Last weekend, the Wiki Education Foundation’s LiAnna Davis, Jami Mathewson, and Frank Schulenburg traveled to New York City to attend the first WikiConference USA. The event was an opportunity for about 150 Wikimedians from around the United States to gather and discuss programmatic activities happening all around the country. We participated in four talks during the conference.
Ask the Wiki Education Foundation was the first time our organization had been available in person to engage with the Wikipedia and academic community. We presented a bit about our history, the current status of our program, and our organization’s Year One priorities. Then we opened it up to some great questions from the audience, including instructors and Wikipedia editors who had never participated in our program as well as veterans of four years. Questions ranged widely of things like how to get involved and how we can partner with people who do programmatic work around the country. This session has also been accepted for Wikimania 2014 in London.
LiAnna presented a session called The 7 Biggest Mistakes the Wikipedia Education Program’s Made – and What We Learned From Them. You can click on the link to download LiAnna’s slides and see what the seven mistakes and seven lessons are; the feedback from past program participants and others who had done similar programmatic work was that LiAnna had great advice, and people seemed to appreciate our willingness to acknowledge mistakes and share learnings – to “fail forward”. LiAnna will also be presenting this session at Wikimania 2014.
Jami presented a session called How student editors impact Wikipedia. Jami highlighted some of our successes for student editors and instructors, and then talked about how the Wiki Education Foundation helps instructors overcome challenges. She showed the activity feed of courses in the Education Program MediaWiki extension, explained the student training, and went over how we’re working to institutionalize the Wikipedia Education Program in the United States and Canada.
Frank joined instructors Jon Beasley-Murray and George Haines for a panel discussion called Wikipedia in the Era of the MOOC. Jon, George, and Frank engaged in a lively discussion with the audience about how Wikipedia fits into the current trend of using technology in the classroom and what the current changes in educational technology mean for Wikipedia. The three panelists and the audience also discussed the extent to which Wikipedians and academics shared the same values and what that means for future collaboration between those groups.
We also enjoyed sessions by some of our volunteers, especially a session from Wikipedia Ambassadors and instructors in New York that included a panel of students sharing their great experiences with the Wikipedia assignment. We’ll definitely share the recording of this session once it’s up, because it was incredibly inspiring for us!
Around 40 of the attendees of WikiConference USA had participated in our program at some point in the last four years, and we were able to gather 20 of them one evening for a celebratory dinner. It’s incredible to see how much that these Wikipedians accomplished over the last four years, and we look forward to working with these amazing, enthusiastic program participants and volunteers for years to come!
Head of Communications and External Relations