- During October, we had a wonderful opportunity to interact with the North American Wikimedia community at WikiConference North America. In attendance were several of our instructors, including Matthew Vetter, Zach McDowell, Megan Osterbur, Bob Cummings, Wynnie Lamour, Carwil Bjork-James, Anne Nelson, Ximena Gallardo, Ann Matsuuchi, Laurel Stvan, and Jeffrey Keefer. Both Wiki Education staff as well as instructors in our program gave presentations during the conference, making education one of the most prominent themes of this year's gathering.
- In October we started another five Wikipedia Fellows courses, in addition to two Wiki Scholars courses in partnership with the National Archives. These seven professional development courses build off of our efforts from this summer and our pilot program to create a learning experience that trains subject-area specialists how to have an impact on Wikipedia. We're excited to see what they're capable of!
- Dr. Laura Hoopes recently completed one of our professional development courses and has since continued to create and expand Wikipedia articles about women in STEM. We featured a piece by her on our blog this month about how she found a passion in Wikipedia editing through the course.
- We released a new resource this month to help students in art history courses as they add content to Wikipedia. Our new art history brochure is available on Dashboard course pages and for download on Commons. Thanks to engagement with and valuable feedback from our current art history instructors, we hope this new brochure is a useful resource for terms to come.
- Instructors are often eager to share about their positive experience with a Wikipedia assignment and we love to hear and learn from them. But it can be particularly meaningful when students reflect themselves. We published a few such testimonials on our blog this month. Two students at Arizona State University, Jay Rowland and Joe Cantu, shared why they think more universities should teach Wikipedia editing assignments. And Lalo Mendez explained how his work on the California Assembly Bill 540 article will be a good resource for other undocumented students seeking higher education.
- Camelia Boban and Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight, both accomplished Wikipedians, visited our San Francisco office this month and updated us on their exciting upcoming projects.
In October, we renamed some of our departments, programs, and staff titles to better reflect our current work. Our former "Classroom Program" is now the "Wikipedia Student Program", and we are in the planning stages of launching a counterpart "Wikidata Student Program" in 2019. Our "Scholars & Scientists Program" is a new program drawing elements from our "Wikipedia Fellows" pilots, and our new "Advancement" department includes programmatic recruitment through partnerships and outreach, as well as our fundraising. For a full listing of new staff titles, see our "About Us" page.
Wikipedia Student Program
Status of the Wikipedia Student Program for Fall 2018 in numbers, as of October 31:
- 369 courses were in progress (214, or 58%, were led by returning instructors).
- 6,981 student editors were enrolled.
- 59% of students were up-to-date with their training modules.
- Students edited 2,830 articles, created 132 new entries, and added 950,000 words.
While a few courses continue to trickle in on the Dashboard, the majority of our courses are well underway with their Wikipedia assignments. In fact, we're coming to the point in the term where students are beginning to work on their drafts in earnest as well as starting to move that work into the article main space.
We held October Office Hours, and as always, gained important feedback from our instructors, while offering them advice and help with their assignments. During October, we also had a wonderful opportunity to interact with several of our instructors at WikiConference North America. In attendance were several of our instructors, including Matthew Vetter, Zach McDowell, Megan Osterbur, Bob Cummings, Wynnie Lamour, Carwil Bjork-James, Anne Nelson, Ximena Gallardo, Ann Matsuuchi, Laurel Stvan, and Jeffrey Keefer. Both Wiki Education staff as well as instructors in our program gave presentations during the conference, making education one of the most prominent themes of this year's gathering.
Taking advantage of this rare assembly of so many of our instructors, Wikipedia Student Program Manager Helaine Blumenthal organized a session with those instructors in attendance to discuss the Wikipedia Student Program in greater depth. During the 2 hour session, Helaine had the opportunity to delve more deeply into the way these instructors run their Wikipedia assignments, tactics they've found successful, as well as challenges they continue to face. The meeting was incredibly productive, stimulating, and generally enlightening, as Helaine had the chance to hear firsthand how these assignments play out on the ground. She is currently thinking of ways to continue this conversation and create other opportunities for our instructors to converse.
