Wikipedia program for Oregon universities

I left Oregon in 2009 to design a university outreach program for the Wikimedia Foundation. It was my first opportunity to put my knowledge of the inner workings of English language Wikipedia to use on a large scale. A couple years later, the $1.3 million pilot project I designed had introduced more than 800 students in 47 classes to the process of contributing to Wikipedia, and guided them in generating 5,800 pages of content.

LiAnna Davis presenting at WikiConference USA 2014. Photo by Frank Schulenburg, CC-0 (no copyright restrictions)

LiAnna Davis presenting at WikiConference USA 2014. Photo by Frank Schulenburg, CC-0 (no copyright restrictions)

Tomorrow morning, the fruits of that labor will come home to Oregon, when my colleague LiAnna Davis — a native of McMinnville, and now Director of Programs for the Wiki Education Foundation — presents at the University of Oregon and Oregon State University on the benefits of using Wikipedia as a teaching tool. Professors, librarians, and the general public are welcome to attend these presentations, and will learn not only about the general benefits, but about the specific resources and support available to these universities, for free, for projects in the coming year.

The Wikipedia Education Program (established by the Wikimedia Foundation after our pilot project concluded) and the Wiki Edu. Foundation (spun off last year, to focus on university programs in the U.S. and Canada) have intersected with the Oregon academic world in various ways; one of my favorites is a blog post (and related research) by fellow WikiProject Oregon member Reid Parham, in which he made the case for this kind of project long ago in 2007. The pilot project also played a formative role in the development of Wiki Strategies, notably in the Communicate OER project we ran for the University of Mississippi and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

I asked LiAnna, now Director of Programs for Wiki Ed, how they envision Oregon universities benefiting from the Wiki Education Foundation’s programs in 2015:

Oregon has long been one of the strongest local communities of volunteer editors on Wikipedia, so it’s a natural extension to bring more courses from Oregon into our program. I look forward to seeing students at U of O and Oregon State close content gaps on Wikipedia through their coursework.

After spinning off into an independent non-profit organization, Wiki Ed increased capacity for supporting courses. We’re actively looking to support more instructors interested in asking their students to contribute content to Wikipedia as part of their coursework in the spring quarter.

Tomorrow’s events:

General resources for university instructors:


About Pete Forsyth

Pete Forsyth is the principal of Wiki Strategies, and a Wikipedia expert. Full bio here:
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