Wikipedia Education Program/Program Manager tasks

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This page outlines some possible ways that a staff member can support a Wikipedia Education Program initiative. The examples are pulled from experience in supporting the programs in the United States and Canada. Though the list is not exhaustive, it covers some important questions you need to answer when working with new classes as well as some daily tasks that are helpful for monitoring the program's progress. A staff member may not be able to cover all of these steps and tasks at all times (and, in fact, there have been times when multiple staff members worked on these tasks, especially regarding support materials for professors and students—which can take a lot of time commitment), but some of them are more important toward the beginning of the semester and some are more important toward the end. Hopefully this can help others think about ways they can facilitate a staff member's time to help improve or start their program.

Support instructors[edit]

Syllabus and assignment[edit]

  • Read an instructor's syllabus and assignment. Review and provide feedback, either via email, video chat, or phone call.
    • How many students do you expect to edit? Is this optional or required?
    • How will students select article topics? Will you provide any suggestions? Will they pull topics from a class text? Work with a WikiProject?
    • What are your goals for student learning objectives at the end of this assignment?
      • Learn more about the topic they're researching?
        • It's good to give parameters that will help the students select a relevant and notable article that is related to the course work. The instructor may want to approve the suggested topic and maybe even the student's suggested references, as this will require them to find reliable sources before actually putting in the leg-work of the assignment!
      • Improve writing skills?
      • Improve research skills?
        • Best to have them create a new article or significantly expand an existing one. Expanding a stub or article can help the students learn how to read existing text and use research and scholarship to evaluate the gaps and make the article more complete.
      • Collaboration?
        • Since Wikipedia editors don't have to work with your students, edit, and provide feedback, though we do try to get Ambassadors' help with this, I recommend assigning peer evaluation as an aspect of the assignment. This will inherently incorporate collaborative writing skills into your classroom. Students can even sign up to peer review others on the Course Page.
      • Improve information literacy skills?
        • Make sure students must come up with and utilize multiple resources and references. They should evaluate various references for their reliability as a part of the assignment, and you may even want to have them write about the state of the article before they edited and after they edited.
    • Will your students work individually or in groups?
    • How many weeks are you hoping to spend on the Wikipedia project?
      • If the instructor only wants to spend 2-4 weeks, the assignment should be much shorter with lower expectations, or the students will struggle to complete the assignment and really learn from it the way they should.
    • Would you be willing to have an Ambassador speak to your students during class, either in-person or via video chat? What about Ambassador office hours? Required office hours with a librarian?
    • What are your grading plans? Rubric? How will you evaluate your students' contributions?

Support in editing Wikipedia[edit]

  • Answer instructor's questions about editing Wikipedia. These come throughout the semester and especially during the editing period, and here are some common questions:
    • What kind of sources can students use for their references?
      • Can we use our library's archives?
      • Can we use interviews with the article subject? Personal or professional letters?
    • What are the benefits to editing in a sandbox v. editing directly in the article namespace?
    • What are some best practices for grading assignments?
      • Teach the instructors about the 'View History' page and how to view each article before the student touched it as well as inspect the diffs.
      • Tip: do not evaluate the assignment based on "what information sticks" with the way the student wrote it. That's not how Wikipedia works—it should change, if it's working properly. Also, students will not perfect the Wikipedia writing style or policies in one assignment, so others are likely to work with their text and improve it even more. This is a good thing!
      • Student online orientation: works very well to make this ~5% of the grade, as it allows for easy participation points, but we know it's incredibly useful for the students to have this short background when beginning their assignment.
        • Students who completed the online training will populate to this page at the end of the training. For now, this is the only way to see if students have completed the training.
          • Tip: Use 'Ctrl+F' on the above page to search for each student's username. It should appear in the Table of Contents, as each student's response aggregates as a new section on the page.

Course Pages[edit]

Why do we need Course Pages?[edit]

Course Pages are the only way we who are running the program can know what's going on out in the classrooms. They document student user names, without which we have no clue what contributions student editors are making. The user names are vital to our success and especially to our ability to evaluate the program and get funding.

