Monthly report for January 2015


  • Results of our December 2014 instructor survey show that 85% of our instructors are firmly committed to teaching with Wikipedia again, and 88% were satisfied with Wiki Ed’s level of communication and feedback. The same survey indicates that 68% of the student editors contributing content to Wikipedia through Wiki Ed’s Classroom Program are women.
  • In January, we launched the WikiEdu Dashboard, This new tool provides instructors and Wikipedia community members with detailed information about each class: who the students are and which ones have completed our online training; how much content they’ve contributed to Wikipedia, and how many page views their work has accumulated; what edits they’ve made, and more. This is our second piece of software that makes participating in our programs easier.
  • Wiki Ed held its first all-staff meeting will all members of the staff physically present in San Francisco. This was an intense week of strategizing and brainstorming methods for improving our programmatic activities.


Wiki Education Foundation Staff Photo, January 2015

The Programs team welcomed Ryan McGrady as our interim Classroom Program Manager. Ryan is filling in for Helaine Blumenthal while she is on maternity leave. Ryan has experience with our program as an instructor and a volunteer Wikipedia editor. He will be working remotely from his home in New York.

Ryan and other remote staff (Sage Ross, Ian Ramjohn, and Adam Hyland) came to San Francisco for a weeklong all-staff meeting. This meeting emphasized teambuilding, professional development, and defining better processes for more effective work. We reviewed goals for the next two quarters as part of the annual planning process for the 2015/16 fiscal year.

A full day focused on the Programs team. The team discussed adjusting processes to create better experiences for program participants. One outcome will be closer monitoring of assignment design during the onboarding process. That way, the Classroom Program can ensure better Wikipedia content from supported courses.

Educational Partnerships

Jami Mathewson at Wiki Ed’s all-staff meeting

Educational Partnerships Manager Jami Mathewson finalized Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) with existing university and association partners, developing a plan to fulfill commitments to those partners in the first half of the year.

Jami also on-boarded courses coming into the Classroom Program through those educational partnerships. That process ensures that these courses and partner organizations are aware of, and use, current resources and best practices.

Classroom Program

Helaine Blumenthal and Ryan McGrady at Wiki Ed’s all-staff meeting

The spring 2015 term is off and running, with 52 supported courses as of January 31. An additional 30 or so classes were in preparation in January, with several assignments starting in February and March. Helaine and Ryan are busy communicating with professors, reviewing course pages, and onboarding classes. We have developed our onboarding process, and published the checklist we use here.

We’ve made the online student training a top priority this term. We’re also emphasizing that Wikipedia writing assignments have clear milestones and due dates. The new Assignment Design Wizard has been invaluable in doing so.

We’re excited to see classes use the new course Dashboard. The Dashboard is a central location for tracking student activity, including student training. We’re inviting feedback and suggestions for improving the Wizard and Dashboard throughout the term.

Current status of the Classroom Program (spring term 2015) in numbers, as of January 31:

  • 52 Wiki Ed-supported courses have course pages
  • 19 of the 52 classes (37%) are taught by returning instructors
  • 727 student editors are enrolled

It’s early in the term, but we have good contributions from Theresa Burress’s Become a Wikipedian course at the New College of Florida. Students have made major contributions to articles on Thomas Sankara and Nervous tissue.


Eryk Salvaggio at Wiki Ed’s all-staff meeting

In early January, we completed a survey of instructors teaching Wikipedia assignments in the fall 2014 term. Eryk Salvaggio has analyzed and interpreted survey results and found that:

  • 92% of instructors saying they would consider teaching with Wikipedia again
  • 85% of those instructors committed to it

You can read more instructor feedback in his blog post from Jan. 27. Furthermore, we found that 68% of our student editors were women.

Eryk has also been interviewing student editors and instructors from the fall 2014 term and highlighting their work on the web site, many of which will appear in February. One example, The Wikipedia Frontier, was shared by Boston College in its electronic alumni newsletter and was one of the most widely read and shared posts on the web site.

Blog posts:

News coverage:

From Universities

Digital Infrastructure

Early in January, we did a soft launch of the WikiEdu Dashboard: All course pages were linked to a global Dashboard that showed every course in the program.

Product Manager Sage Ross and the WINTR development team focused on expanding the capabilities of the Dashboard system, with a major update at the end of the month.

