Grants:Project/Wikipedia and the Aotearoa New Zealand History Curriculum/Final

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final report

Welcome to this project's final report! This report shares the outcomes, impact and learnings from the grantee's project.

Part 1: The Project[edit]


The project report was completed in early April and can be read here:

We proposed this project on the basis of the upcoming compulsory Aotearoa New Zealand Histories Curriculum, which was due to be rolled out this year but has since been delayed until next year (2023). The over-arching problem we were trying to solve was whether Wikipedia could be a viable tool for teachers to use as a resource for teaching the local history aspects of the curriculum, and whether GLAM institutions could contribute to this as a way of facilitating access to their collections to a vast audience of teachers and students at scale.

This was framed as a research study, where we could essentially undertake user testing of local teachers and survey their attitudes towards Wikipedia's use in the classroom, whether they would be interested in activities such as edit-a-thons with their students, backed up by a robust literature review of the use of Wikipedia in secondary classrooms, which remains a relatively neglected topic of study.

We were delighted to bring an experienced NZ education academic, Dr Mark Sheehan, on-board as the researcher for this project and undertook a mixed methodology study consisting of the literature review, an online survey and one on one interviews with teachers. While we had intended on holding in person workshops, the deteriorating COVID situation in New Zealand precluded that, but we managed to get feedback from over 90 local teachers which resulted in rich data.

The key takeaways from the research were:[1]

  • Most participants saw Wikipedia as a reliable resource for national Aotearoa New Zealand history content and valuable to both inform their teaching and for their students to access information for enquiry-based studies.
  • The question of reliability was a concern when it came to accessing local histories on Wikipedia. The encyclopedia was not generally seen as an accurate source of information in this area.
  • Teachers overwhelmingly trusted the information on local history in the Auckland War Memorial Museum as reliable and accurate.
  • Teachers saw Wikipedia as having the potential to contribute to how students learn to think critically about sources and develop the skills to differentiate between knowledge that is supported by reliable evidence and unverified narratives.
  • While a substantial number of participants thought articles were well written and accessible, there were some who indicated their students found the reading level of the articles too advanced.

Overall it seems that Wikipedia is being used by more teachers than we thought, by using it as a starting point for their teaching, and a smaller number using Wikipedia as a teaching resource (for example looking at the edit page or encouraging students to look at references). They also trust Wikipedia in terms of the "big" national topics and events, but find it less reliable for teaching the local history aspect which is an important part of the new curriculum, and where a potential editing project, as mentioned in our project proposal, could fill an obvious need to make Wikipedia more accessible as a teaching resource.

Project Goals[edit]

The research report that we produced can be read here:

We aimed to survey 40 participants and ended up with 90 history and social studies high school teachers in total (83 online survey responses, 7 one on one interviews). Roughly half of the respondents were from Auckland and the rest across the country, giving a representative sample of opinions from across Aoteroa New Zealand.

* Understand New Zealand secondary teachers' perceptions of Wikimedia for use as a resource in the classroom.

Our research gave a clear indication of teacher's perceptions of Wikimedia for use in the classroom. We found that nearly 52% had use Wikipedia to access information for teaching within the past 3 months. and that 63% of them encourage students to use Wikipedia to access information. Although there was some caution regarding reliability, the prevailing view was that Wikipedia was as reliable as any other encyclopedia for national histories of Aotearoa New Zealand and that it was a valuable starting point in the research process as well as a good place to access references.

* Understand whether New Zealand secondary teachers would use editing and creating Wikipedia articles as a form of applied learning of historical method.

Nearly 43% of respondents believed that Wikipedia could help students to examine sources and thinking critically about the past and in the face to face interviews it was generally agreed that the ongoing development of articles are a practical way in the classroom to both teach young people how historical narratives are shaped, as well as to learn to think critically about evidence and sources. Students can use the view and talk and edit tabs on each article, to track the process of how a narrative has been constructed and to get an insight into how versions of the past are open to question and the role that evidence has in how historical narratives are supported. However, teachers require support in this area. While most engage with Wikipedia both personally and in teaching their students, few have edited articles or understand how Wikipedia operates.

* Understand the appetite of New Zealand secondary school teachers for a pilot programme encouraging secondary students to take part in local history focused edit-a-thons.