What are the challenges?[edit]

The current Course Page software (the Education extension) has a lot of room for improvement. It's not very intuitive or user-friendly. It doesn't translate quickly to our metrics software (though we're close to this). They don't really act like Wikipedia pages, as we're used to. The biggest challenge is that this is another barrier for entry to professors. Many professors are teaching with Wikipedia without using our Course Pages, which essentially means they're nonexistent in our program. We must continue using Course Pages (or improving upon this concept) to monitor what's happening in the field, but we need to improve the system.

Get the professor to create a Course Page and enroll all students[edit]

  • Speak to instructor about our Course Pages, their features, how to utilize them, why we need them, how to create them, etc. Common questions/answers and necessary tasks for getting one class set up on the Course Pages:
    • Grant instructor the 'Course instructor' user right. To do so, you need the 'Course coordinator' user right or to be an administrator:
      • Type in Special:UserRights
      • Enter Wikipedia username
      • Check off the 'course instructor'
      • Note: It maybe helpful to ask an administrator to grant additional rights, such as 'account creator'. 'Account creator' is useful when the professor plans to have students create a Wikipedia user account in class, as Wikipedia policies only allow 6 user accounts to be created from one IP address every 24 hours. The 'account creator' user right will allow someone to manually create the students' accounts. It is also helpful to recommend to instructors that they have students create their user accounts before class.

Note: All Regional Ambassadors have the 'Course coordinator' user right.

    • Create the Course Page. Give instructions for adding a class or potentially even create the shell of the Course Page.
      • Sometimes, for new universities, I add the university and then send the instructor the page for that institution. That way, they can go through fewer steps to add their own Course Page. Also, the university otherwise takes quite a bit of time to load onto the institution list, so this can speed up a professor's process and keep her/him from creating multiple Course Pages for just one class.
    • Make sure instructor has all students enroll on the Course Page
      • A logged-in user can do this from the top left button that says "Enroll" on the correct Course Page. Some instructors create an 'enrollment token', or password, so only the students in the class can enroll. The students will be prompted to enter the enrollment token in order to log on to the Course Page.
        • Tip: on the Course Page, there's a link from the 'enrollment token'. This specific URL, when accessed, will immediately enroll all students. So some instructors will want to email that exact URL to students in order to make sure everyone is enrolled.
      • The student usernames are the only way to know what is happening in the Wikipedia Education Program. Without a student username, the student is not only not counted in our program's metrics, but the various Ambassadors and volunteers cannot help them out and keep an eye on their work throughout the assignment.

Ambassador support[edit]

  • Connect instructor with help for the Wikipedia assignment.
    • Is there a trained CA in the area who is available? Is there a faculty member or student who's interested in completing our Ambassador training?
    • Is there an OA who will work with this class?
      • Try posting generally to WP:ENB
      • Email/post on the Talk page of a specific OA who is typically interested in this topic or institution
      • Reach out to an active member of a relevant WikiProject
      • Reach out to a currently active Wikipedia editor who has a Userbox from the institution or otherwise denotes affiliation with the institution, as they may be interested in supporting students from that school
    • Help post on a relevant WikiProject to seek article reviews/monitors from any interested WikiProject members.

Administrative support[edit]

Support volunteers[edit]


  • Recruit Campus Ambassadors
    • Most commonly now, this is done via instructors. The instructor either has a TA, previous student, or a faculty member at the school complete the training to work with her/his students.
    • Can also browse the userboxes that editors post on their talk pages, looking for current students or alumni at a particular college or in that city. I typically find users via the userboxes, check the user's contribution history, and aim for users who 1) have edited recently, 2) have a lot of edits, and/or 3) are friendly with other editors.
  • Recruit Online Ambassadors
  • Recruit Regional Ambassadors

Training and on-boarding[edit]

  • On-board Regional Ambassadors
    • Need the appropriate user rights (called 'Course Coordinator' on English Wikipedia)
    • Video chat to answer any questions
    • Try to set up a meeting with a new RA and an existing RA so they can offer best practices and tips about coordinating a region
  • On-board Campus Ambassadors


