Tag: Wikipedia

‘tech-out’, the technology version of a ‘teach-out’

Rosie the Editor

Some of us are on strike. (I may have mentioned this before). Academic colleagues are holding ‘teach outs’. What kind of activity would be the learning technology version of a ‘teach out’?  I’m thinking  ‘making OER ‘and ‘wikimedia editathons’.

I’ve asked a guru and been told that a ‘teach-out’ takes place outside the walls, has an informal curriculum, is activist focused and free!

Open education and OER is all about ‘beyond walls’, it is about sharing, releasing openly, deliberately, resources which can be re-used by others for free. There are whole conferences about how this is informal, disruptive, beyond the curriculum and underpinned by activism for social change in HE. There are even Declarations about it.  Wikimedia is the largest online  open educational resources platform in the world.  Wikimedia is an activist organisation whose members  support and campaign for changes in copyright, access, freedoms and disruption of traditional knowledge publishing models. There is also a well known issue with gender bias in the content.

I’ve looked up some UCU guidance. They say:

“Good reasons to do teach-outs include:

  • They show students that their teachers aren’t just putting their feet up. We care about students’ education and are willing to educate unpaid — just not to do the kind of educating we’re normally paid for.
  • We only go on strike when bad things are happening, but promoting the teach-out allows us to focus conversations on a positive activity. Attending allows students (and anyone else!) to show support for the strike.
  • The teach-outs also give members a communal, productive activity to do on strike days that builds ideas, capacity, and community — and reminds us what higher education is really all about.
  • Not all members are willing or able to be involved in picketing, but are happy to participate in teach-outs, broadening the possibilities for activism on a strike day.

Organising teach-outs is very easy! Almost everyone in UCU organises conferences, open days, meetings and talks professionally. Moreover, it’s in the nature of teach-outs that they’re ad hoc, a bit improvised, even carnivalesque. So basically, it’s about doing what we’re good at, yet no-one minds if it goes wrong “

This is exactly the kind of thing we encourage through our OER activities and wikimedia editathon events.  It is #openeducationweek as well as #internationalwomensday and #ussstrikes. The best thing you can do is join a ‘tech-out’. You don’t have to cross a picketline, Wikipedia is definitely outside our walls, but conveniently adjacent, and differently owned, like a local pub or community hall.  You can learn how to do OER from our handy guides. You can join our wikimedia editathon remotely with our helpful videos.

If you want a communal, productive activity to do on strike days that builds ideas, capacity and community, and reminds us what higher education is really all about, Comrades, join me in Open Education.

 

keep a breast of open knowledge

No nudes is not good news. Picture taken by me at work of one of the artworks on display from our collections. No rights reserved by me.

In an effort to stay up to date with all things wiki, I went last week to Wikimania 2017 in Montreal. It was my first Wikimania. Ewan and I did our ‘What’s the Value of a Wikimedian’ double act. You can watch us on Media Hopper.

The conference was really interesting, and quite political. Lots of talk of combatting fake news and a keynote from the ACLU. It was also quite a diverse conference, I thought, and the topic of diversity came up again and again. A lot of people thinking very hard about the sheer scale of getting ‘everyone’ involved in open knowledge.

I mused* on 2 things:

  1. Someone presented some research indicating that women who contribute to Wikipedia do not only edit on ‘women’s topics’ or female biographies. That was not a shock as women, notoriously, are interested in all kinds of topics. But it does mean that getting more female editors does not automatically increase the coverage of our under represented bios.
  2. There was some interesting findings with regard to images. It seems that the images available in Wikimedia Commons to represent people in roles and professions disproportionately portray men in those roles.  Even when the profession in question is traditionally female dominated.

Interesting.

The connection between these two I think, must draw upon the same theory of ‘unconscious bias’ as our recruitment training does. Men and women both tend to think that men are more appropriate in professional roles, and more notable for biographies. Unconsciously, even when we pay attention, we may fall foul of our bias.

(slides from these research presentations)

Much inspired by it all, I return to my main hobby of creating and improving women’s bios. This week I wrote about Prunella Briance, founder of the NCT and Sheila Kitzinger.  I felt brave and added a picture of actual breastfeeding to Kitzinger’s page. I think she would have wanted that. Briance, Kitzinger and the NCT fought the good fight to allow women to breastfeed without fear, even in public.

 

*coincidentally, while I was there I discovered another dead muse, and created a page for Blanche Blackwell.

 

musing on muses

Rosie the Editor
how do i know Stella Cartwright?

I can’t claim any connection with Stella Cartwright, but I created a Wikipedia page for her. I learned about her last night at an event at The Scottish National Galleries: Beyond Artemisia: Women Artists Brought into the Light.

