This post was authored by Ruth Jenkins, Academic Support Librarian at the University of Edinburgh.
For some time, Wikipedia has been shown to be a resource to engage with, rather than avoid. Wikipedia is heavily used for medical information by students and health professionals – and the fact that it is openly available is crucial for people finding health information, particularly in developing countries or in health crises. Good quality Wikipedia articles are an important contribution to the body of openly available information – particularly relevant for improving health information literacy. In fact, some argue that updating Wikipedia should be part of every doctor’s work, contributing to the dissemination of scientific knowledge.
With that in mind, Academic Support Librarians for Medicine Marshall Dozier, Ruth Jenkins and Donna Watson recently co-presented a workshop on How to run a Wikipedia editathon, at the European Association for Health Information and Libraries (EAHIL) Conference in Cardiff in July. Ewan McAndrew, our Wikimedian in Residence here at the University of Edinburgh, was instrumental in the planning and structuring of the workshop, giving us lots of advice and help. On the day, we were joined by Jason Evans, Wikimedian in Residence at the National Library of Wales, who spoke about his role at NLW and the Wikimedia community and helped support participants during editing.
We wanted our workshop to give participants experience of editing Wikipedia and build their confidence using Wikipedia as part of the learning experience for students and others. Our workshop was a kind of train-the-trainer editathon. An editathon is an event to bring people together at a scheduled time to create entries or edit Wikipedia on a specific topic, and they are valuable opportunities for collaborating with subject experts, and to involve students and the public.
Where a typical editathon would be a half-day event, we only had 90 minutes. As such, our workshop was themed around a “micro-editathon” – micro in scale, timing and tasks. We focused on giving participants insights into running an editathon, offered hands-on experience, and small-scale edits such as adding images and missing citations to articles.
We are waiting on feedback from the event, but anecdotally, the main response was a wish for a longer workshop, with more time to get to know Wikipedia better! There was lots of discussion about take-home ideas, and we hope they are inspired to deliver editathon events in their own organisations and countries. We also spotted that some of our participants continued to make edits on Wikipedia in the following weeks, which is a great sign.
With about 17 billion page views every month, it’s safe to say that most of us have heard of Wikipedia and maybe even use it on a regular basis. However, most people don’t realise that Wikipedia is the tip of the iceberg. Its sister sites include a media library (Wikimedia Commons), a database (Wikidata), a library of public domain texts (Wikisource), and even a dictionary (Wiktionary) – along with many others, these form the Wikimedia websites.
While the content is all crowd-sourced, the Wikimedia Foundation in the US maintains the hardware and software the websites run on. Wikimedia UK is one of dozens of sister organisations around the globe who support the mission of the Wikimedia websites to share the world’s knowledge.
Today, Wikipedia is the number one information site in the world, visited by 500 million visitors a month; the place that students and staff consult for pre-research on a topic. And considered, according to a 2014 Yougov survey, to be trusted more than the Guardian, BBC, Telegraph and Times. Perhaps because its commitment to transparency is an implicit promise of trust to its users where everything on it can be checked, challenged and corrected.
Wikimedia at an ancient university
The Edinburgh residency
In January 2016, the University of Edinburgh and Wikimedia UK partnered to host a Wikimedian in Residence for twelve months. This residency marks something of a paradigm shift as the first in the UK in supporting the whole university as part of its commitment to skills development and open knowledge.
Background to the residency
The University of Edinburgh held its first editathon – a workshop where people learn how to edit Wikipedia and start writing – during the university’s midterm Innovative Learning Week in February 2015. Ally Crockford (Wikimedian in Residence at the National Library of Scotland) and Sara Thomas (Wikimedian in Residence at Museums & Galleries Scotland) came to help deliver the ‘Women, Science and Scottish History’ editathon series which celebrated the Edinburgh Seven; the first group of matriculated undergraduate female students at any British university.
“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 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.”– Melissa Highton – Assistant Principal for Online Learning.
This research, conducted by Professor Allison Littlejohn, found that there was clear evidence of informal & formal learning going on. Further, that “all respondents reported that the editathon had a positive influence on their professional role. They were keen to integrate what they learned into their work in some capacity and believed participation had increased their professional capabilities.”
Since successfully making case for hosting a Wikimedian in Residence, the residency’s remit has been to advocate for knowledge exchange and deliver training events & workshops across the university which further both the quantity & quality of open knowledge and the university’s commitment to embedding information literacy & digital literacy in the curriculum.
Wikimedia UK and the University of Edinburgh – shared missions
Edinburgh was the first university to be founded with a ‘civic’ mission; created not by the church but by the citizens of Edinburgh for the citizens of Edinburgh in 1583. The mission of the university of Edinburgh is “the creation, curation & dissemination of knowledge”. Founded a good deal later, Wikipedia began on January 15th 2001; the free encyclopaedia is now the largest & most popular reference work on the internet.
