Wiki Education Foundation/Background

For the English Wikipedia page, see en:WP:WEF.
The factual accuracy of this page may be compromised due to out-of-date information.

The Wiki Education Foundation (WEF) is a new organization that has incorporated as a non-profit. Its board will have representation from the Wikimedia Foundation, the Wikipedia community, educational institutions, and other volunteer groups, including Wikimedia chapters. The Foundation will coordinate and promote the Wikipedia Education Program in the United States and Canada, and also plans to support other projects pertaining to Wikipedia and education. It encourages and supports Wikipedians, Wikipedia Ambassadors, students, educators, educational technologists, librarians, university administrators, and other volunteers (whether they are in the current program or not) to increase and improve the use of Wikipedia in higher education.


The Wikipedia Education Program was established by the Wikimedia Foundation to support educators using Wikipedia in their classes. With its purpose-designed instructional literature and its network of Wikipedia Ambassadors, it has supported thousands of students who have edited the Encyclopedia under the direction of innovative professors. The program's many successes are incredibly exciting, both for academics who see the value of using Wikipedia in the higher education classroom, and for Wikipedia, whose articles can significantly improve from student contributions. As a result, more and more academics are interested in using Wikipedia as a teaching tool.

The Education Program is partly a global initiative, and partly a set of tools, pages, and associated activity on-wiki. The Wikimedia Foundation will continue to fund many aspects of the program, but on 1 July 2013 will stop providing a full-time resource to coordinate the US and Canada classes. In June 2012, the WMF therefore established a working group to consider the future use of Wikipedia in US and Canadian classrooms, and how to continue and even expand the program, despite the reduction in resources. This proposal is the result of those discussions.[1]

The working group proposed this new organization, the Wiki Education Foundation, to continue the work of supporting the US/Canada Education Programs (USCEP). Note that it is the classes themselves, with their students and the work their students do on Wikipedia, that are the most important part of the Educational Program. In that sense the USCEP is not changing: it was never just a WMF initiative, and will not become "a WEF initiative." From the point of view of the Education Program, all that is changing is that the support for students and educators in the USA and Canada will be provided by the WEF rather than by the WMF. At the same time, we hope to give the program additional support, beyond the task of mere coordination that the WMF is handing over.

Throughout this proposal, the word "program" is used to mean the existing education program, rather than any new program initiated by the WEF.


The Wiki Education Foundation supports innovative uses of Wikipedia and related projects in communities of teaching, learning, and inquiry in the United States and Canada. The Foundation aims to improve the breadth, scope, and quality of Wikimedia content; enhance student information fluency; and increase the number and diversity of contributors to the free knowledge movement by engaging educators, researchers, and students.


Although the organization will support the education program in the United States and Canada, and not globally, it will not be possible to register a name such as "Wiki Education Foundation - U.S. and Canada" in both the U.S. and Canada, for legal reasons. Hence the legal name will just be "Wiki Education Foundation". However, in order to make the organization's purpose clear, the organization will do business as "Wiki Education Foundation - U.S. and Canada" where possible.


Improve the breadth, scope, and quality of Wikimedia contentEdit

The Wikipedia Education Program has run for five semesters in the United States and three semesters in Canada. Educators assign their students to edit Wikipedia as a classroom assignment, and volunteer editors support those new student editors and educators, in person and online, to help them create good content. The program achieves many of the goals outlined by the Wikimedia Foundation's strategic plan for the movement, including increasing the number of women adding content, improving the quality of articles, and introducing new editors to the community. Below are some of the quantitative impacts the Education Program has had on English Wikipedia.

Metric Measurement
Number of students who created user accounts 4,579 new user accounts
Number of Online Ambassadors 103 OAs
Number of Campus Ambassadors 170 CAs
Number of faculty 168 educators
Number of bytes contributed 35,987,560 bytes
Estimated number of pages contributed (1500 bytes = 1 page) 23,991 pages

After the Spring 2012 semester, which has had the highest quantity of contributions in the program so far, a group of Wikipedians repeated the article assessment study from the Public Policy Initiative. The results showed that of the 124 assessed articles (expanded or started by student editors), 109 showed improvement. In other words, 87.9% of the student articles showed a positive impact from the Wikipedia Education Program.

WEF plans to continue focusing on methods to support students in creating quality content on Wikipedia. With a decentralized structure (please see organizational structure below), the Wikipedia Education Program can expand its volunteer support to even more educators and students, as the enthusiasm for using Wikipedia in the classroom continues to grow.

