Monthly Report, July 2017


  • Remote Wiki Education staff traveled to San Francisco to participate in a week-long All Staff meeting with local staff. It was a great opportunity for staff to collaborate in-person, since half of our staff is remote. We engaged in a lot of planning for how we will accomplish our goals for next fiscal year, as well as having fun together.
  • Wikipedia Visiting Scholars combined to achieve two Featured Articles, one Good Article, and several new articles on important topics in July. In the program, we connect existing Wikipedia editors to access to sources of information, and we’ve had great success in improving the quality and quantity of information available on Wikipedia through this program.
  • Our Google Summer of Code and Outreachy interns made great technical contributions to our Dashboard software, adding a feature that allow instructors and students to add their own suggestions for how an article can be improved, for the Program & Events Dashboard enabled on-wiki contributions for the Portuguese Wikipedia, and fixing a number of bugs. We’re impressed with the quality of work coming from the interns and happy to support these open source programs.
  • In separate visits, we welcomed two groups of University of California Berkeley program participants, as well as a group of San Francisco State University students, to our offices to talk with us about their experiences in the program. The SFSU class presented on their user testing of our Dashboard software. We learned a lot from these course visits, and are thankful that we have local connections to some of our program participants!


Ryan McGrady and TJ Bliss at Wiki Education All Staff, July 2017
Ryan McGrady and TJ Bliss at Wiki Education All Staff, July 2017

July was our biannual All Staff, where we welcomed remote staff to San Francisco for a week of sharing learnings, meeting in person, and having fun. We spent two mornings together as a full group, celebrating our successes from the past six months, playing an Annual Plan Jeopardy game, and looking toward the next six months of work, where we’ll kick off our Future of Facts campaign. It was also a great opportunity for staff to meet in person to touch base on projects, a rare luxury with half of our staff being normally remote. We spend the Friday of each All Staff doing a fun activity together; this year, the group toured Angel Island.

Educational Partnerships and Outreach

Elizabeth Che presents at Palo Alto University about teaching with Wikipedia in psychology courses.
Elizabeth Che presents at Palo Alto University about teaching with Wikipedia in psychology courses.

In July, Educational Partnerships Manager Jami Mathewson presented to faculty at Palo Alto University alongside Dr. Patty Brooks and Elizabeth Che. They shared their experience teaching with Wikipedia as a part of the Association for Psychological Science’s Wikipedia initiative and encouraged new faculty to join the Classroom Program. Attendees were excited about the pedagogical benefits for students who edit Wikipedia, and several instructors are designing assignments for next year.

Outreach Manager Samantha Weald has been working with new instructors in the Classroom Program to set up their fall 2017 assignments. So far, we’re supporting 35 courses taught by a new instructor in the fall 2017 term, many of whom worked with Samantha to design their assignment and learn about Wiki Education’s resources. This time last year, we only had 13 courses taught by new instructors who were fully set up and ready to run their assignment for the fall 2016 term. We’re becoming more efficient in preparing new program participants, and we think it’s good that more instructors are planning their assignments well in advance of the term start.

Classroom Program

Status of the Classroom Program for Summer 2017 in numbers, as of July 31:

  • 32 courses were in progress (18, or 56%, were led by returning instructors)
  • 495 student editors were enrolled
  • 57% of students were up-to-date with the student training
  • Students edited 343 articles, created 16 new entries, and added 165,000 words.

We’re half-way through the summer, and while our summer courses are beginning to wind down, we’re getting ready for the Fall 2017 term. At this time last year, we had 21 courses in progress for the Fall 2016 term. As of right now, we’ve approved 52 courses on the Dashboard. The coming weeks will be very busy for Classroom Program Manager Helaine Blumenthal, as instructors develop their Wikipedia assignments and submit their course pages.

Though the summer is a time to look ahead, it’s also a time to reflect and look back at the previous term. During our All-Staff meeting in mid-July, members of the Programs Team met to discuss past successes and to address any challenges or road blocks. Based on these discussions, we’re putting considerable effort into improving our tools and resources and rethinking our best practices for supporting Wikipedia assignments. Among these projects include updates to our recommended course timeline, brochures, and handouts, and our training modules as well as an evaluation of our ability to support large courses. As part of this process, we invited Professor Michel Gelobter of UC Berkeley to the office during All-Staff to discuss how we can provide better support to larger classes as well as those courses that address potentially controversial subjects. The meeting was productive, and Professor Gelobter provided us with many new insights into how Wikipedia assignments play out directly in the classroom. We’ll be forming recommendations around his visit shortly. We’ll be announcing any changes to the Classroom Program in the coming weeks as we complete various projects.

