The following are notes from the Quarterly Review Meeting for the Wiki Education Foundation's Head of Communications and External Relations LiAnna Davis on July 18, 2014
Present: LiAnna Davis, Jami Mathewson, Jessica Craft, Frank Schulenburg
Participating remotely: Sara Crouse
Please keep in mind that these minutes are mostly a rough transcript of what was said at the meeting, rather than a source of authoritative information. Consider referring to the presentation slides, blog posts, press releases, and other official material.
Frank: This is our first quarterly review ever. Rationale behind quarterly reviews: increase accountability, spotlight a specific department and allow them to provide updates/highlights on their work. Everybody else on staff will learn about what department is working on; this will prevent people from working in silos. Also, good opportunity to acknowledge your colleagues’ work. Externally, we're striving to provide as much transparency as possible. Wiki Education Foundation stakeholders will be able to keep up-to-date on what activities we’re pursuing and what’s in the pipeline for the next couple of months.
Review of last three month’s work
LiAnna: The role of the communications plan is to create an outline of who we are communicating to, how we are communicating with them, and how we are positioning ourselves when we communicate.
LiAnna: Five main goals communications plan focuses on: Keep stakeholders informed, support programmatic work, attract more funders, improve the perception of student work on-wiki, and foster partnerships. Funders is really more Sara's work that comms supports; we'll talk about that at her quarterly review. Talk about rest today.
Frank: We should revisit our positioning statements every now and then, in order to check whether they still reflect who we are.
LiAnna: Channels we communicate on: Talk about website and blog a bit later.
LiAnna: We'll keep engaging on Meta as it is the central meeting place for Wikimedia entities around the world.
LiAnna: Monthly reports serve as public record about our organization. Increase transparency for all stakeholders and even help us keep track of what we did when. We post them on Meta, our blog, Commons.
LiAnna: For mailing lists we'll take a responsive rather than proactive approach.
LiAnna: Social media not a strong key in helping us with our main goals in the past. In the future, social media might play a bigger role. We're already seeing a higher percentage of our instructors engage in these (compared to a few years ago).
LiAnna: While we have the whole staff here, wanted to go over style guide decisions so far.
LiAnna: Important to keep in mind to only use “Wiki Education Foundation” or “Wiki Ed”, never use “WEF”. “WEF” is too similar to “WMF” and will create confusion. “Wiki Ed” should only be used in informal communication.
LiAnna: Our website is Wiki-e-d-u dot org.
LiAnna: We support the Wikipedia Education Program United States and Canada. Under that umbrella, we have the “Classroom Program”: Jami currently supports this program. Will be adding additional programs also under the Wikipedia Education Program umbrella to this in the future (honor society pilot starting in the spring, possible Collections Program doing GLAM-connected work at university libraries/archives in the future, etc.)
LiAnna: When it comes to quantity metrics, we will always use pages, words, reams, or characters as a measurement of student contributions, not bytes (too technical and not easily understandable). But always focus on quality, too, which is what we care more about than quantity.
LiAnna: Open questions on communications plan?
Sara: Would be great if we had a more compelling one-sentence statement about who we are and what we do.
Frank: We are the missing link between Wikipedia and educational institutions in the US and Canada.
Sara: Suggest to make the difference between programmatic communications and organizational communications more defined. Need to maximize both simultaneously, care about both areas equally.
LiAnna: Agree, I would like to revise plan to be two plans, one for programs and one for organization.
LiAnna: Design mandate David Peters, our designer, and I agreed upon: "Encourage content creation for Wikipedia as a learning opportunity at universities and educational institutions in the US and Canada with simple, flexible graphic ideas, supported by a design system that identifies the Foundation, encourages awareness and participation, and functions across multiple channels."
LiAnna: Spent some time with David in drilling into the details of this; result is new logo. First step in full visual identity. Right now, we have guidelines for logo, slide decks, business cards, letterhead, sticker design, and placement on Wiki Ed brochures. In the future, creating full visual identity guidelines (including fonts, colors, etc.) to share with staff.
Frank: Very happy with the new logo developed, also with the process.
LiAnna: What other assets would we need?
Frank: Embossed sign for our new office.
Jami: Banners for conferences etc.
LiAnna: Walk through structure and content of website.
LiAnna: Sage was a big help with the website design/editing, presenting some of his work today.
LiAnna: We'll take pictures of all board members at our next board meeting, so board will be nicely represented on the website as well.
LiAnna: Added the “recent posts” section widget to home page. We want to show that we’re active, by updating our home page frequently. Provide a steady stream of good student work through our blog.
Frank: How many monthly visitors to our website?
LiAnna: Hundreds of people check out our website on a weekly basis.
Sara: Suggest to adjust our website based on what draws people to our site.
Frank: Just to recap – before LiAnna started, we had worse than nothing (website). The community noticed how bad our site was. LiAnna and Sage revamped the site really quickly and the new site is a vast improvement. Very happy with the outcome.
