Monthly Report, May 2020

By on July 30, 2020

Monthly Report, May 2020

By on July 30, 2020

Monthly Report, May 2020

Highlights

  • In May, we launched a Wiki Scientists course in partnership with 500 Women Scientists, facilitating as 20 members of 500 Women Scientists learned how to expand Wikipedia’s biographies of women in STEM. Thanks to a high demand from their members, we have continued searching for additional funding to support more women scientists as they join the Wikipedia community.
  • Our first two Wikidata courses of 2020 just wrapped up. The Beginner course had 10 participants who created 67 new Wikidata items, made more than 1,220 edits to Wikidata, and added 74 references to statements, improving the data quality for all of those claims. The 10 participants of the Intermediate course created 205 new items and edited over 5,100 existing ones. One of the participants was working on a project for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and uploaded over 5,000 images to Wikimedia Commons which can be used on Wikidata. Additionally, this course had several participants who are working on the LINCs project. This project aims to connect humanities research in Canada through linked data. The perspectives these individuals brought to this course demonstrated how Wikidata can influence other large scale linked data initiatives and, in turn, how these initiatives can influence Wikidata. To see some of the outstanding work these course participants did, follow this link. This record number of items edited is nothing short of inspiring. We hope this indicates that more institutions are willing to invest in Wikidata or that more driven participants are finding their way to our course. Either way this is a large body of high quality work that will benefit Wikidata and the larger linked data community.

Programs

Wikipedia Student Program

Status of the Wikipedia Student Program for Spring 2020 in numbers, as of May 31:

  • 409 courses were in progress (268, or 65%, were led by returning instructors).
  • 7,496 student editors were enrolled.
  • 55% of students were up-to-date with their assigned training modules
  • Students edited 6,200 articles, created 556 new entries, and added 5 million words and 54,100 references.

While a handful of spring quarter courses are still working on their Wikipedia assignments, May saw most of our courses wrap up for the term. Spring 2020 was a time of upheaval for our instructors and students as their courses abruptly switched to online platforms in the middle of the term. Despite these challenges, our students contributed 5 million words to Wikipedia, even tackling articles related to COVID-19.

Though a great deal of uncertainty surrounds the Fall 2020 term, Wikipedia Student Program Manager Helaine Blumenthal began to prepare for the following academic year. We are paying close attention to what institutions of higher education are planning as the pandemic unfolds and trying to adapt our materials to better serve our instructors and students in their changed classroom circumstances. Helaine hopes to look more deeply into best practices for online teaching and to assemble a robust list of library resources so our students can continue to access high quality sources despite being unable to physically go to their university libraries. 

Wikipedia Experts Shalor Toncray, Elysia Webb, and Ian Ramjohn were busy closing out courses and identifying the great work our students did this term.

Student work highlights:

On May 5, student work was featured on the main page of Wikipedia. A student improved an article about a moth species called the slender Scotch burnet. The article received nearly 1,300 views the day it was featured. Student work also appeared on the main page of Wikipedia again on May 29, where it was viewed an impressive 7,500 times! Climate of Pluto was created by a student in Vincent Chevrier Planetary Atmospheres course at University of Arkansas.

Gay and lesbian bars have long been a part of society. Some have needed to remain relatively secret in order to escape persecution while others have openly advertised their services to the local community. Daniel’s, which opened in late 1975, was one of the first lesbian bars in Spain and one of the first LGBT bars in Barcelona. Opened by María del Carmen Tobar, it originally was a bar and billiards room but expanded to have a dance hall. The bar attracted women from a wide variety of backgrounds including non-lesbian women. In the early years of the Spanish democratic transition the bar was accepted because its owner was well connected in the local government through her band-mate Daniela. Despite this, the police still occasionally raided the bar during its early years. Tobar played an active role in making Daniel’s the center of lesbian life in Barcelona, sponsoring sports teams and a theater group. The bar also sold feminist literature, including the magazine call Red de Amazonas. The bar later closed, but would be remembered in books and exhibits for its importance in the lesbian history of Spain. This article was expanded by a Colby College student in Dean Allbritton’s Queer Spain class, which sought to expand Wikipedia’s knowledge on LGBT history in Spain.

