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News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement

Wikipedia Education Program

Remembering Adrianne Wadewitz

Portrait of Adrianne Wadewitz at Wikimania 2012 in Washington, DC.

Each of us on the Wikipedia Education Program team is saddened today by the news of Adrianne Wadewitz’s passing. We know we share this sadness with everyone at the Wikimedia Foundation and so many in the Wikimedia and education communities. Our hearts go out to all of you, her family and friends. Today is a time for mourning and remembering.

Adrianne served as one of the first Campus Ambassadors for the Wikipedia Education Program (then known as the Public Policy Initiative). In this role, she consulted with professors, demonstrated Wikipedia editing and helped students collaborate with Wikipedia community members to successfully write articles. As an Educational Curriculum Advisor to the team, Adrianne blended her unique Wikipedia insight and teaching experience to help us develop Wikipedia assignments, lesson plans and our initial sample syllabus. Her work served as a base for helping university professors throughout the United States, and the world, use Wikipedia effectively in their classes.

Adrianne was also one of the very active voices in the Wikimedia community urging participation and awareness among women to tackle the project’s well-known gender gap. She was an articulate, kind, and energetic face for Wikipedia, and many know that her work helped bring new Wikipedians to the project. The Foundation produced a video exploring Adrianne’s work within the Wikipedia community in 2012.

Many in the Wikimedia community knew her from her exceptional and varied contributions, especially in the areas of gender and 18th-century British literature – in which she received a PhD last year from Indiana University, before becoming a Mellon Digital Scholarship Fellow at Occidental College. Since July of 2004, she had written 36 featured articles (the highest honor for quality on Wikipedia) and started over 100 articles – the latest being on rock climber Steph Davis.

Adrianne touched many lives as she freely shared her knowledge, expertise and passions with Wikipedia, her students, colleagues, friends and family. She will be deeply missed by all of us. Our condolences go out to her family during these very difficult times.

Rod Dunican
Director, Global Education

Wikipedia Education Program

  • See Adrianne’s user page on the English Wikipedia, her Twitter account, her home page and her blog at HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory)
  • Wikipedians have begun to share their memories and condolences about Adrianne on her user talk page.
  • The leadership of the Wiki Education Foundation, where Adrianne was a board member, have also expressed their condolences.
  • Memorial post from HASTAC Co-founder Cathy Davidson.
  • Wikinews story on the passing of Adrianne Wadewitz.

Introducing Dr. Paola Ricaurte Quijano of Tec de Monterrey, Mexico City Campus

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Paola Ricaurte Quijano

Paola Ricaurte Quijano is a full time professor at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, Mexico City Campus and an expert on cyberculture, e-politics, digital activism and digital literacies. Her pedagogical philosophy includes having students create academic content that is free and open to the public. Despite her short experience with Wikipedia, she has made uploading Wikipedia articles an integral part of her class.

Ricaurte Quijando began this project two years ago, encouraging her students to create works that not only benefit the student or result in a grade, but also to develop consciousness of “collective intelligence,” or the production of new knowledge for everyone. Equally, she encourages students to not simply be passive consumers of online content, but also to create content in a professional manner.

Ricaurte Quijando gives classes in “Communication and Media Studies, “Communication and Cultural Studies,” “Media Culture and New Media” among others, teaching students from various majors from medicine to communications, asking all to create Wikipedia articles. The classes contain between 20 and 25 students, working in groups of four, which usually results in five or six new articles each semester.

These articles can be on any topic related to Mexico, related to the class or issues related to students’ majors. Most find topics to write about searching Wikipedia in other languages. Examples of uploaded articles include Teoría de dos pasos [1], Elihu Katz [2], and Final Cut Pro (video software) [3].