Wikimedia’s vision is “imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge”. It is 100% funded by donations and is the only non-profit website in the top ten most popular sites.
Addressing the knowledge gap
While Wikipedia is the free encyclopaedia that anyone can edit, not everyone does. Of the 80,000 or so monthly contributors to Wikipedia, only around 3000 are termed very active Wikipedians; meaning the world’s knowledge is often left to be curated by a population the size of a village (roughly the size of Kinghorn in Fife… or half of North Berwick). While 5.4 million articles in English Wikipedia is the largest of the 295 active language Wikipedias, it is estimated that there would need to be at least 104 million articles on English Wikipedia alone to cover all the notable subjects in the world. That means as of last month, English Wikipedia is missing approximately 99 million articles.
Less than 15% of women edit Wikipedia and this skews the content in much the same way with only 17.1% of biographies about notable women. The University of Edinburgh has a commitment to equality and diversity and our Wikimedia residency therefore has a particular emphasis on open practice and engaging colleagues in discussing why some areas of open practice do have a clear gender imbalance. In this way many of our Wikipedia events focused on addressing the gender gap as part of the university’s commitment to Athena Swan; creating new role models for young and old alike. Role models like Janet Anne Galloway, advocate for higher education for women in Scotland, Helen Archdale (journalist and suffragette), Mary Susan McIntosh (sociologist and LGBT campaigner) among many many more.
That’s why it is enormously pleasing that over the whole year, 65% of attendees at our events were female.
The residency has, at its heart, been about making connections. Both across the university’s three teaching colleges and beyond; with the city of Edinburgh itself. Demonstrating how staff, students and members of the public can most benefit from and contribute to the development of the huge open knowledge resource that are the Wikimedia projects. And we made some significant connections over the last year in all of these areas.
Inviting staff & students from all different backgrounds and disciplines to contribute their time and expertise to the creation & improvement of Wikipedia articles in a number of events has worked well and engendered opportunities for collaborations and knowledge exchange across the university, with other institutions across the UK; and across Europe in the case of colleagues from the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine working with research partner labs.
Ultimately, what you wanted attendees to get from the experience was this; the idea that knowledge is most useful when it is used; engaged with; built upon. Contributing to Wikipedia can also help demonstrate research impact as there is a lot of work going on to ensure that Wikipedia citations to scholarly works use the DOI. The reason being that Wikipedia is already the fifth largest referrer of traffic through the DOI resolver and this is thought to be an underestimate of its true position.
Not just Wikipedia
Introducing staff and students to the work of the Wikimedia Foundation and the other 11 projects has been a key part of the residency with a Wikidata & Wikisource Showcase held during Repository Fringe in August 2016 which has resulted in some out-of-copyright PhD theses being uploaded to Wikisource, and linked to from Wikipedia, just one click away.
Wikisource is a free digital library which hosts out-of-copyright texts including: novels, short stories, plays, poems, songs, letters, travel writing, non-fiction texts, speeches, news articles, constitutional documents, court rulings, obituaries, and much more besides. The result is an online text library which is free to anyone to read with the added benefits that the text is quality assured, searchable and downloadable.
Wikidata is our most exciting project with many predicting it will overtake Wikipedia in years to come as the dominant project. A free linked database of machine-readable knowledge, Wikidata acts as central storage for the structured data of all 295 different language Wikipedias and all the other Wikimedia sister projects.
“How can you trust Wikipedia when anyone can edit it?”
This is the main charge levelled against involvement with Wikipedia and the residency has been making the case for re-evaluating Wikipedia and for engendering a greater critical information literacy in staff & students. And that’s the thing. Wikipedia doesn’t want you to cite it. It is a tertiary source; an aggregator of articles built on citations from reliable published secondary sources. In this way it is reframing itself as the ‘front matter to all research.’
Wikipedia has clear policy guidelines to help ensure its integrity.
Verifiability – every single statement on Wikipedia needs to be backed up with a citation from a reliable published secondary source. So an implicit promise is made to our users that you can go on there and check, challenge and correct the verifiability of any statement made on Wikipedia.
No original research – while knowledge is created everyday, until it is published by a reliable secondary source, it should not be on Wikipedia. The presence of editorial oversight is a key consideration in source evaluation therefore, however well-researched, someone’s personal interpretation is not to be included.
Neutral point of view – many subjects on Wikipedia are controversial so can we find common truth in fact? The rule of thumb is you can cover controversy but don’t engage in it. Wikipedians therefore present the facts as they exist.
Automated programmes (bots) patrol Wikipedia and can revert unhelpful edits & copyright violations within minutes. The edit history of a page is detailed such that it is very easy to revert a page to its last good state and block IP addresses of users who break the rules.
“What underlies Wikipedia, at its very heart, is this fundamental idea that more people want to good than harm, more people want to create knowledge than destroy, more people want to share than contain. At its core Wikipedia is about human generosity.” – Katherine Maher, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation in December 2016.