Many have heard of Amelia Earhart, but have you heard of Grace Muriel Earhart Morrissey? Morrissey was Amelia’s younger sister and a high school teacher, author, and activist. Earhart taught at the high schools in Medford and Belmont, MA, and she remained an active member of the Medford community until her death. She spent decades documenting Amelia’s life and managing her legacy, devoting significant time to coordinating her sister’s posthumous affairs, setting up donations, marshaling information, and dealing with Amelia’s fans. Morrissey also spoke out against the speculations that arose in the wake of Amelia’s death. She denied, for example, that her sister died while on a spy mission, as some theorists have past suggested. She wrote two books about Amelia, Courage is the Price and Amelia, My Courageous Sister. This article was created during May by a student in Lisa Gulesserian’s Kindred Spirits class at Harvard University, who allowed Amelia’s sister to shine. 

There are many Black men and women who fought against the injustices perpetuated against African-Americans seeking equal and fair treatment. Curlee Brown, Sr. is one such person who chose to challenge the inequality in the education system, as he launched a legal case that resulted in the integration of what would become the West Kentucky Community and Technical College. In 1950 Brown had attempted to enroll in the school, only to be rejected due to a then recently amended 1904 state law that prohibited desegregation in schools. He brought a lawsuit against the school and the U.S. District Court at Paducah ruled that the college must allow Brown and other Black applicants to enroll; however, the school fought against this. Their appeals were ultimately unsuccessful and the college was eventually integrated. For his tireless work with activism and the Paducah NAACP, Brown Sr. received multiple awards and honors and to honor his legacy the Kentucky NAACP created the Curlee Brown Scholarship. The Paducah branch of the NAACP created the Curlee Brown Award, which they grant to individuals who have made a visible impact in the field of human rights. In 2010 Brown Sr. was inducted into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame. Another notable individual was Cyrus Field Adams, a Republican civil rights activist, author, teacher, newspaper manager and businessman. Adams fought a key battle in civil rights for African Americans. He used his variety of positions through his life, whether that be working for the newspaper, teacher, or working for the treasurer to advocate for civil rights. In his later life after being appointed by Theodore Roosevelt to be the Assistant Register at the US Treasury, he used this platform to write a book titled, The National Afro-American Council, Organized 1898: a history etc. In 1912, Adams decided to leave his position at the Treasury and join President Taft’s re-election campaign as asked to do so by Taft himself. This was an attempt to get Adams out of the treasury position as Taft had promised that position to another African-American man who supported Taft. Taft lost this election and President Wilson took over, he replaced every Republican that had worked for Taft including Adams. In the years to follow, an investigation was launched regarding the time Adams spent at the treasury to try to discredit his career. It’s thanks to University of Kentucky students in Nikki Brown’s African American History, 1865 to the Present class that we now have these articles. 

