Building digital literacy capacity with UMass Lowell faculty

Women in Red at UMass Lowell is a one-year project to build digital literacy capacity in higher education and address the gender gap on campus and in Wikipedia. To kick off this project, 13 faculty at the University of Massachusetts Lowell will be accepted into Wiki Education’s synchronous Wiki Scholars course, meeting online once a week with a team of Wikipedia experts for an in-depth training about how to contribute content to Wikipedia. The application for interested UMass Lowell faculty is open now and closes September 20th!

There are three key components to this project:

1) faculty learning how to edit Wikipedia together;

2) student participation in Wikipedia; and

3) expanding public knowledge of notable women.


1) Wiki Scholars course teaches faculty how to edit Wikipedia

Over 10 weeks, Wiki Education’s team of Wikipedia experts will facilitate collaborative group sessions among UMass Lowell faculty to immerse them in Wikipedia’s technical, procedural, and cultural practices. Wiki Education will help these scholars incorporate published information about notable women from the community or from their field of study to Wikipedia. The Center for Women & Work, a research center at UMass Lowell, has compiled a list of women scholars for inclusion in the project. Each scholar will use publications available to UMass Lowell, this list of women scholars, and other relevant sources to significantly expand at least two biographies of notable women.

Upon course completion, participants will receive a shareable, electronic certificate issued by UMass Lowell and Wiki Education, designating them as UMass Lowell Wiki Scholars. They’ll have developed the technical skills and Wikipedia know-how to disseminate their knowledge to the public and build Wikipedia-writing assignments into their curriculum.

2) Faculty pass on their new skills to students

Once participating faculty members complete their Wiki Scholars course, they will commit to teaching with Wikipedia in the following academic year. That’s when they’ll sign up to receive free tools and support for their classrooms through our Student Program. Building curriculum around Wikipedia-writing assignments is a great way to engage students and enhance their 21st Century digital literacy skills.

We believe this training period will give UMass Lowell instructors added confidence and competence to implement Wikipedia-writing projects into their curricula for the very first time.

3) The public benefits from more information about notable women

Institutions like UMass Lowell have archives about historic women in the community that they are eager to share with the public. Faculty who are accepted into this Wiki Scholars course will help uncover the lives and contributions of those women by bringing the information to Wikipedia. In doing so, they’ll also be helping correct a serious imbalance in Wikipedia’s content: only 17.97% of Wikipedia’s biographies are of women.

If you search for ‘Jacqueline Moloney’ there is no Wikipedia page for her. She is listed as Chancellor on the UMass Lowell Wikipedia page, one of the six women mentioned on the page (four of whom have buildings named after them, like Dierexa Southwick). Professor Holly Yanco, Distinguished University Professor, is mentioned as well, in the description of the NERVE Center.

If you search for UMass Lowell, you’ll find two Wikipedia pages: one for the University itself and one for the River Hawks. But under ‘notable’ people of UMass Lowell are four individuals, all men: Andre Dubus III — novelist and UML faculty member; Craig MacTavish — former NFL player and GM; Marty Meehan — former Congressman and current president of the UMass system; and, James Costos — former ambassador to Spain and Andorra.

Nowhere are the notable women of UMass Lowell mentioned. Not Thelma Todd, the film actress, who attended UMass Lowell when it was the Lowell Normal School. Or Mary Agnes Hallaren, who graduated from Lowell Teacher’s College in 1927 and went on to become the head of the Women’s Army Corps. Hallaren was the first woman to serve as a regular Army officer. She commanded the first women’s battalion to go overseas in 1943. Mary Agnes Hallaren was awarded the Legion of Honor, the Bronze Star, and the Army Commendation Medal. She was featured in Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation. Todd and Hallaren have their own Wikipedia pages, but are not mentioned as ‘notable’ on the University’s own page. Is there a bias here?

For UMass Lowell faculty interested in joining this project, visit the landing page for more information and to apply by September 20, 2019.

This project is a collaboration among the UMass Lowell College of Education (supported by Judith Davidson), UMass Lowell Libraries (supported by Sara Marks and Anthony Sampas), and the Center for Women & Work (supported by June Lemen). These departments have sponsored 13 seats in this course. Participation for accepted UMass Lowell faculty is free.

If you’re interested in buying out a customized professional development course for faculty at your institution, contact Director of Partnerships Jami Mathewson at


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