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Wiki Education Foundation/Monthly Reports/2015-6

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Monthly report for June 2015[edit]

The monthly report for the Wiki Education Foundation in June 2015


  • Educational Partnerships Manager Jami Mathewson and Executive Director Frank Schulenburg traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with seven academic associations. As a result of these meetings, all associations declared a strong interest in partnering with Wiki Education Foundation in the future. The American Sociological Association signed a partnership agreement during Jami's and Frank's visit.
  • Outreach Manager Samantha Erickson has published the report on our pilot with high-achieving students and summarized the outcome in a blog post on wikiedu.org. The report marks the end of the pilot project. It found that while many students showed enthusiasm about editing Wikipedia articles as an extracurricular activity, they were extremely unlikely to do so without some form of additional incentive.
  • Community Engagement Manager Ryan McGrady has been working with Wikipedia Library staff to take on support for the Wikipedia Visiting Scholars program in the United States and Canada. This program connects expert Wikipedians with access to digital university resources with the intent of creating new Wikipedia articles and improving existing articles. Ryan has been managing the transfer of support systems from the Wikipedia Library to the Wiki Education Foundation.
  • Communications Associate Eryk Salvaggio has directed the production of a new print resource, Theories, which helps instructors frame a theoretical approach to Wikipedia for their students. Four instructors contributed their ideas, classroom questions, and reading lists for this resource, which is available in print and online.


Educational Partnerships[edit]

Signing Wiki Education Foundation's educational partnership agreement with the American Sociological Association.

Samantha joined the Educational Partnerships team after wrapping up the outreach pilot. Samantha is now Wiki Ed's initial contact person for our programs, strengthening support for the educational partnerships we've cultivated over the last half-year.

By adding support staff and digital infrastructure, we're prepared to expand our programs. To that end, Jami and Frank traveled to Washington, D.C., to expand our relationships with academic associations. They had promising discussions about potential partnerships with:

  • Linguistics Society of America
  • American Sociological Association
  • National Communication Association
  • American Historical Association
  • American Anthropological Association
  • American Society of Plant Biologists
  • Oceanography Society
Samantha Erickson at the ALA 2015 Wikipedia booth.

One meeting had an immediate impact. The Wiki Education Foundation and the American Sociological Association announced an official partnership. The ASA launched its Wikipedia initiative in 2012, and their students have contributed high-quality work through our Classroom Program ever since. We're pleased to recognize them as an official partner.

Jami also met with current partners the National Women's Studies Association and the Association for Psychological Science. That discussion included outreach efforts, identifying content gaps, and developing high-quality contributions.

In late June, Jami and Samantha joined Wikipedia Library representatives for the American Library Association's conference in San Francisco. We've often heard that our programs complement librarians' information literacy goals. Wiki Ed is developing ways to involve more librarians in our programs, and we saw tremendous enthusiasm from librarians at the ALA conference for both the Classroom and Visiting Scholars programs.

Classroom Program[edit]

Status of the Classroom Program for the Summer 2015 in numbers, as of June 30:

  • 12 Wiki Ed-supported courses had Course Pages (4 or 33% were led by returning instructors)
  • 103 student editors were enrolled
  • 79 students successfully completed the online training
  • Students edited 91 articles and created 8 new entries.

It's the start of a busy summer at Wiki Ed. While Wiki Ed has typically only supported 3 or 4 courses during the summer, we're now supporting 12. That's a new record!

Student work highlights:

Community Engagement[edit]

Samantha Erickson, Jake Orlowitz, and Alex Stinson at the ALA 2015 conference booth in San Francisco.

Community Engagement Manager Ryan McGrady has been preparing for the July launch of Wiki Ed's Visiting Scholars program. A Visiting Scholar is an official university position for experienced Wikipedia editors who are granted remote access to library research resources. These Visiting Scholars use those resources to improve Wikipedia content in one of the university's focus areas. The program was developed by the Wikipedia Library, which launched the first batch of Scholars last year. We're excited to be administering the program in the United States and Canada, starting with the announcement of six new positions at five educational institutions in early July.

Ryan has been collaborating with Communications Associate Eryk Salvaggio in writing informational materials, and both have been working with the Wikipedia Library's Jake Orlowitz and Alex Stinson to coordinate the change in administration. Jake and Alex have done an outstanding job building this program, but are eager to focus on growing the scope of the Wiki Library. Wiki Ed staff also met with Jake and Alex at the American Library Association's annual conference in San Francisco, where we had our first opportunities to engage academic librarians in discussions about the Visiting Scholars program (see Educational Partnerships section above).

You can find information about the Visiting Scholars program at http://wikiedu.org/visitingscholars.


A stack of the Wiki Education Foundation's Theories handbook.

In June, Eryk completed several print projects tied to fundraising, our print resources library, and outreach to new partners.

Working closely with David Peters of EXBROOK, Wiki Ed completed the publication of a new brochure. Theories: Wikipedia and the production of knowledge explores Wikipedia through a deeply theoretical lens. It explores Wikipedia in relation to access to information, political rhetoric, neutrality, and authorship. The four contributors have also shared a reading list and several discussion questions for students. The brochure will be distributed in print to instructors who engage students to think deeply about Wikipedia as a democratic, social exercise in knowledge production.

Eryk and David also worked together to create two outreach materials that will quickly explain Wiki Ed's programs, benefits and methods to the general public, particularly for purposes of instructor and partner recruitment, and in fundraising.

Eryk also produced communications strategy and materials for outreach tied to our Year of Science initiative and Wikipedia Visiting Scholars program.

