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Latest comment: 8 years ago by DerekvG in topic Musings of a concerned wikinaut
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Soliciting user input on this page


Dear Education Program Leaders,

Please feel free to update any relevant data to this page about the use of the Education Program Extension on your project.

Please feel free to include a statement about its value to your work locally.

And please sign your post with 4 tildes ( ~~~~ ).

Sincerely yours, Anna Koval (WMF) (talk) 15:43, 29 September 2015 (UTC)Reply

P.S. This is the related Phabricator task: T111965. Anna Koval (WMF) (talk) 19:53, 29 September 2015 (UTC)Reply
Using quarry queries -- thanks to Tighe for teaching me how -- I was able to fill in the data table with much less manual math! So I've changed the instructions above to say 'update' instead of 'add'. Anna Koval (WMF) (talk) 18:32, 20 October 2015 (UTC)Reply

Documenting the impact of the Education Program Extension


@AddisWang: @Ата: @Ayaita: @Bjankuloski06: @DerekvG: @Dungodung: @Drbug: @Ernest-Mtl: @Esh77: @Geraki: @Giselle Bordoy WMAR: @Jbmurray: @Jetam2: @Kippelboy: @KuboF: @Magioladitis: @Margott: @Melina Masnatta (WMAR): @Millars: @Oscar: @Paolaricaurte: @Papuass: @Pine: @Piotrus: @Reem Al-Kashif: @ReviWiki: @Rodrigo Padula: @Roxyuru: @Sara Mörtsell (WMSE): @Shangkuanlc: @Spiritia: @Sturm: @Taweetham: @Thelmadatter: @Upotrebi klikere: @Vojtěch Dostál: @فلورانس: @لا روسا:

Dear Friends,

I'm writing to you because your education programs are current users, planned users, or possible users of the Education Program Extension.[1]



In case you missed the "Education extension blocked?" threads on the education-l mailing list...[2] In case you are not following the deployment drama on Phabricator...[3] The Education Program Extension extension is in a battle for its life.[4]

One developer eulogized it thus: "Our flagship platform has reached the end of its impressive software lifespan. It's leaking bile."[5]

Another developer was less complimentary: "There are fundamental issues with the way this extension has been written. I do not think it would be allowed to be deployed to WMF production as-is today."[6]

It has suffered for months, years even, due to a lack of WMF support[7] The consequence of that has been "serious enough security problems ... to call it a 'significant attack vector'."[8] Resolving said security issues is "unlikely", according to gerritbot.[9]

There are plans to develop a replacement, an internationalized multi-language, multi-project dashboard along the lines of what the Wiki Education Foundation developed.[10][11]

During the Hackathon at Wikimania in Mexico,[12] 1 Wiki Education Foundation employee -- Sage Ross -- in his volunteer capacity -- and 2 Wikimedia Foundation employees -- Adam Wight and Andrew Russell Green -- in their volunteer capacity -- along with other community members -- worked on the code base for a WMF version of the Wiki Ed dashboard.[13] There is a report of that work on the Wiki Ed blog.[14][15]

We welcome more community help with this work! Most of the tasks are already outlined in Phabricator.[16] There is a draft roadmap of the work remaining to be done to develop a minimum viable product (MVP). It was posted on MediaWiki in July 2015.[17]. Unfortunately, little has happened since then.[18]

Community concerns about this situation are gaining attention.[19] There is an "epic" Phabricator task to "Make the Education program dashboard usable for all languages and projects" [20] as well as an Education Collaborative Phabricator task to "Facilitate a deeper discussion about tech tools that support WIKI-EDU work".[21] I believe that is a very good thing!

This is a tool that that movement leaders desperately depend upon[22][23] to support an outreach program that generates literally billions of bytes of content.[24][25]

Furthermore, because of its many benefits,[26] there is increasing interest among communities to use this tool. 68 new languages have begun to translate extension interface with the intention of deployment, and one third of those translations are more than 50% complete.[27]



The Education Program Extension has had a demonstrable and measurable impact[28] on the Wikimedia projects and the free knowledge movement. This page documents those impacts.

