Jisc and Wikimedia UK to bridge between academia and Wikipedia

Dr Martin Poulter
Dr Martin Poulter

Jisc and Wikimedia UK are collaborating on a project to bring the academic world and Wikipedia closer together. This will create opportunities for researchers, educators, and the general public to contribute to the world’s freely available knowledge.

Jisc, the UK education charity championing the use of digital technology in education and research, is supporting this initiative so that the widest possible audience will benefit from the world-leading projects that it supports. These include open educational resources, online repositories of research, and collections such as the 19th century newspapers archive and Manuscripts Online, which holds British written and early printed materials from 1000 to 1500AD.

Wikimedia UK is the national charity supporting Wikipedia and its sister projects such as Wiktionary and Wikiversity. It works with professionals in universities, museums, libraries, and other institutions to improve the knowledge that those projects make freely available. It is investing in this project to involve more of these experts in improving Wikimedia projects for everyone’s benefit. This project is part of the charity’s wider commitment to higher education, shown through efforts such as their annual EduWiki conference and participation in the global Wikipedia Education Program. The charity recently appointed its first Education Co-ordinator in order to gain greater focus on higher education.

This is a national project, based at the University of Bristol. It will train experts in their workplaces and also run “editathon” events which will be open to the public. Dr Martin Poulter, who is a Wikipedia editor as well as a professional creator of educational materials in the University, will be an ambassador between the two communities. This will include working with Jisc’s communities to identify specific topics for development.

Peter Findlay, Jisc programme manager said: “We at Jisc are delighted to be working in partnership with Wikimedia UK to allow people to take full advantage of Wikipedia’s sophisticated open publishing systems. Our communities have worked hard to develop academic rigour but equally Wikimedia’s community has developed a rigorous approach to publishing crowd-sourced knowledge; it makes perfect sense for us to join forces for the advancement of teaching, learning and research.”

Jon Davies, Chief Executive of Wikimedia UK, said: “I’m pleased that we are working with Jisc on the Wikimedia Ambassador project. Both the academic and Wikimedia communities are committed to the pursuit and sharing of knowledge. Bringing the two communities together can help demystify Wikipedia to people who work in higher education, and at the same time create and improve Wikimedia content by encouraging more experts to edit.”

The project is jointly funded by Wikimedia UK and Jisc and will run for around nine months.

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