I see this as one of the core activities of a local chapter. The German
chapter, for example, has been highly successful in doing just this -
working with academics to change the perception of what Wikipedia is,
and improving the quality of the articles.
Interestingly, they've apparently been particularly successful with the
humanities departments. Scientific articles are often better quality
than humanities articles, but humanities departments have responded well
to the attention. They're often more poorly funded than science
departments, and can be less likely to embark on the learning curve of
wiki markup, but are as passionate about contributing once the learning
curve and poor perceptions are dealt with.
Lourie Pieterse wrote:
From the beginning of this year I started to look into the possibility
to include Wikipedia in the university curriculum in some manner.
Currently all the first years has a course that handles about
/scientific communication/. One of the many aspects we are focussing
on is the correct use of references. As David said; the fact that
people doesn’t understand or know how to use references are a great
problem. I started to chat with the coordinators of these courses,
with the idea to incorporate Wikipedia. Unfortunately the head
coordinator was in a car accident this holiday, so things are going
slower than usual. My idea was to implement the concept at
Stellenbosch and then spread it to the rest of the South African
universities. Currently we and Potchefstroom (and probably some other
universities) are already using the same sort of information for this
course. That’s why I thought that if I could get Wikipedia implemented
at Stellenbosch, it would easily spread to the rest of South Africa.
As Kerryn said in the one email; most of the people in South Africa
has a completely wrong idea of Wikipedia, and the other Wikimedia
projects. If we succeed in starting the South African Chapter; it
would be great if this could be one of the initial projects handled by
the chapter. Not only will we get the academia involved at
contributing to articles, but we may even succeed in promoting the
quality of Wikipedia articles. This way we could even encourage the
rest of the South African population to contribution to Wikipedia and
make use of its information. That way we could address issues, such as
the tiny amount of Afrikaans and other African language articles on
Wikipedia. People like to read articles that are in their home
language, so we might improve the popularity of Wikipedia this way.