Joanna Mary Boyce (7 December 1831 – 15 July 1861) was a British painter associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. She is also known by her married name as Mrs. H.T. Wells, or as Joanna Mary Wells. She produced multiple works with historical themes, as well as portraits and sketches, and authored art criticism responding to her contemporaries. Boyce first exhibited her artwork publicly in 1855 at the Royal Academy. Though Boyce exhibited two pieces, it was her painting Elgiva that won Boyce the admiration of such critics as John Ruskin and Ford Madox Brown. In it, Boyce depicted model Lizzie Ridley as a tragic heroine from Anglo-Saxon historical legend, possibly following the precedent of Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais who had depicted Elgiva eight years prior. Following her first exhibition, Boyce continued to pursue artistic excellence through extensive sketching and international art-viewing expeditions. She spent 1857 in Italy, and in December of that year married miniaturist Henry Tanworth Wells (later a Royal Academician) in Rome. Boyce used her time in Italy to work on paintings such as The Boys’ Crusade and La Veneziana, a portrait of a Venetian lady. In addition to her own artistic practice at this time, Boyce also continued a lifelong practice of seeking out and analyzing the artwork of her contemporaries. Boyce published some of this analysis as art criticism in the Saturday Review, wherein she lauded the “sincerity” and principles of the Pre-Raphaelite art movement, and noted the positive influence of John Ruskin on the English art world. At the time of her death, contemporaries remarked on Boyce’s talent as an artist: Dante Gabriel Rossetti described her as “a wonderfully gifted woman”, and another obituarist called her a genius. Later critics have observed that Boyce’s reputation was somewhat constrained by her early death, but her art has been highlighted in exhibitions up until the present day. Who do we have to thank for the expansion of this article? None other than a UW Madison student from Anna Simon’s Art Librarianship class!

The Rio Grande sucker is a freshwater fish species native to the American southwest. Like many fish species in the area, populations have declined as a consequence of land use change, habitat loss, environmental degradation and competition from non-native species. As a result of this, the Rio Grande sucker is considered endangered in Colorado and a “species of concern” in Arizona. But before a student in Derek Houston’s Biology 667 class created an article about it, there was no Wikipedia article about the Rio Grande sucker. Given the important role that Wikipedia articles serve as a starting point for research into a topic, the presence of this article might have an impact on regulators who are trying to manage this fish species.

Little things run the world — in particular, the microorganisms that make up most of the living things on Earth. Rhodobacter capsulatus is a type of purple bacteria, which are bacteria that are able to make their own food using photosynthesis, much like plants do, but purple bacteria use a purple molecule to capture light instead of the green pigments that plants use. Rhodobacter capsulatus is also able to make gene transfer agents, small packages of DNA that allow them to transfer genes to other bacteria, without using sex. Before a student in Kelly Bender’s Prokaryotic Diversity class started editing it, Wikipedia’s article about this species of bacteria was just a three-sentence stub which mostly talked about the Latin roots of its scientific name. The student editor was able to expand the article into something very informative, adding sections about its genomics, morphology, ecology and significance, among others. Other students in the class made similar improvements to the Pseudomonas stutzeri and Chlamydia felis articles.

Scholars & Scientists Program

Wikipedia

This month we launched a 6-week intensive course focused on improving Wikipedia’s coverage of COVID-19 pandemic information. Specifically, participants are focusing on state-specific articles. In the United States, many of the actions taken that affect people’s lives most happen at the state level, and out of a commitment to public knowledge on Wikipedia we decided to run a course at no cost to participants in order to shore up this vital content. The scope of the course was more narrow than usual, and the duration a bit shorter, which allowed Scholars & Scientists Program Manager Ryan McGrady to develop a custom curriculum to guide participants to maximize their impact in a relatively short period of time.

We still have a couple weeks left in the COVID-19 Wiki Scholars course, but participants are already doing some incredible work. Highlights include a significantly expanded section of the Maine article that focuses on the impact on education; a near tripling of the size of the Wyoming article, including a major update to the timeline, impact on the economy, impact on colleges, and effects on the Northern Arapaho tribe and Yellowstone; several updates to the Florida timeline; increasing the size of the North Dakota article from about 6,500 to 45,000 bytes; and the addition of a significant section on the impact on voting in the New York article. At the start of the course, Wikipedia already had articles on all 50 states, but one Wiki Scholar ran into a challenge: how should we cover the well-documented impact on the Navajo Nation, which has the highest per capita rate of infection in the country and covers parts of three states? The answer seems obvious in hindsight, but nobody had done it yet: to create a brand new article about the COVID-19 pandemic in the Navajo Nation. Thanks to that Wiki Scholar, the impact on this community is covered on Wikipedia.