This idea that more people want to good than harm has also been borne out by researchers who found that only seven percent of edits could be considered vandalism.
Wikipedia in the Classroom
Developing information literacy, online citizenship and digital research skills.
The residency has met with a great many course leaders across the entire university and the interactions have all been extremely fruitful in terms of understanding what each side needs to ensure a successful assignment and lowering the threshold for engagement.
Translation Studies MSc students have completed the translation of a Wikipedia article of at least 4000 words into a different language Wikipedia last semester and are to repeat the assignment this semester. This time asking students to translate in the reverse direction from last semester so that the knowledge shared is truly a two-way exchange.
World Christianity MSc students undertook an 11-week Wikipedia assignment as part of the ‘Selected Themes in the Study of World Christianity’ class. This core course offers candidates the opportunity to study in depth Christian history, thought and practice in and from Africa, Asia and Latin America. The assignment comprised of writing a new article, following a literature review, on a World Christianity term hitherto unrepresented on Wikipedia.
“When you hand in an essay the only people that generally read it are you and your lecturer. And then once they both read it, it kind of disappears and you don’t look at it again. No one really benefits from it. With a Wikipedia assignment, other people contribute to it, you put it out there for everyone to read, you can keep coming back to it, keep adding to it, other people can do as well. It becomes more of a community project that everyone can read and access. I really enjoyed it.” – Nuam Hatzaw, World Christianity MSc student.
Reproductive Biology Honours students in September 2015 researched, synthesised and developed a first-rate Wikipedia entry of a previously unpublished reproductive medicine term: neuroangiogenesis. The following September, the next iteration was more ambitious. All thirty-eight students were trained to edit Wikipedia and worked collaboratively in groups to research and produce the finished written articles. The assignment developed the students’ research skills, information literacy, digital literacy, collaborative working, academic writing & referencing.
One particular deadly form of ovarian cancer, High grade serous carcinoma, was unrepresented on Wikipedia and Reproductive Biology student Áine Kavanagh took great care to thoroughly research and write the article to address this; even developing her own openly-licensed diagrams to help illustrate the article. Her scholarship has now been viewed over sixteen thousand times adding an important source of health information to the global Open Knowledge community.
“It was a really good exercise in scientific writing and writing for a lay audience.As a student it’s a really good opportunity. It’s a really motivating thing to be able to do; to relay the knowledge you’ve learnt in lectures and exams, which hasn’t really been relevant outside of lectures and exams, but to see how it’s relevant to the real world and to see how you can contribute.” –ÁineKavanagh.
Following a successful multidisciplinary approach, including students and staff all collaborating in the co-creation & sharing of knowledge, the residency has been extended into a third year until January 2019. Twenty members of staff have also now been trained to provide Wikipedia training and advice to colleagues to help with the sustainability of the partnership in tandem with support from Wikimedia UK.
While also ensuring Wikipedia editing is both embedded in regular digital skills workshops, demystifying how to begin editing Wikipedia has been a core focus of the residency, utilising Wikipedia’s new easy-to-use Visual Editor interface. Over two hundred videos and video tutorials, lesson plans, case studies, booklets and handouts have been created & curated in order to lower the threshold for staff and students to be able to engage with the Wikimedia projects in the years ahead.
The way ahead
Ten years after Wikipedia first launched, the Chronicle of Higher Education published an article by the vice president of Oxford University of Press acclaiming that ‘Wikipedia had come of age’ and that it was time Wikipedia played a vital role in formal education settings. Since that article, the advent of ‘Fake News’ has engendered discussions around how best to equip students with a critical information literacy. For Wikipedia editors this is nothing new as they have been combatting fake news for years and source evaluation is one of the Wikipedian’s core skills.
In fact, there is increasing synchronicity in that the skills and experiences that universities and PISA are articulating they want to see students endowed with are ones that Wikipedia assignments help develop. The assignments we have run this year have all demonstrated this and are to be repeated as a result. The case for Wikipedia playing a vital role in formal education settings has never been stronger.
Is now the time for Wikipedia to come of age?
If not now, then when?
Postscript: All three assignments from 2016/2017 are continuing in 2017/2018 because of the positive feedback from staff and students alike.
These are being augmented with collaborations with:
two student societies; the History Society for Black History Month and the Translation Society on a Wikipedia project to give their student members much-needed published translation practice.
Library and University Collections to add source metadata from 27,000 records in the Edinburgh Research Archive to Wikidata and 20+ digitised theses to Wikisource
a further three in-curriculum collaborations in Digital Sociology MSc, Global Health and Anthropology MSc and Data Science for Design MSc.
the Fruitmarket Gallery and the university’s Centre for Design Informatics for a Scottish Contemporary Artists editathon.
A Litlong editathon as part of the AHRC ‘Being Human’ festival.
