The first Wikipedia in Higher Education Summit was held last week on the campus of Simmons College, a women’s college that participated in the Public Policy Initiative in the spring. More than 125 professors, students, and Wikipedia Ambassadors gathered for 2 1/2 days to talk about their experiences and plans going forward for using Wikipedia in the classroom.
The Public Policy Initiative is a 18-month pilot program to bring Wikipedia editing into university classrooms. Participating professors assign their students to write articles in place of a paper for the course, with assistance from Wikimedia Foundation-trained Campus Ambassadors (in class) and Online Ambassadors (virtually). In the 2010-11 academic year, we worked with 47 classes whose 821 students added more than 8.8 million characters of quality content to the English Wikipedia.
The conference brought together 33 Campus Ambassadors, 11 Online Ambassadors, 49 professors, 9 students, 15 local professors, and 12 WMF staff/board members. About half of the professors had used Wikipedia in their class in the past, and the other half were interested in using it in the future.
It would be hard to underestimate the energy in each session for the use of Wikipedia in higher education. We even scrapped a planned icebreaker in the agenda because everyone was already excitedly chatting with their new Wikimedia friends.
The full agenda is available online, but sessions at the Summit focused on making connections among attendees and documenting our learnings from the pilot academic year. Speakers included Archivist of the United States David Ferriero, Public Policy Initiative team members, and Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director Sue Gardner. Chief Global Development Officer Barry Newstead talked about plans for the global expansion of the higher education program, and our Regional Ambassadors led sessions with attendees from their region.
We at WMF learned a lot about the experiences of the various participants in our program. You can read more about the event in The Signpost, Inside Higher Ed, and one attendee’s blog, or check out photos at Wikimedia Commons. Full documentation, including links to photos, videos, and presentation slides are also available.
The Wikipedia in Higher Education Summit really crystalized for the team that all the work we’ve put in to making Wikipedia and academia blend has been incredibly useful. We’d invited representatives from Canada, the U.K, Germany, Brazil, and India, who were all there to talk about how they will be using Wikipedia in classrooms in their countries in the next term. But while we were there, we also had professors approach us and say they wanted to be the liaison between the WMF’s global university program and other parts of the world, including the Middle East, North Africa and Chile.
If you’re interested in using Wikipedia in your classroom or joining the program as an Ambassador, reach out to a Regional Ambassador in the United States or consult the Education Portal for more information. The whole team is very excited to see where the global university program heads — one thing is for certain, there is a lot of enthusiasm for Wikipedia in higher education!
Communications Associate – Public Policy Initiative