Coleman Lab visits Wiki Education
Coleman Lab visits Wiki Education

We support hundreds of courses each term and thousands of students, but we rarely have the chance to personally engage with our program participants. On July 31, we had the great pleasure of welcoming Professor Naniette Coleman of UC Berkeley along with one of her students and Berkeley librarian, Corlis Lee, to Wiki Education’s office in San Francisco. Professor Coleman has been running a multi-term Wikipedia independent study around issues of privacy. You can see her Spring 2017 project here. During their time in the office, Professor Coleman and her student discussed the status of their Wikipedia work, including the screening of a brief video about the importance of their Wikipedia assignment and their attempts to develop a brief Wikipedia guide for other students entering Professor Coleman’s group. We were excited to hear about how contributing to Wikipedia has personally affected this group of exceptional students, and we’re looking forward to another productive term as Professor Coleman takes on new students.

Student work highlights:
Calendars are not only a good way to keep track of time, but they can tell us much about the people who used them. In Grace Gillies’s Discovering the Romans, one student expanded the article on the Fasti Ostienses, fragments of an ancient Roman calendar that marked events of major importance for Ostia, a seaport town and harbor city for Rome. Not only did this mark key national events but also those important to Ostia. Things marked by the Fasti Ostienses include local festivals, feasts, births and deaths within imperial families, and military victories, some of which were likely recorded in the Fasti Ostienses because they were posted in “newspapers” aimed at Roman Citizens. The scarcity of Fasti Ostienses and their ability to give historians a rare glimpse into a time long since past.

Did she or didn’t she? A better question may be “was she or wasn’t she?”, as another student in Gillies’s class found when they chose to write about Lucilia, the supposed wife of the Roman philosopher Lucretius. Lucilia was rumored to have given her husband a love potion that was intended to make him think of her and favor her above everything else, but instead drove him to insanity and caused him to take his own life. Some scholars, however, question whether or not she actually existed as Lucilia may potentially be a literary creation. There is little evidence of their relationship at all and her name was not mentioned in relation to the Roman philosopher until 1511 AD, well over a thousand years after Lucretius’s death around 55 BC. Whether she was real, semi-fictional, or entirely a figment of someone’s imagination may never be proven, however the legacy left by the idea of Lucilia has prompted multiple writers to write of her, including Lord Alfred Tennyson with the poem “Lucretius”.

Italy is a land full of great beauty and many feel that the Italian language is equally beautiful. Students in Andrew Nevin’s Introduction to Linguistics class worked at expanding the article on the Italian language on Wikipedia. They paid particular attention to the language’s growth in popularity over the years, noting that the growth of technology such as printing presses made it easier for the language to spread over large areas.

Another student from Nevin’s class expanded the article on the Turkish language to give more detail on the language’s syntax, as well as information on a whistling version of the Turkish language. This language, which mirrors the lexical and syntactical structure of Turkish language, is in danger of dying off — however there is hope that attempts to teach the language in regional schools will save the language. What makes the addition of this material so much more meaningful is that the student in question was editing from Turkey, which blocked access to Wikipedia in their country. Adding this content not only gave readers the ability to learn more about the Turkish language but also gave the student the freedom to share their wealth of knowledge and resources despite their country’s censorship of Wikipedia.

Community Engagement

In the 2017–2018 fiscal year, we will introduce a new pilot program, Wikipedia Fellows, through which we will create or develop connections with academic associations compatible with our “Future of Facts” campaign and recruit from their membership academics whom we will train and support as they contribute to Wikipedia. Community Engagement Manager Ryan McGrady spent much of his time this month planning for the pilot in collaboration with Jami, who is already actively developing relationships with interested associations. Ryan also spent time both during and after our all-staff meeting implementing this fiscal year’s changes to the Visiting Scholars program, as well as working with prospective sponsors and Scholars at different stages in the onboarding process.


Nazik al-Abid
Image: Naziq al-Abid, 1920.jpg, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Existing Visiting Scholars continued to do great work. Early in the month, Gary Greenbaum, Visiting Scholar at George Mason University, saw his article on the History of the British penny (1901–1970)promoted to Featured Article. Later, he added the Illinois Centennial half dollar to his impressive Featured Article collection.

The article on the National Museum of African Art was promoted to Good Article after major improvements by Smithsonian Institution Visiting Scholar, User:Czar.

Our newest Visiting Scholar at Brown University, Eryk Salvaggio, who is developing ethnic studies content, created an article on the Cockstock incident, an argument over a horse that turned violent and contributed to Oregon’s passage of an 1844 exclusion law against free black men living in the state. He also developed Wikipedia’s article on Nazik al-Abid, a Syrian women’s rights activist known as the “Joan of Arc of the Arabs”.

Emelie Tracy Y. Swett Parkurst
Image: Emelie Tracy Y. Parkhurst.png, by the Californian Publishing Company, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Barbara Page, at the University of Pittsburgh, continued her work on Wikipedia’s health and medicine coverage by creating new articles on pain management during childbirthinfant food safety, and postpartem physiological changes.