The main focus of the survey and interviews was around the reliability of Wikipedia for use in the classroom, but the issue mentioned above, around teachers not fully understanding how Wikipedia works meant that there was not a large appetite for edit-a-thons. This corresponds to a concern that was raised around Wikipedia articles being too advanced for students aged under 15, which potentially limits the cohort who could undertake editing. Further targeted professional development for teachers, such as Reading Wikipedia in the Classroom workshops, could enable this sort of work in schools in the future.

* Research and synthesize current academic literature around the use of Wikimedia in the secondary classroom.

A literature review was produced as part of the report and covered the use of Wikipedia in secondary classrooms, questions of reliability of Wikipedia and content creation.

Project Impact[edit]

Important: The Wikimedia Foundation is no longer collecting Global Metrics for Project Grants. We are currently updating our pages to remove legacy references, but please ignore any that you encounter until we finish.


  1. In the first column of the table below, please copy and paste the measures you selected to help you evaluate your project's success (see the Project Impact section of your proposal). Please use one row for each measure. If you set a numeric target for the measure, please include the number.
  2. In the second column, describe your project's actual results. If you set a numeric target for the measure, please report numerically in this column. Otherwise, write a brief sentence summarizing your output or outcome for this measure.
  3. In the third column, you have the option to provide further explanation as needed. You may also add additional explanation below this table.
Planned measure of success
(include numeric target, if applicable)
Actual result Explanation
Provide empirical evidence of teacher’s attitudes towards using Wikipedia in the New Zealand classroom context and using it as a resource for the newly established History Curriculum The research report provides a detailed examination of teachers attitudes towards Wikipedia.
Provide a synthesis of existing literature around secondary/high school use of Wikipedia in teaching in general The completed research has a literature review component.
The research could be used as part of a wider education campaign around the use of Wikipedia at this education level. It could also inform campaign seeking to change negative perceptions of Wikipedia. Overall the perception of Wikipedia amongst New Zealand teachers was generally positive, so this campaign isn't necessary. While there weren't negative perceptions of Wikipedia, it is clear from the research that many teachers don't understand how information is created, and there is potential space for professional development using resources such as Reading Wikipedia in the Classroom.
The project will highlight the viability of the use of Wikipedia in secondary classrooms in New Zealand as a trusted starting point for research into local history. The research indicates that a majority of teachers do access Wikipedia for information about the classes they teach and could potentially be used as a starting point for teaching local history. One issue that was raised with the research was that teachers didn't find local history to be as reliable as other content on Wikipedia. A targeted editing project could resolve this issue.
Promote the uptake of Wikipedia editing by secondary students, and to have it normalised as a resource in secondary school classrooms and increase students engagement with open-access GLAM collections. This is a longer term goal.


Looking back over your whole project, what did you achieve? Tell us the story of your achievements, your results, your outcomes. Focus on inspiring moments, tough challenges, interesting anecdotes or anything that highlights the outcomes of your project. Imagine that you are sharing with a friend about the achievements that matter most to you in your project.

  • This should not be a list of what you did. You will be asked to provide that later in the Methods and Activities section.
  • Consider your original goals as you write your project's story, but don't let them limit you. Your project may have important outcomes you weren't expecting. Please focus on the impact that you believe matters most.

For the past couple of years at Auckland Museum we have been looking at how we can engage with the new compulsory Aotearoa New Zealand Histories Curriculum. This is the first time all students across New Zealand, up to year 10, will be learning the country's history. It is a huge opportunity for us and other institutions in the GLAM sector to share our collections with teachers and students across the country. But it is also a daunting task, as the curriculum has a strong local history element. We know our expertise and collections will be in demand, but we are also concerned with how we can meet that demand in an era of COVID related financial constraints.

The Museum aims to get 100,000 children through the doors and in to the Museum every year, but that is only a fraction of the school aged population in Auckland alone. So we have been thinking about how we can scale our reach and impact and provide quality online resources for teachers and students. We're also aware that teachers are time poor-- they don't want to be met with the blank search interface our Collections Online provides. We started thinking about Wikipedia as an option. We have over 170,000 open access images available on Wikimedia Commons, we have a Wikipedia Strategy and a Wikipedian in Residence. How could we leverage Wikipedia to provide learning material, and put our effort and resource into creating quality content instead of for example, building an expensive bespoke digital platform.