The School of Chemistry for Ada Lovelace Day to celebrate women in STEM.
the University Chaplaincy to mark the International Storytelling Festival.
Teeside University to run a ‘Regeneration’ themed editathon.
As we have shown, there are huge areas of convergence between the Wikimedia projects and higher education. The Edinburgh residency has demonstrated that collaborations between universities and Wikimedia are mutually beneficial and that Wikipedia plays a vitally important role in the development of information literacy, digital research skills and the dissemination of academic knowledge for the common good.
That all begins with engaging in the conversation. Building an informed understanding of the Wikimedia projects and the huge opportunities that working together create.
This year the event will have a particular focus on Women in Chemistry and #ALD2017 is to be hosted, for the first time, smack dab in the university’s Science and Engineering quarter in the James Clerk Maxwell Building.
There will be a range of guest speakers in the morning followed by fun technology activities from 11am to 2pm. Full Wikipedia editing training will be given at 2-3pm. Thereafter the afternoon’s edit-a-thon will focus on improving the quality of articles related to Women in STEM!
The day will close with Professor Polly Arnold, the Crum Brown Chair of Chemistry and winner of the Rosalind Franklin Award, introducing the short film, A Chemical Imbalance before taking part in a discussion panel.
All three events are free and open to all so taking part in Ada Lovelace Day is as as easy as 1,2,3.
You can book to attend one session, two sessions or all three.
1. Talks and Fun Science/Tech activities in Room 1206C James Clerk Maxwell Building
11am to 11.10am – Housekeeping and welcome from Melissa Highton, Assistant Principal for Online Learning.
Learn about editing if you like. there is a fun Wikipedia Adventure that takes 45-60 mins at home and leads you by the hand through the main guidelines and how to use the Source Editor. Then on the day, we will introduce you to the new improved Visual Editor interface which has made editing Wikipedia “easy“, “fun“, “really intuitive” and “addictive as hell“.
Think about what you would like to edit – there are some suggested articles to create/improve below.
3. Film screening and panel discussion in James Clerk Maxwell Building – Lecture Theatre B
5:15pm to 6:15pm – A Chemical Imbalance – film screening and discussion with Professor Polly L Arnold, Crum Brown Chair of Chemistry.
‘Breakdown on evening programme (subject to alteration):’
5pm to 5.15pm – Housekeeping and Welcome.
5.15pm to 5.30pm – Introduction from Polly Arnold.
5.30pm to 5.45pm – Screening of ‘A Chemical Imbalance’.
5.45pm to 6.15pm – Panel discussion chaired by Anne-Marie Scott, Head of Digital Learning and Applications at the University of Edinburgh.
6.15pm – Close.
‘A Chemical Imbalance‘ is a short documentary film and book that ask why Edinburgh has such a long history of successful female chemists, and why women are still under-represented in all science fields. Following the film, Anne-Marie Scott will chair a panel discussion of the issues raised in the film; namely the low participation of Women in STEM fields and equality in the workplace.
Booking for Ada Lovelace Day 2016 is now live – please feel free to pass on details to people you feel maybe interested in coming along.
Who was Ada Lovelace?
Ada Lovelace (1815–1852), the only legitimate child of the poet George, Lord Byron and his wife Anne Isabella Milbanke, was an English mathematician and writer, chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage‘s early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Her notes on the engine include what is recognised as the first algorithm intended to be carried out by a machine. As a result, she is often regarded as the first computer programmer with her work a major influence on Alan Turing & inspiring countless others. There’s now a graphic novel of her short but brilliant life and you can read more about her life here and an ‘interview’ with her in New Scientist here.
On Tuesday 11th October 2016, in Room 1.12 of the University Main Library, we will again be running a Wikipedia edit-a-thon to celebrate Ada Lovelace Day 2016, an international celebration day of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
Beginning at 10am with a range of guest speakers in the morning, this will be followed by fun technology activities from 11am to 1pm (Metadata games, BBC Microbit, Sonic Pi, Lego calculators/adders).
Full Wikipedia editing training will be given at 1-2pm. Thereafter the afternoon’s editathon from 2-5pm will focus on improving the quality of Wikipedia articles related to Women in STEM!
On Saturday 12th November 2016, the University’s Information Services team are partnering with the National Library of Scotland to run a Wikipedia edit-a-thon to celebrate Robert Louis Stevenson Day 2016. Full Wikipedia editing training will be given in the morning before a break for lunch. Thereafter the afternoon’s editathon will focus on improving the quality of articles about all things gothic.
Working together with liaison librarians, archivists & academic colleagues we will provide training on how to edit and participate in an open knowledge community. Participants will be supported to develop articles covering areas which could stand to be improved; gothic art, gothic architecture, gothic literature, gothic film, gothic music, gothic history etc.