  • During the semester, try to hang out in the #wikipedia-en-ambassadors IRC channel, where some of our volunteers still like to discuss the program and ask questions.
  • Ambassador email listserv (has all current and past Ambassadors, unless they've unsubscribed):
    • All members can post to the list, but the moderator (Jami) approves the message to forward to the list
  • Monitor and contribute to the Education noticeboard
    • Place to seek feedback from our Ambassadors about any changes
    • Place to inform Ambassadors of any on-wiki or off-wiki issues that arise with a class
    • Place to request user rights for professors
    • Place to request Ambassador support for a class

Administrative support[edit]

  • Mail any new Ambassadors a Wikipedia Ambassador tshirt
    • Collect mailing address and sizing info to send out
  • Complete reimbursement reports when appropriate for any volunteers who've gotten approval for an expense
  • Mail printed versions of brochures to Ambassadors who are presenting, giving a workshop, hosting a conference, etc.

Monitor and showcase student work[edit]

  • Review student edits via the Special:MyCourses feed: It's a good habit to do this every morning during the semester, as the Education Extension currently only logs the edits from the past 48 hours.
    • I keep track of which classes are editing in sandboxes so I will have an idea of when they are moving into the article namespace (or if they don't have plans to move into the article namespace and need to be prodded to do so).
    • I keep track of trends among students in a particular class:
      • Are many of them using in-line citations or simply adding references at the bottom of the article? If so, the whole class and instructor may need a tip about the References tool when editing.
      • Are many of them writing about non-notable topics? Local stores/shops/musicians/etc.? If so, the instructor may need a refresher on WP:Notability
      • Are the students writing in an essay and persuasive style? Are they writing too technically or at a level for experts rather than Wikipedia readers?
    • I monitor whether any students have edited back and forth with another editor, perhaps indicating an edit war or a confrontation where the student may benefit from some intervention or advice.
  • Keep track of classes' due dates
    • I keep a separate Google Calendar with any due dates I know of for an entire editing assignment or for various parts that might benefit from someone reviewing edits
      • This helps me make sure I check out those students' contributions the few days before the due date and after to see if they could use any advice
  • Document successes from our classes

Expand the Wikipedia Education Program[edit]

  • Strategize about the coming semester
    • How many classes can we viably support with our available resources?
    • Are there any new organizations or universities interested in institutionalizing the program? How can we work together? How can I support them?
    • Are there any conferences that would be useful to attend? Do we have the resources to do so?
  • Recruit professors
    • Follow-up after being connected to them from others in the community, Ambassadors, other professors, etc.
    • Attend conferences and put on workshops

Evaluate the Wikipedia Education Program[edit]

  • Metrics needs
    • Strategize about metrics we can and should pull about the program
    • Develop project plan to establish these metrics, obtain all necessary data, evaluate it, and communicate it.
    • Example metrics projects from the past:
      • Plagiarism project:
        • Motivation: Wikipedia editors often cite plagiarism from student editors as being more common than from other editors and use this as a reason to say the Wikipedia Education Program is "more trouble than it's worth"
        • Goal: Compare copyright violations (severity: copyvio? close paraphrasing?, frequency) from our student editors to other new editors as well as active/experienced editors.
        • Determine procedures, assign tasks, and determine an appropriate evaluation process.
      • Article Quality project, Spring 2012:
      • Quantitative metrics: bytes added to Wikipedia (article namespace) in the US and Canada
        • Utilize the WikiMetrics tool to pull quantitative data about your student cohorts.
  • Collect student usernames
    • The Education Extension now collects student usernames when they enroll onto the Course Page.
    • These usernames are vital for tracking student contributions, bytes added to Wikipedia, and how the program is doing re:impact on Wikipedia.


  • Communications needs
    • Bi-monthly newsletter highlighting press or interesting stories from the Education Program
      • WMF publishes a newsletter that highlights stories from around the globe in the Education Program. Contribute posts highlighting interesting stories, good student learning experiences, great contributions to Wikipedia, etc.
    • Developing, updating, designing, printing, and distributing informational booklets and other training materials
      • note: your staff member can translate existing materials into the appropriate language
    • Developing, updating, designing online orientations
    • Communicating any changes and seeking feedback to the Wikipedia community and Ambassadors with anything regarding the WEP