First Wikipedia Workshop, Coimbatore
This is a brief report on the two Wiki workshops in Tamil Nadu conducted in Feb-Mar 2011
Coimbatore - 26 February 2011.
This workshop was conducted in the PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore, as part of their Technical festival Kriya 2011. I arranged for this workshop through cold calling - I mailed a dozen colleges in the Coimbatore area, proposing a wiki introduction section and the students union head of PSG replied with a request for a formal proposal to present to their dean. I did so and the workshop was okayed. It was a closed workshop - only for students attending Kriya 2011 and had a registration fee of Rs. 100 (for which the attendees got a participation certificate from the college).
150 students had pre-registered for the workshop and about a 100 turned up on the day. The capacity of the computer lab was 50 and we had arranged for three separate sessions. The sessions were about 1.5 hours in length with 45 of minutes of me talking and another 45 minutes of editing wikipedia live. All the computers in the lab had internet connections and so it was easy to teach them edit directly (and earned the lab's IP a couple of warning templates in en wiki). The first two sessions had like 75 people and the last one 10 people (post lunch only a few turned up). It was a typical engineering college crowd - familiar with social networking/file sharing/search the internet for assignment "research", but nothing more than that. They all had used wikipedia but were unsure about editing it - the most cited excuse was they didnt think they were upto it.
The sessions were a mixed success - half the crowd had turned up for the participation certificate and it was difficult to retain their attention. But the other half was eager to learn something new and there were a few very enthusiastic people eager to contribute
photos and report in Ta wiki - 
March 5, Puthanampatti, Trichy
This was a completely different experience from the previous week. While i had arranged the PSG workshop, this one came looking for me. Two of the faculty members of Nehru memorial college at Puthanampatti near Trichy had attended the NIT -Trichy workshop on Feb 20 and had liked what they saw. They asked me if i could do a workshop in their college. It is a rural arts and science college sitting in the middle of nowhere. It has excellent infrastructure - faculty that cares, good labs and a fantastic library but the students are terminally shy.
This workshop was organised under a UGC scheme for students appearing for govt exams, so the theme was slightly different - how to use wikipedia as a learning resource. There were the usual two sessions - a couple of hours of me blabbing and an hour of hands on editing. Nearly 100 students attended the first session where i introduced wikipedia and taught them how to use it as a learning resource (chasing the references, ref desk, commons, wikiversity, wikibooks, wiktionary etc) and how editing an article on the subject would require researching which leads to learning on their part. There were a few IAS/competitive examinations aspirants in the audience and i was to able to show how wikipedia would help them learn faster than say competition success review et al. The intro session went well, but when we reconvened for the live session after lunch, the non-computer science students didn't turn up at the lab. The organisers said they left because they are unsure of using internet. But the compsci crowd remained and we spent a good one hour editing Tamil wikipedia. We created an article in Ta wiki for their college, added references, photos, internal links, external links, categories etc and they got the general idea of wiki editing very quickly (which led to a rash of experimental articles and an increase in workload of ta wiki admins :-)). Since this was the compsci crowd, teaching them wiki markup was remarkably easy - they immediately grasped it and started editing articles.
The college paid me 2500 Rs allocated to the "resource person" by UGC for such activities. It was an awkward situation accepting money - but they had to present their accounts and show that the money allocated by UGC was actually spent, so i couldnt say no. I took the money and donated 2100 Rs (minus my travelling + pamphlet expenses) to the foundation. Maybe the chapter can work out some sort of guidelines for this whole getting paid in the line of outreach thing. (The donation to foundation minus expenses was an idea i got from the prevailing paid editing practice in en wiki)
Photos and tamil report here - 
What i took away from these two workshops is this - urban students have more exposure to internet, but (as is the norm) distracts them from doing anything productive. Rural students haven't been "corrupted" yet by social media and other shiny things, but are very very shy in coming forward to do new things.
--Sodabottle 02:34, 9 March 2011 (EST)