Writing for Wikipedia is not easy and requires a certain amount of work as well as the development of new abilities, such as seeing the topics from the point of view of the course. This starts with the ability to do research. Often students need to learn how to synthesize information and discriminate among sources of information and sometimes students need to learn how to consult traditional sources of information such as books. All this adds up to a large amount of work. In addition, students must work as a team, develop critical thinking and decide which information is valuable to the article and which is not. Language issues include Wikipedia’s own requirements of a neutral point of view, often requiring students to present more than one point of view without favoring any.

Writing for Wikipedia is an activity that is part of the course material, however from my point of view I see it as an enriching activity that helps generate neutral content and contribute to a network like Wikipedia successfully. At the same time I view it as giving back to my community, because not everybody has knowledge in different languages and their search for information can be cut short because the information appears in languages that they do not understand.

Lizbeth Márquez M., Wiki Borregos

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Editing about Mexican laws in Greater Mexico City

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Teacher Jorge Luis Esquivel Zubiri at their classroom in Universidad de Ecatepec.

Ecatepec de Morelos is a city and municipality of Greater Mexico City, about one hour from downtown Mexico City. It is the most populated municipality in the State of Mexico and ranks second in most population in the country. Instructor Jorge Luis Esquivel Zubiri from the Universidad de Ecatepec invited his law students to edit the Spanish Wikipedia and Wikisource about Mexican legal concepts and laws. But since the second term of 2013, after learning about the Wikipedia Education Program of Wikimedia México, the teacher and the students decided to give more structure to their local organization and work in Wikimedia projects grouped under the name of Club WikiUNE.

Since August 2013, the students edited articles on Wikipedia about legal concepts such as absence and custody agreement. In Wikisource, they upload some Mexican law, such as the Commercial Establishments Act or the Industrial Property Law. Teacher Jorge Luis notes that this work serves to give greater publicity to the Mexican legal provisions, and he wants to increase the quality and depth on the origin and development of laws that govern more than 100 million Mexicans.

Guadalupe García, president of ClubWikiUNE, and teacher Jorge Luis.

“It’s a form of open government and for the students a way to develop their professional skills to contribute to a noble project,” says Esquivel Zubiri, also a teacher at the Facultad de Estudios Superiores campus Aragón (School of Higher Studies Aragón) of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), where he will soon establish another Wikipedia Student Club.

On February 15, the students of the Club WikiUNE invited the board of Wikimedia Mexico to a report of work held in the auditorium of the university, in which the directors of the school, the teacher Jorge Luis and Guadalupe Garcia, president of the club, gave details to Ivan Martinez and Carmen Alcázar from Wikimedia Mexico about the work. They also requested support of the Mexican chapter to continue working on the Wikimedia projects at the University of Ecatepec. It was very rewarding to arrive at school with the logos of Wikimedia and Wikipedia on the front door and hallways of the schools, plus students printed shirts, flyers, and even bottled water with the logo of WikiUNE.

For Wikimedia Mexico, it is very valuable to start a joint work in the metropolitan area of Mexico City, and expand the Wikimedia mission to more educational institutions in the country.

Iván Martínez
President, Wikimedia México

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Wiki-Med: The Story of the First Full Wikipedia Course in Israel

On January 14 we celebrated the last week of the semester at the Tel-Aviv University, and specifically the end of the “Wiki-Med” course — the first academic course in Israel dedicated wholly to editing Wikipedia to offer full academic credit to students. The 14-week course, which began on October 15 at the Sackler School of Medicine at TAU, was named “Wiki-Med: The Wondrous World of Wiki and Free Medical Content on Hebrew Wikipedia”, or simply “Wiki-Med”. Sixty-two students participated in this first-of-its-kind course, going on a journey that ended up with them writing together a mass of almost 130 medical-related articles on Hebrew Wikipedia. But why is this course so important? And how did it all begin? This is the story of the Wiki-med course — the first full wiki course in Israel.

Wiki-Med Students, Class of 2013-2014, at the Sackler School of Medicine Yard at the Tel-Aviv University, Israel.