We were also excited to launch a course in partnership with 500 Women Scientists, focused on improving Wikipedia’s coverage of women in science. We’re less than half way through the course at the end of the month, and participants are still developing their articles, but we already have several great examples of biographies created or improved:

  • Rana Fine, whose research concerns ocean circulation processes over time through use of chemical tracers and the connection to climate.
  • Abigail Thompson, a mathematician who specializes in knot theory and low-dimensional topology.
  • Rachel Green, a professor of molecular biology and genetics researching ribosomes and their function in translation.
  • Deborah Kelley, a marine biologist studying hydrothermal vents, active submarine volcanoes, and life in those areas of the deep ocean.

The Women in Red Wiki Scholars course we kicked off last month started to hit its stride in May. We still have a few weeks left to go, but here are some of the biographies of women Wiki Scholars have created or improved this month:

  • Mary Carson Breckinridge (1881-1965), American nurse midwife who founded the Frontier Nursing Service.
  • Jane Sharp (c. 1641 – ?), an English midwife who wrote The Midwives Book: or the Whole Art of Midwifery Discovered in 1671.
  • Anne de Graville (c. 1490 – c. 1540), French Renaissance poet, translator, book collector, and lady-in-waiting to Queen Claude of France.
  • Madeleine Brès (1842-1921), the first French woman to obtain a medical degree.
  • Montserrat Calleja Gómez, Spanish physicist who specializes in bionanomechanics.
  • Anne-Marie Lagrange, French astrophysicist whose work focuses on extrasolar planetary systems.
  • Natalie Roe, experimental particle physicist and observational cosmologist who is the Director of the Physics Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Last month we highlighted some of the articles improved through the course we ran with the American Physical Society. It wrapped up early this month, but not before participants added a few more articles to their list of pages created or improved:

  • Peter F. Green, materials scientist and Deputy Laboratory Director for Science and Technology at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
  • Tulika Bose, physicist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison whose research focuses on developing triggers for experimental searches of new phenomena in high energy physics.
  • Henry T. Brown, chemical engineer who was the first African American director of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers in 1983.
  • Rayleigh theorem for eigenvalues, a concept in mathematics concerning the behavior of the solutions of an eigenvalue equation as the number of basis functions employed in its resolution increases.

We also finished our third course focused on family planning topics in partnership with the Society of Family Planning. As with previous courses, participants improved several high-impact articles on abortion, contraception, and related topics. Among the improvements this month were: the addition of a section on teleabortion to the telehealth article; updates to a wide range of state-specific abortion articles, like Abortion in New York and Abortion in Guam; extensive edits to the Title X article, the only federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventative health services; and a variety of improvements to the pregnancy test article.

Wikidata

Our first two Wikidata courses of 2020 just wrapped up. These two courses were able to a staggering amount of work in six short weeks.

  • Beginner: This course had 10 participants who created 67 new Wikidata items, made more than 1,220 edits to Wikidata, and added 74 references to statements, improving the data quality for all of those claims. The participants in this course were engaged and excited about the course material. We were lucky to host several individuals from City College, part of CUNY, in New York. Having multiple perspectives from one institution emphasized just how many applications Wikidata has. We also had a participant work on a collection of theater posters. Take a look at this well-modeled item for Yosef Bulof in Gidon. One item, William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke, received more than 20 new references, bolstering the accuracy of their respective statements. The interests of this group varied greatly. this link to see a complete list of items they edited.
  • Intermediate: Ten editors participated in this course. They created 205 new items and edited over 5,100 existing ones. One of the participants was working on a project for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and uploaded over 5,000 images to Wikimedia Commons which can be used on Wikidata. Additionally, this course had several participants who are working on the LINCs project. This project aims to connect humanities research in Canada through linked data. The perspectives these individuals brought to this course demonstrated how Wikidata can influence other large scale linked data initiatives and, in turn, how these initiatives can influence Wikidata. To see some of the outstanding work these course participants did, follow this link.

