This post is the seventh in a series of blog posts for Open Education Week.
By Karen Bowman, University of Edinburgh
I am Karen, a member of the University of Edinburgh administrative staff. I spotted a new open learning experience for staff and students in Creative Learning Week 2018 with ‘no experience needed’ – Wikipedia edit-a-thon for Vote100 centenary anniversary of (some) women’s right to vote .
To my amazement, I found that I could quickly:
- create Wikipedia articles in a fun, educational and empowering afternoon,
- learn from great teachers, with cakes and coffee on hand,
- be part of a community of (mainly) women making a difference ,
- access a range of research, references, materials to hand, discussions and sharing.
Wikimedians Ewan McAndrew from the University and Alice White from Wellcome Library made it all so easy!
Now with a bit of an ‘addiction’ to editing Wikipedia (for women, especially for the amazingly brave suffragettes), I have been known to
- wear ‘We can edit’ T-shirt, sport a ‘Deeds not Words’ sticker on the laptop,
- meet, share ideas with Wikimedian Roger, co-founder of ‘Women In Red‘,
- repeat the ‘refresher’ training, but never feel inadequate in my skills,
- find constant support as a volunteer and aware of joining a global effort,
- listen to a University archivist sharing the history of our University,
- see an original letter to Christabel Pankhurst in prison, from one of University of Edinburgh’s few female students,
- read the handwritten register of the University Womens’ Education Group from an era when ‘we’ could study but couldn’t graduate .
A joyful open learning community is truly collegial and uplifting, and even has cute messages of support.
|== A cupcake for you! ==Many thanks for coming to our International Women’s Day editathon today, Karen.|
A hobby for life
Now I am proud to tell family and friends of my new (though limited) editing skills, made so easy in VisualEdit and with great Wikimedians there to help!
So I re-joined the University Library and local City Library to track down secondary sources to cite on our suffragists and suffragettes, joined events on the topic and was part of the Processions 2018 artwork with thousands of women acknowledging the success and the suffering and sheer persistence of notable (and less known) women who led the way and as a result now have my own picture in Wikimedia Commons, and a hobby for life!
Open Learning from history
Open Learning has helped me enjoy learning from the past and creating materials again to acknowledge the women who made it possible for me to march, to have a political voice, complete graduate education, and have a long, varied and satisfying professional life.
1 ^ “Vote 100 home”. University of Edinburgh Vote 100 homepage.
2 ^ Leonard, Victoria (12 December 2018). “Female scholars are marginalised on Wikipedia because it’s written by men”. The Guardian. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
4 ^ Rosen, Andrew (1974). Rise Up, Women!. Routledge & Kegan Paul.
About the author
Karen Bowman is Joint Director of Procurement at the University of Edinburgh, FCIPS, now part-retired. A former NHS Scotland procurement leader and hospice pain research nurse, she started and led the University staff/student Fair Trade steering group and was awarded the Principal’s Medal for outstanding service in 2011. She has continued to learn throughout her life including with Dame Cecily Saunders, OM, DBE; with Harriet Lamb CBE and since joining in Open Learning events and with ‘Women in Red’ is now starting to wiki-edit (a little).