A message from Josie Fraser, new Wikimedia UK Chair

Josie Fraser at the Wikimedia UK 2017 AGM – image by John Lubbock

Cross-posted from Wikimedia UK.

I am delighted to have become the new chair of Wikimedia UK at today’s AGM. I was initially elected to serve as a trustee in July 2015, and re-elected to serve a further term last year until 2019. Over the last two years I’ve been privileged to be able serve the organisation through both the formal duties of a Trustee and as a volunteer. In addition to my main Board duties, I’ve been a member of the Governance Committee and the Partnership Advisory Board, and have helped organise education conferences.  While this may sound a little dry to those of you who aren’t keen on committee work, it’s been a delight and a pleasure to belong and to contribute to the community. Our volunteers, staff and trustees are a fascinating and constantly inspiring group. I get to work with an expert Trustee team and CEO that share a strong sense of responsibility and professionalism, and are as thoughtful as they are fun – a rare combination. I’m honoured to have their confidence.

The passion and commitment to openness which permeates our whole community helps make Wikimedia UK one of the leading organisations in the global Wikimedia and open knowledge movement. It’s been a privilege to support the work of members, volunteers, and employees in realising both the organisation’s potential and our collective vision to make the world a fairer place by providing free access to unbiased and reliable knowledge to all. The global communities that support Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects are a powerful force for social good, benefiting people and communities worldwide every day.

Michael Maggs has been a consistently excellent Chair since 2013, and a hard act for anyone to follow. He’s provided fair, intelligent and debonair leadership, and I’ll be working hard to do him justice. I’m incredibly grateful – as is everyone who gets to work with him – for his sterling commitment to the charity, and very happy that he is willing to continue to support us as a Trustee and to mentor me.

I look forward to continuing to meet and get to know more of our community, and to contribute to the growth and visibility of our amazing organisation and people as Chair. If you haven’t already, do take a look at the 2016-17 Annual Report to see some of what we have achieved in the past year.

Wikimedia UK Education Meetup

Saturday 21 May 2016 saw Wikimedia UK volunteers and educators travel from across the UK to the City of Champions (and since you have an internet connection, you’ll know that’s Leicester).

I was fortunate enough to work with Fabian Tompsett, Wikimedia UK activist, volunteer and open education advocate, to co-organised the event. Supported and hosted by the Learning and Work Institute, the half-day meetup was designed to take open education in relation to Wikimedia projects forward across the schools, further education, higher education and adult education sectors.

Wikimedia Projects

Wikimedia UK is a charity that works with volunteers to support and promote active engagement with the wide range of Wikimedia projects – Wikipedia being of course the best known, since it consistently ranks as one of the most frequently visited sites globally. Like other Wikipedia projects, all of the content (text, images, multimedia, datasets) is typically in the public domain, or openly licensed (much under a Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike licence).

Wikipedia Wikipedia
Free-content encyclopedia
Wiktionary Wiktionary
Dictionary and thesaurus
Wikiquote Wikiquote
Collection of quotations
Wikinews Wikinews
Free-content news
Wikispecies Wikispecies
Directory of species
Wikibooks Wikibooks
Free textbooks and manuals
Wikisource Wikisource
Free-content library
Commons Commons
Shared media repository
Meta-Wiki Meta-Wiki
Wikimedia project coordination
MediaWiki MediaWiki
Free software development
Wikidata Wikidata
Free knowledge base
Wikivoyage Wikivoyage
Open travel guide

The event was designed to gather the Wikimedia education community – those currently involved in projects and volunteering, and to welcome newcomers. As a group we looked at the strengths of the organisation in relation to education, and to plan future initiatives.

Wikimedia UK and Education

The day started with an introduction from Wikimedia UK CEO Lucy Crompton-Reid.

This was followed by short presentations on and discussion about current and past education focused projects.

Connected Curriculum at University College London

Mira Vogal works with staff and students at University College London to plan, run and evaluate a range of digital education activities. Initiatives like UCL’s Connected Curriculum give students reasons to produce work “directed at an audience” and “out to the world”. Her talk Wikipedia includes the Talk and History pages, and corresponding articles in different languages. UCL Wikipedia work evaluations confirm that student activity depends heavily on their tutors’ lead, so sustaining Wikipedia work within a curriculum depends on how tutors understand the potential of Wikipedia and explain it to their students.

Wikimedia VLE

Charles Matthews has been a Wikimedia volunteer since 2003, working on Wikipedia, Wikisource and Wikidata projects. His talk focused on the Wikimedia UK Virtual Learning Environment project, which he leads on.

Wikipedia course work at Middlesex University

Stefan Lutschinger is a creative professional, curator, and lecturer in Media, Culture and Communications at Middlesex University. Stefan’s talk covered his experience of integrating Wikipedia into the MED3040 Publishing Cultures course at Middlesex.

Wikimedian in Wales

Jason Evans was appointed as Wikimedian in Residence at the National Library of Wales in January 2015. Since becoming a Wikipedian in residence Jason has organised public events and shared digital content and is now looking to take Wikipedia into schools and universities through a number of initiatives. His talk covered developing projects and building trust in order to engage schools and universities with Wikipedia.

Following the talks, we looked at some of the approaches to education Wikimedia UK staff and volunteers have established and how these could be promoted and improved. Things identified as particularly important and impactful included:

  • The Wikimedian in Residence programme – UK residencies have included the British Museum, the British Library, the National Library of Scotland, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the National Library of Wales, the Bodleian Library, and more recently, the University of Edinburgh
  • Wikimedia project training for specific events, groups, topics or interests
  • Train the trainer workshops
  • Wikipedia Editathons – for example the upcoming Protests and Suffragettes: Strong Women of the Clydeside Editathon
  • Resources – the projects and organisation have produced a wide range of resources, many of which are shared under open licence
  • Wikimedia UK run and related conferences and events, and global participation
  • The new Wikipedia in the Classroom programme which builds on successes and practice in relation to our work with education

Much of the conversation focused on how to raise the profile of activities and ensure that educational organisations and institutions were aware of the opportunities and benefits of working with the community and accessing expertise.

We then broke into smaller groups, structured around sectors, to more closely discuss current and future plans. The reports back were wide-ranging and identified a range of technical developments (including the ability for teachers to curate image and multimedia Wikimedia assets into themed sets), the importance of sector specific staff training and support, working with learners, the opportunities afforded by family learning, promoting and raising awareness of Wikimedia UK, and Wikidata and data literacy.

It was a rich and reflective day, marking the start of a renewed focus on education as a priority area for the organisation. Wether you are already involved in Wikimedia projects and education, or would like to connect to other educators and volunteers, get involved! You can sign up to the JISC Wikipedia mailing list (which is for anyone interested in education and Wikimedia projects), and check out Wikimedia UK upcoming events.

Membership is a great (and low cost!) way to keep in touch with and contribute to Wikimedia UK.