We also invite participants from around the world with an interest in all things Gothic to join in & contribute remotely; either through supplying ideas for our hitlist of Wikipedia articles to create/improve prior to the event or through remote editing during the event or even arranging your own simultaneous editathon events.
Details to follow but keep the date and come along to learn about how Wikipedia works and contribute a greater understanding of Gothic history!
This is just a gentle reminder that Ada Lovelace Day 2016 will be coming up on Tuesday 11th October 2016 and we will be looking to reconvene a working group to prepare for an Ada Lovelace day of events; incorporating a Wikipedia editathon celebrating the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
Euro Stem Cell Editathon at Centre for Regenerative Medicine, Edinburgh. Editathon for UoE staff and Eurostemcell partner labs in Europe & at the Wellcome Library.
Wikidata (& WikiSource) Showcase (with Pauline Ward & Histropedia’s Navino Evans) at the John McIntyre Conference Centre JMCC – 1st & 2nd August 2016
Reproductive Medicine Edit-a-thon (with Dr. Chris Harlow) – 21 September and 28 September. Partnering with West Virginia University.
Vet School Wikipedia research session – Edit-a-thon event for Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies students to research & create new Wikipedia articles on Veterinary Medicine. Proposed for October 5th 2016.
International Alumni project – Celebrating the international students who studied at Edinburgh University and gone on to have a huge impact abroad (including simultaneous editathons, hopefully, in Singapore & Hong Kong to create a global edit-a-thon). Mooted for early October 2016 for Black History Month.
Ada Lovelace Day – Tuesday 11th October 2016 – celebrating the achievements of Women in STEM with a particular focus on female mentors given that Mary Somerville will grace the new £10 note. Truly noteworthy.
Day of the Dead editathon – Monday 31st October 2016 – using the obituaries from Scottish & UK newspapers to recognise & celebrate the lives of those sadly passed away.
Edinburgh Gothic (agreed a partnership with the National Library of Scotland) – Saturday 12th November. Marking the day before Robert Louis Stevenson Day, the National Library of Scotland will join us to celebrate the best of Edinburgh Gothic, releasing Robert Louis Stevenson images into the public domain to Wikicommons (wherever possible) and any additional material not yet transcribed onto Wikisource. Looking to see if we can combine efforts in gothic art, gothic history, gothic costume design, gothic music, gothic film, gothic literature etc. to fill any gaps on Wikipedia… in the most macabre way.
The Kelvin Hall relaunch (in Glasgow) – mooted for late November / early December 2016 (again in collaboration with the National Library of Scotland). The idea is to create an edit-a-thon based on the Moving Image Archive by showing participants short films from the archive on the Video Wall there, creating Wikipedia articles for the films & filmmakers, and showing a longer film afterwards at the Hunterian cinema.
Translate-a-thon – Reaching out to bilingual and multi-lingual students to translate articles from English Wikipedia to their own native language Wikipedia (& vice versa) using Wikipedia’s new Content Translation tool.
Festival of Architecture 2016 – An architecture-themed editathon to celebrate the achievements of architects for the Festival of Architecture 2016.
And the whisky? It seems my less than unsubtle hints following my trip to Skye in April resulted in my getting a fair few bottles for my birthday.
Projects and whisky galore. Lots to be excited about and lots to get on with!
Apologies for the naming of this blog article BUT it did seem that there was a common (Wikimedia) thread running through a great many of the sessions at the 7th Open Education Resources Conference this year.
Hosted by the University of Edinburgh, we were blessed with some surprisingly good weather (not a cloud in the sky) and some stellar keynote speakers; all progressing the case for OER and examining what it means to be ‘open’.
Jim Groom, Reclaim Hosting – an independent web hosting company focused on the higher education community.
“Can we imagine tech Infrastructure as an Open Educational Resource? Or, Clouds, Containers, and APIs, Oh My!”
Emma Smith – “At the University of Oxford, Dr Emma Smith’s research combines a range of approaches to Shakespeare and early modern drama. She is a fellow of Hertford College and a Professor of Shakespeare studies. She was also one of the first academic colleagues to champion the use and creation ofOER at University of Oxford through her involvement in the Jisc funded Open Spires and Great Writers Inspire projects. Her OER licensed lectures reach an international audience and she continues to produce, publish and share cultural resources online.“
John Scally – National Library for Scotland. John started his library career in 1993 when he was appointed as a curator in the British Antiquarian Division at the National Library. He joined the University of Edinburgh 10 years later as Director of University Collections and Deputy Director of Library, Museums and Galleries.
Melissa Highton. University of Edinburgh. Melissa leads the University of Edinburgh’s strategic priorities for open educational resources, digital and distance learning on global platforms, MOOCs, blended learning, virtual learning environments, technology enhanced learning spaces, digital skills and use of the web for outreach and engagement.
Emma Smith very kindly attended the Wikipedia editing training session I ran at lunchtime that first day of the conference (also my birthday so a double boon) and suggested she may like to collaborate with the Wikimedian at the Bodleian Library, Martin Poulter, upon her return.