The prolific Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight continued to build high-quality articles on women writers in her capacity as Visiting Scholar at Northeastern University. This month includes articles on Margaret Frances Sullivan (1847–1903), an accomplished journalist and editor; Emelie Tracy Y. Swett (1863–1892), a Californian poet and editor; and Mary Louise Booth (1831–1889), the first editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar.

Program Support


In July, Data Scientist and Storyteller Adam Hyland worked on revisions to our existing support materials for program participants based on feedback from the previous term.

Blog posts:

Digital Infrastructure

In July, we made incremental progress on several current technical projects. We’ve switched the Dashboard to use a newer version of the “whoColor” authorship highlighting service, and we’re working with the researchers who maintain it to improve the accuracy and completeness of the highlighting. Google Summer of Code intern Keerthana S has been working on a new feature of the editing suggestions tool to allow instructors and students to add their own suggestions for how an article can be improved. Outreachy intern Medha Bansal reached a major milestone with her project: the Programs & Events Dashboard is now making automatic edits on Portuguese Wikipedia, as a trial before enabling edits on more languages and projects. And Google Summer of Code intern Sejal Khatri has now completed six user testing sessions with Programs & Events Dashboard users, discovered and fixed several more bugs, and is preparing a new version of the Dashboard navigation bar to make it mobile-friendly. All three internships will continue through August.

SFSU students presentation to Wiki Education staff.

With researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and University of Pittsburgh, we’re preparing for a user experience research project that will test out some possible ways to foster a sense of community among the students participating in our projects. New and returning instructors will be able to opt-in to the study for the Fall 2017 term. During our all-staff meeting, we also hosted San Francisco State University students, who delivered presentations on the usability studies they have been conducting on the Wiki Education Dashboard.

Finally, we are preparing for a switch to using a help desk service to more easily manage the support requests from Classroom Program participants. We hope to have the help desk system up and running in August.

Research and Academic Engagement

Although Research Fellow Zach McDowell’s work technically wrapped up in June, he and Professor Matthew Vetter spent the month of July putting the finishing touches on a manuscript, “From Opportunities to Outcomes: The Wikipedia-based Writing Assignment,” which they submitted to the journal Computers and Composition.

Finance & Administration / Fundraising

Finance & Administration

For the month of July, we started our new fiscal year and budget. Our approved budget for July is $171,999, and our actual expenditures were $148,110. The variance of $24k was mainly due to timing delays of our planned media work ($11k). In addition, the lack of secured funding for our continued research work meant eliminating those cost ($5k). The remaining variance was a result of slight saving in various items.

Wiki Education Expenses July 2017.jpg


Fundraising efforts in July focused primarily on getting up to speed on past fundraising efforts, current grants, and general policies and procedures. Much of the month was also spent developing a list of potential foundations and individuals who may be interested in funding the work of Wiki Education. This “living list” is sorted into two main categories, aligned to the current initiatives of Wiki Education: Guided Editing and Future of Facts. The Future of Facts list is further sorted into specific types of funder interests that align with various aspects of the Future of Facts Initiative: democracy funders, news literacy funders, education funders, and sunlight funders. Outreach to many of these funders was initiated in late July, with cultivation of relationships ongoing. Finally, engagement with our communications consultant, PRCO, was renewed and plans were finalized for developing a set of communications assets aligned to the Future of Facts Initiative. These assets will include a messaging guide, a speaking opportunities plan, and specific communication devices like an infographic and/or videos.

Office of the ED

  • Current priorities:
    • Finding funding for key initiatives in FY 2017/18
    • Preparation of Wiki Education’s strategic planning

In July, Executive Director Frank Schulenburg worked closely with Director of Development and Strategy TJ Bliss on finding funding for Wiki Education’s key initiatives in 2017/18. He coordinated work on outlines for Guided Editing and Future of Facts to be shared with prospective funders. He also wrote, reviewed, and submitted LOIs for new institutional funders. Frank also supported TJ in improving the organization’s GuideStar profile.

Frank and TJ also worked with board members Ted Yang and PJ Tabit on preparing for Wiki Education’s upcoming strategic planning exercise. Collaboratively, the group agreed on a document describing the different elements of Wiki Education’s next strategic plan document. Frank also drafted a process timeline. Both documents will be shared with the board in order to come to a shared agreement on process and expected outcomes.

During the July all-staff meeting, Frank provided staff with information about the upcoming strategic planning process. He also followed up with staff on the “leadership on all levels” conversation started in February 2017. Together, the group highlighted examples of staff showing examples of leadership across the organization.

Visitors and guests

  • Pavel Richter, Open Knowledge
  • Michel Gelobter, UC Berkeley
  • Naniette Coleman, Dept. of Sociology, UC Berkeley
  • Angela Zeng, UC Berkeley
  • Corliss Lee, Librarian, UC Berkeley
  • Patricia Donahue, San Francisco State University, and her students
    • Roger Kiel
    • Mohammed Alhabshan
    • Tina Chong
    • Crystal Hsia
    • Joy Li
    • Claudia Medina

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