Last year at an event organised by Scottish National Galleries around their ‘Modern Scottish Women’ exhibition I created a page for Anne Finlay.

One of the things both these women have in common is that their biographies include a number of ‘affairs’ with the (more famous, and often married) men in their circle.

Anne has a considerable body of work. The challenge with Stella is to consider whether being a muse, but not an artist in ones own right, is a notable enough contribution to warrant a page. Stella is mentioned in a number of citable sources, but her role is as an inspiration for the work of others. She had an impact on their lives and work, but their pages perhaps do not mention her…..

I am sensitive to the arguments made by Hilary Mantel, that we should not retrospectively make the women in our stories strong and independent, but I do think some of them deserve to be named as notable*.

I have made links for Stella to University of Edinburgh Library archives, and to published articles and resources. I hope that her story will stand the scrutiny of my fellow Wikipedia editors. The page has already been reviewed, so that is good. But the category I created for ‘muse’ has been deleted.

* When I first started editing Wikipedia, when ‘AdaLovelace Day” was being invented, it is worth remembering that most of the discussion behind the scenes on Ada’s page was about the relative worth of her contribution to the work of the better known Babbage.

how do I know Edith Simon?

Rosie the Editor
Speaking of women in art and women artists, sometimes this is how my evenings go:

First of all I’m reading ‘Discover’ magazine from National Library of Scotland. In it there’s an article about Edith Simon. I remember Edith Simon. I look her up in Wikipedia. She has a mere stub of a page. I’m thinking it needs some development and presumably the nice ‘open images ‘ policy at NLS will free up some lovely artwork to include.

Then I ask my excellent mother: ‘How do I know Edith Simon?
She was fabulous, Jewish, and she made beautiful paper-cut portraits of your child-hood friends, when they were young, before they died of CF ‘ is the reply.

So, I decide it is my task to improve Edith’s wikipedia page, I find her obituaries etc and I make a start.

As I read about her I learn that her husband Eric worked here at University of Edinburgh in the Genetics department. Those of you who are following this story closely will remember that that is where my father worked. And yes indeed, the line portrait that Clare recently found for me with my father in it, is indeed a work by Edith Simon!

Her obit says:
‘The qualities of intense discipline, exuberant delight in the world of flesh and objects, and sheer graphic ability involved in these productions are rare enough individually. She had them all, together with considerable intellectual power, literary gifts, charm and a mordant wit. She was striking in appearance, trenchant in her views and generous to the young and those in need. ‘

I can’t add that picture to the wikipedia page because the licence belongs to her daughter Antonia Reeve, but I’m still hoping the NLS will liberate some great images for this fabulous woman.

Feel free to join on in and add or edit for Edith.

Read more at: http://www.scotsman.com/news/obituaries/edith-simon-1-544516

how do I know Ruth Adler?

Rosie the Editor
I created a Wikipedia page for Ruth Adler, because I saw her on Ewan’s list of ‘women in red’ (women notable enough to need Wikipedia pages but yet have none). I remember Ruth from my childhood in Edinburgh. Her kids went to the same school as me. She was also prominent in many of the causes in which my mother was involved and her name was mentioned in our house many times.

In creating the page I learned how impressive she really was and how much she did. I’m pleased University of Edinburgh recognise her.

Read more about Ruth: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruth_Adler

International Women’s Day

IWD20171Recently I met a man who warned me I had spoken for long enough. “If I went on for that long it would be called mansplaining” he mansplained without a hint of irony.

I’d like to say I persisted, in reality I was just pissed off.

I mused on this today, on International Women’s Day.

Today we celebrate and amplify women’s voices. The hashtags are #BeBoldForChange and #ShePersisted. The latter being, of course, in reference to when U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to silence his colleague Elizabeth Warren.

This morning I welcomed another set of lovely Wikipedia novices and returners to an editathon. This time the theme was ‘Bragging Writes‘. I explained why we edit. Why it is important that we edit. How Wikipedia works behind the scenes. How difficult it can be to navigate the behaviours and norms in that community and why it is important to be bold in pushing for change. And to defend the changes you make. And why, even in the face of Wikimedia’s edit-policy labyrinth and hair-trigger deletions, it is important that we persist.   I suggested that editing wikipedia is a political act and this is the day to do it.IWD2017

After lunch we had another meeting of the Playfair Steps working group. Numbers were small but we persisted. We listened as Morna from Girl Geek Scotland explained how we could be bold for change in our workplace.

This evening saw the fabulous Dangerous Women Project celebrate a year of writing dangerously.  Members of my lovely book group were out in force so we celebrated a year of reading dangerously too.

