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Grants:IdeaLab/University of Nebraska Women & Wikipedia Campaign

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statusnot selected
University of Nebraska Women & Wikipedia Camgaign
A multi-tiered campaign for UNL to boost Wikipedia contribution, especially among females.
amount3500 USD
idea creator
this project needs...

Project idea[edit]

What is the problem you're trying to solve?[edit]

I am trying to help address the gender gap on Wikipedia. This well established problem seems to have a natural solution in the fact that a majority of college students in the US are women. If more college students begin to edit Wikipedia--and if editing Wikipedia becomes a part of the campus culture--perhaps we can start to right this disparity.

At the same time, many college students struggle with motivation to improve their writing because of the artificial nature of writing within the classroom. Service learning in the form of contributions to WIkipedia, both as a part of classes and as extra-curricular writing, helps overcome that artificiality. Students learn the conventions of a community, practice research, focus on writing and style, and understand that all of these problems are rhetorical problems by nature.

Finally, in our rapidly changing digital world, many students are often passive consumers of media. Encouraging, training, and enabling them to edit Wikipedia would help empower them to become producers and active digital citizens. Again, by creating a culture of engagement, we can nudge students toward conceptualizing Wikipedia--and the internet more widely--as something that is made, not given. This will help college students gain digital literacy, writing ability, power, and a sense that their education engages them with a wider community of learners dealing with real issues.

What is your solution?[edit]

My solution isn't technical, but social. I'd like to foster excitement around editing Wikipedia among the students and instructors of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, with a special focus on women and women's topics through edit-a-thons, workshops, lectures, and incorporation of Wikipedia editing assignments across the University.

My project has two separate but related aspects: outreach to faculty and outreach to students. I will likely separate these two focuses into fall programming aimed at faculty, and winter or spring programming aimed at students. Faculty programming will include instructional workshops to inform and support those interested in using Wikipedia editing in the classroom. This pedagogy will appeal to a wide variety of disciplines by allowing students real world expository writing experience. Because the WikiEdu Foundation already provides support, my focus will be on informing instructors on the UNL campuses. To this end I may work with the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, Graduate Studies, the libraries, academic departments, and Academic Affairs. I envision workshops to provide basic orientation, work sessions to support syllabus and assignment development, and brown bag or panel discussions to critically think about and discuss the role of Wikipedia in higher education. My hope is that this will create a community of practice made up of scholars and instructors who recognize and actively engage with Wikipedia in their teaching.

I will also be teaching an English Course in the fall: Engl 254: Writing in Communities. This course will focus on Wikipedia as a writing community. We will explore the discourse and rhetoric, as well as the gender issues.

After laying some of the ground work in the fall, I will turn my focus toward student involvement. If instructors have used Wikipedia assignments, then their students will form a natural population and leadership pool for a successful edit-a-thon and associated student workshops. I would also like to work with recognized student organizations (at both the graduate and undergraduate level) on an edit-a-thon. This would entail providing space, food, technical support, and social encouragement to students--a sort of Wikipedia party. The librarians and others could also provide students with a list of topics and pages that need work, as well as research and writing assistance, and an introduction to the culture and standards of Wikipedia. By getting students over the threshold to entry and establishing a visible community of local Wikipedians, this project would ideally create an enduring influx of editors, many of them female, and also raise the visibility of women's topics.

Project goals[edit]

The immediate goal of this project is to equip more students and instructors to engage in Wikipedia editing with a special focus on support women editors and perceived "women's topics." The larger, eventual goal is to recruit young women as editors of Wikipedia as well as encourage better coverage of women's and humanities topics. The initial scope of the project is do-ably modest--the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus in an outreach and training campaign over two semesters. In creating this campaign, I would like to establish a set of best practices to foster on-campus edit-a-thons and teaching with Wikipedia. These goals will be supported by first establishing and fostering a working group or community of practice of instructors and librarians. These instructors can then introduce more students to the Wikipedia community, creating a pre-established student editor population to provide a base population for attend a later edit-a-thons.

We hope to encourage student learning and motivation by taking on an issue beyond the classroom. This sense of reality can motivate students to take their education seriously. If the campaign goes well, and generates enough interest, there is no reason it shouldn't grow to other NU campuses, or be repeated in other semesters. A subordinate goal is to help foster a community of Wikipedia editors and educators within the faculty, staff, and graduate students instructors of UNL. This can both change the knee-jerk perception of Wikipedia and help foster innovative teaching practices for writing and humanities.

I hope that this project is both scalable and replicable. It's replicability will consist in establishing a model of best practices to foster campus Wikipedia communities. By recording our experiences in creating this project, we will be able to provide other campuses with a toolbox for accomplishing similar campaigns. This also links to the scalability of the project. For now I'd like to focus on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campuses. Perhaps in the future we can expand this into a NU system wide goal, or a more regional effort including other local institutions (Nebraska Wesleyan, Doane College, the State Colleges of NE, Concordia Seward). We already have established the contacts with the other Universities in the Nebraska system, and (distant) future efforts could span the Big 10 consortium or even become a national event. I also hope that by drawing the attention of humanities scholars to the potential benefits of Wikipedia as both a public portal for their research and knowledge, as well as a powerful tool for teaching. By raising this awareness and expanding the Wikipedia community, we can enrich both communities.

Get involved[edit]


We will initially target the community of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and reach out to local Wikipedians.

We'd love to have you join us! Feel free to add your name below if you're interested in participating.