Enhance student information fluencyEdit

The students who work with Wikipedia should gain something from the experience that goes beyond the discipline of the class they are enrolled in. The course should make them aware of how Wikipedia works, and give them a better understanding of, and confidence in their ability to work with, the digital infrastructure of the modern world.

Increase the number and diversity of contributors to the free knowledge movementEdit

We aim to support institutions, educators and librarians in higher education who are interested in incorporating Wikipedia as tool to achieve learning objectives in the classroom. Though we believe the process of editing Wikipedia helps students achieve learning objectives they may not achieve with other assignments, we continue to be concerned with making a positive impact on Wikipedia. Some types of support we will offer to facilitate the effective use of Wikipedia in the classroom while improving the quality of Wikipedia content include:

  • Making available to wide audiences in higher education and the Wikipedia community curated resources and best practices related to learning and using Wikipedia skills and participation in the Wikipedia community, incorporating Wikipedia into classroom learning objectives, and the role Wikipedia can play in furthering information fluency skills.
  • Making available training (on-line or in-person) focused on:
    • Wikipedia editing basics
    • Wikipedia community norms, policies and guidelines
    • Collaborating with the Wikipedia community
    • Methodologies and best practices for Wikipedia quality and recognition processes (article assessment, DYK, etc.)
  • Direct support through training, mentoring, on-boarding and customer service for those volunteers in both the high education and Wikipedia communities that are providing direct support to the goals, programs and initiatives of the WEF.
  • Supporting the concept of "Wikipedia Studies"--academic, peer reviewed research aimed at furthering an understanding and application of Wikipedia as a tool in the classroom within the broad higher education community.

And more...Edit

To date, much of the education program's emphasis has been on content contributions, student learning experiences, and the diversity that the student population brings to the Wikipedia-editing community. The WEF will continue to pursue these primary objectives, but we are also eager to work with Wikipedia editors and other volunteers in pursuing any innovative ideas about retaining more students as active editors as well as any other valuable experiments.

Guiding PreceptsEdit

  • The WEF will follow the principles of the Wikimedia movement: it will be community-based and open.
  • The WEF supports the ideals of a free culture, and all materials will be available under a free license.
  • This is an independent organization focused on:
    • encouraging and supporting the use of Wikimedia in the classrooms of higher education to further improve student information fluency skills
    • improving the quality and scope of Wikipedia content and improve Wikipedia participation through collaboration with institutions, educators and librarians in higher education
    • creating a collaborative "win-win" relationship between the Wikimedia community and with students, educators, librarians, and administrators in higher education
  • The organization will strive to sustain the successes of the Wikimedia Foundation's Education Program in the United States and Canada. WEF initiatives will expand the program and provide all volunteers, educators, librarians, and editors with the necessary resources to succeed. WEF initiatives will be crafted to encourage greater use and understanding of Wikimedia at educational institutions.
  • The organization will work with relevant WikiProjects and Wikimedia Chapters when appropriate.
  • The organization will raise funds among foundations and private donors in the United States and Canada and may also accept government grants or contracts.
  • The organization will work to support the needs of its various communities, including students, Wikipedia editors, educators, librarians, administrators, and campus and online ambassadors.

Measuring WEF successEdit

The Foundation will work closely with the Wikimedia Foundation, with WikiEd Groups, and with experts in higher education and information fluency to develop forms of evaluation and set expectations so as to measure the success of the overall US & Canada Education Program, and the effectiveness and value of the work done by the WEF to support the program.

These forms of evaluation may include:

Wikipedia focused metricsEdit

  • developing/implementing a sustainable and scalable qualitative assessment of articles written/expanded by student editors participating in the program or in WEF initiatives
  • participation rates and duration rates by students editors participating in the program or in WEF initiatives
  • bytes added by professors and ambassadors who became Wikipedia editors participating in the program or in WEF initiatives
  • retention rate of students, professors, ambassadors as Wikipedia editors from participants in the program or in WEF initiatives
  • metrics related to adverse burdens (plagiarism, disruptive editing, uncivil behavior, etc.) placed on the community by participants in the program or in WEF initiatives.

Higher education focused metricsEdit

  • effectiveness metrics relative to achievement of learning objectives when Wikipedia is used as part of the curriculum
  • satisfaction rates from institutions, educators and librarians relative to implementing Wikipedia as a tool in the classroom and in furthering information fluency
  • peer reviewed research metrics that demonstrate the effectiveness of the program or in WEF initiatives.


