Wiki Education Foundation Monthly Report: July 2014

1. Highlights

  • After meetings with representatives of American Sociological Association (ASA), the Association for Psychological Sciences (APS), and the National Communication Association (NCA) this spring to establish their goals for their Wikipedia initiatives, we embarked on a strategy of strengthening our educational partnership support, with a reorganization of the programs department. Jami Mathewson has moved into a new role as the Educational Partnerships Manager, focusing on ensuring the Classroom Program scales sustainably. We kicked off work in this area with work on publications, subject-specific materials, workshops, and data. Read more about this area in the “Educational Partnerships” section, below.
  • The Wiki Education Foundation had our first Quarterly Review on Friday, July 18. Head of Communications and External Relations LiAnna Davis presented to the rest of the Wiki Ed staff the work she’s been doing over the last three months and her plans for the next three months. Creating this dedicated time for reflection and evaluation enables us to be more effective in our work. At the conclusion of the Quarterly Review, we also announced LiAnna’s promotion to Director of Programs, effective August 1.
  • Our search for initial office space concluded with the selection of an office in the Presidio area of San Francisco as our new home. We found our new home after an extensive search that took a variety of different aspects into account, including easy access to public transportation, existing infrastructure, and mostly, a good cultural fit. Our move into the new space will take place in mid August.

2. Programs

At the end of the month, we announced our new Programs Department. We decided to reorganize our staff to reflect that Wiki Education Foundation is a programs-focused organization. Within the Programs Department, we will have two program managers focused on our work with educational institutions in the US and Canada: the Educational Partnerships Manager and the Classroom Program Manager. The Educational Partnerships Manager will lead our sustainability initiatives: our partnerships with academic associations and universities. The Classroom Program Manager will continue supporting instructors, student editors, and Ambassadors. As part of this change, LiAnna Davis has agreed to take on the role of Director of Programs. Jami Mathewson has been promoted to Educational Partnerships Manager, and we are hiring for the Classroom Program Manager position as well as for a Communications Associate who will take over some of the communications tasks LiAnna has been doing for our organization.

2.1. Educational Partnerships

APS meeting
Meeting with the Association for Psychological Sciences (APS) in San Francisco.

While the Classroom Program activity is on summer break, we are building a strategy to make the program more sustainable and far-reaching. This means we need not only to expand Wikipedia assignments to more instructors and students, but we also need to build capacity to support those assignments. We are working to build capacity and reach with two primary focuses: training campus faculty and partnering with academic associations.

Our focus this July has been to develop plans for making our partnerships with academic associations more productive. Though we have supported instructors and courses from the American Sociological Association (ASA), the Association for Psychological Sciences (APS), and the National Communication Association (NCA) in the past, we now have more resources to strengthen those relationships. We plan to support these and other organizations in the following ways:

  • Publications: The Educational Partnerships Manager will work with the Communications Associate to write articles and blog posts for academic associations’ member magazines. This month, Jami and LiAnna wrote an article for ASA’s publication, Footnotes, which will appear in the September/October issue and highlights the past successes from student editors in sociology courses as well as information about how to participate for new instructors.
  • Subject-specific materials: We will develop training and help materials for student editors that include specific guidelines relevant to that topic area on Wikipedia. In July, LiAnna drafted the first of these discipline-specific guides, for psychology student editors. LiAnna collected feedback from Wikipedia editors in the psychology area and instructors who teach psychology to complete two drafts of the handout. The handout will be designed and published in August, with printed copies available for psychology instructors to distribute to students in September.
  • Presentations and workshops: We will attend academic organizations’ annual meetings to host teaching workshops. In August, Jami and LiAnna will lead a workshop for instructors on how to incorporate Wikipedia assignments into sociology classes at ASA’s Annual Meeting in San Francisco.
  • Data and metrics: At the end of each term, the Classroom Program Manager will provide relevant metrics to the academic organization about the contributions from their student editors. For example, we may provide ASA the number of sociology student editors who enrolled, number who made at least one edit, number of sociology articles edited, number of new sociology articles started, and number of page views those articles have received.

We expect this list to grow, and we also expect the academic organizations to provide support for our courses. We see a great benefit in the experts within these organizations identifying content gaps within their field of scholarship, which student editors can then fill during their assignments.

We are also interested in developing more partnerships, especially within disciplines that lack significant coverage on English Wikipedia. In July, Jami had preliminary conversations with representatives from the National Women’s Studies Association and the American Folklore Society, both of which are interested in starting a Wikipedia initiative for their members.

2.2. Classroom Program

During the summer break, much of the Classroom Program work focuses on documentation of past terms. In July, we published a blog post wrapping up the spring 2014 term. We also started the hiring process for the Classroom Program Manager, who will be responsible for this program beginning in fall 2014.

