- Chief Programs Officer LiAnna Davis traveled to Donostia-San Sebastian for the Wikimedia + Education Conference, hosted by the Basque Wikimedians User Group. At the conference, LiAnna connected with other education program leaders from Wikimedia organizations globally, gained insights into how others are solving their programmatic challenges, and shared our learnings.
- We received a previously pledged $70,000 grant from one of our anonymous funders to support the Wiki Scholars courses we have been running in collaboration with the National Archives and Records Administration. This generous grant has allowed us to offer scholarships for the courses to people who do not have access to funds to pay for participation, allowing us to meet our equity goals and increase the diversity of expertise on Wikipedia.
- We launched applications for our latest National Archives Wiki Scholars course. We prepared, recruited participants, and finalized an advanced course, aimed at supporting our National Archives Wiki Scholars alumni as they improve the article about the 19th Amendment on Wikipedia. We also confirmed a new Wiki Scholars course in collaboration with the Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries. Eleven of their member librarians will participate in a virtual course to learn how to edit Wikipedia and build it into their jobs.
LiAnna traveled to Donostia-San Sebastian for the Wikimedia + Education Conference, hosted by the Basque Wikimedians User Group. At the conference, LiAnna connected with other education program leaders from Wikimedia organizations globally, gained insights into how others are solving their programmatic challenges, and shared our learnings. LiAnna gave one presentation on our Wiki Scholars & Scientists program, and also led two workshops, one on how to scale an education program with a focus on equity and one on how to use the Program & Events Dashboard for an education program. For the latter presentation, she was joined by program leaders from Macedonia, Jordan, Serbia, and Indonesia, who shared how they use the P&E Dashboard for their education programs.
Wikipedia Student Program
Status of the Wikipedia Student Program for Spring 2019 in numbers, as of April 30:
- 399 Wiki Education-supported courses were in progress (237, or 59%, were led by returning instructors)
- 8,232 student editors were enrolled
- 65% of students were up-to-date with their assigned training modules.
- Students edited 6,140 articles, created 511 new entries, and added 4.43 million words.
April is one of the busiest months for the Student Program; it’s also one of the most exciting as students begin moving their work into the article main space. This means that Program Manager Helaine Blumenthal and our team of Wikipedia Experts were at the ready to help instructors and students with the myriad of issues that can arise when making work live.
Also, in April, Helaine got the chance to speak at a small gathering of instructors and librarians at Notre Dame de Namur University right here in the Bay Area. Digital literacy is paramount in the minds of educators, and Helaine discussed how the Wikipedia assignment imparts those critical skills to students.
Student work highlights:
Emily Sessa’s Principles of Systematic Biology course at University of Florida wrapped up in April, with the students making substantial, impactful changes to over twenty articles! The article Euptychiina, which is about a group of butterflies, is now much more detailed, with the student expanding the article tenfold. The article for Campos rupestres, an ecoregion in Brazil, is now beautifully illustrated with a dozen images, most of which were taken by the student themselves.
Glass can be a very delicate thing, prone to breaking easily by actions such as clumsy hands dropping an item or an earthquake shaking glassware off the shelf. It’s also something that can be made into objects of incredible beauty and style that carry historical importance. Perhaps that’s why someone in Nathan Shank’s Comp II class at Oklahoma Christian University chose to expand the article on Bakewell Glass. While records for the company are sparse due to many of the records being destroyed by a fire or thrown out when the company closed in 1882, there are some existent records and information that can tell us about how the company was run. Launched by English businessman Benjamin Bakewell in the early 1800s, the business quickly discovered that they had to compete against foreign imports, particularly the ones featuring English glass styles. Undaunted, Bakewell and his workers continued to perfect their craft. They soon became known for being the first to make pieces of entirely cut glass and for producing the first successful glassware containing lead crystal. Bakewell would later try to patent the glass knob, which became a point of consternation with other rival glass makers in the area who had also filed patents for the same item. This company’s works became so well known and sought after that in its heyday people clamored for Bakewell Glass, including three of the country’s Presidents, Madison, Monroe, and Jackson. Although the company ultimately closed after 80 years of business, their glassware is still seen as a much sought after item by glass collectors.