WEF plans to operate with a small group of paid/volunteer staff that will support Wikipedia community and WEF volunteers to help institutions of higher education participate in WEF initiatives.


With its approval as a Wikimedia Thematic Organization, WEF will be incorporated in the United States as a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and will serve the geographic scope of the United States and Canada.

Volunteer structureEdit

WEF initiatives encourage and support formation of local or topical membership WikiEd Groups (see below), which might support Wikipedia classroom assignment activity and may even explore other Wikipedia projects within a local or topical context. An educator who wishes to receive support would work closely with the relevant group to design the class assignment, train any new ambassadors, mentor students on Wikipedia editing, and monitor Wikipedia contributions. The educators and student editors themselves will be encouraged to join the group's community of volunteers who are bringing Wikipedia-editing into the classroom.

Note that the members of the WikiEd Groups would not be members of the WEF in the sense of a membership organization. The board will constitute the membership of the WEF: the WEF will be a "board-only" non-profit.

The WikiEd groups may also be associated with organized local Wikimedia chapters or topical Wikimedia thematic organizations, if the cooperation of the relevant communities supports that.

  • Topical WikiEd Groups would represent Wikipedia editors, ambassadors and educators who are interested in a similar academic subject. Group members will provide subject-specific guidance for student editors and educators participating in WEF initiatives.
    • For example, a group of Sociology professors, Wikipedians, and graduate students may decide to form a Sociology WikiEd Group. They will work together to advise Sociology professors when designing the Wikipedia assignment and monitor student work to suggest content-based changes. The Sociology WikiEd Group may also decide to edit Sociology articles themselves, work closely with WikiProject Sociology, compile a database of reliable resources, assess the quality of all Sociology articles at the end of each term, identify the best articles for Good Article nomination, etc.
  • Local WikiEd Groups would represent Wikipedia editors, ambassadors and educators who are interested in supporting classes on a specific campus or in a specific city. These group members may still provide the assignment design consultation but should work closely with any relevant Topical WikiEd Group.
    • For example, a group of people at Louisiana State University may join to form the LSU WikiEd Group. Similarly, Georgetown University, George Washington University, etc. may wish to join forces for the Washington, D.C. WikiEd Group.

Board of DirectorsEdit

The board of the new organization will represent the program's many communities and will govern the organization. A complete board will be diverse, will have accounting and finance skills, legal skills, managerial or leadership expertise. Above all, most of its members will have good connections or social capital within our communities.

Eligible board members must demonstrate personal integrity, be a resident of the United States or Canada, be positively passionate about a partnership between Wikimedia and education, and commit to actively participating in any needed committee work.

Board slotsEdit

A full board will have 12 seats, representing educators, Wikipedia editors, Chapters and WikiEd Groups, and necessary skills. The board should be visionary, while day-to-day operations should be handled by the broader scope of program participants. However, the board has the ultimate fiduciary responsibility for the organization, so it is legally responsible for ensuring that the organization is properly set up. In the early stages of the organization, the board will play a much more active role in not only establishing a functioning organization but also in coordinating and maintaining Education Program activity.

  • 1 Wikimedia Foundation appointee (nominated by WMF)
  • 3 educators (nominated by Wikipedians and WEF participants)
  • 3 Wikipedia representatives (nominated by Wikipedians and WEF participants)
  • 1 representative nominated by Wikimedia Chapters (in the US and Canada) and WikiEd Groups
    • this slot to be activated when there is a sufficient community of active WikiEd Groups
  • 4 board members nominated and elected by the rest of the board, based on skill needs

Members of the Initial BoardEdit

Positions available for potential board members
  • vacant, 1 of the 3 educators (nominated by Wikipedians and WEF participants)
  • vacant, 2 of the 3 educators (nominated by Wikipedians and WEF participants)
  • vacant, 3 of the 3 educators (nominated by Wikipedians and WEF participants)
  • vacant, 1 of the 3 Wikipedia representatives (nominated by Wikipedians and WEF participants)
  • vacant, 2 of the 3 Wikipedia representatives (nominated by Wikipedians and WEF participants)
  • vacant, 3 of the 3 Wikipedia representatives (nominated by Wikipedians and WEF participants)
  • vacant, 1 of the 4 board members nominated and elected by the rest of the board, based on skill needs
  • vacant, 2 of the 4 board members nominated and elected by the rest of the board, based on skill needs
  • vacant, 3 of the 4 board members nominated and elected by the rest of the board, based on skill needs
  • vacant, 4 of the 4 board members nominated and elected by the rest of the board, based on skill needs
  • vacant, 1 representative nominated by Wikimedia Chapters (in the US and Canada) and WikiEd Groups
  • Annie Lin - 1 of 1 Wikimedia Foundation appointee (nominated by WMF)

Bylaws and public documentsEdit

WEF has been working with a lawyer pro bono to create governing bylaws for the organization, which can be found at Wiki Education Foundation/Bylaws.

Other public documents (e.g. meeting minutes) can also be found at WEF Official Documents on the confluence platform.


  1. Note that the composition of the working group changed several times over the course of the discussions, with some members resigning and additional members being invited to join. For a history of the changes in the working group's (and later the board's) composition, see the minutes of the WEF's meetings.

Interested participantsEdit

Anyone can become a participant of the organization. There will be a simple online process for signing up, with minimal requirements, such as agreeing with the guiding principles, which the Foundation will develop. Participants will renew annually to remain in good standing and to be listed in the directory. Participants may join any (and multiple) topical and local WikiEd Groups.

The following signed up to be members, when this organization was still envisaged as a membership organization. (List copied over from our original sign-up).

  1. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 23:27, 25 January 2013 (UTC)
  2. DStrassmann (talk) 23:43, 25 January 2013 (UTC)
  3. Annie Lin (Wikimedia Foundation) (talk) 00:15, 26 January 2013 (UTC)
  4. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 21:25, 26 January 2013 (UTC)
  5. benongyx (talk) 18:18, 27 January 2013 (UTC)
  6. Pjthepiano (talk) 03:11, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
  7. Bob Cummings (talk) 11:12, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
  8. Mankad (talk) 20:35, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
  9. Rburdette (talk) 01:50, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
  10. Brianwc (talk) 13:15, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
  11. JoyceChou (talk) 16:22, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
  12. Virginiawhite09 (talk) 01:01, 30 January 2013 (UTC)
  13. Achresto (talk) 01:20, 30 January 2013 (UTC)
  14. Daniellam91 (talk) 03:12, 30 January 2013 (UTC)
  15. Zpanos (talk) 03:14, 30 January 2013 (UTC)
  16. Colleenfugate (talk) 03:21, 30 January 2013 (UTC)
  17. BerikGBerikG (talk) 03:45, 30 January 2013 (UTC)
  18. Vertdegrece (talk) 04:51, 30 January 2013 (UTC)
  19. Mwtwgt (talk) 04:59, 30 January 2013 (UTC)
  20. Leejohnson898 (talk) 05:05, 30 January 2013 (UTC)
  21. Hmccann (talk) 05:27, 30 January 2013 (UTC)
  22. Agelaia (talk) 05:42, 30 January 2013 (UTC)
  23. Nadhika99 (talk) 06:36, 30 January 2013 (UTC)
  24. Slin2264 (talk) 07:21, 30 January 2013 (UTC)
  25. DArquero (talk) 07:57, 30 January 2013 (UTC)
  26. Kayhoang (talk) 10:03, 30 January 2013 (UTC)
  27. Crr4 (talk) 00:39, 31 January 2013 (UTC)
  28. Weatherby551 (talk) 16:26, 1 February 2013 (UTC)
  29. Pharos (talk) 04:05, 2 February 2013 (UTC)
  30. Heidimkahle (talk)
  31. NehemiahAnkoor (talk) 00:17, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
  32. OhanaUnitedTalk page 19:28, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
  33. CoxChristine (talk) 15:47, 7 February 2013 (UTC)
  34. Vignespassy (talk) 16:46, 7 February 2013 (UTC)
  35. The Interior (Talk) 22:33, 11 February 2013 (UTC)
  36. Biosthmors (talk) 19:11, 26 February 2013 (UTC)
  37. Kevin Gorman (talk) 00:06, 27 February 2013 (UTC)
  38. Sadads (talk) 02:57, 27 February 2013 (UTC)
  39. --Another Believer (talk) 20:33, 18 March 2013 (UTC)
  40. Ambassador Neelix (talk) 17:17, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
  41. --Aschmidt (talk) 02:51, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
  42. --Wvk (talk) 05:06, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
  43. --Texaner (talk) 15:20, 5 May 2013 (UTC)
  44. Crtew (talk) 16:45, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
  45. AbhiSuryawanshi (talk) 20:04, 7 November 2013 (UTC)
  46. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 11:00, 29 April 2014 (UTC)