Monthly Report for March 2016

By on May 2, 2016

Monthly Report for March 2016

By on May 2, 2016

Monthly Report for March 2016


  • Wiki Ed’s development team organized an event at the Palm Room in the Presidio, hosted by Board Members Sue Gardner and Lorraine Hariton. The event was intended to introduce our work to individuals interested in higher education, tech, and philanthropy.
  • Wiki Ed staff has been busy with academic outreach for the Year of Science. In March, staff hosted or participated in workshops at Brown, UC Davis, and Northeastern, and with the American Association of Geographers.
  • Rollins College has selected a Visiting Scholar, bringing our total to six. Together, their work on Wikipedia has been read more than 23.5 million times.


Educational Partnerships

Jami Mathewson speaks at Brown University.
Jami Mathewson speaks at Brown University.

For the Wikipedia Year of Science, Director of Programs Tanya I. Garcia and Outreach Manager Samantha Erickson visited several California universities. This month, they met with the UC-Davis Biotechnology Program. Denneal Jamison-McLung, associate director of the program, was enthusiastic about our focus on women scientists. She’s assigning graduate students to improve or create articles on biotech topics, and notable scientists from diverse backgrounds.

Educational Partnerships Manager Jami Mathewson and Wikipedia Content Expert Adam Hyland visited universities in New England. At Brown University, host Jim McGrath brought together faculty from American Studies to Astronomy. At Northeastern University, Dr. Cecelia Musselman and Amanda Rust co-hosted a session focused on Wikipedia assignments for science communication. The team also attended the American Association of Geographers’ meeting in San Francisco. They met with instructors teaching a range of subjects, from human geography to geographic information systems.

Recruitment for the spring term is complete. We recruited 111 first-time instructors, compared to spring 2015, when Wiki Ed supported 117 courses total.

Classroom Program

Status of the Classroom Program for Spring 2016, as of March 31:

  • 199 Wiki Ed-supported courses had course pages (90, or 45%, were led by returning instructors)
  • 3,510 student editors were enrolled
  • 49% students are up-to-date with the online training
  • Students edited 2,620 articles and created 154 new entries.

The Classroom Program is supporting its largest number of classes to date (198 courses as compared to 162 in Fall 2015). Even better, 109 of those courses are part of the Year of Science. You can see our Year of Science courses here.

Classroom Program Manager Helaine Blumenthal continues to on-board classes for schools on the quarter system. We welcomed Women, Crime, and Criminal Justice, a sociology course at Carleton College; Engineering Simulation, from the University of Washington; and Social Computing, from the University of Pittsburgh. All are part of the Year of Science.

Students spent March moving their work to the article main space, that is, making their work accessible to the public on Wikipedia. Content Experts Adam Hyland and Ian Ramjohn were busy reviewing student work and responding to inquiries from students and instructors.

Student work highlights:

