Aaron Morris at WiciMon! Promoting the Welsh language with WikiWales

Hi, I’m Aaron Morris and I was appointed WiciMôn Project Officer nearly two years ago. I’m based at the offices of Menter Iaith Môn, the project organisers, at Llangefni, Anglesey, North Wales. We are funded by the Welsh Government and Horizon and have received valuable support from Wikimedia organisations in Wales: both Wikimedia UK and the newly formed Wikimedia User Group Wales.

One of the aims of the Wici Môn project is to raise the profile of the Welsh language nationally and internationally, by creating new articles on the historical, scientific and linguistic elements of Anglesey. We also attempt to educate people on open access and the benefits of sharing the sum of all human knowledge.

In partnership with Wicipedia Cymraeg (the Welsh Wikipedia) we have been running workshops on the Island with young people, and members of the wider community, in schools and community libraries.

Having been appointed, and trained into the Wici world (the Welsh alphabet has no ‘k’) by the Wikimedia UK’s Wales Manager, sessions were held at local libraries. Included in the taster sessions was a presentation on the benefits of  Wikipedia projects, explaining the background of Wikipedia as well as hands-on editing and uploading images onto Wikimedia Commons. Many articles were created using sources from the Coleg Cymraeg (Welsh Federal College) website which were released on a CC-BY-SA licence by our Wikipedian in Residence Mark Haynes in 2013 – articles on places and buildings in Anglesey such as wells, chapels, and beaches.

Getting Wicipedia on the National Curriculum

Having previously worked in secondary schools I immediately started to present the world of Wikipedia as taster sessions (or presentations) to the secondary schools on the Island.

This led to talks with the WJEC (Welsh Joint Education Committee) who immediately wanted to know more about our work.

A brief was submitted to WJEC (the Curriculum body of Wales)  in November to try and weave the WiciMôn project into the Welsh Baccalaureate as one of the ‘Community Challenges’. We were told in December that we had been successful: the first time that Wikipedia skills are officially on the curriculum of any of the countries of Britain (or Europe?!) The brief is now on the WJEC website, here!

The Community Challenge sets out a template which enables other enterprises to copy in their area, so as to strengthen the use of Wikipedia in all secondary schools in Wales. With the Welsh Government’s campaign to reach 1 million Welsh speakers by 2050 this challenge is going to encourage schools to enrich existing and new Wikipedia articles in the Welsh language. The Challenge is also available in English.

The module focuses on elements related to STEAM subjects to encourage people to pursue courses through the medium of Welsh. The project will promote the correct use of neutral sources through research and planning in order to contribute unbiased, rock-solid information on the Welsh Wikipedia. The challenge will allow pupils to develop their literacy skills as well as their communication skills to get others online by training new editors from the wider community as well as within the school.

Prior to the implementation of the BAC initiative, three schools piloted the Community Challenge.

One of the main towns in Anglesey, Amlwch, celebrates 250 years since Roland Puw discovered copper on Parys Mountain and this was a fantastic opportunity for the sixth form pupils of Sir Thomas Jones School to join the Copper Kingdom museum in Port Amlwch to create articles about the scientific and historical history of the copper industry. Another school, Ysgol David Hughes has worked with The Thomas Telford Centre Museum in Menai Bridge – which has agreed to share their information with the school so that pupils can create new articles on Wikipedia. This year, Anglesey celebrates The Year of the Sea and this is going to be important to the project, as it is completely relevant to the pupils.  Ysgol Gyfun Llangefni is another school that that will pilot the Community Challenge. As part of their project, the school is currently focusing on resources available at Llangefni Library – old photographs, copies of local newspapers etc. An evening will be held where pupils can showcase their skills and to show the public how to share information on Wikipedia.

Wikipedia Clubs

Pupils are currently organising Wikipedia clubs in the schools during lunchtimes and Wiki Ambassadors will be appointed from the 6th forms, encourage junior pupils to be involved in the project. They will have the opportunity to edit and create articles, take pictures, upload images and create audio clips etc. This is a great opportunity for the sixth who have received training on how to work Wikipedia to transfer their skills and gain confidence.

Audio clips of 1,200 name-places in Wales

In August 2017 the National Eisteddfod of Wales was in Llangefni, my home town, and I took the opportunity by its horns, and started to record people from all over Wales pronouncing the names of places such as villages, cities and communities – in their native dialect.

This attracted not only the people of Anglesey but the whole of Wales. The audio clips are in the process of being uploaded onto Wikimedia Commons by secondary school pupils and placed on the Wicipedia Cymraeg (and all other language wikis) so that everyone can enjoy them. Over 1,000 place-names have been done so far. A session with Ysgol Gyfun Llangefni Comprehensive School was held in February, where over 100 audio clips were uploaded to Wikipedia, and others followed.

I foresee that the audio files will be used by BBC presenters and others, who continually mispronounce Welsh place-names, and who now will have no excuse! It’s been a great local project, of immense benefit to both young people and adults… but will also benefit the wider world!

We may be an island surrounded by sea, but using open Wikimedia projects, we reach out into a brave new world, a small but important part of that rich diversity of the planet… while it exists!

By Aaron Morris, WiciMôn Project Officer, Menter Iaith Môn

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