Learning patterns/Setting goals for an education program
What problem does this solve?
In order to determine whether your education program is successful, you will need to set goals and measures when you start your project. Education programs can have a variety of goals that can relate to both content and participation. The guidelines in this learning pattern will help you decide what goals are best for your program, and give suggestions for what information you need to collect to track your progress toward your goals.
What is the solution?
When you are starting an education program, it is important to think about what it is you want to change with your program. There are a few common goals that many of the 70+ education programs around the world are working towards. Setting measurable goals will help you determine what you need to track as you enact your program plan.
When you are in the pilot stage, it can be difficult to set meaningful goals for your education project. A good goal when you are starting an education program is to collect baseline data, or, basic information about program participants and their activity on Wikimedia projects. As your program continues or grows, you should set targets around content, participation or other key outcomes you expect, depending on what goals you are targeting through your education program.
- Collect baseline data
Program leaders should collect this basic information each term:
- Number of schools, educators, and students participating in the program
- Usernames (you can break these down by new accounts and users that edit)
- Gender breakdown
- Number of volunteers (online as well as offline support)
- Track contributions
You can measure both the quantity and the quality of content added to Wikimedia projects. Most projects have peer review processes like like Good and Featured Articles, but these processes can take time and are likely to happen after your course has ended, so keep that in mind when measuring these.
- Number of bytes added (you can gauge activity and even break down contributions by namespace through WikiMetrics)
- Number of files uploaded to Commons (photos, sound files, illustrations, videos and animations)
- Number of articles improved/expanded
- Number of articles created (through research or translation)
- Number of citations added
- Number of Good and Featured Articles
- Improvement in article quality (if your language wiki has a grading scale, or by other assessments or rubrics)
- Participant Retention
Retention for an education program may mean maintaining and growing a healthy core of volunteers and educators who bring students to Wikipedia each semester. Retention may also focus on student editors to see if they are still making contributions to Wikimedia projects after their assignments formally ended. Retaining educators can be a worthwhile goals, as it will ensure continuation of an education program in future years. Retaining volunteers, and getting experienced students to become volunteers themselves, can be a great help in ensuring a good support structure for your education program.
- Number of new vs. returning educators, students, and volunteers
- Percent of users still editing after the program has ended (common periods are 3, 6 or 12 months after the assignment ended)
Based on these numbers, you may adjust your program's strategy to engage and retain educators and volunteers if those numbers are declining, or you may investigate new ways to encourage sustained engagement by students after their Wikipedia assignments are turned in.
Things to consider
- If you have a WMF grant for your education program, you will need to track global metrics.
- Do not try to focus on too many goals, instead choose one or two goals that will have the most impact on your program or Wikimedia project and use a strategy to achieve your goals.
When to use
- Bytes indicate the size of the edit. In English and other latin scripts, this is roughly equivalent to the number of characters added. In complex scripts (like Arabic, Hebrew, Armenian or Nepali) each character is two bytes. Be careful if comparing edit sizes and total contribution amounts across languages.