  • Continuing the work we featured in last month’s report, Liz Clarke’s Women and Film class at Concordia University has produced several new and improved articles on women screenwriters and directors in March. User:Stella5795 created an article for Matilda Beatrice deMille, a playwright and screenwriter. DeMille wrote dozens of plays. She also produced plays by women writers struggling for representation in Hollywood around the turn of the 20th century. Another student’s article filled a pernicious, but difficult, content gap on Wikipedia. Lucille McVey was a screenwriter and actor in her own right, but also a member of a notable duo, Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Drew. Before User:Gari.olsson created the article, her only entry on Wikipedia was in connection with her male partner. Just as important are expansions of stub articles. Joy Batchelor was represented by a small stub for years. It took User:Roothster2’s work to create an article that reflected Batchelor’s contributions to British film and animation.
  • David Webster’s Memory, truth and reconciliation in the developing world focused on another set of content gaps. Webster had students research and write an article for a specific truth commission. They ended up creating nine new articles and expanding 60 more, including commissions in Morocco, Nepal, South Korea and El Salvador. Normally we’re used to talking about student work improving the margins of some area on Wikipedia, but Webster’s students are responsible for more than 20% of the articles on Wikipedia’s list of truth and reconciliation commissions.
  • Also featured in last month’s report, Victoria Somoff’s course in Masterpieces of Russian Fiction expanded Wikipedia’s coverage of Pushkin, Tolsoy and others. User:Gyli1993’s expansion of Oblomov is emblematic of the work her students have done. Coverage of the play was basic and poorly referenced. In fact, it had been identified as needing improvement for eight years. The student’s edits added information on the play’s critical reception, themes, and place in Russian literature. All of this was cited to secondary work. User:Jfmour’s work on the Queen of Spades follows a similar pattern of solid improvement on a baseline article once limited to an introduction and plot summary. Webster’s class has wound down for the semester, but his students have already improved dozens of articles.
  • Alfredo Garcia’s course in Basic Ideas of Sociology asked students to expand articles on methods and theories in sociology. One student, User:Rebeccashumway, re-wrote the article on media influence wholesale. She added about 900 words to the article, and transformed it from the old version, which had been tagged for improvement since 2008. User:Umedi2016’s work on social reproduction expanded the article from a brief definition and a digression on Bourdieu to a solid article that a reader could use as a starting place for research. Similarly, User:Waffufi’s work on community of place expanded another article from a minimally referenced dictionary definition to a full fledged resource.
  • What do you call the billion years of relative geological, climatic stability and relatively low oxygen levels in which eukaryotes and multicellularity evolved? The Boring Billion. Students in George Waldbusser’s Biogeochemical Earth class created a substantial article about this period in the history of the planet. Other students in the class expanded the blue carbon article from a short stub into an equally substantial article. Blue carbon, the carbon which is fixed by coastal and ocean ecosystems, accounts for a substantial portion of the atmospheric carbon that is fixed by biological processes. As seagrass beds, mangroves and salt marshes are lost, the ability of these ecosystems to sequester atmospheric carbon declines. Students in the class also expanded Yaquina Bay andRemineralisation from short stubs into a substantial article.
  • Students in Ashis Banerjee’s Introduction to Manufacturing Processes class (first section; second section) did good work across a number of articles related to manufacturing processes. Modern technology requires tiny, precisely manufactured parts. If you want to know how those parts are made, take a look at the new article about mesoscale manufacturing, which deals with manufacturing parts in the 0.1 to 5 mm range. Want to learn about how smaller parts are made? Take a look at the new article on 3D microfabrication. Thinking smaller still? How about the article the class created on nano manufacturing and the directed assembly of micro- and nano-structures. Want to know how your toothbrush is manufactured? Take a look at their Multi-material injection molding article. Among the many other articles created or expanded substantially by the class are economics of plastics processing, microcellular plastic, digital manufacturing, and grinding wheel wear.
  • Students in Katie McEwen’s IAH Autopsy class expanded a wide range of articles including dissection, forensic photography, and the beating heart cadaver article. The students’ sections looked at some of the ethical issues surrounding keeping brain-dead bodies connected to a ventilator to harvest organs for transplant. The article now covers what constitutes death in cases like this. They also created new articles about clinical empathy and Jadwiga Lenartowicz Rylko, a Polish doctor imprisoned by the Nazis as a political prisoner. She served as a doctor in her concentration camp, where she cared for slave laborers.

Community Engagement

Rollins College has selected an experienced Wikipedian, Template:Wuser, as their Visiting Scholar. This position was created to focus on content gaps in late 19th and early 20th century American writers and their literary legacy; American literature and its connections with feminist thought, desegregation and the civil rights movement, environmentalism, and political activism, especially in Florida, and aspects of Southern history such as tourism and its history with Cuba.

Three positions, at the University of San Francisco and Hunter College, are open for applications or in the application review process. More information about these positions is available through the Visiting Scholars page on Wikipedia.

Visiting Scholars continued to produce excellent work. George Mason University Visiting Scholar Gary Greenbaum has made significant improvements to the article on U.S. President William Howard Taft. University of Pittsburgh’s Barbara Page continued her work on important women’s health topics. She’s improved the Vaginoplasty article, one of Wikipedia’s most accessed, lowest quality articles. Casey Monaghan, also at Pitt, created a new article for The Ohio Company: Its Inner History, a book about the Ohio Company. So far, articles improved by Visiting Scholars have been viewed about 21 million times.

Our Community Engagement Year of Science collaborations moved forward in March. The WikiCup, a contest to improve and create content, entered its second round. 47 editors remain. This year, judges will award Wiki Ed-sponsored prizes to users who produce science-related content. We’re working with WikiProject Women Scientists and WikiProject Women in Red on virtual edit-a-thons aimed at women in science articles. For more about these collaborations see the Year of Science portal.

