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Unisa online - Unisa alumnus making Wiki waves

Dumisani Ndubane

Dumisani Ndubane is a man on the “Wiki walk”. The Tembisa lad and Unisa Diplomandi will be jetting off to Washington D.C. in the USA to attend the Annual International Wikimedia Conference. The conference will be held at the George Washington University from 12 to 15 July 2012.

The Wikimedia Conference is a gathering of experts, enthusiasts, and those who are just curious, in the field of academia, culture, and technology. It is aimed at enabling the Wikimedia community and the general public to learn about and share their experiences with free knowledge initiatives all over the world.

Dumisani has been awarded a full scholarship to attend the conference. This scholarship, which is awarded on merit, is one of the highest honours in the Wikimedia community. He is one of 130 people selected from a list of 1000 applicants; and is joined in the group by two other South Africans.

His entry into the Wiki environment was purely by chance. It started in 2006 after he had failed his examinations at Wits University. Undeterred by this, he surfed the net in search of on-line courses in Electrical Engineering and that’s when he stumbled upon Wikiversity (The Free University).

When he followed the link to the Engineering portal page, he found very little on the subject as the department had just been started. For a while he stopped visiting the site, but a little voice inside him kept saying: “The next student like you does not have to find such an empty department”.

Buoyed by this, he returned to the Wikiversity in March 2007 and signed up to participate in the further development of the School of Engineering. Slowly, he began to contribute to the development of the electrical engineering curriculum. The course that he worked on, called the Electric Circuit Analysis, grew in leaps and bounds and currently boasts 8 lessons and two instant on-line questionnaires. It has also been selected as one of the best courses that the English Wikiversity has to offer; and is included in a rotating list of featured courses on the site’s main page. It has 70 unique users around the world, who have also requested him to work on other similar technical content. Plans for the development of an advanced course in Electrical Circuit Analysis are underway.

“As I developed the course, I did so while doing a real life course similar to it. So in a way, I was learning and teaching at the same time’, he says.   

As Dumisani progressed with his contribution to the development of the electrical engineering curriculum, he discovered that Wikipedia was also working on a Xitsonga project. As a Xitsonga speaker, he was excited by this and immediately joined the project as a contributor. Today the Xitsonga Wikipedia boasts 242 unique articles, a quantum leap from the 40-60 articles he found when he joined.

Dumisani graduated with a Diploma in Electrical Engineering (Power) in May 2012. He is currently employed by Taemane Consulting and Electrical Engineering as a Junior Electrical Engineer.

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