Planting a Seed

Let’s begin at the beginning — my name is Shani Evenstein. I am a 36 year-old Israeli woman, and I work at the Curriculum Development Office at the Sackler School of Medicine at the Tel-Aviv University. I am also a Wikipedian and Wikimedian, though relatively new to the Wiki movement. I joined in August 2011, right after Wikimania Haifa, which a good friend suggested I attend. I was so inspired by what I heard about GLAM and education outreach projects that were happening around the world, that I felt I had to contribute and become part of it. I learned to edit Wikipedia quite quickly (sounds a bit trivial, but I had a lot of help at the beginning — seriously, a lot!), and I soon became an active volunteer, focusing my time, energy, and experience mostly on cultivating collaborations with various GLAMs and educational institutions in Israel.

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Frank Schulenburg named executive director of Wiki Education Foundation

The Wikimedia Foundation and the Wiki Education Foundation released a joint announcement today with the news that Frank Schulenburg was named the first executive director of the Wiki Education Foundation. Frank, formerly the senior director of programs at the Wikimedia Foundation, will begin this role next week.

More information about the announcement of Frank’s move can be found in this Q&A document.

The Wiki Education Foundation is a new organization that supports professors and institutions in the United States and Canada as they participate in the Wikipedia Education Program.

Carlos Monterrey, Communications Associate for the Wikimedia Foundation

Louisiana State University faculty member supports student Wikipedia editing

If you teach in the science department at Louisiana State University and want to incorporate a Wikipedia assignment into your classroom, Becky Carmichael is the person to meet. She began volunteering as a Wikipedia Ambassador in the Wikipedia Education Program in the United States in 2011, during her graduate studies and work as a teaching assistant for a Conservation Biology course. Since she had taught the class many times and was familiar with the content, she said it was a great way to focus on “the nuances of Wikipedia.” Then Becky became the Science Coordinator with Communication across the Curriculum, a Louisiana State University program that helps undergraduates improve their writing and technological communication skills. She already understood the basics of editing Wikipedia and how to incorporate it into a classroom assignment, and now she could reach instructors in other areas of science.

To date, Becky has helped 13 classes use Wikipedia as a teaching tool. With so much experience as a Wikipedia Ambassador, she has developed her own training routine and learned the importance of communicating these assignments’ potential impact.

“For students, I like to introduce Wikipedia with a pre-workshop homework set,” she says. “The homework is very similar to the Wikipedia Ambassador training I received in 2010, with the addition of the online “training for students” — a truly valuable resource! During the workshop, we can get into details about what Wikipedia is, the importance of sharing information, and what they will gain from the experience. I emphasize that as members of the university, we have access to a wealth of information and resources the general public may not. We can give our research and exploration of a topic purpose by sharing with others.”

When instructors work with Becky to develop Wikipedia assignments, they get advice from someone who teaches with Wikipedia herself.

“I teach an honors-level course for non-science majors, Natural Disturbances and Society,” Becky says. “This is a course I developed to examine how natural disturbances (e.g., fires, hurricanes, invasive species) influence our lives and how society can influence disturbance events. My class is currently proposing creation of articles or the significant contribution to existing pages related to the course. It’s a great class, which encourages science literacy and exploration, with interesting connections to society, which may currently not be included in some disturbance or disaster articles.”

In Becky’s experience, in the beginning of the term, “students are initially uncomfortable with contributing to Wikipedia. They think it will break and become intimidated because of the global visibility. And who wouldn’t be nervous? Their work is going to be read by potentially millions of people, not just their instructor. I tackle this by having the students provide each other feedback on drafts in their sandboxes first. It is still intimidating to let classmates review their work, but I found that the students really put forth even better initial drafts. They also help each other learn better communication skills, sharing editing tricks and grammatical advice. It’s amazing how much the quality of contributions improved. The feedback exercise was also one of the aspects students really found useful stating they appreciated learning how to clarify and strengthen their writing.”

One of the great things about partnering with a university professional is that her Wikipedia Ambassador responsibilities fit so neatly into her job description.