Thanks to Tighe teaching me how to do quarry queries, we were able to complete the data table and quantify those impacts with numbers.

Now we need your help to add words to those numbers, to give them a voice, to contextualize them.

Please comment about how this tool helps you now -- or how it would help if you had it. And if you do have it now, but you are not actively using it yet, then how could it help, potentially, hypothetically, theoretically.

Your comment could answer the following questions:

  • How do you use the extension?
  • How does the extension support your program, your project, and your community?
  • What features do you like best about the extension?
  • What data does the extension provide that would be harder to collect otherwise?
  • How many hours of education program management time has the extension saved you (give your best estimate)?

If you have not already done so, please comment about how the extension is helping you in your work.

Please post your comment here on the talk page or in the community feedback section of the main page, and please sign your name to your post with 4 tildes ( ~~~~ ).

I also invite you to join the conversations on the education-l mailing list[29] and on Phabricator.[20][21]

Your feedback is a vital data point, a {{citation needed}} for those who continue to advocate for funding for developer time to fix it and maintain it.

Thank you for your help in advance. Anna Koval (WMF) (talk) 06:12, 22 October 2015 (UTC)Reply

  20. 20.0 20.1
  21. 21.0 21.1

Additional rationale for this research


For the record, I have an additional rationale for conducting this research and an additional motivation for posting this missive: to comprehensively and publicly document this situation and to create a new citation for this narrative.

Six months ago as of yesterday, the WMF announced the engineering re-org. In that announcement, staff were told the following (at 8:21):

"It's really important that we don't drop the ball… This means, you can't let go of it until somebody else has got it… If you see something that you think is not getting handed off well or you don't know where to hand it off to, please ask or tell us. We really need to make sure we know the gaps that may have been created in this re-organization… We really want to know about this and we really want to help. It's really important that we don't lose things in this transition. So do not be afraid to put your hand up and say, 'Hey, I think there's a problem here.' We want to hear from you about the problem.”'

Internally, I flagged this extension as a chicken-less egg. To plead its case, I shared documents developed collaboratively with allies in engineering, including a task list, work streams, a job description for a new ed team tech hire, and a dossier of talking points and sound bytes "to sell this extension upstream". All for naught.

We've got a really compelling elevator pitch: "The Education Program Extension and Dashboard are magical tools that measure the impact of Wikipedia Education Programs, promote the growth of the Wikimedia Projects, help integrate students and educators into the greater community of contributors, and support the spread of free and open knowledge."

We've got WMF developers testifying that the Education Program Extension and Dashboard "have huge potential to activate and transform ways in which the community develops."

Still this languishes, and with it, honestly, so does my expectation that this situation will end with the right outcome. I simply don't understand why we have to work this hard to justify something that should be self-evident.

Nevertheless, I hold out hope.

Boldly yours, Anna Koval (WMF) (talk) 18:32, 22 October 2015 (UTC)Reply




Hi @AKoval (WMF): (and everyone/anyone else). I have only used the Education Extension once, and even then not very wholeheartedly, on My scarce use of the extension is in part because I'm a late a adopter in general--for good reasons, as this episode shows--and specifically because I saw that the WMF and WEF had already essentially abandoned the tool.

Plus to be honest I didn't find it added much in any case. My feeling is that it's mainly designed for instructors who don't want to get fully involved on Wikipedia, and as such is in synch with the general tendency that I've seen for the education program (whether as part of the WMF or splintered off to the WEF) to try to mediate between the classroom and Wikipedia, as though the encyclopedia were something to be feared and instructors people who need kid gloves and cotton wool protection.