Frank: What stuff should we add to the website?
LiAnna: Better photos and image material.
Frank: What's the biggest roadblock in this area?
LiAnna: Personal capacity. Not able to tackle everything on her list. Has been doing more program management stuff rather than communications.
LiAnna: Presented a workshop at her alma mater, Wiki Conference USA, and Wikimania Fringe Festival.
LiAnna: Lesson learned from presentation: important to support and engage with people who ask for our support.
Work with Cooperative
LiAnna: We have a lot of expertise we want to share so other global entities don't reinvent the wheel when starting programs, and we want to be inspired by ideas from other programs. We participate in the cooperative to facilitate that flow of information sharing across global programs in Wikimedia movement.
LiAnna: Current work so far: global instructor recognition programs (fellowships); continue to engage in the global community.
Frank: This is our “pro bono” work and we’ll continue to do it on a limited basis. Our focus is on connections with people who will potentially work on the English Wikipedia.
Work with academic associations
LiAnna: Three current informal partnerships: Association for Psychological Sciences (APS), American Sociological Association (ASA), National Communication Association (NCA)
LiAnna: APS: Interested in expanding program; many instructors have had great experiences. Some psychology student editors' work didn’t meet Wikipedia’s psychology standards. LiAnna is working with the community and with some psychology professors on a discipline-specific brochure. More later on this.
LiAnna: ASA: Very excited about what's been accomplished so far in sociology. The student editors' work from these classes has been outstanding and has really improved Wikipedia in a very underdeveloped content area. Both Wiki Ed and ASA are eager to expand this partnership. Three articles about how to teach with Wikipedia will be published in their journal this fall; LiAnna and Jami already co-wrote one, two instructors are working on the second, and Jami will work on a third. Jami and LiAnna will lead a teaching workshop for faculty members at annual meeting in August. Jami will run a web-version webinar in December. Already signed us up to lead teaching workshops at future annual meetings until we tell them to stop.
LiAnna: NCA: Students are contributing good work, are engaged. LiAnna's contact here left; awaiting position to be filled before determining next steps.
Frank: We’ll significantly expand our work in this area over the next three months, as this is a great way to scale and to institutionalize our work. Jami will move into her new role as "Educational Partnerships Manager" and take the lead on developing these relationships. Jami’s experience and background will be very beneficial to this move.
Surfacing good student work
LiAnna: We know student editors produce some great content, but often gets overshadowed by small fraction of work that is damaging to Wikipedia. Want to do more to highlight the vast majority of student editors' work, which is really high quality.
LiAnna: Offer rewards for students when they submit their best work, some sort of Wikipedia writing contest each fall, winner gets T-shirt? Multiple categories.
Jami: Suggest to make surfacing good student work requirement for fellowship; also: instructors should submit incidents which they resolved successfully.
LiAnna: Instructors contest: submit best photos of your student editors.
Jami: Best image/illustration should be highlighted as well.
Frank: Basically, appreciation is important and has positive effects on motivation.
LiAnna: This area is really important, I suggest talking in more depth with any staff who have ideas on how to do this more at a later date.
Next three months’ priorities
LiAnna: In the process of drafting the handout for psychology. So far, have had really great feedback from Wikipedia editors with very useful suggestions. Also asking for feedback from professors who have taught in our program before in psychology. On track to distribute for fall term (printed copies available around September 1).
LiAnna: Community has embraced concept; already forked psychology one with edits for medical school classes.
LiAnna: Creating these so there is one design, and then a series of icons that go with each discipline: e.g., head for psychology, mouth/typewriter for communications, etc. Makes it easy for us to produce new ones for new disciplines. Choosing disciplines based on number of classes that are participating each term. Psychology is first of four we want to create this year.
LiAnna: LiAnna and Jami will be running workshops during the Education pre-conference on August 6/7. As there is interest from global classrooms working on the English Wikipedia, we’re the most experienced so we should share our knowledge.
LiAnna: We’ll also have a Q/A section and the 7 biggest mistakes presentation we did at WikiConference USA. LiAnna will also be presenting as part of the Cooperative session.
High achieving students pilot
LiAnna: High achieving students pilot. We’ll work with students in honor societies to see whether we can get them to improve Wikipedia as part of an extracurricular activity. NCA invited Wiki Education Foundation to attend a meeting with honor societies so we can pitch our ideas. Frank will take the lead on this and any other experimental work that we’ll do in the future.
Transition to Programs
Frank: LiAnna will lead our programmatic activities in her new role as Director of Programs from August 1 on. She has the unique and very rare skills to provide leadership in this area. Frank is tremendously happy that LiAnna accepted his offer and will head the programmatic work that is key for our organization.
Frank: We started the transitioning process; everybody in the organization needs to be considerate when asking LiAnna for something that needs to get done (given her current dual role).
Frank: Thanks to LiAnna for her great work on the quarterly review.