John Scally referenced the sterling work undertaken by the first Wikimedian in Residence in Scotland, Ally Crockford, during her 17 months at the National Library of Scotland in releasing a considerable amount of the National Library of Scotland’s collections on open licenses to Wikimedia Commons.
Melissa Highton both presented a session on the research undertaken following the ‘Women in Science & Scottish History’ Wikipedia edit-a-thon and then later closed the conference with her ‘Open with Care‘ keynote which eloquently expressed how to give those holding the purse strings at an institutional level something they can say ‘Yes‘ to when it comes to the move towards openness where ‘not being open is a risk and not being open costs us money‘.
Jim Groom summing up Wikipedia as: “The single greatest Open Education Resource the world has ever seen“.
My Wikimedia colleague, Martin Poulter, turned to me at this point, conspiratorially, to say that previous OER conferences had not had this level of Wikimedia involvement throughout so there had definitely been a shift in emphasis & in thinking over the years.
Given Wikimedia’s added focus on education this year, it just felt that Wikimedia and Open Education was an idea whose time had come.
Wikimedia at OER16
In addition to our keynote speakers, we ran a number of other Wikimedia sessions for OER delegates to attend.
Beyond this we had a number of Wikimedia related speakers taking part in OER16.
Martin Poulter – Wikimedian in Residence at the Bodleian Library, Oxford University.
Martin’s presentation was a critical look inside some of Wikipedia’s sister projects: “Wikibooks as a platform and community for creating open textbooks, Wikidata as a source of open data for educational resources and Wikisource as a way to add educational value to historic texts. All these sites have “Edit” buttons and depend on users to build, evaluate, and repurpose open content.”
Lucy Crompton-Reid: CEO Wikimedia UK
Lucy’s presentation focused on the ways in which Wikimedia UK is working with libraries, archives and museums to ensure greater access to educational content online, with a particular focus on the Wales collaboration but drawing on experience in other settings.
Sara Thomas – Wikimedian in Residence at Museums & Galleries Scotland.
In contrast to most residencies, where the resident is embedded with just one institution, Sara was tasked with working with the entire Scottish museums sector, with the aim of increasing open knowledge capacity and beginning to effect culture change with regard to open knowledge in a cultural context. Her presentation reflected on what can (and can’t) be achieved in a year, offers provocations with regard to the challenges faced by the museums sector, and suggestions as to the best direction for future activity.
Subhashish Panigrahi – Cultural Institution aka GLAM for more OER
GLAM is a global initiative for making cultural data open targeting galleries, libraries, archives and museums in particular. Subhashish’s presentation was around the best practices of several GLAM initiatives and how these projects could lead to create useful OERs.
Antoni Meseguer-Artola – Open University of Catalonia
Antoni’s presentation examines a case study where Wikipedia was used as a primary learning resource, and it was appropriately integrated with the existing learning materials.
“Results support the idea that the student’s perceptions about Wikipedia change across knowledge areas, and also depend on the student’s academic profile. Added to this, we have found evidence confirming the hypotheses that Wikipedia has a positive effect on the student’s academic performance, and that the magnitude of this influence ranges from one course to another.”
Allison Littlejohn and Melissa Highton – Learning to Develop Open Knowledge
An editathon is “an event where people develop open knowledge around a specific topic” (Cress & Kimmerle, 2008; Kosonen & Kianto, 2009). Melissa & Allison’s presentation explores learning in an editathon.
“All respondents reported that the editathon had a positive influence on their professional role. They were keen to integrate what they learned into their work in some capacity and believed participation had increased their professional capabilities… Overall, the editathon provided opportunity for professional learning, enabling people to learn a range of different types of knowledge useful for work.”
In addition, Martin Poulter ran a successful lunchtime session illustrating how to engage with Wikisource, Wikimedia’s free content library.
Finally, given that Josie Fraser, Wikimedia trustee and educationalist, has accepted the baton and agreed to co-host OER17 (themed on the ‘Politics of Openness’) next year, the future looks extremely bright.
Who knows which ‘waterbody type‘ Wikimedia might end up being compared to next time….
Edinburgh Spy Week returned for a third year with an exciting programme of events exploring the secret worlds of spies and espionage in fiction and in fact. If you didn’t attend, here’s what you missed!
Click here to view the story of Spy Week 2016 in pics and tweets.
Spy Week was organised by the University of Edinburgh, the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, the National Library of Scotland, and Edinburgh Filmhouse, and Blackwell’s Bookshop.
Women in Espionage
What was new for this year’s Spy Week was that the University of Edinburgh’s Information Services and Wikimedia UK organised a Wikipedia edit-a-thon focused on Women in Espionage on the afternoons of 13-14 April 2016 with Penny Fielding, Grierson Chair of English Literature at the University of Edinburgh, as our guest speaker.
