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University teaches elderly students how to work with Wikipedia

Masaryk University of Third Age runs brand-new course with Wikipedia.

For the first time in its history Masaryk University is offering special courses for elderly people focused on work with Wikipedia. Elderly students at the University of the Third Age will create articles for the open internet encyclopedia during four classes at the Faculty of Education. The course, which is the result of cooperation between Masaryk University and Wikimedia ČR, starts on 4 April 2016.

The brand-new course was fully subscribed within a single evening. “There are many substitutes registered so we are prepared to open at least one more class,” said Barbora Hašková, manager at the Masaryk University of the Third Age.

The activity follows the project Senior Citizens Write Wikipedia, initiated in 2013 by university professor, philosopher and former minister of education Jan Sokol. “Nowadays a lot of very well educated elderly people complain that although they have enough time to transfer their knowledge, they are not able to find the right way to do it. So why not invite them to create Wikipedia?” said one of the lecturers Vojtěch Veselý, as the new course was opened.

In the classes the elderly students will learn how Wikipedia is organised and how to edit its articles, insert pictures, quote and communicate with others in the Wikipedia community. “It is a very needful activity – Czech Wikipedia is read by three million users a day, so it has become the first source of information for many pupils and students. Therefore, the quality of Wikipedia is crucial for their education,” said Marek Blahuš, an official representative of Wikipedia, who also works at Masaryk University.

In autumn 2015 Masaryk University became the first Czech university to sign an agreement of cooperation with the Wikimedia ČR association, the Czech branch of the Wikimedia Foundation, which runs Wikipedia, the largest internet encyclopedia. Both sides agreed to complete and edit information connected with Masaryk University in Brno and develop activities that support education in Wikipedia use.