Despite the advances of the first wave of feminism in the United States, during the 1960s women still faced several setbacks to true equality, some of which are still present today. Some women, such as Catherine Dorris Norrell, fought against the idea that women were better off in more traditional roles; Norrell herself ran for and won her seat in the House of Representatives, representing Arkansas’s 6th district. Expanded by a student in Heather Yates’s course on Women and US Politics at the University of Central Arkansas, the article now features more information about this politician. A skilled organist and pianist, Norrell was familiar with the world of politics, as her husband William served in the Arkansas Senate during the 1930s, after which point he served Arkansas’s 6th district in the House of Representatives until his death in 1961. It was this same seat that Norrell ran for, defeating four Democratic male candidates, one of whom attacked her integrity by saying that she was doing it for financial benefit. Despite this, Norrel won with 43 percent of the vote, easily defeating her opponents. This made her one of only 20 women serving in the 87th Congress. She served in this role from April 25, 1961, until January 3, 1963, after which point her congressional district was eliminated. She chose not to run against two other incumbents for other districts, as she could not afford the expenses of another campaign. After leaving office Norrell was appointed by President Kennedy as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, a role she continued until 1965, after which point she served as director of the United States Department of State Reception Center in Honolulu after being appointed by Lyndon B. Johnson. Upon reaching her retirement, Norrell worked as a church musician in Hawaii until she returned home to Monticello, Arkansas, where she died in 1981.
Whether you’re playing volleyball at the beach or trekking across the Gobi desert, sand can be found in many places. But where does sand come from? Before James Mungall’s Resources of the Earth students took to Wikipedia, its article on Sand was missing this vital information. The student detailed the processes of erosion through which wind and water turn boulders into increasingly smaller fragments. The student also added more information about the economics of sand, noting that sand is a very hot commodity in the United Arab Emirates, where it is used to construct entirely new islands. Over 835 million tons of sand have been used, some of which was imported from Australia, at an estimated cost of 26 billion dollars!
Welding usually evokes thoughts of oxyacetylene torches joining pieces of metal together, but Avraham Benatar’s class focuses on something very different – Welding of Plastics and Composites. Welding plastics requires different tools and techniques; student editors in the class created articles about three of these methods — IR welding, solvent bonding and Implant resistance welding — and substantially improved others, including hot plate welding and extrusion welding. Other student editors in the class worked or related aspects like one who expanded the expanded the filler (materials)) article from a short, three paragraph article into something much longer and more comprehensive.
Editing in hot-button areas can be difficult, because it requires students to make additions to articles that are acceptable to both sides of an issue, and a willingness to relinquish control of your additions. Students in David Harris’ Social Media and Social Movements were able to edit several of these topics successfully. One group of student editors expanded the U.S. national anthem protests (2016–present) article, adding sections discussing the NFL’s 2018 policy change and the role of social media, among others. Other students in the class contributed major expands and improvements to articles like Hashtag activism, inequality in Hollywood, Executive Order 13769 and Protests against Executive Order 13769. Despite working on controversial areas, student editors in this class were able to navigate the process successfully.
Almost all of us could do more to lower our impacts on the environment, but for one reason or another, we don’t. A student in Sarah Turner’s Advanced Seminar in Environmental Science class created an article on barriers to pro-environmental behaviour that does a really nice job of digging into the various reasons we don’t do more. Another student in the class expanded the paternal care article to discuss paternal care in non-human primates, an aspect that was entirely absent from the article. Yet another student in the class almost entirely re-wrote the stream restoration article. Last term, a student in Tagide deCarvalho’s Physiological Basis of Behavior created a short article about primate sociality. A student editor in this class took that short article and turned it into a substantial, well-referenced one.
Did you know that there are fish called lanternfish? These small fish are bioluminescent, with light-producing organs in their tongues! A student in Randi Rotjan’s Marine Biology course created a brand-new article about a species of lanternfish, Neoscopelus macrolepidotus, where readers can go to find out more about these fish with glowing tongues. Another student in Rotjan’s class created an article about a different species of fish, Notothenia neglecta. This Antarctic-dwelling fish produces eight antifreeze proteins in its blood as a special adaptation against the cold!
