Wiki Education runs programs connecting Wikipedia to higher education in the United States and Canada — but the world is larger than just the boundaries of our programs. There are many organizations and individual volunteers around the world who, like Wiki Education, also run programs to form relationships between Wikipedia and educational institutions, associations, and organizations, or otherwise coordinate initiatives aimed at improving the availability and quality of information under a free license on Wikimedia projects. Participating in this global network enables us to learn from what others have done, share our learnings, and help move the strategy of the Wikimedia movement forward from our perspective.
All of these were on the agenda at the end of March when Executive Director Frank Schulenburg and I traveled to Berlin, Germany, to attend the Wikimedia Conference. This annual gathering brings together program leaders from organizations who work to improve Wikipedia content globally. This year’s conference was especially important, as it was the kick off for the Wikimedia strategy process. While Frank joined the Strategy track of the conference, I participated in the conference tracks aimed at building program capacity and learning from partnerships.
For me, the best part of the conference was collaborating with other program leaders working at the intersection of Wikipedia and education worldwide. It’s a really good opportunity to learn about new programs and new ideas, understand best practices for a variety of contexts, and likewise share our own learnings and the work we’ve been doing. I met with members of the Wikipedia Education Collaborative, a group of people leading programs in the education space, and had a number of opportunities to share our collected knowledge and experiences, including leading a discussion workshop on thinking about program impact and leading an impromptu session on how to use the Programs & Events Dashboard, a version of Wiki Education’s Dashboard software available for program leaders and event organizers anywhere.
Frank participated in the Strategy track, which sought to begin to answer the question, “What do we want to build or achieve together over the next 15 years?” by coming up with a few key theme statements. Three statements related to education emerged out of the process. These themes, as well as others generated through organized groups and individual contributors, will be consolidated during this initial strategy cycle. Next month a second cycle will identify the top five thematic clusters.
Of course, the structured conference presentations are only some of what you get from events like this. Hallway conversations, informal meet-ups, and meals provided great opportunities to talk with others in the broader Wikimedia community. These conversations were invaluable to us as we embark on our own annual planning process for Wiki Education. A huge thank you to everyone we interacted with who made the conference so meaningful for Frank and me, and a special thank you to Wikimedia Deutschland for their excellent conference organization skills. We look forward to collaborating more with the global community at Wikimania 2017.
Image: Wikimedia Conference 2017 by René Zieger – 238.jpg, by René Zieger for Wikimedia Deutschland e.V., CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.