Education/Newsletter/March 2017/Meet the team
Meet the team!
The education team interviewed each other, so you can get to know us a bit better!
In this month’s newsletter we thought we would let you “meet the team” through a candid interview with questions submitted by each team member. Some questions are work related and some are a little more fun. Through this process we got to know more about each other, and we hope you feel like you know us a little better now too! We’re looking forward to doing more interviews in the future!
Q: Tell me something that’s not on your staff page.
Tighe: I’m a huge fan of spreadsheets. No, really! I love to find solutions to keep me organized, and I love discovering new functions and shortcuts.
Vahid: I’m an edtech enthusiast (educational technology). I really believe that tech (computers+internet) has the potential to transform education. I love reading about it and thinking about what that implies for educators and education managers. I’m also a pc gamer, though my gaming has been decreasing as my age has been increasing. :)
Nichole: I was born in Germany, but I’m not German, and I can’t speak German!
Q: How long have you been with the WMF? What made you interested in working for the WMF, and on the education team?
T: A little over three and a half years. I started working exclusively in support of the Arab World Education Program, which broadened to support the Middle East and Africa regions. Now I lead the team but still have my focus on those regions primarily.
V: I started working at the Foundation last May: I'm still on my first year at the Foundation. Before I started, I was a volunteer for over 3 years with the Ecuador User Group, helping with education related activities, visiting universities and speaking at events about the value of inserting Wikipedia into educational practice.
N: I’ve only been with the WMF for 5 months, but it’s been great so far! I was interested to work with the WMF because I’m very passionate about the role of education, and especially education technology, in global development, and I saw the work that the team does as extremely important in creating quality educational opportunities for all students that promote information and digital literacy and 21st century skills.
Q: Where are you based? Are you a remotie? In the office? Do you like it?
T: I’m based in Washington, DC, which makes me a remotie. I like working from home, but do miss seeing some of my colleagues more regularly. I think I see some global Wikimedia community members more frequently than I do some of my “office” colleagues :)
V: I’m a remotie: I currently reside in Quito, Ecuador. I really like how the Wikipedia Foundation has figured out ways to make remote work practical. It's not always ideal, but I think it helps keep a world vision, open to more perspectives.
N: I’m now based in San Francisco, but I was a remotie for a couple of months while transitioning from my former home in Amman, Jordan. I really love the Bay Area, and am so happy to be based there.
Q: Why do you think Wikipedia in Education matters?
T: It’s a flexible model that can have a huge impact. I had several courses during my graduate studies at Georgetown that included Wikipedia components, and I know from that perspective it makes you do better work and write for a bigger audience -- not just for your professor for a grade.
V: There’s no question regarding students accessing knowledge that is often key for their learning on Wikipedia. But the aspect that to me is revolutionary is saying: You too can generate knowledge, and even share it with the whole world, so that humanity can benefit from what you’ve done. This is a total game changer. Especially in the “global south”, there’s this notion that knowledge can only come from the north, and needs to be passively learned and repeated. Wikipedia in Education puts knowledge generation in the hands of every students.
N: I think I touched on this a little bit before, and I’ll reiterate what Tighe mentioned about it being a flexible (and an easily contextualized) model that has a huge impact. I see it having a significant positive impact on vital life skills that 21st century learners need to thrive in the now and future workplace. It is a program that benefits so many (the world!), and at such a low cost, that it really should be ubiquitous in classrooms.
Q: What skills do you bring to the table?
T: I like to break things down into practical steps -- I like to go from big-picture thinking to a realistic plan of attack.
V: “Selling” the Wikipedia education program concept to educators is something that i think i can contribute. I’m also a strong believer in the value of community development, and have experience with doing that in diverse contexts.
N: I have a background in education project management, monitoring and evaluation, and communications. I’m also an idea person, and get energy from brainstorming possibilities and trying new things.
Q: How do you describe the Wikipedia in Education world to non-Wikipedians? How do you describe your job to non-Wikipedians?
T: Students improving free knowledge and filling in gaps.
V: “Get your students writing, in an encyclopedia no less!” My job is to support volunteer’s endeavours to bring education programs to life and keep them active.
N: I tell them it is one of the most cost effective tools that helps teachers to meet important learning outcomes, while students contribute to knowledge production. Win-Win!
Q: Do you have an offline skill or hobby that helps you with your online job?
T: I recently got into patchwork and quilting. I was looking for an offline hobby since I spend so much of my days staring at a computer screen. I’ve quickly become obsessed. I really like that planning and precision can lead to some really good results. And the more I do the better I get. I think this approach can be reflected in an education program, too. A good plan is a great start, and with experience you’ll become more confident and want to try new things.
V: I’ve already mention my gaming habit, which, because i’m a PC gamer, connects directly with my love for tech. I’ve assembled PCs from scratch for my friends, and try to keep updated as much as i can with the evolution of ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies). I like trying new software when it’s aligned with my needs. My enthusiasm for tech, while not necessarily contagious, can be infectious and i’ve been known to “push” people around me to adopt technologies they wouldn’t have otherwise.
N: I really like hiking, and I’ve hiked up a couple of mountains: Taishan in China, The Annapurna range in Nepal, and parts of Kota Kinabalu in Borneo. I think this helps me in my online job, because when you are hiking up mountains, it’s rather tedious and painful sometimes, but you feel great after! Some of the tasks we have to tackle online are also tedious (although less physically painful), but it is good to keep in mind the feeling of accomplishment that will come after.
Q: Do you have a pet?
T: Yes, I have a large English Mastiff named Daphne. She’s 120 lbs (55 kg) but thinks she’s much smaller than she is. She’s on Instagram.
V: My son’s hamster just died a few days ago. So no pets for the time being.
N: I have a ginger cat named George, but she would like you to know that she is a girl. She found me on the street outside my office in Jordan, and forced me to be her mom. She is a new immigrant to the US and her immigrant journey is documented on Instagram.
Q: What do you see for the future of the Wikipedia Education Program?
T: In an era of fake news, real facts matter more than ever. Students who participate in a Wikipedia assignment become critical knowledge consumers because they know how it works, even if they don’t become regular contributors to the projects. In a world where students need to learn how to be critical digital citizens, my hope is that Wikipedia assignments naturally fill that need and become more and more widespread.
V: Editing Wikipedia will (eventually) become standard in education systems: Every student will have learned how to edit, in the best sense of the word. This will make students smarter about the world and knowledge production, but also generate values such as collaboration and wider worldviews in them.
N: In the far future, all students will be “Wiki-literate” and participate in contributing to free knowledge while learning information and digital literacy and 21st century skills. I am particularly hopeful about expansion into places with less connectivity, and and even more hopeful about this after seeing some of the innovations at Mobile Learning Week!