Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2014-07-09/Wikimedia in education

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  • As an academic, I used to be highly supportive of Wikipedia Educational projects, but the misfires and backfires over the past three years or so have left me still smarting today from the huge work I did to bring some serious issues to light (which in the first instances were vehemently refuted by the responsible staff), motivate a volunteer clean up team, and spend hundreds of hours on the actual clean-ups myself - all without thanks, and simply resulting in more junkets for the paid staff. It's possible that things have improved since - especially in the USA - and possibly due to some changes in executive management of the GEP, but I am still not wholly convinced that the management team is entirely on the right track and hence I withdrew my support from education projects some time ago. I may possibly return to Wkipedia educational work some day, but certainly not in any geographical regions where the Wiki Education Foundation in its current structure is active. --Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 04:40, 17 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Kudpung, This article is about the US/Canada education program. The education program that had the serious issues you refer to was the Pune Pilot in India. The Pune Pilot in India was cancelled and not restarted. It's wrong to imply that education projects in countries a hemisphere away run very differently than one failed pilot should be viewed with suspicion. It’s not fair to the volunteers who have put countless hours into making the US/Canada program successful — or to the volunteers successfully running education programs in 20+ other countries. And for the record, here's one discussion in which two of the senior staff working on the Pune Pilot acknowledged the burden on the community as a whole and you personally, and specifically thanked you for your work. We are thankful for all the volunteer time that goes into supporting educational efforts globally, which is why it’s so disheartening to see a comment like this about a failed pilot from three years ago in a different country casting doubt on the excellent work volunteers are doing today in the US and Canada. --LiAnna (Wiki Ed) (talk) 21:56, 17 July 2014 (UTC)
LiAnna. Thank you for reminding me of that thread - indeed it was so long ago and such a disheartening issue that I had banished most of it from my memory. I do recall however that I worked literally day and night for over a month on that clean up and during that time the actual physical support from the Foundation appeared to be minimal or at best very slow. The Pune issue left many regular en.Wiki regulars embittered, but not being here in Asia they may have been quicker to overcome their disappointment in the GEP than I have been. There have obviously been some serious changes in both the Foundation's overall education policy and its involved staffs since that time, and I'm sure that projects in North America are working well. I no longer follow GEP discussions and developments, but there was one instance where I was contacted around a year ago by a staffer who was touring around Asia, including Thailand, where I was asked if I could help out on an obscure education related project, unfortunately it was at very short notice, and would also have incurred personal expense that in addition to my volunteer time I was not prepared to make. One cannot ignore the fact that the Wikipedia volunteer community may at times be skeptical about the deployment of donors' funds, especially where staff travel is concerned. Thanks is fine, and where I don't doubt its sincerity for a moment, it is very easily expressed; nevertheless, I and many others still feel that in its enthusiasm, the Foundation might not always act in the best interests of the volunteers who in spite of working very hard at times, receive no other recompense for their work. This is something that Foundation employees may tend to forget. I know many of the most senior Foundation staff personally and have excellent relations with them and my comment above does not address any individual in particular. I do hope that if there are, or are to be, any Wikimedia educational projects in countries where cultural dichotomies exist, that responsible volunteers in those areas may be invited, rather than expected, to join in with the planning and execution, and perhaps with some initiative to help them do so. --Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 01:52, 18 July 2014 (UTC)
Kudpung, we're in agreement about that! As a former Wikimedia employee who was working on global education efforts, I can confirm that all education programs since Pune have been started by or in direct collaboration with local editors from the beginning of the planning stage, and I can say with confidence that was one of many lessons taken to heart from the Pune Pilot's failure. (I'm now with the Wiki Education Foundation, the independent nonprofit that supports the U.S. and Canada education program, so I can only speak for Wikimedia's global education efforts until March, when I left, but I think that lesson was well impressed upon the new education team, too!). --LiAnna (Wiki Ed) (talk) 02:03, 18 July 2014 (UTC)