2.3. Digital Infrastructure

The main focus in July for Digital Infrastructure was the Request for Proposals. Sage contacted development companies – some in Seattle, and some based elsewhere in the United States or internationally – about the project, and had one-on-one discussions with each of the companies that plans to submit a proposal. Sage started analyzing the first complete proposals that started coming near the end of the month. The deadline for all proposals is August 1, and we expect to settle on a development company and begin work on “ 1.0” by mid- to late-August.

The first major component of the new will be an “assignment design wizard” that lets a professor choose from among the common types of recommended Wikipedia assignments, customize the timeline and details to fit their course, and post the course plan to Wikipedia. Over the last few years, we’ve gained – and documented – a lot of knowledge about what works and what doesn’t for Wikipedia writing assignments. But it’s not easy for professors who are just getting started with Wikipedia to benefit from that knowledge, and even if they want to follow one of our model assignment designs closely, it is tedious to customize it. For a professor, turning a wall of boilerplate wikitext into an assignment plan that fits your course is not a fun way to spend your day. But a solid assignment plan that incorporates best practices and subject-specific Wikipedia resources is the biggest factor in running a successful Wikipedia assignment.

Wiki Ed launched also its first major MediaWiki development project this month, signing a contract with WikiWorks to create an improved “activity feed” for Wikipedia course pages. The activity feed is a revamp of the current “course activity” page associated with each course. The new design, based on need-finding interviews with users of the current software, was created by Facebook Open Academy student JJ Liu as part of her Wikimedia Foundation mentorship project earlier this year. This design should make it much easier to follow the work of a class edit by edit. We consider this project an experiment, to gauge the viability of working with third-party contractors to improve Wikipedia’s software.

Finally, as an initial exploration of potential new metrics tools, Sage set up an online “course stats” tool to supplement the statistics available via Wikimetrics. In particular, the tool provides page views for the articles assigned to student editors in a course, and lists of all the articles edited by students in one or more courses.

3. Financials

  • Expenses for the month is $83,993 versus plan of $75,039, primarily due to catching up in the areas of Governance and Fundraising.
  • Year-to-date expenses is $287,106 versus plan of $340,076, primarily due to lower expenses in the area of General & administrative, which is caused mainly by delayed move into new office space.
  • Cash position is $92,557 as of July 31, 2014.

July expenses




YTD expenses

4. Board

On July 31, board member Mike Christie announced his resignation. He has been part of the Wiki Education Foundation’s leadership since we were a working group of volunteers trying to determine the best way to support the Wikipedia Education Program in the United States and Canada back in spring 2012.

Mike’s involvement has been instrumental in bringing the Wiki Education Foundation into being. His thoughtful approach to decision-making and careful documentation of our discussions as secretary have helped us maintain transparency with our stakeholders. Mike always speaks from what he believes, and his drive to make sure our organization properly incorporated the Wikipedia editing community’s views was key to the success we’ve had so far.

We will miss Mike’s brilliant perspective and engaging personality on the Wiki Education Foundation board and we look forward to his continued involvement as a supporter of our organization.

5. Office of the ED

Current priorities:

        • Planning the year ahead: annual plan & budget
        • Moving into new office space
        • Monitoring of organizational performance
  • In July, we created a schedule for our quarterly reviews in 2014–15. In order to increase accountability and allow for course corrections, each core team of our organization will present their results and plans for the time ahead once a quarter. Quarterly reviews will allow both staff and other stakeholders of the Wiki Education Foundation to stay up-to-date on which activities we pursue and how we’re doing against our goals. The first quarterly review took place on July 18, with LiAnna Davis giving an overview of her communications work. LiAnna’s slides and the notes from this review meeting can be found on Meta. Our next quarterly review will cover Sage’s work in the area of Digital Infrastructure; it is scheduled for August 22.
  • Executive Assistant Jessica Craft left the Wiki Education Foundation staff in July. We thank Jessica for her contributions.
  • Jami, LiAnna, and Frank in front of our new office in the Presidio.
    Jami, LiAnna, and Frank in front of our new office in the Presidio.

    Also in July, our search for an initial office space could be concluded successfully. Our first office will be in the Presidio of San Francisco on the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula. The Presidio, originally a Spanish Fort built in 1776, is now home to Alexa Internet, the San Francisco Film Center, Lucasfilm, and more than 30 non-profits in the areas of arts, education, and conservation (e.g. the Thoreau Center for Sustainability, The Bay School of San Francisco, The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the Tides Foundation). In 1996, the Presidio came under the management of the Presidio Trust, a US Government Corporation which manages most of the park in partnership with the National Park Service. We found our new home after an extensive search that took a variety of different aspects into account, including easy access to public transportation, existing infrastructure, and mostly, a good cultural fit. Our move into the new space will take place in mid August.



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