Sometimes, some exciting efforts related to the Wikimedia Movement happen somewhere across the world, with brilliant and lasting results, but few people get to know about them. This report highlights the successful long-term Wikipedia Education Program at Shahid Beheshti University, one of the largest universities in Iran.
Our story begins here, in September 2016, when an independent user of Persian Wikipedia organized a Wikipedia Education Program in coordination with a university professor in the History Department at Shahid Beheshti University of Tehran. In the first semester, the Education Program was carried out in only one class. Students had to either write original, not previously existing articles related to their class or improve the content of existing articles. By integrating Wikipedia editing into university courses, the Program has enabled students to not just consume information, but actively add to humanity’s shared knowledge. Since then, the Education Program has been spread to several classes.
The Education Program has been held continuously and growing over the following years in several classes from 2016 until now, except for a short period due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Program, currently active, and resulting in an accumulated multi-year experience of organized participation at the university, has become an unprecedented initiative in the history of Wikimedia outreach activities in Iran and Persian Wikipedia. This Program has had many achievements and accomplishments, among which the following can be mentioned:
- Participation of more than 200 students in almost five years
- Writing or improving 280 articles
- Writing content equal to approximately 2000 book pages (300 words per page)
- Making 20 articles Good or Featured
- Building an active and independent community with more than 20 creative student-users from several majors
- Raising awareness of the Wikimedia Movement in the atmosphere of the university
- Expanding the Education Program to other departments of the university
The Wikipedia Education Program’s immense success at Shahid Beheshti University over the past five years shows the potential for Wikimedia initiatives to thrive in the Iranian academic community. This groundbreaking program has engaged hundreds of Iranian students, vastly improved Persian Wikipedia’s content on topics related to their coursework, and fostered an independent Wikipedia editing community on campus. It represents a major milestone for Wikipedia outreach efforts in Iran.
Ideally, the accomplishments and lessons learned from this pioneering program will inspire many more Iranian universities to develop their own Wikipedia Education Programs. With the proven benefits for student learning, content expansion, and editor community building, this model provides a promising template for meaningfully connecting Iran’s academic institutions to the Wikimedia movement. If replicated and expanded throughout universities in Iran, similar initiatives could dramatically increase the Persian Wikipedia’s range and quality of content, while empowering a new generation of Iranian editors.
The success of this program proves the viability of organized Wikimedia activities taking root in Iran’s educational system. In short, the program has enriched Persian Wikipedia itself, increased free knowledge for global readers, developed students’ critical skills, and inspired a shared spirit of open knowledge – all central to the Wikimedia mission. From now on, you are going to hear more good news about the Wikimedia-based activities of this independent community.
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