A brief program history
The Wikipedia Education Program is an expansion of the Public Policy Initiative. In 2010, the Wikimedia Foundation received a grant to pilot a small university program, focusing specifically on improving the content of the English Wikipedia for the topic area of United States Public Policy. For the pilot program, we developed a plan for assistance to professors who wanted to use Wikipedia in their university classrooms: (1) support materials for teaching, including a sample syllabus, sample assignments, screencast videos, and handouts for students; (2) Campus Ambassadors, who are trained to work in the classroom to teach students how to edit Wikipedia; and (3) Online Ambassadors, experienced Wikipedians with a track record of helping newcomers who will support students online when questions arise.
Interest in the university program piloted through the Public Policy Initiative was enormous. Professors from all over the world began contacting us, wanting more information on how they could participate. At the same time, the Wikimedia Foundation's strategic plan called for increasing participation and improving quality, and the results from the pilot project showed that university outreach brought thousands of newcomers to contribute quality content to Wikipedia.
Now, the program that grew out of the Public Policy Initiative is run by the Wiki Education Foundation. The Wikimedia Foundation continues to run a program in the Arab World, and Wikimedia chapters and dedicated volunteers around the world have started programs in many other countries. Thousands of students have used Wikipedia as a learning tool, and more and more are contributing each term.