Encouraging education work in Brazil

Last week, I had the privilege of traveling to São Paulo, Brazil, giving two presentations at the University of São Paulo (USP), meeting with the Grupo de Usuários Wikimedia no Brasil (Wikimedia Brasil User Group), and attending a neuroscience and mathematics edit-a-thon for the Portuguese Wikipedia.

Meeting with representatives of the Grupo de Usuários Wikimedia no Brasil.
Meeting with representatives of the Grupo de Usuários Wikimedia no Brasil.

The group in Brazil is already having an incredible impact on Wikipedia. In particular, a group of Wikimedians based at USP’s Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center for Neuromathematics (RIDC NeuroMat), led by Professor João Alexandre Peschanski, has dramatically improved information available on the Portuguese Wikipedia on topics in neuroscience and mathematics. With a grant funded by São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), they’re working hard to bring more science information to the Portuguese Wikipedia. For example, check out the Portuguese Wikipedia article on the mathematical term average, which includes extensive written content added through their work — as well as animated illustrations of concepts and a sound file of the article read aloud, to make it easier for people with vision impairments who speak Portuguese to understand mathematical formulas. João, Celio Costa Filho, David Alves, and the rest of the team at NeuroMat have long been engaged in our work as well, translating many Wiki Education blog posts for their blog.

Thanks to travel funding from FAPESP, I was able to come give two talks about connecting Wikipedia and academia at USP. The first was an informal talk to students, professors, Wikipedians, and other people interested in what we at Wiki Education are doing to connect Wikipedia and academia. We spent some time talking about how our program works, the importance of media literacy skills in the digital age, and more. I encouraged attendees to get involved in the Wikimedia movement, whether through editing articles, adding photos to Commons, translating articles, or playing the WikiData game. The result of this first meeting is that one of the two journalists who attended the talk has already published an interview with me in Carta Educação, and a Brazilian Wikipedian in the room was inspired to create the article on media literacy on the Portuguese Wikipedia.

For the second talk, representatives from the Research, Information, and Dissemination Centers of FAPESP attended to hear more specifically about Wiki Education’s Year of Science initiative. Many attendees were not very familiar with the inner workings of Wikipedia, so it was an excellent opportunity to explain more about how Wikipedia works, the community involved in it, why it’s something worth contributing to, why Wiki Education’s participating professors see Wikipedia assignments as key for teaching media literacy and science communication, and what we did during the Year of Science. In particular, I encouraged the group to work toward engaging with Wikipedia in hopes of seeing a Year of Science in Brazil in the coming years.

I was incredibly inspired by the enthusiasm and energy of the Wikimedians in Brazil, and I am confident that good things will continue to come from this group in the future! Many thanks to João and the rest of the team for inviting and welcoming me to Brazil!

Image: Wiki Edu presentation and the 3rd Neurociência e Matemática edit-a-thon (08), by RIDC NeuroMat, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.


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