Our Wikimedian in Residence (WiR) partnership is a result of a long term engagement and also a credit to the quality of the UK Wikimedians and their ability to support, impress and influence senior managers, who in turn, shape institutional strategies and investment.
I have been repeatedly impressed by the quality of the Wikimedians and the generosity of their host organisations to help at events. It seems to me only fair that University of Edinburgh which has benefitted so much from our local WiRs should now host a WiR to continue a sustained involvement with the scheme and the Wikimedia UK community. Once Edinburgh has shown the way I hope the other Scottish universities will follow suit to ensure that there is always at least one WiR for the nation.
When I was Director of Academic IT at University of Oxford my teams attended the editathon organised by JISC (June 2012) to improve articles on the Great War . Oxford holds an elegant collection of crowd-sourced and expert-curated content in the Great War Archive and we were keen to ensure, in advance of the centenary, that our collection of open educational resources (OER) could support public engagement and school teaching on the topic. Martin Poulter was WiR at JISC at the time.
In 2013 we hosted an editathon at Oxford for Ada Lovelace Day. Martin provided training for the event and brought several other wikimedians to help. Liz McCarthy and Kate Lindsay worked with Martin to make the whole event a great success and I was entirely sold on the idea.
Oxford hosted another editathon for Ada Lovelace Day 2014, but by that time I had moved job to become Director of Learning, Teaching and Web Services at University of Edinburgh. There had not yet been any wikipedia editathons at Edinburgh so I brought my new colleagues to the EduWiki conference to find out more. Ally Crockford spoke at the event and she highlighted the WiR scheme. I met with Gill Hamilton at National Library of Scotland (NLS) to learn about the job descriptions, support and work plans which would be successful for a WiR partnership.
Edinburgh University runs an annual Innovative Learning Week designed to enable staff and students to attend day long, or week long events outside of normal timetabling patterns. The first Edinburgh editathon ran during ILW 2015. Ally and Sara Thomas came to help. Ally was very bold and went for an event spanning the full 4 days.
We certainly couldn’t have done it without Ally and Sara but the striking thing for me was how quickly colleagues within the University took to the idea and began supporting each other in developing their skills and sharing knowledge amongst a multi-professional group. This inspired me to commission Allison Littlejohn and her team to do some academic research to look at the connections and networking amongst the participants and to explore whether editathons were a good investment in developing workplace digital skills.
This is the research I presented at Martin’s Wikipedia Science Conference which underpinned my business case for establishing a WiR at University of Edinburgh with focus on skills development as part of the University’s commitment to open knowledge.
This year University of Edinburgh is hosting an international conference on open educational resources : OER16. I am delighted to see so many papers accepted from wikimedia projects. We will also run an editathon alongside the event and hopefully convert even more OER practitioners to the joys of Wikipedia editing. Three of the keynote speakers at the event are from organisations with WiR: John Scally for NLS, Emma Smith for Oxford and me for Edinburgh. Each of these organisations are making big public commitments to open knowledge, sharing and public engagement. Partnership projects with Wikimedia UK is part of the way we do that.
WiR at University of Edinburgh
Ewan McAndrew has been appointed The University of Edinburgh’s Wikimedian-in-Residence.
His year-long residency will run from January 2016 to January 2017 and involves facilitating a sustainable relationship between the university and Wikimedia UK to the mutual benefit of both communities.
To do this, he will be an advocate of open knowledge and deliver training events and workshops which will further both the quantity and quality of open knowledge and the university’s commitment to digital literacy.
More practically, this will involve arranging and delivering skills-training sessions which will fit in with and, importantly enhance, the learning and teaching within the curriculum. He will also stage events outside the curriculum which will draw on the university’s, and Edinburgh’s, rich history and knowledge.
Wikipedia Edit-a-thons will be a large part of this; however, there are numerous ways staff and students can get involved and directly contribute their knowledge and expertise to develop Wikimedia UK’s diverse range of projects.
Ewan is based in the Learning, Teaching & Web Services Division within the Hugh Robson Link Building. You can keep up to date with the residency through Twitter, the WiR blog and through the Wikipedia Project page.
To contact Ewan McAndrew, to discuss collaborating together or just to find out more, email: Ewan.McAndrew@ed.ac.uk