Finally, the Spring 2019 term is right around the corner, and we'll be preparing to get the ball rolling to ensure that all classes are well set up to embark on their Wikipedia projects.
Student work highlights
We saw some great work from several courses.
There are around 40 Polynesian languages with nearly 1 million speakers total. Some of these languages, such as Hawaiian, are in danger of going extinct. Others, like Moriori, have already. Students at the University of Hawai'i in Catherine Lee's Introduction to Language class greatly improved the coverage of several Polynesian languages on Wikipedia, more than doubling the lengths of articles such as Wallisian language, Tuamotuan language, and Rakahanga-Manihiki language. Readers can now learn about the history of these languages, as well as their influences from other languages like Latin, French, and English. Students in the class seek to "understand how language works, how we use it, and how it is integrated within culture, history, society, and cognition." By this class using Wiki Education's tools and support to meet its educational goals, readers and learners around the world benefit from increased access to free knowledge.
What does the automotive industry, U.S. Department of Commerce, and National Bureau of Economic Research have in common? These are all areas where economist and writer Susan Helper's knowledge and expertise have set the standards for other researchers and areas. A student in Kent State University professor Mark Cassell's Political Economy class noticed that there was no Wikipedia article for Helper, despite her many achievements, and decided to rectify this at once. Drawing on both primary and secondary documents and coverage, they were able to create an article that helps show her importance to the area of political economics.
Not every student can say that their professor or instructor has been editing on Wikipedia since 2007, but students in Dr. Michel "Drmies" Aaij's English Comp II class can! Students in his class have contributed to or created several articles, such as that of Robyn Bolam. Bolam, an English poet, editor, and librettist, has written on topics such as love and loss, about surviving under difficult situations, and about changes within the natural world and in society. One of her earliest books, 1987's Stage Images and Traditions: Shakespeare to Ford, received attention from multiple journals while her work in poetry earned her the Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors and the first prize in the Cheltenham Poetry Competition. In 1993 she was awarded the prestigious Hawthornden International Fellowship, which allowed her to live at the atmospheric Hawthornden Castle for a month while working on her writing.
The term "fake news" has become a familiar part of our global vocabulary, which is why Middlebury Institute assistant professor Gabriel Guillen chose to teach a Spanish-language course on fake news. He knew that one way to examine this term would be to look at news outlets from the United States, such as the Clovis Independent. Released in Clovis, California, until publication was ceased in 2008 as part of a larger cost-cutting effort by The McClatchy Company, the newspaper was first established in 1919 by S.S. and May Case. Known for being a reporter in Purcell, Oklahoma, May continued to work for the Clovis Independent even past its sale to Myron A. Hinkley in 1939, working as a reporter for the paper until her death in 1967. A disastrous fire in 1930 razed the paper's building and printing machinery, but despite this the paper kept working and survived being merged with other papers such as the Clovis Free Press. The owner and operator of the Clovis Free Press fought tooth and nail over who would be the paper of record for the city of Clovis and stated that the District Attorney used the power of his office against his paper, claiming that the DA intended to start a competing newspaper. This claim resulted in the owner being sued for libel. During its run, the Clovis Independent received recognition from the California Newspaper Publishers Association and May Case herself was recognized at the California Press Women's annual meeting in 1964, where she was given the "Newspaper Girl of the Year" Award.