This record number of items edited is nothing short of inspiring. We hope this indicates that more institutions are willing to invest in Wikidata or that more driven participants are finding their way to our course. Either way this is a large body of high quality work that will benefit Wikidata and the larger linked data community. 

Advancement

Partnerships

In May, we launched a Wiki Scientists course in partnership with 500 Women Scientists, facilitating as 20 members of 500 Women Scientists learned how to expand Wikipedia’s biographies of women in STEM. Thanks to a high demand from their members, we have continued searching for additional funding to support more women scientists as they join the Wikipedia community. 

We spent some time in May reworking the Scholars & Scientists end-of-course survey for participants, making sure we continue learning about their experiences in the course, motivations for participating, and how they assess their learning outcomes. We deployed the new survey to Wiki Scientists who completed the American Physical Society course, and we’re excited to use the information to demonstrate the value of working on Wikipedia to others’ employers and organizations.

Communications

Attabey Rodríguez Benítez has tips for folks stuck at home: learn how to add photos to Wikimedia Commons like she did in our Wiki Scientist course!

Dr. Lilly Eluvathingal learned how to add content to Wikipedia pages in her area of expertise through one of our Wiki Scientist courses. This month,  shared on our blog what she thought of the experience. 

The Wikipedia page Andrew Oh drastically improved achieved Good Article status when he continued to edit it after his course. Read more about what he found so valuable about the experience.

Blog posts:

External media:

Research:

Technology

In May, we turned our attention from our project to improve the user experience for students and instructors — which we had been iterating on through April — to the long-term foundations of the Dashboard. Google Summer of Code interns Amit Joki and Shashwat Kathuri, while not scheduled to officially start the ‘coding period’ until June, have already started making major strides to modernize the Dashboard’s JavaScript infrastructure by replacing deprecated libraries and features and replacing them with more stable and well-supported alternatives. This work will accelerate into the summer, as Amit focuses on streamlining our JavaScript and reducing the amount of code that browsers need to download, while Shashwat develops a system to better keep track of system errors and data bottlenecks.

Finance & Administration

The total expenditures for the month of April were $174K, ($16K) under the budget of $190K. The Board was under ($9K) by moving the Board Meeting from In-person to Remote. Fundraising was over budget +$6K due to a personnel change creating a need for consulting work +$2K and employment costs +$3K and +$1K in Indirect Costs. General & Administrative were over +$11K due to Indirect overhead allocation change +$6K, Professional Fees +$4K, and Administrative Costs +$1K. Programs were under by ($24K) including Payroll ($5K), while under in Travel ($8K), Professional Fees ($2K) Communications ($2K) and Indirect costs ($7K).

Office of the ED

Current priorities:

  • Finalizing the annual plan & budget for fiscal year 2020–21
  • Dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our organization

In May, Frank continued working on putting the annual plan & budget for next fiscal year together. Relying on a multitude of different data sources, as well as numerous conversations, he tried to come up with a realistic picture of how the COVID-19 pandemic and other destabilizing events in the United States could affect Wiki Education. In particular, his goal was to understand how institutional funders might move forward given that times of crisis always trigger a reaction from philanthropy that might threaten the survival of nonprofits which – like Wiki Education – depend on continuously unlocking new funding opportunities from institutional grantmakers. Frank ran through different scenarios and possible ways to mitigate a situation where grantmakers wouldn’t accept any new grantees for the foreseeable future, and where they would focus on protecting their endowments instead. 

After sending a first draft of the potential annual plan for 2020–21 to the board, Frank started extensive conversations with individual board members. He highlighted the extreme uncertainty that made coming up with the best path forward difficult, and he listened to how the board members assessed the situation. Discussions included projections about the situation in our country in general, about the possible reaction of the philanthropic sector, as well as effects on higher education and knowledge institutions like museums, archives, and libraries. All these conversations lasted through May and the board generously agreed to extend the timeline for the delivery of the final version of the annual plan in order to find the best solution for Wiki Education and the many millions of people being positively impacted by our organization’s work.

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