Public Policy Initiative Memorandum of Understanding Spring 2011

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This document establishes a framework for cooperation between the Wikimedia Foundation and INSERT PROFESSOR NAME within the Wikipedia Public Policy Initiative. Both parties aim to develop and implement a mutually beneficial, experimental program that uses Wikipedia as a classroom teaching and learning tool.

The Wikipedia Public Policy Initiative, described at [1], will run through the 2010–2011 academic year, involving activities in 15 to 30 classrooms, with evaluation and documentation to be completed by September 2011.

Wikimedia Foundation commitments

1. Wikipedia training for faculty members and students.

BENEFIT: Participants will learn how to effectively create and edit articles on the world's most prominent reference site. Hands-on experience with Wikipedia will provide professors and students insight into how Wikipedia content is created and how to evaluate it critically. Professors will gain experience using Wikipedia as a teaching tool.

2. Freely-licensed educational materials.

BENEFIT: Printed materials (e.g. Wikipedia editing references, basics of editing) and online materials (e.g. instructional videos, sample lesson plans, worksheets, and handouts) will support current educational activities, and will be available for reuse, with or without modification, in future classes.

3. Ongoing support for teachers and students.

BENEFIT: Wikipedia experts will provide support to faculty and students throughout the Public Policy Initiative, answering questions both online (via Wikipedia Online Ambassadors) and offline (via Wikipedia Campus Ambassadors based at your university). After the Initiative time-frame, we anticipate that students and Wikipedia Ambassadors will remain active in your department and on your campus, building a local community of Wikipedians.

4. Lessons-learned meeting for evaluation of the educational benefits, exploration of future potential.

BENEFIT: We will share our initial findings with all participants, and gather additional feedback. The feedback and evaluation will be used to develop strategies and support for on-going classroom activities at universities, determine next steps in relationship to the Public Policy Initiative, inform and enhance Wikipedia Ambassador training, and determine how to expand the Public Policy Initiative model into other topic areas and geographies.

5. Recognition as a "Wikipedia Teaching Fellow," an honor bestowed upon professors who pledge to follow the Requirements for Course Design document.

BENEFIT: The professor's contribution to innovative teaching and using Wikipedia in the classroom will be recognized by the Wikimedia Foundation and the Wikipedia community with a "Wikipedia Teaching Fellow" title that could be used on a C.V.

Professor commitments

1. Use Wikipedia as a teaching tool in your class during the specified term, and assign Wikipedia-editing to your students as coursework. Involvement with Wikipedia assignment will be mandatory for each student, span at minimum half of the course term, and consist of making substantial course-related contributions to Wikipedia. See the Requirements for Course Design document for more detailed information.

BENEFIT: Students will write for a large, diverse, and global audience, and will receive varied feedback in that process. Using Wikipedia as a learning tool and following their faculty instructor's guidance, students will develop a deeper understanding of public policy topics, document their research process, and learn to evaluate different information sources.

2. Engage your students in expanding or improving existing public policy articles, and/or starting new articles related to public policy. IMPORTANT NOTE: Students must work on Wikipedia articles whose topic are United States public policy (rather than, for example, articles about a foreign country's policies or articles about non-policy issues).

BENEFIT: Students will improve content areas within the broad topic of the course. Through exploration of the content that already exists on Wikipedia and engagement with the question of how to best improve it, they will gain a greater understanding of how to use Wikipedia to disseminate information to a broad audience.

3. Maintain frequent communication with Wikimedia Foundation staff, Campus Ambassadors, and Online Ambassadors via email/phone (about problems, success stories, and feedback in general, as well as any interaction with press); and maintain an up-to-date description of the assignment on the course page of the related WikiProject. Campus Ambassadors will work with professors to facilitate important (but infrequent) communication among the various stakeholders. Campus Ambassadors must be able to email all students in the class (through a course email list, Blackboard, etc.) for important but infrequent messages (reminders about labs, availability of new reference materials, surveys, etc.).

BENEFIT: Having thorough and updated information about students' progress will allow Wikimedia staff, Online and Campus Ambassadors, and other Wikipedia editors to support your class most effectively.

4. Evaluate your overall Wikipedia classroom experience and your students' work on Wikipedia, and share this information with the Wikimedia Foundation's Public Policy Initiative team, other Initiative participants, and any interested news media. Participate in an interview via telephone or Skype about your experience, and facilitate the administration of two student surveys conducted by the outside research organization WestEd, one at the beginning of the term and one at the end of the term.

BENEFIT: The Wikimedia Foundation's Public Policy Initiative team and WestEd will use the information to evaluate the effectiveness of using Wikipedia as a teaching tool, to report back to the project funder, and to present the results to the general public. Additionally, this feedback may influence the Foundation's future development of educational materials and Wikipedia Ambassador trainings.

5. Thoroughly follow the requirements put forth in the Requirements for Course Design document, which is attached to this Memorandum of Understanding.

BENEFIT: The Requirements for Course Design document provides professors who qualify for the Wikipedia Teaching Fellowship with a more comprehensive overview of what the Fellowship entails. The document was developed in collaboration with educators who have had extensive experience using Wikipedia in their classrooms, and as such it provides proven insights into what course-design decisions work effectively in relation to Wikipedia-editing assignments.


  • Dates of term:
  • Professor name:
  • Teaching assistants, media services contacts, or other local resources:
  • Department, school, or academic program:
  • Course title and brief description:
  • Number of students:
  • Contact info:

I have thoroughly read and understood the Requirements for Course Design document, and agree to base my course activities on the requirements laid out in that document and this Memorandum of Understanding.


  • Professor:
  • Wikimedia Foundation representative: