Wikipedia Education Program/Dashboard/FAQ

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What does the Program and Events Dashboard do?[edit]

The Program and Events Dashboard is a new web application that helps groups of contributors improve and review articles together.

How is the Programs and Events dashboard being built?[edit]

A small group of Wikimedia Foundation spent the month of February 2016 adapting the WikiEd Dashboard. We have had engineering, program management and community liaison staff working together on the product. We hope to have a minimum viable product (MVP) at some point that meets our goals of broader program and event support and internationalization (multi-wiki support). The Wikimedia Foundation has allocated a very small budget to us, in order to replace the Education Program extension. We have partnered with the Wiki Education Foundation, whose flagship application is used by hundreds of college courses to edit English Wikipedia for credit. We began adapting this dashboard to work for our more general environment, and anticipate use from schools of all age levels, editathons, writing contests and more, in every language and project. See below for how you can get involved—help is especially needed at this early stage.

Why is it called the Program and Events Dashboard?[edit]

The Program Capacity and Learning (PC&L) team at the WMF recognizes that a program management tool, more broadly construed, would be useful for more types of scenarios. We have seen people hacking existing tools like the education extension (more below) and the dashboard to fit non-education needs. Terms like “course page” and “student” are appropriate for Wikipedia classroom assignments, but by broadening the terminology used, the software can be useful for workshop attendees, editathon events, and content writing competitions. Feel free to suggest a better name!

Who will take care of maintenance for this tool?[edit]

The PC&L team is assessing whether we can make room in the WMF’s annual plan for 2016 - 2017 to ensure that maintenance, bug fixing and needed improvements will be taken care of. The Wiki Ed Foundation continues to use and improve the software, which ensures that a certain amount of maintenance is taken care of on their end.

As we broaden this tool beyond education and English Wikipedia, we will need to resolve other issues like program and event moderation, which Wiki Ed currently does for their courses on their dashboard. We expect to resolve this in collaboration with our global program leaders and communities.

As of summer 2016, the m:Community Tech team will be working on the project, building on the working alpha prototype. See also m:Community Tech/Programs & Events Dashboard and m:Community Tech/Programs and Events support/notes.

How did we decide to improve the Dashboard?[edit]

When looking at investing in a tool for the education community in the Wikimedia movement, there were three options: recreate the education extension from the ground up (see above explanation), write entirely new code, or adapt software that was already developed for this purpose. Since WikiEd has invested heavily in their open source dashboard software (running on w:Ruby on Rails), which has been successfully used on the English Wikipedia since 2015, we realized we would have more impact by iterating on a good piece of existing software. Also, we evaluated other work being done in the Wikimedia communities for which a similar tool was needed. We found that it made sense to broaden the scope to include other programs and events in the Dashboard. The improved dashboard software will be a program management tool for the global Wikimedia community(ies).

What is the Wiki Ed Dashboard?[edit]

The Wiki Ed Dashboard is software that is being developed by the Wiki Education Foundation to help manage their Wikipedia classroom assignments (university level courses in the USA and in Canada involving English Wikipedia). It allows various stakeholders to quickly get a high level summary of activity (number of classes, students, articles touched, etc.) and also offers more details for each cohort (students registered who have completed the assigned training, articles selected/assigned, summary of on-wiki contributions). The Wiki Ed Dashboard is not on-wiki, but uses OAuth to verify a user’s Wikimedia account, and also creates course pages and talk page notifications on wiki.

What is the education extension?[edit]

The Education Program Extension is a Mediawiki extension designed for the Wikipedia Education Program to manage classroom courses on wiki. The extension allows for the creation of course pages and talk page notifications on the Wikimedia project where it is installed. It is installed by community request. The software allows for a cohort of users (students) to select (or be assigned) Wikipedia articles to edit. We aim at replacing it entirely with the new dashboard in 2017.

Why not fix the education extension?[edit]

Unfortunately the extension is not at the point where it can be kept on the wikis as it is. There is a long list of issues with the extension, ranging in severity from nuisance to security issues (the restricted tasks linked there). Further, if new security issues are discovered, or the ones we know about are actively exploited, the engineering staff may have to disable the extension while it is still in use, presenting a risk to education programs which are actively using the education extension. Addressing all of these issues will require rewriting significant portions of the extension, and we weren't able to find the resources to make that happen; we managed instead to build a small team that, in a few weeks, can develop the Programs and Events Dashboard.

While the education team was unable to gain support or resources to address issues with the extension (noted above), we are taking advantage of an opportunity to provide a valid alternative through the Dashboard.

Testing the alpha release[edit]

We need a small group of testers to try out our new features. Note: We welcome your enthusiasm, but this release cannot be used to organize an actual program, only to simulate one. There are bugs, things will break, and your data will almost certainly be erased.

If you’re interested in exploring and submitting bugs, please visit: To test the dashboard in your language, please set your browser’s preferred language (this will be improved for the beta release).

Features ready for testing

  • Articles can be from any language or project wiki.  Article links in the interface point to the correct wiki.
  • Interface streamlined to not display training or online help.
  • Wording changed from "courses" and "students" to "programs" and "editors", etc.
  • All users have permissions to create and manage programs.

What's missing?

  • Metrics should be pulled from the respective wikis for each article. This has been implemented in theory, but is untested.
  • Interface messages are not 100% available for translation, many are still hardcoded in English.
  • User pages always link to English Wikipedia. This is obviously wrong, we'd like to allow users to set their own home wiki.
  • Universal Language Selector so that testers can easily change their interface language. Currently you have to set your browser's preferred language.
  • Make it easier to join a program. Make the passcode optional. More prominent "Join a Program" buttons.
  • Cohort and Tags are not useful. These need to be designed better.
  • User interface review.
  • Program start and end date should be optional. Institution should be optional.

Please report bugs on Phabricator. For longer and more general comments, please post them here.

Beta version plans[edit]

Currently, we do not have a dedicated team who is tasked with building the beta version of the Dashboard. We used Phabricator to list the tasks which would be feasible during a potential Sprint 2. We'd love to mentor someone to work further on the Dashboard in Outreachy round 12 and GSoC 2016! If you're interested in this, let us know. The beta version should be a more stable release--we don’t expect any bugs that will harm a program, and it can be used for actual programs and events.

Functionality to be added to the beta version:

  • Design and create UI for user home wiki.
  • Interface is completely translated for target languages.
  • Stable and fast.
  • User documentation is made available and translated.
  • Community admins and responsibilities instituted (T125433).

How can I help?[edit]

The Program and Events Dashboard work is being organized on Phabricator. Please feel free to take part in the the process or discussions around specific tasks. The work is being documents on wiki here, where you can also contribute user stories or discussion.

Specific roles we can use help with:


Here's what the MVP of the Dashboard (and an example course within it) may look like.

See also[edit]