“My focus as the Science Coordinator is to aid undergraduates in effectively disseminating scientific information through writing, speaking, visual, and technological means. Additionally, I assist faculty in course and assignment design that improves communication and critical analysis skills. Wikipedia can be the perfect way to achieve both of these skill sets because it is a cooperative writing process based in technology,” Becky says.

Her work as a Wikipedia Ambassador advances her mission within her career, and her role at the university gives her a great opportunity to influence students. By providing “one-on-one assistance to both faculty and students learning how to edit and navigate the site,” Becky makes sure assignments will not only achieve important learning objectives but also will positively impact Wikipedia.

As Becky has become a campus expert in teaching with Wikipedia, she has welcomed the opportunity to reach course goals creatively.

“I enjoy brainstorming ways to approach an assignment, make connections to real-world applications, and methods to excite the students,” Becky says. “I am passionate about improving science literacy and can truly ‘geek out’ over science topics. I like that Wikipedia represents sharing of knowledge and the increase of literacy in many topics in a friendly environment. The community involvement can be impactful on both student learning as well as inspiration for continual discovery.”

Jami Mathewson
Program Manager, Wiki Education Foundation

Student editors in the US and Canada add more content than ever in fall 2013

In the seven terms of the Wikipedia Education Program in the United States and Canada, students have added 55 million bytes of content to the English Wikipedia, much of it high quality.

The Wikipedia Education Program in the United States and Canada recently wrapped up its seventh term. The program, where students edit Wikipedia as a part of their coursework, began in the fall 2010 term in the U.S. and expanded to Canada in fall 2011. In 3.5 years, student editors have added 55 million bytes to English Wikipedia. For some perspective, that’s about 36,000 printed pages, 73 reams of paper, or 12.1 million words. That means these students have added enough words to Wikipedia to fill ⅓ of the Encyclopædia Britannica.

Last term alone, 1,347 students added 11.6 million bytes and 251 new articles, though the vast majority expanded existing stubs and articles.

Though quantity may not determine impact on Wikipedia on its own, the two qualitative research projects we’ve completed reveal the trend that contributions from student editors are generally a net positive to the encyclopedia. These numbers don’t show other ways the Wikipedia Education Program has a positive impact on Wikipedia, however. Following the trend of students in higher education in the United States, more than 60% of students editing through the Wikipedia Education Program in the United States and Canada are women, helping to address the gender content gap on Wikipedia. Women create content on a diverse spectrum of topics. For example, Tamar Carroll’s women’s history class at the Rochester Institute of Technology, new to the Wikipedia Education Program last term, created and expanded articles about artists, educators, and other notable women—enabling the students to learn about their course’s subject matter while expanding the breadth of coverage on Wikipedia about women’s history. By expanding the program to more classes like this, we have a huge opportunity to bring more content from women onto Wikipedia.

To get an idea of the amazing contributions students are able to make as new users, you can view the activity feed of individual classes, which include all edits from students in that class. For example, here are the edits that Andrew Stuhl’s ecology students at Bucknell University are making this term. As of now, in the beginning of the term, you can see most edits are from students who are completing the online orientation for students. As the project progresses, they may add new sections, expand the references, or add an image—all of which will update on the activity feed. By monitoring these edits, professors and volunteers alike can provide proactive feedback while the student is still editing so as to prevent these new users from straying from course and Wikipedia objectives.

To see some examples of student work from past terms, check out our trophy case of articles that students have created or expanded significantly over the last few years. These are just some of the articles that students have impacted as participants in the Wikipedia Education Program. Hopefully we will continue expanding that list for many years to come.

Jami Mathewson
Program Manager, Wiki Education Foundation

Editing Wikipedia, a print guide for new contributors

Editing Wikipedia brochure

For newcomers, figuring out how to edit Wikipedia can be challenging. Although help pages abound, many new contributors like to have something to hold on to: printed guidance. That was the motivation for the first Welcome to Wikipedia brochure we created in 2010, and since then it’s made its way into the hands of thousands of people through editing workshops, Wikipedia classroom assignments, and other outreach events. The original welcome brochure was translated into more than 12 languages.