We came up with the idea of enhancing local Auckland history pages. If we could use the Museum's expertise and our open access imagery we could enrich suburb pages, the basis of the local history component of the curriculum. These would become starting points for teachers and students-- with a rich historical overview, illustrated with openly licensed images and linking to other digital and physical resources held in Auckland GLAM institutions.

However we needed to test whether this was something teachers would use. We had a fairly good idea students use Wikipedia, but we had heard anecdotally that teachers were skeptical of Wikipedia. So we decided that we needed to do a form of user surveying before jumping in to the larger product. We wanted to talk to teachers themselves about their perceptions of using Wikipedia in the classroom, and whether our idea of a large scale editing project would be useful for them.

We were successful with our funding application, supported by the Wikipedians around New Zealand, and recruited Mark Sheehan, a recently retired education academic from Victoria University of Wellington. This gave the project an intellectual grunt that further validates this work, as well as being able to tap in to his decades of networks amongst the local teaching community.

While COVID made the project primarily remote, we set out to work undertaking a literature review of the use of Wikipedia in the classroom, designing an online survey for teachers, and a series of one on one interviews with senior teachers. We weren't sure if teachers would engage with this project, or what the results would look like, but we were blown away by the responses with a total over 90 teachers providing their input and a generally favourable attitude towards Wikipedia.

While there were some negative comments it turned out that Wikipedia is used by teachers more than we thought, and that it generally has a favourable impression. This comment from one of them nicely sums up how teachers can use it:

Few reasons really. One, it generally offers easy to read overviews of entire topics. Two, it often has useful links in it that the students can use. Three, the references at the bottom of the page mean that students can double check where the info is coming from and can trace it back to the original source. And four, when examining reliability the Talk and Edit pages are useful as you can see how the article has been created.

We also heard from teachers about the high degree of trust they have in the information available on Wikipedia: is the best referenced and comprehensive single source of information on everything ever written. It's tools for ensuring a NPOV and to flag issues are outstanding.

Wikipedia is a great first port of call. Ākonga (students) can compare it with information in Te Ara and Brittanica (EPIC database). Also fantastic for discussions on how sources are constructed - on audience and who writes the history.

The data that we have gathered from the surveys and interviews has validated our assumption that Wikipedia could be a useful learning platform for helping teach the new history curriculum and because the research was undertaken in a meaningful way, by an experienced researcher, gives us the confidence to continue with our plans to enhance local Auckland history pages on Wikipedia.

Finally, by engaging with teachers directly we have also connected with the local education community and formed a number of new relationships which we can further develop as we move forward with this work. continuing to ensure that the work we do is meaningful and useful for teachers, while enabling the Museum to engage online with the new curriculum at a scale that few other online platforms offer.


If you used surveys to evaluate the success of your project, please provide a link(s) in this section, then briefly summarize your survey results in your own words. Include three interesting outputs or outcomes that the survey revealed.

We did not use surveys for evaluation.


Is there another way you would prefer to communicate the actual results of your project, as you understand them? You can do that here!

We would like to publish a blog on Diff sharing this research with the wider Wiki community. We have also shared the results with teachers and will prepare a blog that will be shared with the national GLAM sector.

Methods and activities[edit]

Please provide a list of the main methods and activities through which you completed your project.

  • Online project meetings between Project Manager and Researcher, 3 times a week
  • Online meetings between Researcher and other Museum staff as part of induction
  • Online meetings between project team and Nina Hood
  • Desk research for literature review
  • Created survey to send out to teachers with assistance from Museum Visitor & Market Research team
  • Email communications with various teacher's associations
  • One on one interviews with senior teachers
  • Google Data Studio visualization of survey results
  • Written research report
  • Presentation to National Digital Forum, Feb 2022

Project resources[edit]

Please provide links to all public, online documents and other artifacts that you created during the course of this project. Even if you have linked to them elsewhere in this report, this section serves as a centralized archive for everything you created during your project. Examples include: meeting notes, participant lists, photos or graphics uploaded to Wikimedia Commons, template messages sent to participants, wiki pages, social media (Facebook groups, Twitter accounts), datasets, surveys, questionnaires, code repositories... If possible, include a brief summary with each link.