Scholars & Scientists Program
Eight Wiki Scientists began improving articles relevant to their fields this month through our Communicating Science on Wikipedia course. Whereas last month participants dove into Wikipedia, learning the basics and starting to make minor edits to articles, this month they have begun making substantial contributions to a range of topics. Here are some of the highlights:
- The widely accepted standard cosmological model does not view inhomogeneities in matter distribution as sufficient to have a significant effect on our measurements of gravity. Inhomogeneous cosmology contrasts with this view, assuming that inhomogeneities do affect local gravitational forces enough to skew our view of the universe. A Wiki Scientist substantially expanded Wikipedia’s article on this concept, building out the history and nearly tripling the overall size of the article.
- Another Wiki Scientist has been busy creating several biographies of women in science. Evelyn Roberts (1893-1991) made a number of contributions to research on glass. Susan M. Kauzlarich is Chair of the Department of Chemistry at the University of California, Davis. Sara E. Skrabalak is the James H. Rudy Professor of Chemistry at Indiana University. Prior to the efforts of this Wiki Scientist, these accomplished scientists were not represented on Wikipedia.
- Iterations of the analysis framework used by the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope‘s Large Area Telescope (LAT) are called “passes.” At launch, LAT data used the Pass 6 framework. Use of Pass 7 began in August 2011, and later moved to Pass 8, but this wasn’t reflected in the article. Now the Pass 8 upgrade and, perhaps more importantly, what kinds of upgrades that entails, is covered in the timeline thanks to a Wiki Scientist.
- When a Wiki Scientist came across the article about the Okinawa Plate, a minor continental tectonic plate stretching between Taiwan and the Japanese island Kyushu, it was a single short paragraph with one reference which has become outdated, with some incorrect information. The Wiki Scientist started anew, replacing it with eight current references.
Visiting Scholars Program
Wikipedia Visiting Scholars are experienced Wikipedia editors who we have partnered with academic institutions. Through that partnership, the Wikipedians use high-quality academic resources to improve articles in their areas of interest.
Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight is one of the most prolific Wikipedia contributors sitewide, and improves articles on notable women writers through her relationship with Northeastern University. A stand-out example this month is Ella Hamilton Durley (1852-1922), an educator, newspaper editor, journalist, and activist who worked at the Des Moines Daily News and a variety of other newspapers and magazines.
The water cycle, also known as the hydrologic cycle, is the continuous movement of water on, above, and below the surface of the earth. This process, involving precipitation, snowmelt, fog drip, plant uptake, evaporation, etc. is fairly well known. But what happens below the surface? How does water move in the deeper crust and the mantle, and why is it important? Thanks to Andrew Newell, Visiting Scholar at the Deep Carbon Observatory, Wikipedia’s article of the subject is much more comprehensive. Among other things, Andrew more than tripled the number of sources used in the article.
Gary Greenbaum, Visiting Scholar at George Mason University, took the article on astronaut David Scott to A-class. Scott (born 1932) is a retired test pilot who became the seventh person to walk on the Moon as commander of Apollo 15. The “A-class” designation isn’t used all that much these days, but like other processes like Good Article and Featured Article, it involves peer review against a set of strict criteria, and is typically considered in between those other two better-known processes in terms of quality.
In April, the Advancement Team identified several potential new funders, strengthened relationships with existing funders, had meaningful conversations with potential partners and funders, and finalized drafting our annual plan and budget for the next fiscal year.
We launched applications for our latest National Archives Wiki Scholars course. We prepared, recruited participants, and finalized an advanced course, aimed at supporting our National Archives Wiki Scholars alumni as they improve the article about the 19th Amendment on Wikipedia.
We also confirmed a new Wiki Scholars course in collaboration with the Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries, so 11 of their member librarians will participate in a virtual course to learn how to edit Wikipedia and build it into their jobs.
We continued preparations for our upcoming Wikidata courses and workshops. Samantha and Will attended ACRL to help support the growth of this future program.
