Submissions:2014/7th Grade wikipedia project

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Title of the submission

7th Grade wikipedia project



Type of submission

Keynote or Curated Talk

Author of the submission

Gabriel Thullen

E-mail address



US state or country of origin


Affiliation, if any (organization, company etc.)

Wikimedia CH board member

Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

This presentation will be an improved version of the presentation I gave at the Wikimania 2013 conference in Hong Kong. The submission description can be found here:

The Wikimania presentation was filmed and the video can be found on YouTube:

The National Geographic Magazine also ran an article about the work done by my students:

The French language Swiss national television also ran a short (2 minutes) feature on my class:

Wikipedia has become an essential resource for students who use it extensively both at home and at school. This is true at all levels of their studies: university, secondary or primary schools. It is pointless trying to fight this trend, as a lot of teachers still are doing, it is better to teach students to use Wikipedia properly. In my experience, one of the best ways to understand how somthing works is to take it apart and try to build it again. This is a metaphore, of course as I tend to favor a “hands on” approach to learning, and have observed that students learn best how Wikipedia works by actually creating articles themselves. My 7th grade junior high school students have been contributing to Wikipedia since 2006.

I live and work in Geneva, which is in the French speaking part of Switzerland. What is great about Wikipedia is that it is a truely international and multilingual encyclopedia which uses the same Mediawiki software. My students work mostly on the French Wikipedia, but the procedure will work in a very similar fashion on the English language wikipedia. After all, 7th grade students are 7th grade students, no matter what language they speak...

The 7th Grade wikipedia project has the following objectives:

  • enable the students to become familiar with the information technologies (IT) used in education;
  • give students tools that enable them to do autonomous research on subjects that interest them;
  • encourages them to systematically document and reference their information sources;
  • shows the students the advantages and difficulties of collaborative work;

These objectives form a coherent whole and the aim is to enable the students to participate in the writing of an encyclopedia and to increase the sharing of knowledge. Most students use wikipedia on a regular basis for their course work. This activity increases their comprehension of how wikipedia works as well as helping some of them take the next step and become contributors.

The project is described on the French Wikipedia, together with links to the contributions made by my students over the years: fr:Projet:Collège_des_Colombières. I also use this project as a case study for the continuing education course which I give in Geneva for Swiss teachers.

The issues that need to be adressed when working with students arise when working with most new contributors:

  • how to get new contributors interested and motivated ;
  • how to avoid having their hard work trashed and rejected after 15 minutes ;
  • how to create a viable article stub ;
  • how to avoid plagarism ;
  • how to provide references and citations.

My presentation will cover the method I use to work with the students, as well as the different changes brought to the procedure over time. I will also talk about the acceptance of the project by the school authorities, as well as the different guidelines public schools have to follow when working, and publishing, with students on the web.

I am bilingual English/French. My school project is run in a French speaking school, but this presentation will be held in English.

Length of presentation/talk

60 Minutes or 15 Minutes, or any other length. My presentation is flexible.

Will you attend WikiConference USA if your submission is not accepted?

No. I have to take time off work and will not be able to justify it to my employer (the Geneva education departement)

Slides or further information (optional)

Prezi presentation

Special request as to time of presentations


Interested attendees

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  1. Dgorsline (talk) 19:30, 19 April 2014 (EDT)
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