Wikipedia & Education User Group/2019 Annual Report
The Wikipedia & Education User Group's first full year of operations was 2019, meaning it was a year where we focused on building the foundation for our group, with a goal of stepping up our activities in the future. Activities we undertook in 2019 have set us up for success in 2020 and beyond toward our mission of advocating for the use of Wikimedia projects in education.
In August, Shani Evenstein, our chair, stepped down as she was added to the board of the Wikimedia Foundation. Ananth Subray also had to step down due to other commitments. Both Shani and Ananth continue to serve as advisors to the group. Former advisor João Alexandre Peschanski agreed to join the board, as did LiAnna Davis. Due to the change in board members, we shuffled responsibilities around, electing Filip Maljković our chair. From August on, the board has been:
- Filip Maljkovic, chair
- Susanna Mkrtchyan, vice-chair
- Krishna Chaitanya Velaga, secretary
- LiAnna Davis, treasurer
- João Alexandre Peschanski, membership admin
Our board met 11 times in 2019 to discuss our activities and move projects forward. A major achievement for us was creating and approving our by-laws, ensuring we have governance structures in place in the future. We also implemented our new logo, seen above.
Open Meetings: Showcasing member activity
In 2019, the User Group hosted six public, open meetings:
- In January 2019, we laid out the foundation for what we wanted to achieve in 2019. Board members introduced themselves and provided an update on our activities and a call to action to participate in our working groups.
- In February 2019, we started a format that endures to this day: updates from the board and two featured speakers from our community. In February, Mossab Banat from Jordan discussed his work with the Wiki Club at Hashemite University, and Erik Bolinder talked about his work with World of Knowledge project with the WikiMaster app.
- In March, we offered updates on our activities, then Silvia Gutierrez from Mexico presented on her work. Rajeeb Dutta from India was scheduled to present but was unable to make it.
- In April, Thomas Shaffee from the WikiJournals User Group spoke about the work of the WikiJournals project and Merrilee Proffitt from the Wikipedia & Libraries User Group offered an update on their work and how it connects to our education efforts. We also hosted Marti Johnson from the Wikimedia Foundation's grants team to talk about grant possibilities for education work.
- In June, we moved to an every-other-month format. After our board updates, LiAnna Davis from Wiki Education spoke on scaling an education program, and Krishna Chaitanya Velaga, Singamsetty Naga Sai Sravanth, and Ramisetty Nivas of India talked about the work they've done with the VVIT Wiki Connect student club.
- In September, we hosted Florencia Claes from Spain to talk through her work with Commons, and Goran Milovanović of Wikimedia Deutschland to talk about the Wiktionary Cognate Dashboard.
These open meetings gave board members a chance to present what they've been up to among the members who attended the meeting, enabled potential new members to be welcomed into our community, and gave a chance for different members to present their work.
Conference presentations: Spreading the word
The Wikipedia & Education User Group board members were active in conferences in 2019, spreading the word about our work and how to join our movement.
A major initiative for us was to organize the Education Space at Wikimania 2019 in Stockholm. All told, our space hosted 17 talks about projects related to education. We also hosted an in-person meetup while we were in Stockholm, as an opportunity for members to gather and enable potential new members to get a sense of our community.
Other conference participation:
- Susanna, Filip, and Shani participated in the Wikimedia Summit in Berlin.
- Filip and Shani participated in the scholarship committee and Susanna and Filip participated in the Wikipedia+Education Conference in Donostia/San Sebastian.
- Shani participated in the program development, and Shani and Filip participated in the Creative Commons Global Summit in Lisbon.
- Shani presented in the program and event for UNESCO's Mobile Learning Week in Paris.
- Ananth helped organize, and Ananth, Krishna, Shani, and João provided program support for the Wikimedia Education SAARC Conference conference in Bangalore.
- Shani, Susanna, Krishna, Filip and João participated in the program of Wikimania in Stockholm.
- Filip helped organize and participated in the Wikimedia CEE Meeting in Belgrade.
- Shani and João participated in WikidataCon 2019 in Berlin.
- LiAnna participated in WikiConference North America in Boston.
- Susanna and Filip participated in the Wikimedia Chairpersons Meeting in Paris.
EduWiki 2020: Planning to bring our community together
A major focus of the second half of 2019 for our user group was beginning to plan the EduWiki Conference 2020. As a global group that helps coordinate educational efforts in the Wikimedia movement, we are the natural host for future international conferences about Wikipedia and education. We are grateful to the Basque User Group for their efforts in hosting the 2019 edition! Shortly after its conclusion, we began planning a 2020 edition, which we have decided would be in fall 2020.
We had a series of meetings and emails with the Wikimedia Foundation's conference grants team to understand the needs around conference grants. These helped us shape our vision for the event. Since this is the first time our group will be running the event, we decided it would be easiest if one of our board members' affiliates served as host. Both Wikimedia Serbia and Wikimedia Armenia put in bids to host. To make a decision, board members other than Filip and Susanna met, determined a list of criteria, and evaluated each bid against the criteria. We felt both were strong options, but we decided to move forward with Belgrade, Serbia, as host. Wikimedia Serbia worked with us to secure a hotel to host the conference (the same hotel used for the CEE meeting this year). We also found a pro bono designer who provided the board with a draft of a logo. At the end of the year, we put together and distributed a community engagement survey to determine what outcomes our members were interested in getting from the conference, and began working on a draft of our grant request to the Wikimedia Foundation for conference funding.
Working Groups: Organizing to address our needs
In 2019, we spent some time setting up our Working Groups: Mentorship, Resource development, Tech infrastructure, Global outreach, and Greenhouse. Early in the year, we attempted to get activity going in these groups, but much of this work stalled. Nevertheless, we did have some action.
In the Greenhouse group, we helped the Wikimedia Foundation Education Team's pilot Greenhouse project get going. Board members participated in the selection of which community group would receive the pilot attention. As part of our ongoing commitment to working with the Wikimedia Foundation’s Education team, we also had nine meetings with them in 2019.
In the Tech infrastructure group, we spent some time preparing a survey of the education community to determine what the technical needs our community has are. We had planned to launch the survey in late 2019, but decided to delay it until 2020, as we also needed to do the community engagement survey for the EduWiki conference, and that had a deadline. But we spent time in 2019 crafting the survey and getting it ready to launch once there was sufficient distance from the community engagement survey.
We hope the EduWiki Conference in 2020 will be an opportunity for us to create plans of action and renew enthusiasm among our membership for participation in the working groups.