We received a previously pledged $70,000 grant from one of our anonymous funders to support the Wiki Scholars courses we have been running in collaboration with the National Archives and Records Administration. This generous grant has allowed us to offer scholarships for the courses to people who do not have access to funds to pay for participation, allowing us to meet our equity goals and increase the diversity of expertise on Wikipedia. We also received an invitation to submit a proposal to the WITH Foundation for $40,000 to support Wiki Scholars courses related to healthcare access and disability. In our continued search for funding to help us develop a Wikidata program, we had a conversation with Wayne State University to identify potential new funders we could approach together. We also agreed to have a conversation with a Program Officer at the Institute for Museum and Library Services to learn how we could improve our proposal in the next round of the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Grant Program. We also had a conversation with a specialist at the United States Department of Agriculture about funding for a competition or challenge related to Wikidata in America’s heartland. These conversations are ongoing.
In April, we also worked with Alexandria Lockett, Assistant Professor of English at Spelman College and long time supporter of Wiki Education programs, on two joint funding opportunities. We hope these discussions will grow into a grant proposal that allows for a community of instructors to strengthen their relationship to Wikipedia while deepening our pedagogical support for new instructors.
Finally, we were very pleased to welcome Angela DeBarger and Kent McGuire from the William and Flora Hewlett to our office in the Presidio. Angela is the Program Officer for our grant, and Kent is the Director of the Education Program. Most of the Wiki Education staff were able to meet and interact with Angela and Kent, either in person or virtually. We discussed our current grants, our strategy, and our progress in our programs. We also learned more about the strategy for Open Educational Resources at the Hewlett Foundation, and where Wiki Education fits in this strategy going forward.
We featured Dr. Anthony Denzer, an Associate Professor of Architectural Engineering, on our blog this month. He shared how he sells the Wikipedia writing assignment to his students and all the reasons he plans to conduct the assignment again in future terms.
We also featured some guest blogs by alumni of our NARA Wiki Scholars course. Dr. Erin Siodmak writes about what it means to claim the title of “expert” on Wikipedia and in the classroom. And Eilene Lyon walks us through a detailed account of her course experience.
And Wikipedia Expert Elysia Webb shared a personal story this month about how the participants she supports during her work day inspire her to create Wikipedia biographies for women in her free time.
- How chemistry students can benefit the world right now (April 1)
- How your students can counteract misinformation (April 2)
- The Historian’s Craft (April 8)
- Who gets to be an expert on Wikipedia? (April 10)
- Alternatives in education (April 11)
- Off the bookshelf and into the world (April 12)
- These scientists are improving the public’s knowledge of science (April 16)
- 5 reasons to do a Wikipedia writing assignment next term (April 19)
- Women’s Suffrage: My Wiki Life (April 23)
- Employee inspired by students and scholars to write about women (April 24)
- Medical missionaries to community partners (April 25)
- Collaborating with others in the Wikimedia movement (April 26)
- Monthly Report, March 2019 (April 30)
- Monthly Report, February 2019 (April 30)
- Fixing Wikipedia’s Diversity Problem. Jessica Thomas. APS News.
In April, we continued work on the two main projects that kicked off in March: a major Salesforce update, and the development of a new ticketing system. Softward Developer Wes Reid has led the Salesforce project, which is proceeding on schedule and will see major Scholars & Scientists-focused features go live in May. Wes also spearheaded the ticketing system project, which went live in early April and now has now replaced the sunsetting Desk.com system. Final refinements will continue into May, but we now have solid base in place that we can rely on without worrying about future vendor changes and third-party service — and one which we can potentially extend to work independently of email for use on the global Programs & Events Dashboard.
This month we also selected three summer interns for Google Summer of Code and Outreachy (whose selections were announced in early May). Amit Joki, a prolific Dashboard contributor since last year’s Google Summer of Code application period, has a wide-ranging project for improving the support for tracking cross-wiki projects. Ujjwal Agrawal, a Android developer who worked on the Wikimedia Commons app last summer, will be creating an Android app for the Dashboard. Khyati Soneji, who implemented a major enhancement of the Dashboard’s ‘Diff Viewer’ interface, has a project aimed at making Programs & Events Dashboard a more useful tool for the #1Lib1Ref campaign, which will improve how the Dashboard tracks citations and references.