Tonight I am reading tweets and blogposts from the newly established network and giving thanks for the many, dangerous, busy, generous, talented, brave, notable, persistent women I know.

Thank you all.

 

Update:

The outcomes of the International Women’s Day Wikipedia event are detailed here . Including new pages for:
Writer, artist and founder of Maggie’s Centres, Maggie Keswick Jencks. Helen Alexander Archdale – suffragist, journalist and contemporary of Chrystal Macmillan. Mary Susan McIntosh: sociologist, political activist and campaigner for lesbian and gay rights.
And many more.

 

 

 

host a wikimedian: you can’t afford not to

wikimediaconf2017-Highton[1]This week I spoke at a Wikimedia Edu conference. I spoke about the value of wikimedians in residence (WiR) for higher education (HE).  Some people have told me they can’t afford to host a wikimedian. I would argue you can’t afford not to.

There are 3 main reasons why you can’t afford not to. They are:

  1. Universities must invest in digital skills.
  2. Gender inequality in science and technology is a real thing.
  3. Wikimedians will save us from Wikimedians.

Universities must invest in the development of digital skills for staff and for students. The senior managers in your institutions will be well aware of the recent HEPI report and numerous other reports. Which urge universities to pay attention to digital skills. It is widely recognised that digital capabilities are a key component of graduate employability. To stay competitive globally, ‘the UK must ensure it has the necessary pool of (highly) digitally skilled graduates to support and drive research and innovation throughout the  economy.’

Universities do invest- some more than others. Some employ IT skills trainers, information literacy librarians, study skill tutors, they buy a site-wide license for Lynda.com. For staff they invest in staff development units, learning and development teams. They choose writing for the web training, social media training,  data management skills,  public engagement training, they choose coding for all.

If you are in a university, go look how much those digital skills trainers are paid, that is what you should be paying your wikimedian. If you have a wikimedian hiding in your library, it’s time to come out from behind the stacks and engage with the real business of teaching and learning.

We can’t afford not to develop graduates’ digital capabilities; universities need digitally-skilled staff with digitally-enabled experience.

The formal recognition of students’ digital capabilities is also important. Technology can make it easier to develop authentic learning experiences that are relevant to the labour market and help  students demonstrate their skills to employers.

If you put your wikimedian alongside your digital skill trainers and learning technologists.  Their impact can be significant.

wikimediaconf2017-Highton[1]And it’s not just about editing skills, it’s about open data, replicability, re-use, understanding sources, spotting fake news, understanding analytics, understanding copyright, being part of communities on line. Writing in different styles. Understanding how robot editors and human editors work together- all that new ‘digital labour’.

With HE students and staff wikipedia leads to discussions about privilige and geographies of knowledge, transparency, bias, and if there is ever a ‘neutral’ point of view.  If our staff and students choose to participate in developing new tools, they are developing tools as part of a world-wide  open-source software development project, which is  a significant authentic opportunity.

Gender inequality in science and technology is a real thing, and that is the second reason why you can’t afford not to have a wikimedian in residence.

Your institutions will all be participating in Athena Swan initiatives to some extent.  To achieve Athena Swan awards departments must show how their workplaces and practices tackle the structural barriers for women working in academia, specifically in the STEM disciplines. The Athena Swan assessors like to see evidence of networks and activities, highlighting achievements, and role models and  visibility.

One of our early editathons at Edinburgh – focusing on the Edinburgh 7– the first women to study medicine,  was cited as an example of good practice by the institution in preparing our submission for silver award. Edinburgh was the first of the Scottish institutions to gain that award. The challenges of overcoming structural inequalities which mitigate against  women’s contributions  is an endeavor higher education shares with Wikipedia. It is not enough to say women don’t participate because they don’t have time or technical skills. It is not enough to say that if women learned to behave more like men they would be able to fit in or join in. It is not enough to say that the world of Wikipedia- and science in general- is ‘neutral and fact driven’ and thus free from bias.

wikimediaconf2017-Highton[1]The first step maybe to target articles about women, and recruit new female editors, but  as soon as you go a step beyond that, and apply some kind of Wikipedia Bechdel test –does an article about a woman scientist draw upon a credible source written by a woman? Do those credible sources about women scientists exist, if not why not?  You quickly come up against a wider structural issue about womens participation in academia and scholarship, and promotion, and publication.*

So I suppose my point here is that if you are making a business case for a WiR and you can’t get the funding straight away from the digital skills budget holder, you might be able reference your own institution’s Athena Swan activity and show how the kind of work activities a WiR would do would deliver successful, measurable outcomes for gender equality initiatives.