Dispersal is an important aspect of reproduction–without it, parents and offspring end up occupying the same space and competing for resources. If you're an animal, your offspring may be able to walk or swim away, but organisms that are rooted in place often depend on some other entity, a dispersal vector, to do the job for them. Before students in Susan Alberts' Behavioral Ecology class started working on it, Wikipedia's dispersal vector article consisted of little more than a definition. Information about different types of dispersal was scattered across a number of Wikipedia articles, with information about dispersal vectors embedded within them, but that information wasn't available in a single article until these students gathered the information together. The ectosymbiosis article is a similar case–a two-sentence definition was transformed by the class into a substantial article that gathered together information about the various different kinds of ecosymbiosis. Other students in the class did the same sort of thing with the facultative bipedalism, mimicry in vertebrates, and vertical clinging and leaping articles. This lack of mid-range overview articles is common on Wikipedia, and presents a great opportunity for student editors to improve content.
Photographs have a definite place within Wikipedia, as they serve several purposes. Photos provide additional information, allowing readers to see an example or aspect of an article topic or in the case of topics that concern individuals, the people themselves. Photos also help break up the monotony of a text-only article and can be visually striking, sometimes by showing breathtaking seafronts or exquisite historical sites.
Two photographs uploaded during the month of October by students in Cal Poly Pomona instructor Shonn Haren's class on Information Literacy in the Digital Age are of note. The first photograph depicts Audrey Azoulay, a French civil servant and politician who served as France's Minister of Culture and currently serves as the Director-General Of UNESCO. The second image shows students taking part in a hunger strike to protest a series of budget cuts to the SF State College of Ethnic Studies.
Another class, that of adjunct professor Jojo Karlin at Brooklyn College focusing on Orality, Literacy, Computer Technology, also uploaded a photograph of a natural pool in Santa Cruz, Aruba, forever capturing the pool and its small waves in time. The photo features in the Aruba article.
Scholars & Scientists Program
In October we started another five Wikipedia Fellows courses, in addition to two Wiki Scholars courses in partnership with the National Archives. These professional development courses build off of our efforts from this summer and our pilot program to create a learning experience that trains subject-area specialists how to have an impact on Wikipedia.
Since only 17% of biographies on Wikipedia are about women, we have decided to run our successful Women in Science course again, which engages scientists in writing biography articles for women in STEM. Participants come from many different scientific backgrounds and we're eager that they'll create and improve articles about women scientists from an equally diverse set of fields. Participants just selected articles to start editing. Keep an eye on the following articles to watch them grow:
- Anat Shahar - a celebrated geologist who researches the formation of planets
- Elli Köngäs-Maranda - an anthropologist and feminist folklorist from Finland whose research advanced myth as art and strived to better understand models of folklore
- Gillian Einstein - an award-winning neuroscientist and founder of the University of Toronto’s Collaborative Graduate Program in Women's Health whose research explores why women's brains are more prone to developing Alzheimer's
Our Communicating Science course equips scientists with the tools to communicate their expertise to the public on Wikipedia. Among the participants are members of the American Chemical Society, Association for Psychological Science, and Deep Carbon Observatory. When scientific information reaches outside of the academy, more people are equipped to make better informed political and behavioral choices. Here are some of the articles our science Wikipedia Fellows plan to work on:
- Assessment of suicide risk - an assessment that covers the scientific processes, methods, and considerations which go into the evaluation of someone's likelihood of taking their own life
- Collective memory - shared knowledge in the memories of two or more members of a social group
- Epoxy - a class of reactive polymers
- Mantle (geology) - the layer of the Earth which sits between the core and the crust
Our two humanities courses include members of our humanities and social sciences partners: the American Anthropological Association, American Sociological Association, Linguistic Society of America, Midwest Political Science Association, National Communication Association, and National Women's Studies Association.