Link to completed research report:

Link to survey questions:

Link to survey answers about Wikipedia:


The best thing about trying something new is that you learn from it. We want to follow in your footsteps and learn along with you, and we want to know that you took enough risks in your project to have learned something really interesting! Think about what recommendations you have for others who may follow in your footsteps, and use the below sections to describe what worked and what didn’t.

What worked well[edit]

What did you try that was successful and you'd recommend others do? To help spread successful strategies so that they can be of use to others in the movement, rather than writing lots of text here, we'd like you to share your finding in the form of a link to a learning pattern.

This learning pattern was put together for our mid-point report and the learnings remained relevant throughout the project.

A major reason for the success was that our researcher was an experienced retired academic, who could draw on his deep networks with the teaching profession so that we could speak directly with senior teachers in the one on one interviews. This allowed us to get the opinion of influential teachers, while also making them aware of the work we are doing. Overall this stresses the importance of working with stakeholders and external experts, to increase the impact and utility of the work we are doing at the Museum.

What didn’t work[edit]

What did you try that you learned didn't work? What would you think about doing differently in the future? Please list these as short bullet points.

The COVID situation in New Zealand meant that we couldn't run in-person events, and the project team only managed a single day together. However we managed to mitigate most of those issues with regular catchups and the use of shared documents and messaging software.

This also meant that we couldn't run any in-person events or workshops with teachers which was unfortunate.

Apart from that the project ran fairly smoothly, and considering the challenging circumstances there wasn't a lot we would change.

Other recommendations[edit]

If you have additional recommendations or reflections that don’t fit into the above sections, please list them here.

Next steps and opportunities[edit]

Are there opportunities for future growth of this project, or new areas you have uncovered in the course of this grant that could be fruitful for more exploration (either by yourself, or others)? What ideas or suggestions do you have for future projects based on the work you’ve completed? Please list these as short bullet points.

  • One of the key learnings is that we need to continue to work with teachers to help them understand how Wikipedia works. One way to do this is through professional development opportunities, such as offering the Reading Wikipedia in the Classroom workshops to local teachers.
  • As mentioned above, the results of the research also provide us with the confidence to continue on our idea of an editing project around local history to improve reliability of this content on Wikipedia, so that teachers can use it as a starting point for their teaching of the new curriculum.

Part 2: The Grant[edit]


Actual spending[edit]

Please copy and paste the completed table from your project finances page. Check that you’ve listed the actual expenditures compared with what was originally planned. If there are differences between the planned and actual use of funds, please use the column provided to explain them.

Updated 30/9/2022

Expense Approved amount Actual funds spent Difference
Contract Researcher $11,400 $11,738 (NZD$17,520.30) -$338
Total $11,400 $11,738 -$338

Remaining funds[edit]

Do you have any unspent funds from the grant?

Please answer yes or no. If yes, list the amount you did not use and explain why.

  • No

If you have unspent funds, they must be returned to WMF. Please see the instructions for returning unspent funds and indicate here if this is still in progress, or if this is already completed:


Did you send documentation of all expenses paid with grant funds to grantsadmin(_AT_), according to the guidelines here?

Please answer yes or no. If no, include an explanation.

  • Yes these have been sent now.

Confirmation of project status[edit]

Did you comply with the requirements specified by WMF in the grant agreement?

Please answer yes or no.

  • Yes

Is your project completed?

Please answer yes or no.

  • Yes

Grantee reflection[edit]

We’d love to hear any thoughts you have on what this project has meant to you, or how the experience of being a grantee has gone overall. Is there something that surprised you, or that you particularly enjoyed, or that you’ll do differently going forward as a result of the Project Grant experience? Please share it here!

As I mentioned in our mid year report, one of the highlights has been making connections with various WMF staff in a range of different areas. We have worked hard to improve our engagement with Wikipedia in the past couple of years, and the work that we have completed recently, funded by WMF has been meaningful and shows the opportunities and output that can be created by GLAM-Wikipedia partnerships.

We also hope that this work can contribute to international literature and learning about using Wikipedia in the high school context, and we hope to continue this work in the coming years for the benefit of ourselves, teachers and students, and the wider Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation community.