Which brings me to the third reason why you need a Wikimedian in Residence- is because dealing with Wikimedia is a job in itself.

Wikimedia has developed, in quite a short time,  a particular culture amongst its community. Also it’s tools , toys and projects are growing at a rate of knots.  It’s hard to keep up unless you are immersed.

Sprawling bureaucracy and policy labyrinth is very familiar to those in HE- particularly those in ancient institutions. We also know about exclusive language and communities of practice. There is some irony in the fact that Wikipedia cannot explain itself clearly. Its policies, its processes, its rules and community.

What I have learned from hosting a WiR to develop curriculum activities for students is that is it just not that simple. I was lucky to get one who is already a teacher, because he has had to do a lot of work to ‘translate’ Wkimedia’s policies and processes into ways we can engage.

wikimediaconf2017-Highton[1]Editing as an individual is a different activity than editing as a group or class. Classroom activities – learning and teaching activities- need to be carefully designed and structured and although this can be done successfully it takes a bit of work and that’s what we need a resident to help us with. So if Wikipedia can meet educators halfway and explain its process simply & effectively (e.g. a detailed lesson plans, a robust Visual Editor, easy to follow video tutorials etc) that would really help teachers and trainers in their workplace.

We can’t expect learners and teachers to bend themselves completely out-of-shape to accommodate Wikipedia when there are things we can do quite simply to which would bridge the gap: highlighting its rubrics, assessment criteria, word count tools, plagiarism & copyright detectors and past course assignments & materials etc. Modelling good practice and sharing exemplars will lead to takeup in courses.

Students come to classes and staff come to staff development sessions to learn in groups and that group work activity requires time, effort and resources before during and after. We are working towards that at Edinburgh, creating and sharing re-usable lesson plans and models for classroom activities, but it is that ‘translation’ role between the technology and the teachers which is missing.

‘Twas ever thus in learning technology. This is not new, this is what learning technologists do. It is timely for Wikipedia now.

And in return, we  will enrich content with our collections and expand the range of knowledge covered. We will contribute not only our research to Wikipedia but do research with and about Wikipedia. We will use the data sets being shared and study how the work of knowledge sharing and gathering is conducted.

And hopefully we will all end up pulling in the same direction.

 

  • Please read
    Heather Ford and  Judy Wajcman
    ‘Anyone can edit’, not everyone does: Wikipedia’s infrastructure and the gender gap’
    Article in Social Studies of Science, May 2017

 

on tour again

Touring Scotland Game, owned by me but not my copyright.
Touring Scotland Game, owned by me but not my copyright.

In February I’ll be speaking at this event:

The Wikimedia UK Education Summit, in partnership with Middlesex University, aims to bring together educators and Wikimedians to share ideas and best practice in using the Wikimedia projects to support learners of all ages. Our keynote speakers, Melissa Highton (that’s me!) and Stefan Lutschinger (Associate Lecturer in Digital Publishing at Middlesex University) will open the day with presentations about the inspirational work with Wikimedia taking place at their institutions. This will be followed by a choice of workshops where attendees can develop practical skills in using and editing the Wikimedia projects, and gain new ideas and insight into how to incorporate open knowledge into their own teaching practice. Sign up to come along. It’ll be exciting, interesting and educative.

impact of football OER

Gerardi Mercatoris Atlas, sive, Cosmographicae Meditationes de Fabrica Mundi et Fabricati Figura (24696368309).jpg
By Centre for Research Collections University of Edinburgh – Gerardi Mercatoris Atlas, sive, Cosmographicae Meditationes de Fabrica Mundi et Fabricati Figura, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47041923

A 17th Century map of Iceland became our most popular OER for football fans during Euro 2016. The image ‘Gerardi Mercatoris Atlas, Cosmographicae Meditationes de Fabrica Mundi et Fabricati Figura ‘ which belongs to our Centre for Research Collections was added to Wikimedia in February as part of our Wikimedian in Residence partnership project. It was then used to illustrate  an article about Iceland on English and German Wikipedia. It has now been viewed more than 2 million times.

Iceland’s Euro2016  matches were on 14 June (1-1 with Portugal), 18 June (1-1 Hungary), 22 June (2-1 victory over Austria), 27 June (2-1 win over England), and 3 July (2-5 defeat to France).  Around each of these events people all over the world were keen to learn about this surprising nation.  Viewing numbers ( numbers of hits) show appreciable spikes for the matches against Portugal, England, and France.

On German Wikipedia spikes against each of the matches regularly exceeded 100,000 page views.

The biggest spike was for the victory over England!