- Health communication - the practice of communicating health information
- Letitia Obeng - described as "the grandmother of female scientists in Ghana" by GhanaWeb
- Love and Sex with Robots - a 2007 book by David Levy about the development of sex robots
- Online dating
- Political communication - the study of how political information spreads and is consumed
- Sex trafficking
- Shankleville, Texas - an unincorporated community founded as a Freedmen's town
- Shared information bias - the tendency of group members to talk more about subjects they all know about rather than what only some members know about
- Visual rhetoric - communication, thinking, and learning visually
Finally, one of our courses is interdisciplinary, combining all of the above sciences and humanities. Participating scholars will collaborate across disciplines to improve Wikipedia's coverage of a variety of topics, ultimately making the site's information more representative, accurate, and complete. Some of the articles to watch over the next few months include:
- Brain training - programs of mental activities which claim benefits to people's cognitive abilities
- Communication studies
- Extremophile - an organism that thrives in physically or geochemically extreme conditions, such as those that live in ice or deep in an ocean trench
- Media naturalness theory - which uses evolutionary principles to evaluate how well computer-mediated communication fits with "natural" human communication capabilities
- Original Plumbing - a lifestyle magazine for transgender men
- Phenol formaldehyde resin - synthetic polymers used to produce a range of molded products, as well as coatings and adhesives
- Social journalism - a media model blending traditional journalism with reader/user content
We have started a new professional development course in partnership with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to improve articles about Women's Right to Vote and the 19th Amendment. We could not be more excited about this. The course is in anticipation of the National Archives' upcoming exhibit, Rightfully Hers, which will be opening in Washington, DC in March 2019. Course participants will be eligible for a certificate of completion, pending successful participation during the eleven-week course. We have accepted twenty participants for two courses of ten participants each. These participants are almost entirely new to Wikipedia and come from a diverse background including librarians, archivists, academics, and citizen archivists.
Participants are selecting a host of Wikipedia articles to improve, which complement the various topics the exhibit will cover. These articles include major court cases, influential historical figures, impactful organizations, and other topics affected by the legacy of the women's suffrage movement. In addition to connecting NARA resources to Wikipedia articles, it is our intention to have these articles in top condition so when the National Archives Museum exhibit opens, there will be top-quality articles on Wikipedia, ready for anyone to reference. In addition to exploring the socio-political mechanisms that were instrumental in passing the 19th amendment, the exhibit will also focus on its flaws - minorities who were excluded from the legislation, people who were still not allowed to vote after its passage, and struggles with voting rights and equality that persist into the current day.
Here is a short list of significant articles participants will be working on:
- Native American Civil Rights - Although this article is rich with historical information, it neglects to mention anything about the 19th Amendment.
- Ida B. Wells - For an influential and famous historical figure, this article has issues with tone, organization, and is missing a great deal of content about Wells' life.
- The Sheppard Towner Act - In the wake of the passage of the 19th Amendment, this piece of legislation aimed to act as one of the first instances of social security, designed to provide funding for maternity and child care. This article is missing several details about its inception, passage, and impact.
- Wilhelmina Kekelaokalaninui Widemann Dowsett - This article contains some substantial information about this prominent suffragette, but the majority of this article focuses on the historical context of suffrage in Hawaii rather than personal accomplishments.
- Mabel Ping-Hua Lee - This is another instance of an article that has some information, but could be fleshed out significantly.
Visiting Scholars Program
This month our Wikipedia Visiting Scholars, experienced Wikipedians who we've connected with access to academic sources, continued to produce engaging work.
We have written about Barbara Page's excellent contributions to Wikipedia articles in most of our Monthly Reports over the past few years. The University of Pittsburgh Visiting Scholar's engagement with the Wikipedia community is not limited to article improvements, however. She is also an active contributor to The Signpost, the Wikipedia community's long-time publication through which editors learn more about their community, news, events, good work, popular articles, and various other sections from picture galleries to opinion pieces. One addition, closely associated with Barbara, is the "Humour" section, which Barbara often writes. Most recently, this took the form of "After the apocalypse, when zombies and aliens take over the Earth in a thousand years and dig up Wikipedia's servers but can only find talk pages without their accompanying articles, what will they think??." Before that was a Wikipedia themed crossword puzzle. Barbara's efforts to effect positive feelings of community and laughter may not get as many pageviews as some of her articles (an example this month is a new article on watercolor paper), but are extremely valuable nonetheless to a project that relies on positive collaboration between contributors.
