The idea behind the Wikipedia Education Program is simple: educators and students share free knowledge by contributing to Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects in an academic setting. We nurture, grow and improve the effectiveness of Wikipedia Education Programs so that they have a positive impact on Wikimedia projects. We encourage high quality contributions, foster gender diversity, and promote Global South participation. We believe that Wikipedia belongs in education!
Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. This is the vision of the Wikimedia movement. The Wikimedia Foundation’s mission is to empower and engage people around the world to make this vision reality, with free, online educational content accessible everywhere. The Wikipedia Education Program supports this mission through our work with volunteers, educators and students around the world.
Few educational projects in the 21st century epitomize the free sharing of knowledge like Wikipedia. Wikipedia is the largest encyclopedia in human history, with almost 32 million articles in almost 300 languages. It is the fifth most-visited website on earth, and is accessed by tens of millions of people every day, from every part of the planet. The Wikipedia Education Program was formed in 2010 out of the Public Policy Initiative to encourage the academic community to help grow this amazing resource. Our program has evolved in the subsequent years through our experiences with educators and the editing communities.
Almost 80 education initiatives are underway worldwide. Educators may assign their students to contribute to Wikipedia on course-related topics. Students may contribute to Wikimedia projects for community service, as part of a club or a camp, or at edit-a-thons, hackathons and workshops. Teachers may learn Wikipedia editing as part of their teacher training or discover new ways to incorporate Wikimedia projects into the pedagogic process at EduWiki conferences. There are a variety of open educational resources and MOOCs to support these initiatives. And there are a number of government partnerships between Wikimedia affiliates and educational agencies around the world.
The Wikipedia Education Program wouldn’t function without the vast community of volunteers and educators who bring it all together. Programs are run by Wikimedia chapters, affiliate organizations, and dedicated volunteers worldwide. Supporting them are four staff members at the Wikimedia Foundation who help program leaders start and scale their programs sustainably. These leaders provide hands on support to individual professors, students and courses. Wikimedia Foundation staff provides support to the leaders.
In four years, more than 10,000 students, many of whom were women, have participated in the Wikipedia Education Program, adding 12 million words, the equivalent of 45,000 printed pages, to more than 10,000 Wikipedia articles in multiple languages.
Students who take part in this program improve their skills in reading, writing, researching, critical thinking, translation, communication, and collaboration; gain information and media literacy; and deepen their understanding of copyright, citation, and digital citizenship. Students polled preferred a Wikipedia assignment to a traditional assignment and were proud to do work that would serve the world, rather than write something that nobody but their professor would ever read. And many students found that writing for Wikipedia is fun!
There are a variety of ways that you can get involved. You can subscribe to the mailing list. You can read, translate, or contribute to the newsletter. You can join our collaborative. And you can learn how to start an education program.
On our portal at education.wikimedia.org, we have a variety of materials for volunteers and educators: instructional materials, online trainings, technical tools, case studies, a monthly newsletter sharing updates from programs around the world and more. Thanks to our community of volunteers, these are available in many languages. There is an overview of all of our resources here.
We believe that Wikipedia belongs in education. It benefits students — by enriching the learning experience — and it benefits the world — by improving the largest encyclopedia in human history. We look forward to working in partnership with our communities worldwide as we support education programs in service of the Wikimedia mission. We hope you will join us!