Submissions:2018/Offline Internet Resources for Latin America

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Inclusion & Diversity
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Type of submission
Anne Nelson
E-mail address
Wikimedia username
Affiliation(s) (optional)
Columbia University

See Offline Internet Resources for Latin America for the on-wiki project page.

Over the past three years I've been overseeing research at Columbia related to using offline Wikipedia for education in Latin America. My graduate students at Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) have benefited from Wikimedia Foundation travel grants to conduct research in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and the Quechua region of Peru.

The first year, Cuba, found that offline digital media could play an important part in education in Latin American regions that lack connectivity, or where data plans are too expensive for many inhabitants. We learned that there was considerable acceptance of Wikipedia as a tool for learning among the educational community there.

I presented our findings at Wikimania in San Diego, and met Adam Holt from Internet-in-a-Box, who connected me to Dr. James Heilman from Wiki Project Med, the Wikipedia medical program. I reached out to colleagues at Mount Sinai Global Health in NYC and the Wikipedia Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Together, we designed a program to research feasibility in rural medical clinics on the Haitian border in the Dominican Republic. We conducted it in the spring of 2017.

The project is described in the video Offline Innovation - Bridging the Digital Divide in Latin America.

There was a follow-up summer research project, also conducted in partnership with a Mount Sinai physician, in clinics in the DR and indigenous areas in Guatemala and Peru.

This resulted in an invitation from the Peruvian Ministry of Education to conduct research seeing whether Internet-in-a-Box and Wikipedia content could support their initiatives in rural areas, particularly among the Quechua areas surrounding Cusco. I oversaw another team of graduate field research in the spring of 2018. It found keen interest among Quechua school administrators.

It resulted in a summer placement of a student to conduct a pilot with five devices in five Quechua schools. The teachers and administrators have been particularly interested in Wikipedia's Quechua articles, and Spanish articles relating to vocational education, including agriculture and construction work.

The student, Harold Cardenas Lema, h will return to write up his findings next week. I have advised him to apply for funding to come present them in Columbus. (He is a Cuban university professor who used Wikipedia in his classes in Cuba. As a result of our contact, he became the first non-exile Cuban student to enroll at SIPA since the Revolution. He is interested in supporting Wikipedia work in Cuba after he completes his degree.)

Columbia is in the process of documenting the Peru research as an online Case Study, which will be available later this year.

The medical side of the project is continuing under the direction of former Mount Sinai physician Sam Zidovetski. He has been working closely with James Heilman to improve and add open source professional content.

Length of presentation
either 15 or 30 minutes
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Preferred room size
25 or 50
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this presentation is new but I have presented on this general topic at previous WikiConference North America events
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  1. Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:22, 13 August 2018 (UTC)
  2. Mozucat (talk) 20:14, 13 August 2018 (UTC)
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