Wikipedia Education Program by the numbers

The Wikipedia Education Program has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception last year, as part of the Public Policy Initiative. In 2011, the program ventured beyond the United States into Canada and India, making the measurements of the program’s impact even more important. We want to use these metrics (some of which are outlined below) as tools that help us understand and improve the Wikipedia Education Program as a whole, while also understanding individual pieces of the system better.

a. Fall 2011 Numbers and Growth

b. Gender Representation

c. Wikipedia Education Program Metrics and Activities Meeting

a. Fall 2011 Numbers and Growth

Wikipedia Education Program growth since Fall 2010

In Fall 2011, almost 2,000 students are using Wikipedia as a learning tool as part of the Wikipedia Education Program. More than 800 of these students are in the United States, where the number of student contributors has grown four-fold since Fall 2011.  We also have almost 500 students in the Canada, and more than 600 in India, where the program made its debut this academic term.

These students are spread across 98 graduate and undergraduate-level courses in 51 universities. A large group of volunteers known as Wikipedia Ambassadors is working to support this group of students, including 108  Campus Ambassadors who give presentations in-class and 92 Online Ambassadors who assist students on-wiki. In the United States, we are also supported by Regional Ambassadors, who coordinate the recruitment and training of new participating instructors and Campus Ambassadors.

As the figure on the right illustrates, there has been significant growth in the number of people and institutions associated with the program. One of the challenges for the program going forward is to gather more support for students from the community, either in the form of dedicated Online Ambassadors or editors who can lend a helping hand when they stumble across a student editor.

b. Gender Representation

One of the most important outcomes of the Wikipedia Education Program has been the increased participation of women. About 12% of the Online Ambassadors are women, which is slightly better than the 9% estimated women editors on Wikipedia (via the 2011 Editor Survey).  The in-person element of the Campus Ambassador role, which was specifically created for this program, has attracted women’s interest. In the current academic term, 47% of the Campus Ambassadors in North America are women and 38% of the Campus Ambassadors in India are women. Since we do not track gender for registered student users, we don’t have these numbers for students.

c. Wikipedia Education Program Metrics and Activities Meeting

We are currently in the process of establishing other methods of assessing various aspects of the program. For instance, we will conduct a survey for students currently involved with the program. It will gather information about demographics, motivations, learning outcomes and experiences with Ambassadors and the community as a whole. We plan to conduct similar surveys for professors, Campus Ambassadors and Online Ambassadors. In addition, we plan to track Ambassador-to-student ratios, retention rate amongst professors and more.

We discuss these statistics and other learning points at a monthly Wikipedia Education Program Metrics and Activities Meeting. Please join us for the next Metrics and Activities Meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, November 22, 8 a.m. PT (16:00 UTC – times around the world), where we will talk about these metrics and other initiatives that we are currently working on.

Ayush Khanna, Data Analyst, Global Development


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6 Comments on Wikipedia Education Program by the numbers

Ben R. Rodriguez 4 years

Thanks for the article depicting the students phase of used of Wikipedia’s help. We are certain that “Spreading Knowledge every where in the world, with the expanding utilities of knowledge, as your Wikipedia does, is the best approach to one day, attain peace in this small planet called Earth. My work in geology – exploration – HC and minerals, including underground water, down in Africa had used most of my life work. Im addition with what I have learned, if I could have a second chance, I would have taken time to expand teaching of the “water needs, eliminate waste of this so small valuable resource”, that very soon will be critical for all humans, wildlife needs. Just one observation “we have several thousands humans in Somalia, with dired needs to survived, water is one critical need, all human life terminate fast without water, almost like air to life ratio’s. Right undet their feet’s of these humans in dired needs, Somalia has a huge aquipher, that if properly managed, Somalia will de a great producer of fundamental food needs to humans and wild life, to sustain life as should be, in Afica, India, South America – Autralia and other places on this Erath our only home in this huge Universe. The best Rx, will be “Stop Wars, used these resources to prevent a crisis of such nature, that may increase wars, or expand peace, whish will be the best road to follow ?”
Thanks for allowed me to expressed what I have seen and witness in the most important Continent, since our human life begun in Africa, not far from the Great African Rift site, closed to Somalia.

JohnCD 4 years

I find the emphasis on growing “by leaps and bounds” worrying. Doing an Indian “pilot” with 800 students has turned out to be a disaster, for them as well as for us. Please, WMF, don’t be too ambitious, don’t set yourselves targets for exponential growth, don’t overload the volunteer community with more support and cleanup tasks than they are able and willing to accept. Take it slow until you find out what works, what sort of support is needed and can be provided, and what rate of growth can be achieved without damaging the encyclopedia – and there is damage, not just from the IEP, see

Tilman 4 years

TCO, this posting is about current metrics of the Wikipedia Education Program, it wasn’t meant to be a write-up about the past Public Policy Initiative. For that, you may instead want to turn to the long report that was published earlier today at

TCO (Teh IP) 4 years

Have the US programs been such big contributors? I haven’t been encountering editors from those sources or seeing articles by the people. I know Sue did a presentation with big stacks of paper next to her showing how much had been done…but I really never “felt” anything from the program in terms of my reading or interacting experience on Wiki. Would have thought there was something more, somehow, if it was such a big success. (And it cost a lot and used a lot of volunteer time.)

I think Wikians are very positive to students and like to coach and help and love the idea of them growing in learning and of them getting interested in Wiki. So I’m not surprised that you were able to get a lot of volunteer engagement. I just…I donno…worry that the thing may not be working right, yet. And that there may be some urge to declare victory and such. We have people drawing salaries for one thing and Sue probably wants to keep things upbeat, not down.

I guess the other thing is that the PPP was concentrated in kind of a strange academic subject (when I went to school, we didn’t have public policy as a major. I never heard of it actually…is it a new name for political science?) Maybe if we are doing more in traditional topics (biology, history, literature) than we will see the impact of the work done on more often viewed articles.

Also Frank has made several comments about how it does not matter if students are retained…that this is an educational experience for them. Well…I don’t think the community will buy that. We are kinda stretched thin building the encyclopedia and we still think that is the mission. People will have fun and be supportive of working with the kids, but we need to be getting returning editors out of it. Or we need to be getting some WORTHWHILE content (high hit count, high quality). Not Start class articles on town fire departments or such.

Oh…and the write-up above lacks enough meat on the bone to answer my concerns.

John Broughton 4 years

The program in India certainly has had a lot of negative impacts ( ), but that shouldn’t be used as an argument that there should not be expansions in countries like the U.S. and Canada. And it’s important to distinguish between inherent problems (can’t be fixed) and learning problems (mistakes were made, but can be avoided or minimized in the future by doing things differently). I don’t think anyone has argued that the U.S. and Canadian programs are inherently flawed, or that they haven’t been net contributors to Wikipedia.

Richard Morris 4 years

The project does not need to grow anymore, it is already at an unmanageable level considering its impact on the existing online wikipedia community who have to do all the work clearing up all the copyvios and low quality articles left by the program.

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