So I'm not a huge fan of the extension. On the other hand, it is important as a symbol of the WMF's commitment to the education program, and to strengthening links with higher education and academia. (I presented on this topic at Wikimania Mexico.) The WMF has always been bad at this, and it is shameful that they are now prepared to abandon--or rather, that they are now admitting that they have already abandoned--one of the few substantial and concrete contributions that they made to the project of bringing Wikipedia and the University in closer contact. --Jbmurray (talk) 17:29, 29 October 2015 (UTC)Reply

Feedback - education program Czech Rep.


As already stressed by Floor Koudijs, it is crucial that the education community is involved in the process of developing a new course page dashboard. With so many ideas flying around, we can hardly agree on whether 1) there is no point in using any extension or 2) the current extension is good enough or 3) the WikiEd dashboard is better and should be adapted. Some of the Wikipedia communities will probably stick to the old extension and be happy with it. After watching the introductory video on WikiEd Dashboard, I feel there are many open questions with regards to the adaptation of this Dashboard for general use - including the question of the server where data is stored, languages used, but also eg. who runs the bots needed for some of the functions of the Dashboard, and many more potential issues. At the same time, there are already some efforts to include the Dashboard development in the next hackathon. In my opinion, it is wiser to first discuss what it should do and how it should look (present a concept) and than find someone to do it.

Some more thoughts: the current extension should have its safety bugs fixed ASAP. You cannot just stop supporting the extension and keep it running on so many Wikipedia versions, especially if it is flawed. If there is enough manpower to adapt the WikiEd dashboard, I am sure there will be hackathon opportunities to improve the current extension and make sure it does not fall on our heads. Czech Wikipedia has only been using the current extension for about 2-3 years; why do software developers expect that we will switch from one version of the extension to a completely different one every 3 years? Will we be expected to start using a third and completely differently looking extension in 2018? --Vojtěch Dostál (talk) 22:07, 3 November 2015 (UTC)Reply

Musings of a concerned wikinaut


@FKoudijs (WMF): @AKoval (WMF): I cannot start to imagine the size and profoundness of the upstream problems regarding the WEdu-Platform that cause it to become a safety and trust liability, however i can imagine the downstream impact om education programs. as a matter of fact I find this very disturbing for my own projects and this situation causes me to hold back rather then take the next step forward. What I get from reading up on this problem is that in the last 3 months no noticable advances have been made into a solution, especially if I see that calls are being made to the community to help with the effort. Anna I do sympathize with your comment : Internally, I flagged this extension as a chicken-less egg. To plead its case, I shared documents developed collaboratively with allies in engineering, including a task list, work streams, a job description for a new ed team tech hire, and a dossier of talking points and sound bytes "to sell this extension upstream". All for naught. and I would profoundly dislike to see that your red flag is ignored higher in the WMF hierarchy. More over with Floor i discovered a gap in the process of developing(translating) the education brochures into local language resources, which is due to the same abandoning strategy by what i will refer to as the previous team

I would like to urge the WMF-powers-that-be to pay attention to this chickenless egg and direct the impact on the wikipedia community

When Anna presented me the education platform I went from a sceptic to a convert instantly. The education platform is key to revitalising the wikicommunity in my wikiless country. Belgium doesn have its own wiki : Belgian is not a language we speak Dutch, French, German and English, so we depend on wikis that are controlled outside our community. Training users and using Wikipedia (and its sister projects) in an educational setting is imho the ramp on which te guide the herd over the hurdle of wikipedia-contributing. Imho the brochures and the platform form different faces of the "education cube", and the current outpour of editors abandoning wikipedia or other projects is due to the fact that the wikiprojects are outgrowing the phase of amateur "bricoleurs" (diy-ers, handimen) and we need a new breed of contributors who are educated in using and contributing to the wikiprojects. The education platform is the vehicle, the door to wikipedia, the ticket office for new participants,
SO my appeal to the WMF hierarchy is : get this vehicle on the road again, call in the mechanics --DerekvG (talk) 16:26, 19 November 2015 (UTC)Reply