Finance & Administration
The total expenses for April were $180,000, ($6K) below the budgeted $186,000. General and Administrative ($2K), Governance +$1K and Technology ($2K) were all very close to budget, mostly due to timing issues, Fundraising was under by ($19K) as there was a decision not to add another member to the department ($10K), reduced travel ($7K), and Indirect Costs associated with a reduction in staff ($2K). Programs was over budget by +$15K, as expected, with the decision not to reduce staff +$13K, increased travel +$7K, while under budget in Professional Service and Communication – combined ($1K) and Indirect Expenses ($4K).
The Year-to-date expenses are $1.74M ($260K) under budget of $2.2M. It was known that Fundraising would be under by ($177K) due to a change in plan for professional services ($148K) and deciding not to engage in a cultivation event ($10K) and ($8K)subsequent travel. Programs are under ($33K) due to a few changes in processes – Professional Services ($14K), Travel ($30K), Printing and Reproduction and software($15K), Communication ($6K) and Indirect expenses ($27K) while reporting an overage in Payroll +$55K and furniture and equipment +$4K. General and Administrative are under ($22K) due to a reduction of payroll ($17K), professional fees mostly relating to Audit and Tax prep ($8K), while over +$2K net effect of location and indirect expense allocation. The Board is entirely on budget.
Technology is under budget by ($30K) as there was a change in plans in utilizing the budgeted professional fees ($22K) and payroll ($6K) and additional rent ($8K) and instead increased Furniture and equipment – $4K and Communication +$2K.
Office of the ED
- Work on the first draft of our Annual Plan & Budget for next fiscal year
Even with Wiki Education being a comparatively small organization, we’ve traditionally taken pride in our ability to evaluate, learn, and plan in a very systematic way. That’s why, in April, Executive Director Frank Schulenburg spent most of his time on coordinating work on next year’s annual plan. Our annual plan documents include a report on our results and learnings of the ongoing fiscal year as well as a comprehensive outline of what the organization is planning to achieve in the year ahead. Work on the annual plan usually starts at the beginning of each calendar year, with April and May being the time of “putting everything together” and ensuring that the different departments are set up in a way that they’ll work well together during the next fiscal year. Work on the annual plan and report is done in a collaborative way across the organization so that everybody on staff has the opportunity to provide input. With Frank currently also filling the role of acting CFO, a lot of his effort in April went into ensuring that the budget for next year accurately ensures that all activities of the organization will be appropriately funded and that both budget and plan narrative reflect the strategic goals set forth in the 3-year-strategic plan approved by the board in June 2018. In order to be able to deliver the first draft of the plan and budget to the board in mid-May, the senior leadership team will come together for an in-person retreat in early May.
In the second week of April, Frank and board secretary Bob Cummings attended the ASU GSV Summit in San Diego. Now in its 10th year, the conference is an annual meeting point for companies in the educational technology sphere. During their trip to San Diego, Bob and Frank had the opportunity to get a better sense of ongoing and future trends in educational technology and they also used the summit for networking with actors in the field.
Also in April, Frank visited the Google headquarters in Mountain View and met with Richard Gringas, Vice President of Google News. Richard and Frank discussed the current trends in journalism and how Wikipedia provides factual information to the general public in the United States in the age of fake news.
In late April, Frank and Jordan Daly from SFBay Financials provided the Audit and Finance Committee members of Wiki Education’s board with a comprehensive report on quarter 3 of fiscal year 2018–19 ahead of a conference call with the full board that was held two days later.
Visitors and guests
- We hosted Janeen Uzzell, the new COO of Wikimedia Foundation at our office on April 18. This was an informal meet up to get to know Janeen and introduce Wiki Education’s staff members to her and talk about our projects.
- We also welcomed Angela DeBarger and Kent McGuire from the William and Flora Hewlett to our office on April 25. Angela is the Program Officer for our grant, and Kent is the Director of the Education Program. Most of the Wiki Education staff were able to meet and interact with Angela and Kent. We discussed our current grants, our strategy, and our progress in our programs. We also learned more about the strategy for Open Educational Resources at the Hewlett Foundation, and where Wiki Education fits in this strategy going forward.