Librarians or Staff:



  • Volunteer This would be a great project to incorporate into coursework especially for students unfamiliar with the history of women and gender. Claytonhanson (talk) 04:34, 28 March 2015 (UTC)
  • I am very much ready and willing to advise in the development of the program at UNL: I have been trying to develop such a program at several Universities, but have never had the critical mass of interest and aligned individuals at one time (UNL's CDRH is a great gathering point for interested individuals), Sadads (talk) 19:10, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Volunteer I am an organizer, and lover of functional, welcoming public space that encourages community engagement and collaboration. I'd be happy to help with this project, in whatever way is needed. Kolokotch (talk) 19:50, 31 March 2015 (UTC)


  • This sounds like a great idea! AnneNicoleN (talk) 17:45, 18 March 2015 (UTC)
  • I fully endorse this project's goal to encourage women to help edit Wikipedia, and close the gender gap that currently exists. Women, just as much as men, should have a hand in the authorship of history. 20:58, 18 March 2015 (UTC)
  • The presence of gender gaps is a problem prevalent in many aspects of our society and any positive efforts to eradicate it should be supported. Furthermore, I believe this is an excellent opportunity for college students to enhance their writing skills and become aware that informational and educational forms of writing are important even outside of academic settings. Stroupey (talk) 23:16, 18 March 2015 (UTC)
  • I think this project is a great idea, as it encourages women to actively share their knowledge and participate in the recording of history. The goal of this project is attainable and the University of Nebraska is a great setting for this sort of campaign. 00:40, 19 March 2015 (UTC)
  • After talking to Daniel: it sounds like he has some great ideas, and I think there are some real arguments for well documented model University community projects, that speak towards humanities audiences. The Education Foundation is doing good work, but scaling it will require developing full-campus solutions that tap the motivations of scholarly practices as well as pedagogy. Sadads (talk) 15:56, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
  • I fully endorse because of the inevitable benefits to both the Wikipedia community and the participating students and faculty. University of Nebraska provides an ideal environment to foster such a project, and Daniel's enthusiasm about the endeavor and its possible trajectories is indicative of his commitment to the project's success once it is off the ground. 15:38, 27 March 2015 (UTC)
  • This is a great idea and very much in keeping with the spirit of the CDRH. Claytonhanson (talk) 04:33, 28 March 2015 (UTC)
  • I support this proposal wholeheartedly, University level students can sincerely bring a change in the current Wikimedia projects. Atanuami (talk) 08:21, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
  • This sounds like a great idea! It would be ideal if it could be expanded to other universities, using Nebraska as a pilot. La salonniere (talk) 00:06, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
  • This is a great avenue to engage female students as contributors and editors, in addition to bringing the need for more equal representation to light, campus wide. I fully support this endeavor, and would like to volunteer my time and skills as needed. Best of luck! Kolokotch (talk) 05:35, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
  • This seems like a very sound plan. I encourage you to learn from the others in academia who have already taught with wikipedia. professmoravec

Expand your idea[edit]

Do you want to submit your idea for funding from the Wikimedia Foundation?

Expand your idea into a grant proposal

Project plan[edit]


  • Run training workshops for instructors and librarians
  • An English course focusing on Wikipedia as a rhetorical community, with special attention to gender issues.
  • Put on a campus Edit-a-thon
  • Deepen and enrich the Wikipedia-Academy relationship
  • Found a local community of practice


  • Project Manager: 2000 USD. This would mostly pay for a sustained effort to learn more from those who have already used Wikipedia to teach and made connections to academia, as well as make connections and plan for the event itself.
  • Guest Speaker Honorarium: 500 USD
  • Supplies, Advertising for Events: 1000 USD

Community engagement[edit]

We will reach out to two communities, first instructors and librarians. We will hold workshops, panel discussions, and form a working group. We will also reach out to recognized student organizations (RSOs), the honors program,the Thompson Scholars, and other student-support organizations. This project is really all about building and connecting communities. We will survey participants to learn how they came to the event and what drew them in.


I expect future (ideally annual) iterations. After the initial community building, we will have the groundwork for replicable events in the future. I have had indications that we can get support from the university, especially if we can demonstrate positive results. I hope the community can also establish a set of best practices as a toolbox for other institutions to implement as a framework.

Measures of success[edit]

  • Create a core community or working group of at least 10 instructors using Wikipedia in the classroom.
  • Hold a flag-ship edit-a-thon with a guest speaker, and subsequent monthly Wikipedia editing meet ups.

Project team[edit]

Daclausen (talk · contribs) project manager, creator. I am a graduate student and instructor in the English department at UNL. My scholarship is mostly in 19th-century American Literature; investigating literary conceptions of work as a relationship between humans and nature, and especially the role of violence in work. I am also very interested in the tradition of the liberal arts and how scholars of the humanities (dare I call them humanists?) can reach a broader public. I see my use of Wikipedia in the classroom as helping students gain real experience with writing, critical thinking, and rhetorical awareness by communicating complex ideas and knowledge to a general audience.

Elorang (talk · contribs), project liaison. I will help connect the project manager with library and campus resources for programming and events, help with recruitment, and support the project as an editor. I am a librarian at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln University Libraries, where I consult on student- and faculty-led digital research and scholarship. I am the co-founder and outreach coordinator for #LNK Coding Women (lnkcodingwomen.org, @lnkcodingwomen), an organization whose aim is to increase the participation of women and other under-represented groups in technology careers and tech culture.

Community notification[edit]

Please paste links below to where relevant communities have been notified of your proposal, and to any other relevant community discussions. Need notification tips?