Our Dashboard now shows detailed information about each class, showing who the students are and if they have completed the online training. We can see how much content they have contributed to Wikipedia, how many page views that work has accumulated, what edits they’ve made, and more.

Sage also developed a Wikipedia bot task to help student editors avoid a common pitfall. Often, students accidentally submit sandbox drafts to Wikipedia’s backlogged Articles for Creation process. This bot makes it easier to follow our special instructions for student editors who move articles into Wikipedia.

Sage and LiAnna are looking forward to a focused research and planning sprint with WINTR in February. This sprint will create a plan for technical infrastructure development for the coming year.

Research and development

Outreach to high-achieving students

The Research and Development project team met in January to select the first student groups for the high-achieving students pilot, including the Berkeley Water Group Idea Lab, the University of Arizona Geology Club, and the Oregon State University Pi Alpha Xi Horticulture Club. The students in these clubs range from undergraduates to post-doctoral fellows. These clubs will host Wiki Ed staff at meetings this term. They’ll receive training on how to contribute illustrations and text to Wikipedia articles. They’ll then take on a group field trip and editing project. Planned activities include tours of geologic phenomena in the Tucson desert, water treatment plants in the San Francisco Bay Area, and local reservoirs, arboretums, and more.

Finance & Administration / Fundraising

Finance & Administration

For the month of January, expenses were $220,003 versus the plan of $148,747.

The $71k variance excess is primarily due to one major event: a major Digital Infrastructure project was completed, and we allowed the next one to start a earlier. This resulted in $60k spending of unspent funds from prior months and earlier payment of start the next project. An additional $10k was a result of an unforeseen need for additional outside services.

Year-To-Date expenses are $923,696 versus the plan of $1,019,121. Much of the $95k variance remains to be the savings as a result of the timing of staff hires – $53k. The remaining amounts are a result of deferred travel and events ($26k); and ($15k) in additional office setup expenses.

Wiki Ed expenses for the month of January 2015
Year to date expenses as of January 2015
Year to date expenses as of January 2015


On January 30, the board’s Audit Committee had its second meeting of the current fiscal year. Board members Karen Twitchell, Karen George, and PJ Tabit reviewed the December and YTD financials and discussed drafts of internal financial controls and investment policies with Bill Gong and Frank Schulenburg. Bill also provided the Audit Committee members with updates on the search for a local bank and for an external audit firm.

Office of the ED

Frank presenting at WMF’s January Metrics and Activities meeting
 Current priorities:

  • Building a robust funding pipeline; developing relationships with new prospects; hiring a new fundraiser
  • Setting up the FY 2015/16 annual planning process
  • Preparing materials for the March strategy discussion kick-off

    Supported by Lisa Grossman from m/Oppenheim, Frank started the process for filling the open position in fundraising. He also worked on expanding Wiki Ed’s funding pipeline, identifying a number of prospects, and establishing or renewing relationships. Board member Lorraine Hariton and Frank discussed approaches of achieving Wiki Ed’s longterm fundraising goals during Lorraine’s visit end of January.

    In early January, Frank gave a presentation on Wiki Ed at the Wikimedia Foundation’s monthly Metrics and Activities meeting. He outlined the work done over the past 11 months and highlighted the major achievements of the organization since February 2014.

    During the all-staff meeting, Frank and LiAnna trained the rest of the organization in Crisis Management and Communication. As a result, Wiki Ed has a procedure in place for how to handle a crisis, including a detailed process for how to build a crisis management team.

    Meeting with local Wikipedia community and Wiki Ed instructors in New York

    Also in January, Frank went on a one-day trip to New York to connect with potential funders and partners for Wiki Ed’s programmatic work. As part of the visit, Frank also met with members of the local Wikipedia community and a number of Wiki Ed instructors.

    During an in-person meeting in San Francisco, Wikimedia DC President James Hare, Frank, and Renée LeVesque fleshed out the details of Wiki Conference USA 2015 preparation meeting scheduled for March. They also agreed on the basic roles and responsibilities between the two organizations and discussed opportunities for Wikimedia DC and Wiki Ed to partner in the future.

Visitors and Guests

  • Howie Fung, Wikimedia Foundation
  • Lisa Grossman, m/Oppenheim
  • James Hare, Wikimedia D.C.
  • Lorraine Hariton, board member
  • Adam Hyland, remote staff member
  • Ian Ramjohn, remote staff member
  • Ryan McGrady, remote staff member
  • Sage Ross, remote staff member


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