The edit-a-thon then continued as a worldwide virtual event in collaboration with WikiProject Women in Red as, approximately, only 16% of the biographies on Wikipedia relate to notable women and WikiProject Women in Red’s aim is to add to and improve the coverage of individuals, events and resources related to women on Wikipedia. The aim of our edit-a-thon therefore was to do this with a focus on women in espionage.
5 new pages were created and 15 pages were edited by our attendees over the two afternoons on 13th & 14th April which was mightily impressive for two short afternoons’ work. It was great to see our editors uncover the incredible lives of these extraordinary women. It was also terrific to be able to use Wikipedia’s Content Translation tool to translate articles in other languages.
What was truly amazing was the volume of work that Wikiproject Women in Red achieved over the next week running the Women in Espionage edit-a-thon (from 13th April until the 20th of April) alongside their pre-planned events for April on Women Writers and Welsh Women.
An incredible 828 pages edited and 155 new pages created.*
*The figures include all Wikiproject Women in Red events for 13-20th April.
Here are the new articles created related to Women in Espionage.
Some truly fascinating stories:
Eileen Burgoyne – a Cold War Spy who worked for the British Government after the Second World War. Information about Eileen Burgoyne’s life as a spy emerged only after her death when weapons were found by builders at her former home sparked a bomb scare leading to an evacuation of her street. Police later found possessions and documents which revealed her involvement in the intelligence services.
Jessie Jordan – a Scottish hairdresser who was found guilty of spying for the German Abwehr on the eve of World War II.
Rozanne Colchester – joined Bletchley Park as a decoder. Post war she held an undisclosed role with the Secret Intelligence Service. Serving in Cairo and Istanbul where she helped investigate the double agent Kim Philby.
Marie Meyer – an American linguist and spy who worked for the National Security Agency from 1943-60. She was assigned to the Venona project and is credited with making some of the first recoveries of the Venona codebook. She studied eight foreign languages and was the first person to receive the NSA’s Meritorious Civilian Service Award.
Magda Fontanges – also known as Madeleine Coraboeuf, was a French actress, journalist and a spy for the Germany Secret Service between 1940 and 1943. Fontanges was found guilty of shooting Count Charles de Chambrun, the then French Ambassador to Rome, at the Gare du Nord on March 17. Fontanges accused the Comte De Chambrun of compromising her situation by revealing the details of her love affair with Mussolini to the then secretary of the French Embassy in Rome, M. Garnier. She was fined 100 Francs (1 Great British Pound), and given a suspended sentence due to having no previous criminal record.
Ginette Jullian: a French spy during the Second World War, she trained for the SOE, learning parachuting, security, and wireless operation.
Sarah Helm – a British journalist and non-fiction writer. She worked for The Sunday Times and The Independent in the 1980s and 1990s. Her first book, A Life in Secrets detailing the life of the secret agent Vera Atkins, was published in 2005.
Melissa Boyle Mahle – a writer and former Central Intelligence Agency officer in the Middle East. Her books include Denial and Deception: An Insider’s View of the CIA from Iran-Contra to 9/11. She acted as a consultant for the film Salt.
Minnie M. Kenny – served as a cryptanalyst, educator and equal opportunity activist who worked at the National Security Agency.
Astrid Dövle Dollis Dahlgren – nicknamed the “Scandinavian ‘Mata Hari'” was a Norwegian dentist and property dealer. After she became Swedish by marriage she worked for Nazi Germany during World War II.
Juliana Mickwitz – She was employed with the American military and later National Security Agency as a translator, linguist and cryptanalyst. She was inducted into the Cryptologic Hall of Honor in 2012.
Dorothy Blum – an American computer scientist and cryptanalyst. She wrote computer software for the NSA and spearheaded the effort to teach NSA employees to write cryptanalytic programs. She was using the Fortran programming language three years before its public release in 1957. Blum “significantly changed the way NSA did cryptanalysis”. She was also elected one of the top 100 “most outstanding women in the federal government”.
Dorothy T Blum 1924 1980
Josette Bruce – a French novelist of Polish origin. She is remembered for taking over the literary series OSS 117 about secret agent Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath after the death of her husband Jean Bruce, creator of the series.
Leslie Silbert – an American writer who has worked as a private investigator. In 2004, she published her first novel The Intelligience, a spy story based on an incident in the life of the British 16th-century author Christopher Marlowe.
Ruth A. David – an American electrical engineer. While at the CIA, David was responsible for encouraging the agency to pursue partnerships with the private sector and designed a proposal to procure technology at the stage of development from the private sector. She has been awarded the CIA Director’s Award, the Defense Intelligence Agency Director’s Award, the CIA Distinguished Intelligence Medal, the National Reconnaissance Officer’s Award for Distinguished Service, and the National Security Agency Distinguished Service Medal.
