Wikipedia Professor Orientation/Module One

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Module One: Wikipedia Education Program Overview[edit]

Module One will provide you with an overview of the Wikipedia Education Program as well as more information about Wikipedia support roles (Regional, Campus and Online Ambassadors), where you and your students can get help, program expectations and the requirements for participating.

Wikipedia in Education
At the end of 2009 we began to see a growing number of educators around the globe experimenting with Wikipedia in the classroom. To learn more about how we could help these intrepid educators, we met with over 40 professors at several U.S. universities. We brought together an advisory group of university educators to further explore how they teach with Wikipedia and how we could support them in their efforts. Together these conversations resulted in a 17-month grant-based pilot program called the Public Policy Initiative (PPI).

The Public Policy Initiative worked with professors who were teaching 50 different classes at 20 universities and supported over 800+ students both in-classroom and virtually. The results were truly impressive. Not only did these students learn the university course material, they also added more than 8.8 million characters (~5,333 pages; 
11 reams of paper) of quality content to Wikipedia
. Students received first-hand experience of writing for a global audience with much of their work being viewed hundreds of times by readers of Wikipedia. With the success of PPI, the program changed its name and expanded to include all academic disciplines and more countries, including Egypt and Canada! So you are part of a truly global and rapidly expanding movement.

At its core, the Wikipedia Education Program works with and supports professors and educators as they incorporate Wikipedia assignments into their classes. We recognize that your class content is most likely not about Wikipedia and that you will be using a Wikipedia assignment as a means to achieve your learning objectives. With that in mind, participating professors receive a variety of support resources, including instructional brochures, videos, lesson plans and sample syllabi as well as in-person and virtual Wikipedia Ambassadors. These Ambassadors have been an integral partner in the classroom—helping both students and professors apply Wikipedia to learning.

The Wikipedia Ambassadors have been taught to:

  1. Support you as you develop an appropriate Wikipedia assignment for your class
  2. Teach and mentor students on the technical skills of editing Wikipedia
  3. Work with students to understand the collaborative community of Wikipedia

Let's look at a couple of volunteer support roles that are in place to help you.

Campus Ambassadors

Wikipedia Campus Ambassadors are truly unique. Yours may be a student, teaching assistant, Wikipedian, graduate or even a local business person. Yet they all have one thing in common: each has volunteered his or her time, energy and passion to help you and your students succeed with your Wikipedia assignments.

We have designed the Campus Ambassador role to support you by:

  • Consulting on your Wikipedia assignment and ensure that it is appropriate for an online encyclopedia. (We'll talk more about assignment types in Module Three)
  • Conducting in-class Wikipedia presentations & labs
  • Helping students with Wikipedia questions
  • Working with you and your student to help identify possible articles to work on
  • Making Wikipedia fun and engaging

Campus Ambassadors are not expected to:

  • Write your Wikipedia assignments.
  • Actively contribute/edit content to student articles
  • Grade Assignments

Online Ambassadors

In addition to Campus Ambassadors, the program also includes volunteer Online Ambassadors. At the moment, Online Ambassadors are 100% Wikipedia contributors. Most have years of experience and thousands of edits. Wikipedians who serve as Online Ambassadors are passionate about both creating the best online encyclopedia in the world and helping new contributors successfully contribute to the Wikipedia project.

We have designed the Online Ambassador role to support you and your students by:

  • Providing real-time online help
  • Sorting through the technical skill of Wiki mark-up language
  • Navigating Wikipedia jargon, policies and guidelines
  • Working with students to submit their articles to the "Did you know?" process
  • Helping to resolve potential community disputes as they arise
  • Linking students with Wikipedia community members

Regional Ambassador

A Regional Ambassador serves to help pair you up with Ambassadors. They usually work behind the scenes to check in with you and your Ambassador throughout the academic term. Additionally, they are the first point of contact for an Ambassador should any questions, concerns, or problems arise.

More help[edit]

The Wikipedia Education Program has simplified where you and your students can get the support you need, when you need it.

If YOU have issues or questions about:

  • How you or your students work with Online Ambassadors
    • Contact your Campus Ambassador(s)
  • How you or your students work with Campus Ambassadors
    • Contact your Campus Ambassador directly, or his/her Regional Ambassador or Wikimedia Education Program staff
  • Writing Articles (i.e. technical, research, writing, community)

If YOUR STUDENTS have questions about:

  • Article writing (i.e. technical, research, writing, community)
  • Conflict with other Wikipedia editors
    • Ask your Campus or Online Ambassador
  • Class specific questions only
    • You, teaching assistant, classmates, etc.

Requirements and Logistics[edit]

This section covers the requirements and logistical details necessary to participate in the program.

"Working in Pods" or what team am I on?"
The central working unit of this program is the "pod." The pod is a team of people supporting your class and consists of:

  1. You (the professor)
  2. Your Campus Ambassador
  3. Your Online Ambassador

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
The MOU outlines what is expected of each member of the "pod" and serves as a guide for working together in supporting the class. We ask the each member of the Pod sign the MOU as soon as possible.

You may also be interested in becoming a Wikipedia Teaching Fellow. For more information on becoming a Teaching Fellow and its additional requirements click here.


  1. Module One: Wikipedia Education Program Overview
  2. Module Two: About Wikipedia
  3. Module Three: Syllabus and Assignment Design