Program Support


An image created by Wiki Ed for a post about women in science.
An image created by Wiki Ed for a post about women in science.

In March, Communications Manager Eryk Salvaggio spent time developing web content intended to elevate the profile of Wikipedia assignments with instructors. Through developing more in-depth, long-form posts, Eryk has been able to extend the reach of Wiki Ed’s materials and engage wider audiences, particularly around the Year of Science. One post, “Why Wikipedia matters to women in science,” made the argument for Wikipedia assignments in the context of the “leaky pipeline,” the phenomenon in which women endeavor to earn, or earn, degrees in STEM fields, but do not pursue STEM careers. Based on research into psychology and pedagogy, Eryk crafted an argument for the Wikipedia’s role in solving related problems. The post was one of the most widely-shared articles in Wiki Ed’s history.

Other posts this month have followed a similar strategy of aiming for expanding engagement with our work. Another post, “Five reasons a Wikipedia assignment is better than a term paper,” was the most-read blog post in Wiki Ed’s history.

Eryk has also been working to develop new subject-specific brochures, updating student editing guides, and creating new outreach materials for conferences and events.

Blog posts:

Press Release:

External media


Digital Infrastructure

In March, we focused on developing an integrated survey system into the Dashboard. Product Manager Sage Ross and our development partners at WINTR have been adapting the open source Rapidfire survey engine. They’ve added functionality, updated design, and integrated the tool into the Dashboard.

Finance & Administration / Fundraising

Finance & Administration

Expenses for March 2016
Expenses for March 2016

For the month of March, expenses were $254,442 versus the plan of $300,956. Our earlier decision to hold off on expanding our office space and growing our staff remains to be the largest cause of our monthly variance.

Year to Date expenses for March 2016

Our Year-To-Date expenses are $2,223,681, versus the plan of $2,781,227. That’s resulted in a variance of $557k. The decision to hold back planned expenditures until long-term funding is secured accounts for 93% of the variance. The remaining variance is a result of the timing of expenses.

Our spending level over the last 3 months has remained steady at 79% of our planned budget.


Frank Schulenburg addresses a crowd at an event in the Presidio in March 2016.

Executive Director Frank Schulenburg and Senior Manager of Development Tom Porter traveled to Boston and New York City in March. They met with supporters, including the Stanton Foundation and the Simons Foundation. Frank and Tom also met with the Luce Foundation to discuss potential intersects between the two organizations. The meetings informed our approach toward institutional funding for FY 2016–17, and built new relationships with organizations aligned with our mission. Based on the learnings from this trip, Tom and Frank re-evaluated Wiki Education Foundation’s pipeline of foundation prospects and adjusted the organization’s development targets.

On Monday, March 28, Wiki Ed hosted a reception in the SF Film Centre’s Palm Room at The Presidio. The event was hosted by Board Members Sue Gardner and Lorraine Hariton. The evening attracted a small but diverse group of attendees, including those in higher education, tech, and philanthropy. Local Wiki Ed staff attended, along with local business partners and friends.

Frank addressed the room to welcome guests and talk about the Year of Science. Dr. Jonathan Hunt, USF professor of rhetoric and a Wiki Ed instructor, spoke about his experience teaching with Wikipedia in the humanities. Dr. Amin Azzam, another Wiki Ed instructor, offered perspective from the field of medicine.

Office of the ED

  • Current priorities:
    • Overseeing the annual planning and budgeting process for fiscal year 2016–17
    • Supporting the fundraising team in securing funding

In March, Frank joined Tom on a trip to Boston and New York to meet current and potential funders. Frank also supported Tom and Development Associate Victoria Hinshaw in preparing and executing the fundraising event in the Presidio of San Francisco.

As part of the annual planning process, Frank, Director of Program Support LiAnna Davis, and Tom created a preliminary list of projects and activities for next fiscal year. The list contains high-level descriptions of programmatic activities and will be shared with a network of potential funders in April.


Visitors and guests

  • Dr. Amin Azzam, UCSF School of Medicine
  • Dr. Tina Brock, UCSF School of Pharmacy
  • Dr. Mary Jean Koontz, Golden Gate University
  • Lorraine Hariton, board member
  • Sue Gardner, board member

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