Wikimedia Israel’s online editing course for senior citizens is a special in-house developed training program that offers retired senior citizens the opportunity to join the community of Hebrew-Wikipedia editors, and participate personally in a meaningful activity that also contributes to the society as a whole. Through an active process of learning, which includes a series of online meetings, the participants are handed the keys to the system by which Wikipedia is written. They experience article editing, practice it, and gain relevant skills and tools to use in their own environment, on their own time, and as much as they wish.
Unlike other projects, which offer senior citizens basic Internet-related technological skills, this program is aimed at senior citizens who are already skilled in working in digital environments. It enables them to use their free time to contribute high-quality content based on their existing experience and the knowledge they have acquired throughout their lives.
The benefits for the participants
The participants gain –
- a meaningful and quality use of their free time, which also generates a new social circle for them to join
- empowerment; a sense of belonging, ability, and self-worth
- acquaintance with a field that bears a message of progress and innovation
- a framework of self development, meaningful activity, and social contribution
The benefits for Wikipedia and its users
- The course graduates bring with them an abundance of diverse knowledge, which they acquired throughout their lives. The articles they write enrich Wikipedia and offer new contents to the community of readers.
- The combination of free time and mental stamina that characterizes this age group is a huge advantage for writing profound and comprehensive articles on Wikipedia.
- The program diversifies the age composition of the Hebrew-Wikipedia community of editors.
This program has been active since 2017. Up until recently, it took place in Jerusalem, Beersheba, Haifa, and Tel Aviv, and was made up of in-person sessions. Around 200 senior citizens took part, wrote, translated, expanded, and significantly improved thousands of articles on the Hebrew-language Wikipedia. Many of them left a deep impression on the subjects related to their fields of knowledge and expertise. The rates of retention and continuation were high and impressive.
The novel coronavirus crisis and the need to keep social distancing created a new reality and triggered Wikimedia Israel’s new initiative to develop an innovative online version of the course. Consequently, senior citizens can now follow the course in the convenience of their own homes. The online version of the course also allows the participation of senior citizens from the geographical periphery of Israel.
This project has a major positive impact on the quality of the Hebrew-language Wikipedia, and contributes tremendously to the enrichment of its content for the benefit of the general public.
This project has been made possible with the help of ICA Israel (the Jewish Charitable Association).