Ruth Mitchell – a reporter who was the only American woman to serve with the Serbian anti-Axis Chetnik guerrillas under Draža Mihailović in World War II. She was captured by the Gestapo and spent a year as a prisoner of war, later writing a book about her experiences. She also wrote a book about one of her brothers, General Billy Mitchell, who is regarded as the founder of the U.S. Air Force.
Grace Banker – a telephone operator who served during World War I (1917-1918) as Chief Operator of telephones of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in the U.S. Army Signal Corps. She was the leader of 33 women telephone operators known popularly as Hello Girls who were assigned from New York to travel to France and work at the war front in Paris, Chaumont to operate the telephone switch boards at the First Army headquarters. About her work in the war front she said that “the secrecy surrounding their operations gave it an aura of romance and set it apart from the civilian work.”
Stella Rimington – a British author and former Director General of MI5, a position she held from 1992 to 1996. She was the first female DG of MI5, and the first DG whose name was publicised on appointment.
Lise de Baissac – a heroine of the Special Operations Executive during the Second World War, a special agent who risked her life running her own operations; she was awarded several gallantry awards after the war.
Kim Philby – a high-ranking member of British intelligence who worked as a double agent before defecting to the Soviet Union in 1963. He served as both an NKVD and KGB operative.
Pearl Witherington – a World War II Special Operations Executive agent. Given the code name “Marie”, Witherington was dropped by parachute into occupied France in September 1943, where she joined Maurice Southgate, leader of the Stationer Network. Over the next eight months, she worked as Southgate’s courier. After the Gestapo arrested Southgate in May 1944 who was subsequently deported to Buchenwald, she became leader of the new Wrestler Network, under a new code-name “Pauline”. Her story has been cited as the inspiration for the Sebastian Faulks novel Charlotte Gray.
Marie Christine Chilver also known by the codename Agent Fifi, was a British secret agent in World War II. Originally recruited after escaping the Nazis and helping a British airman return to England, she worked for the Special Operations Executive assessing and testing the security awareness of trainee secret agents.
Agent 355 – the code name of a female spy during the American Revolution, part of the Culper Ring. Agent 355 is one of the first spies for the United States, but her real identity is unknown. Agent 355 is thought to have played a major role in exposing Benedict Arnold and the arrest of Major John Andre.
Overall, the outcome of the edit-a-thon was really pleasing given that, potentially, sources could have been hard to find for these secretive but extremely notable women. But the feeling is we have hit a rich vein that could see us continue in future edit-a-thon sessions.
What is MORE pleasing is that, two weeks on, Wikipedia editors are continuing to create new pages using our event page’s hitlist of articles, even as late as yesterday, from all round the world; from locations as near as Northern England and as far away as continental Europe, Asia, Australia and the USA.
I went on holiday to Skye at the end of March so forgive my tardiness in relating how March’s Art & Feminism Wikipedia editathons went.
March saw Wikipedia editathon events for Women’s History Month which coincided with a number of other International Women’s Day events in Edinburgh & around the world as part of Wikipedia’s Women in Red project on Saturday 5th March and International Women’s Day on the 8th of March.
WikiProject Women in Red’s objective is to turn “redlinks” into blue ones within the project scope. The project scope includes women -real and fictional- their biographies and their works, broadly construed. From their webpage:
“Did you know that only 16.08% of the English Wikipedia’s biographies are about women? Not impressed? “Content gender gap” is a form of systemic bias, and Women in Red addresses it in a positive way. We do this by hosting edit-a-thons on various topics, and socializing the scope and objective via social media. We invite you to participate whenever you wish. There is no requirement to participate in everything we do, or to even sign up. If the objective and scope of our project interest you, please join in the discussion on our talkpage or jump in and create articles. You might like to start by participating in this April’s editathon on Women Writers. We warmly welcome you.”
However, the focus of Wikiproject Women in Redfor March was Women in Art as part of a worldwide series of events themed on Art & Feminism. Happily, out of the 45 female artists featured in the National Galleries of Scotland’s Modern Scottish Womenexhibition (which is on until June and well worth a visit) almost all are now recognised with a Wikipedia article (which certainly wasn’t the case when the exhibition opened in January) through the efforts of Sara Thomas and the Wiki editors who attended the three editathons we staged on this theme. The final six articles were worked on by our editors in the library and remotely on International Women’s Day itself with just one still awaiting completion.*
As mentioned earlier, if you would like to learn more about working with Wikipedia and find out how easy it is to edit using the new Visual Editor interface (which makes it more akin to utilising Microsoft Word or WordPress blogs these days) then I am running training sessions at the Main Library and the Edinburgh College of Art on 26th and 28th April (bookable through Event Booking).
You can also keep up with the residency at the Wikipedia Project Page:
The report on the successful editathon at the University of Pittsburgh, 4 months in the planning resulting in collaborations with Google Women and a full house of 80 participants, is included here: Report on Art & Feminism editathon at Pitt.