Wikipedia Education Program by the numbers

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The Wikipedia Education Program has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception last year, as part of the Public Policy Initiative. In 2011, the program ventured beyond the United States into Canada and India, making the measurements of the program’s impact even more important. We want to use these metrics (some of which are outlined below) as tools that help us understand and improve the Wikipedia Education Program as a whole, while also understanding individual pieces of the system better.

a. Fall 2011 Numbers and Growth

b. Gender Representation

c. Wikipedia Education Program Metrics and Activities Meeting

a. Fall 2011 Numbers and Growth

Wikipedia Education Program growth since Fall 2010

In Fall 2011, almost 2,000 students are using Wikipedia as a learning tool as part of the Wikipedia Education Program. More than 800 of these students are in the United States, where the number of student contributors has grown four-fold since Fall 2011.  We also have almost 500 students in the Canada, and more than 600 in India, where the program made its debut this academic term.
These students are spread across 98 graduate and undergraduate-level courses in 51 universities. A large group of volunteers known as Wikipedia Ambassadors is working to support this group of students, including 108  Campus Ambassadors who give presentations in-class and 92 Online Ambassadors who assist students on-wiki. In the United States, we are also supported by Regional Ambassadors, who coordinate the recruitment and training of new participating instructors and Campus Ambassadors.
As the figure on the right illustrates, there has been significant growth in the number of people and institutions associated with the program. One of the challenges for the program going forward is to gather more support for students from the community, either in the form of dedicated Online Ambassadors or editors who can lend a helping hand when they stumble across a student editor.

b. Gender Representation

One of the most important outcomes of the Wikipedia Education Program has been the increased participation of women. About 12% of the Online Ambassadors are women, which is slightly better than the 9% estimated women editors on Wikipedia (via the 2011 Editor Survey).  The in-person element of the Campus Ambassador role, which was specifically created for this program, has attracted women’s interest. In the current academic term, 47% of the Campus Ambassadors in North America are women and 38% of the Campus Ambassadors in India are women. Since we do not track gender for registered student users, we don’t have these numbers for students.

c. Wikipedia Education Program Metrics and Activities Meeting

We are currently in the process of establishing other methods of assessing various aspects of the program. For instance, we will conduct a survey for students currently involved with the program. It will gather information about demographics, motivations, learning outcomes and experiences with Ambassadors and the community as a whole. We plan to conduct similar surveys for professors, Campus Ambassadors and Online Ambassadors. In addition, we plan to track Ambassador-to-student ratios, retention rate amongst professors and more.
We discuss these statistics and other learning points at a monthly Wikipedia Education Program Metrics and Activities Meeting. Please join us for the next Metrics and Activities Meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, November 22, 8 a.m. PT (16:00 UTC – times around the world), where we will talk about these metrics and other initiatives that we are currently working on.
Ayush Khanna, Data Analyst, Global Development

Archive notice: This is an archived post from, which operated under different editorial and content guidelines than Diff.

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The project does not need to grow anymore, it is already at an unmanageable level considering its impact on the existing online wikipedia community who have to do all the work clearing up all the copyvios and low quality articles left by the program.

The program in India certainly has had a lot of negative impacts ( ), but that shouldn’t be used as an argument that there should not be expansions in countries like the U.S. and Canada. And it’s important to distinguish between inherent problems (can’t be fixed) and learning problems (mistakes were made, but can be avoided or minimized in the future by doing things differently). I don’t think anyone has argued that the U.S. and Canadian programs are inherently flawed, or that they haven’t been net contributors to Wikipedia.

Have the US programs been such big contributors? I haven’t been encountering editors from those sources or seeing articles by the people. I know Sue did a presentation with big stacks of paper next to her showing how much had been done…but I really never “felt” anything from the program in terms of my reading or interacting experience on Wiki. Would have thought there was something more, somehow, if it was such a big success. (And it cost a lot and used a lot of volunteer time.) I think Wikians are very positive to students and like to coach and… Read more »

TCO, this posting is about current metrics of the Wikipedia Education Program, it wasn’t meant to be a write-up about the past Public Policy Initiative. For that, you may instead want to turn to the long report that was published earlier today at

I find the emphasis on growing “by leaps and bounds” worrying. Doing an Indian “pilot” with 800 students has turned out to be a disaster, for them as well as for us. Please, WMF, don’t be too ambitious, don’t set yourselves targets for exponential growth, don’t overload the volunteer community with more support and cleanup tasks than they are able and willing to accept. Take it slow until you find out what works, what sort of support is needed and can be provided, and what rate of growth can be achieved without damaging the encyclopedia – and there is damage,… Read more »

Thanks for the article depicting the students phase of used of Wikipedia’s help. We are certain that “Spreading Knowledge every where in the world, with the expanding utilities of knowledge, as your Wikipedia does, is the best approach to one day, attain peace in this small planet called Earth. My work in geology – exploration – HC and minerals, including underground water, down in Africa had used most of my life work. Im addition with what I have learned, if I could have a second chance, I would have taken time to expand teaching of the “water needs, eliminate waste… Read more »