Gary Greenbaum, who has been writing articles of the highest quality with access to George Mason University's library, added another Good Article to his list this month: the Apollo 15 postal covers incident was when Apollo 15 astronauts accepted payment to bring hundreds of postal covers into space, to be sold later.
Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight, the prolific Visiting Scholar at Northeastern University, wrote several more biographies of historically important women this month. Two examples are Caroline Brown Buell (1843-1927), an activist and writer who advocated for temperance and suffrage; and Alice Mary Dowd (1855-1943), West Virginia-born educator and author who started teaching at the age of 17.
With the Deep Carbon Observatory, Visiting Scholar Andrew Newell improved several chemistry- and geology-related articles. For example, he has improved the articles on the rate equation, components in thermodynamics, the Geochemical Society, and the founder of modern geochemistry and crystal chemistry, Victor Goldschmidt.
This month, Wiki Education launched five new professional development courses in collaboration with nine partners: American Sociological Association, American Anthropological Association, Linguistic Society of America, Midwest Political Science Association, National Communication Association, National Women's Studies Association, American Chemical Society, Association for Psychological Science, and the Deep Carbon Observatory.
We hosted multiple events this month to continue expanding Wiki Education's visibility and growing participation in our programs. Early in October, Customer Success Manager Samantha Weald hosted an online workshop with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries "Teaching and Learning Forum." Later in the month, she hosted an in-person workshop with the Ohio State University Research Commons.
We released a new resource this month to help students in art history courses as they add content to Wikipedia. Our new art history brochure is available on Dashboard course pages and for download on Commons.
Instructors are often eager to share about their positive experience with a Wikipedia assignment and we love to hear and learn from them. But it can be particularly meaningful when students reflect themselves. We published a few such testimonials on our blog this month. Students at Arizona State University, Jay Rowland and Joe Cantu, shared why they think more universities should teach Wikipedia editing assignments. And Lalo Mendez explained how his work on the California Assembly Bill 540 article will be a good resource for other undocumented students seeking higher education.
We featured another testimonial on our blog this month, this one from a participant in our professional development course. Dr. Laura Hoopes wrote about finding a passion in Wikipedia editing through the course. She has continued to be an active editor, especially when it comes to representing women in STEM.
- New tool identifies Wikipedia articles ripe for improvement (October 1)
- Welcome, Elysia Webb! (October 2)
- Biologist takes to Wikipedia to represent women and molecular biology (October 3)
- Help ensure women like Donna Strickland are represented on Wikipedia (October 4)
- New resource helps art history students improve Wikipedia (October 5)
- Celebrating Ada Lovelace Day on Wikipedia (October 9)
- Student adds history of Montreal’s Black Power movement to Wikipedia (October 11)
- Student says “more universities need to participate” in editing Wikipedia (October 16)
- Scholars inform voters by improving political topics on Wikipedia (October 18)
- Teaching and learning in the public sphere with Wikipedia (October 18)
- Undocumented student informs other DREAMers of their rights through Wikipedia (October 23)
- Seeing yourself in the world (October 25)
- Ensuring Wikipedia represents the accomplishments of women scientists (October 29)
- What do you mean I can ‘edit’ Wikipedia? (October 30)
- Chemist takes it upon herself to write biographies of women scientists on Wikipedia (October 31)
New features include:
- A course search option on the Explore page of the Dashboard to make it easier to find a specific course or event (thanks to Amit Joki)
- The option to filter the list of articles edited in a course to display only newly created articles, or only already existing ones (also thanks to Amit)
- View stats added to Upload Viewer, so that you can see the average view counts of the articles where an image is being used (thanks to Yakam Cressence)
Directory of Technology Sage Ross delivered a talk at WikiConference North America, A dozen ideas for newcomer-friendly user experiences. Following WikiCon, Sage participated in the Wikimedia Technical Conference in Portland, diving deep into Wikimedia Foundation's plans and ideas for evolving the MediaWiki platform to meet the changing needs of Wikipedia, Wikidata, and the broader wiki community. This was a chance to reflect on, and discuss possible solutions to, the technical bottlenecks and collaboration challenges in the Wikimedia technical ecosystem.
