Supporting Use of Wikimedia Across the UK Higher Education Sector
Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 17 July 2013
The Jisc Wikimedia Ambassador
Back in April 2013 the Jisc published a call for a Jisc ‘Wikimedia Ambassador’ residency. In light of my forthcoming redundancy (my last day is two weeks today!) I have been looking for new opportunities to continue working in the sector. This call was therefore of interest, especially in light of my long-standing interest in use of Wikipedia in higher education. I therefore submitted a bid based on:
- My long-standing involvement with Wikipedia (I registered for the service in February 2004 and created my first page later that month).
- My belief that JISC should make greater use of Wikipedia, as illustrated by a post entitled What Is JISC? which I published in August 2008.
- My experiences of Having An Impact Through Wikipedia which I summarised in July 2010.
- A benchmarking post which, in July 2010, provided some answers to the question How Well-Read Are Technical Wikipedia Articles?
- A follow-up post in September 2010 which asked How Can We Assess the Impact and ROI of Contributions to Wikipedia?
- A post on Microattributions, Wikipedia and Dissemination which described how I created a Wikipedia article on Microattribution and encouraged others to help improve the quality of the stub item.
- A guest post on Librarians meet Wikipedians: collaboration not competition! which provided information on how Wikimedia UK are looking to encourage take-up of Wikimedia within the higher education sector, including participation from librarians.
- A personal commitment to open practices, as illustrated by the open sharing of my professional practices on this blog.
I was very pleased to receive several letter of support from those who recognised my pro-active approaches to openness, my strong links across the sector, my experience in running events and my knowledge of the higher education sector in general and the Jisc community in particular.
However the bid was not successful. Although the evaluation panel “noted the strength of the proposal in terms of its academic focus and a sound methodology” they felt that “the lead consultant’s track-record as a Wikipedian to be insufficiently evidenced and that the link to the Wikimedia community was not sufficiently strong“. I would not disagree with these comments; although I have created and edited Wikipedia articles over an extended period I have little experience in training others to use Wikipedia.
I subsequently learnt that the successful bid had been submitted by Martin Poulter, University of Bristol. I have known Martin for some time (probably over 10 years) and am very aware of his in-depth expertise on Wikipedia and his active involvement in the Wikimedia UK community. I’m happy to give my congratulations to Martin.
Supporting Sectoral Use of Wikimedia
One of the main constraints which I felt the Jisc call had was its limitation to providing Wikipedia articles related to Jisc-funded activities. As the second paragraph in the call document (MS Word or PDF format) states:
The purpose of the training is to disseminate skills and knowledge leading to improved coverage and accuracy of articles relating to information produced by Jisc funded programmes presented on Wikimedia projects.
My work as UK Web Focus has been primarily focussed on supporting the higher education sector, rather than working with Jisc projects and programmes (although I was involved in work such as providing a framework for the selection of standards for Jisc programmes, as well as Jisc development activities such as the JISC e-Framework and the JISC Information Environment).
However after submitting the proposal I realised that I would welcome the opportunity to engage more directly with the sector in encouraging greater take-up of Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects. I have therefore joined Wikimedia UK and taken part in two recent Wikimedia UK events: the Queen Victoria’s Journals University of Oxford editing day provided an initial opportunity to familiarise myself with the format of an editing workshop and this was followed by participation in a Sphingonet Wiki workshop (see accompanying photograph), which provided my with initial experience in working with other Wikimedia experts.
My bid for the Jisc Wikimedia Ambassador residency included strong support from a number of institutions who were looking for opportunities to embed expertise in use of Wikipedia within their institution, as well as ensure that relevant information about institutional activities is made available in Wikipedia, in ways which conform with key Wikipedia principles including the need for information to be provided from a Neutral Point of View.
During the summer I will be updating my skills in Wikipedia (and I intend to finish reading a book I purchased recently on How Wikipedia Works And How You Can Be A Part Of It). I then intend to offer a portfolio of training workshops based on the skills and expertise I have gained during my time at UKOLN, including training for a number of Social Web services including Wikipedia. If you have an interest, please get in touch.