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Global Education Program A–Z

Our new Global Education Program brings with it a lot of new terminology. What better way to organize an overview than in A–Z?

Ambassadors: When we started thinking about how to involve universities in the improvement of Wikipedia articles back in 2009, it became clear that we won’t be successful without offering various kinds of support. We decided to create a new role for people who are both eager and qualified to help new contributors to get around the many difficulties of editing Wikipedia. The Wikipedia Ambassador Program started in the summer of 2010, when we recruited the first Campus and Online Ambassadors for the English Wikipedia. Today it’s a great way for people to become engaged even if they don’t have a long history of Wikipedia editing. All you need is an affinity to teaching, the willingness to help others and a friendly attitude. That opens the Wikipedia movement up for people who are eager to help and who had few opportunities for doing so in the past.

Bookshelf: Teaching students how to use Wikipedia is hard without instructional materials. Back in 2006 we only had the “Wikipedia Cheatsheet,” a one-pager that listed the most common wiki markup tags. That’s why we started the Bookshelf Project in 2009. Now, it contains a wide variety of brochures and videos that explain how to start editing. Most popular among teachers are the “Welcome to Wikipedia” and “Evaluating Wikipedia article quality” brochures. By the way: all printed materials have been created with Scribus, an open source desktop publishing application, so they can be translated and adapted by people all over the world.

Campus Ambassadors: Campus Ambassadors provide in-person support on the university campus. They get a 2-day training to learn all the nuts and bolts of what they have to teach. Our Campus Ambassadors come from a variety of different backgrounds. Some of them are librarians, some are students, and some are teachers. They all share a common goal: to help newcomers with their first steps on Wikipedia.

Fellows: We started a Wikipedia Teaching Fellows Program for educators participating in the Public Policy Initiative in 2011. Professors who fulfill the Teaching Fellow requirements are able to put the distinction on their C.V. to indicate the work they’ve done with Wikipedia in their classrooms. At our Wikipedia in Higher Education Summit in July 2011, we were able to honor the first 20 official Wikipedia Teaching Fellows.

Global Education Program: The class-based university program as explored in the Public Policy Initiative has been highly successful in turning students into Wikipedia contributors. We have built a strong knowledge base about running a class-based program as well as the tools needed to implement it (training handbooks, brochures on how to start editing, how-to videos, sample syllabi, etc.) We are now at a point to make these investments pay off. That’s why we are starting a Global Education Program. The Global Education Program will support the Foundation’s strategic goal to grow and strengthen the Wikipedia editor community.

Higher Education Summit: Our first Wikipedia in Higher Education Summit took place on July 7–9, 2011. More than 120 teachers, librarians, Wikipedia Ambassadors, and Foundation staff members came together in Boston to celebrate the successes of the Public Policy Initiative. For the participants, the three days were a great opportunity to share their skills, best practices and success stories with each other. We received a lot of positive feedback and we hope that this was the first of many Wikipedia Higher Education Summits to be held in different countries around the globe.

India Education Program: In June 2011, we started our India Education Program in Pune, Maharashtra. Pune is a vibrant university city with more than a hundred educational institutes. We quickly learned that the interest from Indian teachers in our program is as big as the interest in the U.S. That’s why we are estimating that more than 700 students will participate in Wikipedia-editing activities in the first semester. Most of them will edit the English Wikipedia, but some of them are also planning to write articles on the Maharati Wikipedia.

K-12: We know that university students make great contributors to Wikipedia. Some say, “students are the fuel of Wikipedia.” But what about high school students? We’ve received some inquiries from high school teachers who would like to adopt our model and let their students edit Wikipedia as part of the classroom activities. That’s why we will run a small pilot in the spring term 2012 to see whether this idea is worth further exploration.

Numbers: In the first two semesters of our educational program activities, more than 800 students contributed about 5,600 pages of high quality content to the English Wikipedia. Our research has shown that Wikipedia articles written by those students improved by an average of 140 percent. By 2013, we are planning to have more than 10,000 students enrolled in our Education Program.

Online Ambassadors: Whereas the Campus Ambassadors provide in-person support, the Online Ambassadors help students on wiki and on a dedicated IRC channel. Most of our Online Ambassadors are long-term Wikipedians who can answer almost every question related to the technical aspects of editing, Wikipedia culture and processes. Students have told us that the mentoring from Online Ambassadors has been “tremendously helpful” for understanding Wikipedia and for making the first edits.

Public Policy Initiative: A 17-month experimental pilot program that started in the summer of 2010. We decided to run our pilot with a narrow topical focus (“If we can do it with public policy, we will be able to do it with any other topic as well”) and limited to U.S. universities. Now, as we are flooded with requests from educators outside of public policy, and we have a model that works effectively, we are transitioning the Public Policy Initiative to the new Global Education Program. Our goal is to apply our learnings in the U.S. to other disciplines and countries and to expand the use of Wikipedia in higher education globally. We see this as a continuous effort to strengthen and diversify Wikipedia’s editing community.

Regional Ambassadors: When we started the Public Policy Initiative, one of our main goals was to make the program self-sustainable. That’s why we created the role of Regional Ambassadors. Whereas Foundation staff members recruited professors and Campus Ambassadors in the beginning, it’s now up to the volunteers. The Regional Ambassador role is a leadership role with great opportunities for developing team management, community organizing, and public outreach skills. It also provides participants with significant professional-networking opportunities, especially in the education community and the open-source community.

Student clubs: Wikipedia student clubs pretty much emerged without the Foundation being involved. The first student club in the U.S. started at the University of Michigan in June 2010. Most student clubs hold monthly meetings where students can have a place to both learn and teach each other how to edit Wikimedia projects, and to discuss their edits with each other.

Trainers: Some of our Campus Ambassadors get an additional 2-day training so they can train the next generation of Campus Ambassadors. Those Campus Ambassador Trainers play an important role in our program activities: as volunteers they organize and lead local training events to ensure that the next cohort of Ambassadors acquires the same skills as they did. They also provide valuable feedback that helps improve the training.

Women: One of our strategic goals is to encourage more women to start editing Wikipedia. Our activities at universities offer a great opportunity to do so: more than half of the students in the U.S. (as well as in a large number of other countries) are female. And, of course, we are proud that more than 45% of our Campus Ambassadors are women as well.

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Frank Schulenburg
Global Education Program Director

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