Finance & Administration
Overall, the total expenses in October were $182K, $61K less than was budgeted. Fundraising was under by ($52K) as this is the second month where change in plans with regard to outside consulting ($55K) is shown, and there was an uptick in marketing $3K. Programs were only slightly over by $2K due to a marginal increase in spending across many accounts. General and administrative expenses were under by ($9K) mostly attributed to anticipated audit costs that have since been scheduled for December 2018.
The year-to-date expenses are $619K, ($227K) under budget of $845K. Programs are under budget by $79K, mostly stemming from Q1: ($18K) payroll expenses, ($15K) professional fees, ($12K) volunteer development and ($15K) travel, ($14K) printing the strategic plan that got pushed out, ($5K) indirect expenses based on occupancy. Technology expenses are under by ($8K) due to outside services that have been pushed into fall ($12K) with an increase in salary (+$6K) and underspending in internet ($2K). General and administrative expenses are under by ($26K) with ($12.5K) professional fees including audit fees pushed to December due to scheduling, ($8K) under in Fringe Benefits and ($4K) in IT/ Desk equipment.
Office of the ED
- Current priorities:
- Preparing for the upcoming audit in December
- Getting started with preparation for the upcoming in-person board meeting in January
October was an extremely busy month for Wiki Education. Staff gathered for our all-staff meeting, as well as attended this year’s WikiConference North America, all while keeping our regular programmatic activities going. We had decided to hold our all-staff meeting in the days prior to the annual conference in order to provide everybody with the opportunity to participate in discussions about the state of the English Wikipedia and also to foster relationships with the local community in the U.S. Our all-staff kicked off with a celebration of achievements, led by Jami. Frank then walked everybody through the upcoming organizational changes that will help prepare Wiki Education for the future. Based on our capacity mapping exercise at the last all-staff in February (and in alignment with our new three-year strategy), Program Manager Will Kent, Wikipedia Expert Ian Ramjohn, and Sage provided staff with a Wikidata training, followed by a Wikidata hacking session. Wikidata will play an increasingly important role for our organization in the future as more and more people in the U.S. and other countries use digital assistants like Siri and Alexa that pull their data from Wikimedia’s newest project. In order to provide support to those who’d like to learn more about Wikidata (in particular librarians, but also instructors interested in using Wikidata in their classrooms), Wiki Education will start creating a first slate of educational materials and online trainings in 2019. Also, as part of the all-staff meeting, Will provided everybody on staff with an overview of the learnings from our professional development courses. Wiki Education has traditionally been very keen on experimenting and learning, and Will’s presentation was a good example of how programmatic impact can be greatly increased by continuous evaluation and adjustments to the mechanics of how we run our programs. During the conference itself, five staff and two board members presented. This, and the fact that instructors in our programs gave presentations during the conference, made education one of the most prominent themes of this year's gathering.
In early October, Executive Director Frank Schulenburg met with Eric Newton, Innovation Chief at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and consultant for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Frank and Eric discussed the state of journalism-related articles on the English Wikipedia, resulting in an agreement to meet with other faculty at the Cronkite School at the end of November in order to discuss the potential for a collaborative effort in improving the quality in this specific topic area.
Also in October, HR Associate and Executive Assistant Ozge Gundogdu and Frank met with representatives of our current PEO TriNet, resulting in better conditions for Wiki Education and the decision to switch some of our HR processes to being App-based (time off, reimbursements) in January, which will result in increased efficiency.
Finally, members of the board’s finance and audit committees met with Frank and Jordan Daly from SFBay Financials for the quarterly finance meeting, covering the time between July and September 2018. Due to the excellent preparation by Jordan, the meeting was more streamlined than previous meetings and we’re eager to continue on this path.
Visitors and guests
- Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight
- Camelia Boban