Blog posts:

Digital Infrastructure[edit]

Early in June, Product Manager Sage Ross and the development team at WINTR rolled out a large set of improvements and new features to dashboard.wikiedu.org. First and foremost, our new course system is live. This allows instructors to go through our (updated) Assignment Design Wizard, submit an assignment plan for approval, and manage and monitor a class, all from wikiedu.org. Critically, this new system works independently of the legacy MediaWiki EducationProgram extension that we have used up until now; moving away from that extension opens up opportunities for the many new features and improvement that we will be building rapidly in the coming year. Other new features include our first iterations of an Activity page that shows all the recent edits made by each class, and an Uploads page to showcase media files that students have uploaded to Wikimedia Commons.

Since the rollout, we've been focused on user testing and on fixing the bugs and usability that turn up during user tests. More than a dozen instructors volunteered to beta test the new system by going through the course creation process during a live video call. That testing provided invaluable insight into the rough edges and unmet expectations of the initial versions of our new features, which we've been racing to improve. Testing and refinement will continue into July, when we will switch gears and start building some new features for keeping track of student edits and highlighting which students and courses have been most active recently.

Research and development[edit]

Outreach to high-achieving students[edit]

This month, Samantha published the Outreach Pilot Final Report. The report summarizes learnings from the pilot program aimed to encourage high-achieving students to edit Wikipedia in their extracurricular time. The key learning from this experience is that with incentives, students will edit Wikipedia as an extracurricular activity. However, these incentives, such as field trips, were simply not scalable.

From the Wiki Education Foundation's perspective, this pilot was a success. We answered the questions we set out to address. While our pilot generated less data than we had expected, we are confident that further experimentation with more participants would confirm our findings. For that reason, Wiki Ed will not be extending the outreach pilot beyond June 2015.

You can read the full report on-wiki, or a summary of the findings in a blog post.

As mentioned above, Samantha joined the Educational Partnerships team at the conclusion of this pilot.

Summer Seminar pilot[edit]

We started planning for a small pilot to encourage psychology faculty members to contribute content to Wikipedia as part of a short summer seminar. The Summer Seminar in Psychology is run with the Association for Psychological Science (APS). We've already opened enrollment for the course, which will run from August 3 to 28. Classroom Program Manager Helaine Blumenthal and Content Expert in the Sciences Ian Ramjohn will lead the course through weekly check-ins with participants. We'll evaluate the project to see how we might apply this model to other disciplines in the future.

Finance & Administration / Development[edit]

Finance & Administration[edit]

Some small potted plants at the Wiki Education Foundation office in the Presidio, San Francisco.

The office has been spruced up with the presence of new plants. A handful of potted succulents are now scattered throughout the office, livening up our space.

June expenses for the Wiki Education Foundation monthly report.

For the month of June, expenses were $296,603 versus the plan of $163,117. Almost $126k of the excess beyond the planned spending is attributed to the new digital infrastructure projects associated with the additional funding received. The additional funding and expanded digital projects were not anticipated and are not in the plan. As a result, the actual excess above the plan of $163,117 is only $7,551, much of which is associated to increased printing of brochures.

June year-to-date expenses for the Wiki Education Foundation monthly report.

Year-To-Date expenses are $1,956,747 versus the plan of $1,938,007. Included in the Year-To-Date expenses are the additional / expanded digital projects which were not in the original plan. The additional funding covering the new digital projects account for $276,660 of the Year-To-Date expenses. The actual variance after accounting for new digital projects is $258k. A majority of the variance is a result of the timing of staff hires and vacancies ($106k); and outside contract services ($153k).


During the month of June, Senior Manager of Development Tom Porter put several systems in place needed to execute the Fiscal Year 2015–16 annual fundraising plan. As a result, we have identified private foundations, corporate foundations, and individual prospects. Tom is actively working with Wiki Ed board members and current funders to connect with these new funding prospects.

Office of the ED[edit]

  • Current priorities:
    • Preparing for Wiki Education Foundation's first round of performance reviews for individual staff members
    • Creating alignment around and understanding of our organization's goals and key activities for next year
    • Securing funding for upcoming major programmatic initiatives
    • Filling the Director of Programs position
  • In June, Wiki Education Foundation's board approved the annual plan and budget for next fiscal year 2015–16. The plan is a direct result of a strategic planning process started in January and concluded in June 2015. It calls for a major, 19-month long, content improvement and student learning initiative and new ways of building bridges between Wikipedia and academia.
  • Also in June, the leadership team worked collaboratively on preparing grant reports and proposals. This time of the year is always busy as we're looking back at what has been accomplished as well as planning for the time ahead.
  • In order to stay in touch with the "everyday business" of connecting Wikipedia and the academic world, Frank accompanied Jami to meetings with academic associations in Washington DC (see above). The trip confirmed the strong interest these organizations have in getting involved with Wikipedia and also validated some of the underlying assumptions for Wiki Ed's programmatic work.
  • Supported by the recruitment agency m/Oppenheim, Frank started the hiring process for the Director of Programs position. This is part of splitting up the Programs department, in order to re-balance our leadership team and to expand our capacity in planning and running programs. The job description can be found as a PDF on our website. LiAnna Davis, who has done an outstanding job of overseeing our programmatic work, will continue to oversee communications, technology, and Wikipedia content support as the new Director of Program Support.

Visitors and guests[edit]

  • David Peters, Exbrook
  • Annie Lin
  • Rosemary Rein, Wikimedia Foundation

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