However, Wikipedia has changed a lot since 2010, and that brochure was starting to show its age. Over the last several months, we’ve been working with the Wikimedia community and designer David Peters on a completely rewritten welcome brochure: Editing Wikipedia — A guide to improving content on the online encyclopedia. Featuring volunteers from all over the world, the new brochure covers both the how and the why of editing Wikipedia, with special focus on the things that trip up new editors most often: writing in an appropriate encyclopedic style, using and citing reliable sources, and understanding wiki markup (with an updated markup cheatsheet). Joining the Illustrating Wikipedia guide for contributing content to Wikimedia Commons that we published some months ago, the new brochure is available both online and in print.

We hope this new brochure will see even more local editions than its predecessor. The text is set up for translation, and the design files are also available (for InDesign, with the open source Scribus format coming very soon). Because Wikipedias and Wikipedia communities vary so much from language to language, we wanted to design the brochure to be easy to adapt and localize for different language Wikipedias. Most of the content applies equally well to English Wikipedia — for which this version is written — and other languages. It also includes a section specifically devoted to English Wikipedia; translators are encouraged to localize this section to cover topics tailored to their particular audiences and language versions. The original version’s cartoon character has been replaced with a photo of a real editor from the English Wikipedia who offers advice to newcomers through the brochure; as the brochure is translated, local language communities are encouraged to change the photo to be one of an editor from their community.

For the examples and screenshots, “encyclopedias” is the motif that appears throughout — although that may change for other languages. I’m especially proud of the center spread, which shows an article — “Encyclopedia” — in edit mode with VisualEditor and wiki markup side-by-side. Anyone can learn wiki markup with a bit of practice, but the first time you see a page full of it can be overwhelming. So in this spread, we focus in on some of typical markup in the context of a real article, right across from how that markup shows up when the article is rendered. I’m also excited to see new faces of local Wikipedians in the local editions!

If you work with Wikipedia newcomers and would like printed copies of the new brochure in English mailed to you, please contact Wikipedia Education Program Communications Manager LiAnna Davis.

Sage Ross
Online Communications, Wikipedia Education Program

Egyptian students help narrow gender gap on Wikipedia

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English

Fewer than 15% of Wikipedia editors around the world are female and the coverage of articles about women on Wikipedia is often not very good. Although the Arabic Wikipedia suffers the same imbalance in its content, this is not the case for the Wikipedia Education Program in Egypt. The number of female students in the Egypt program is much higher than male ones. The program has also brought to the Arabic Wikipedia one of three female administrators as well as many high-quality articles about women.

Eman Waheed Sawabi, Amira El-Gamal and May Hachem are three students who never thought about contributing to Wikipedia until they enrolled in Dr. Radwa Kotait’s English course in Spring 2013. Dr. Kotait encouraged her students to translate Featured Articles from the English Wikipedia to the Arabic Wikipedia.

“My first article was about Alice of Battenburg (the mother of Prince Philip). Then I worked on Queen Victoria,” says May. “I like writing about women. I started recently writing about the Arabic writer May Ziade, so women are my basic concern. I’m anti-marginalizing women in any terms. Concerning writing, male and female editors are distinguished by hard work only.”

May enjoyed working with the wiki community. When she nominated one of her articles to be Featured on the Arabic Wikipedia, she started to make friends from different countries in the Arab world and meet new cultures when the members of the Wikipedia community left her comments or suggestions on the nomination page. This was a new experience for her.

May has also signed up as a Campus Ambassador in Ain Shams University in Cairo in order to help other students edit Wikipedia. “The idea of guiding someone or providing someone with knowledge is brilliant,” she said.

Eman Sawabi started her course with an article about Maya Angelou, as it reflected many social maladies that had been present in the American society, such as segregation and child rape. The article was a featured article on the English Wikipedia. Eman translated and expanded it to be featured on the Arabic Wikipedia too.

