meant as an introduction to Wikipedia for children as young as twelve and everyone else above. By encouraging player cooperation to create the best Wikipedia article possible, Wikeys is the perfect tool to learn about open knowledge sharing on the Internet.
Since its creation, Wikimédia France has always been alongside teachers who wish to use Wikipedia or Vikidia as both a learning and a teaching tool. Obviously, Wikipedia is the perfect place to learn. However, the inner workings of the free online encyclopedia can prove difficult to master. As the fifth most visited website worldwide, it has its own rules and community. These are not always easy to understand or follow, and even harder to explain or teach to students whose internet usage is centered around social media.
After organising nine editions of the Wikiconcours lycéen, in partnership with the French center for media and information literacy (Centre de liaison de l’enseignement et des médias d’information), we have gathered many teachers’ testimonies regarding their use of free encyclopedias in their classrooms. We then asked ourselves what would be the best way to teach students the inner workings of Wikipedia, from fourth grade to final year. Writing and editing Wikipedia in class is a time-consuming activity, and explaining what is Wikipedia and its five main pillars can also be challenging. This is why we came up with the idea of a classroom game.
Every teacher looks for a balance between active learning, entertaining and motivating content as well as serious courses. Classroom games are great tools to reach that balance. As a multiplayer experience, they encourage collaboration and help students acquire better social skills. They also allow better knowledge acquisition, especially by involving players actively. The fun aspect can also arouse a student’s curiosity about a subject that would otherwise put them off. Moreover, games motivate learners, consolidate their knowledge, foster problem-solving skills and positively influence young people’s behaviors. All the more reason to create an educational game to teach the founding principles of Wikipedia!
With funding from the French Ministry of Culture, Wikimédia France launched a call for bids back in July 2021. Our organisation requested that bidders conceive a physical game that would be available in print and play for free and in free license, just like the contents of Wikimedia projects. We have received many ambitious proposals and it is Prismatik’s (workers co-op specialised in the design of educational games) that caught our attention. From the start, Léo Capou, the game designer, came up with a collaborative board game in which your objective consists in writing the best possible article for the free encyclopedia. The realisation of the prototype took into account the opinions of a working group made up of four teachers and a comic-book writer who also teaches game design.
After multiple back and forths as well as many playtest sessions, the game is finally available under CC BY-SA 4.0 licence on Wikimedia Commons!
By demystifying Wikipedia, the educational game is a playful way to approach media and information literacy. The founding principles of free encyclopedias are similar to many other great media structures. These principles are information sourcing, a neutral point of view, furnishing knowledge online and formatting it, as well as fighting plagiarism. In the end, to understand the editorial process behind Wikipedia is to better adopt a critical mindset towards the creation of knowledge on the Internet.
The goal of the game is to create the best Wikipedia article by cooperating with the other players. Together, players will have to: source the information, balance the points of view, strengthen the structure of the article, while avoiding mistakes to score as many points as possible without triggering an edit war.
Gathered in teams of two to seven for a game lasting an average of twenty minutes, players put themselves in the shoes of Wikipedians when they write an article and structure the content by placing cards on the board. They take on different roles representing the variety of profiles in the community of contributors, and deal with more or less delicate subjects, as is the case on the free encyclopedia. Without realizing it, the players adopt encyclopedic reflexes and use a lexicon that is essential to the creation of knowledge.
Encouraging early results
Before the game’s official launch and following the playtest phase, we were invited to show Wikeys to the Canopé Network, a branch of the French Ministry of Education whose goal is to provide tools and formations to teachers all around France in order to facilitate their job. Teachers of the Network played multiple games of Wikeys and their feedback was encouraging, with many saluting the efficiency and design of the game.
Moreover, on Saturday, November 19th, we had the opportunity to introduce Wikeys at the French Wikiconvention. The community responded extremely well and the concept of a free educational game for all to play perfectly resonated with the Wikimedians. Several workshops took place to allow Wikiconvention participants to experience the game first hand and the reviews were stellar. This once again cemented our belief that learning with games is both efficient and enjoyable.
Now it’s your turn!
To play with your students nothing could be easier: just download the free pdf file on Wikimedia Commons.
Once the game is printed, all you have to do is cut out the cards following the cutting instructions in the file, and that’s it!
We invite you to send us your feedback, as it will help us improve this first version. You can also help us translating the game, like the Albanian user group who created an Albanian version!
We would like to thank the members of the working group: a big thank you to Agnès, Alejandra, Diane, Jérôme, Pauline and Perrine! The time you were kind enough to give us and your feedbacks, were essential for the realisation of this project (which is just beginning!)
Also many thanks to the Albanian user group for helping us reaching the movement. Let’s hope this resource will be useful for as many Wikimedians as possible!
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