“I distinctly felt that being a female would add to Wikipedia more than what male editors do,” says Eman. “I intended to pay attention to one of the articles that talk about female figures that many male editors do not notice.”

After that, Eman wrote an article about Muhammad Al-Durrah Incident in Palestine. The article was a stub and she wondered “how such a controversial issue was outlined in a short paragraph on Wikipedia?”. The third article Eman created on the Arabic Wikipedia was Birmingham Campaign, which shows how accomplished, ardent, and sharp-witted African-Americans had been throughout claiming basic human rights.

According to Amira El-Gamal, “Men and women are equal. Everything is based on how much one is willing to give and how much one is being honest while translating.”

The education program for Amira was an exciting experience, she was waiting for an opportunity to help others and serve her society. She chose to translate an article about Geology of the Capitol Reef Area because she is fond of science and wanted to help students of Geology. Then she worked on two other articles about Sentence Spacing and Funerary Art to present an image of cultures history and how they thought.

Like May, Amira is now serving as a Campus Ambassador in her faculty. Being in contact with new students in the program and guiding them to editing techniques is another way to help her community.

Closing the gender gap on Wikipedia is an issue of quality, and these volunteer editors from the Wikipedia Education Program Egypt are helping close the gap.

Samir El-Sharbaty
Volunteer leader, Egypt Education Program

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Student club Wiki Borregos contributes to Wikimedia projects

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Some of the members of the Wiki Borregos Fall 2013

Pronunciation of “Popocatepetl” a famous volcano

Photo of bakery items taken by foreign student

“Best photo” winner

Experimentation and activities with Wikipedia continue with high school and college students at Tec de Monterrey in Mexico City. One major advancement is recognition of activities by the school system as a student club, with the name of Wiki Borregos. Borregos means “rams” in Spanish and is the school mascot. This status gives the program access to campus resources, including facilities, communications, recruiting, and fund raising opportunities.

This semester, there were two classes of community service volunteers working with Wikipedia. International Baccalaureate students completed a third semester working with Wikipedia as part of the Community, Action and Service program. Joining them were several undergraduate students working to complete “servicio social” hours required of all such students in Mexico. In addition to writing and photography, sound recording was on the agenda this semester. One of the undergraduates, Natalia0893, is majoring in sound engineering, which allowed us to use campus sound studios to record pronunciations of more than 100 place and people names related to Mexico, as well as a new version of the popular birthday/celebration song “Las mañanitas.” Sound files can be heard here.

Two new professors experimented with Wikimedia Commons this semester, both teaching lower level foreign language courses. Laura Perez and Artemisa Martinez (User:Pasifarte) had students upload photographs related to culture with descriptions in two or more languages. Laura’s classes uploaded photographs to practice writing descriptions in English. One major benefit this teacher noted was that students who felt detached from their own culture using English felt less threatened when the topic was about their own country. Artemisa’s students were beginning Spanish-as-a-foreign language learners from Australia and Europe. These students were assigned a theme each week such as Mexican food, Mexican markets, etc., to encourage them to go and explore parts of Mexico they might not otherwise. These students then wrote descriptions of their uploaded photographs in Spanish and their native language. Photos from this class can be seen here.

The Wiki Borregos and the campus library sponsored the second edition of Día de Muertos Estilo Wiki (Day of the Dead Wiki Style), to encourage students to document traditions related to this important holiday, which honors loved ones who have died. This time we received 227 photographs from 44 participants. While fewer in number than last year, the quality of the photographs and descriptions were significantly better. We also received images from outside the Mexico City metropolitan area as the holiday fell on a weekend. Entries can be seen here A summary of activities for the semester can be found at the Wiki Borregos web site Wiki Borrego Fall 2013.

Thelmadatter, Wikimedian Regional Ambassador/Professor at ITESM Campus Ciudad de México

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