Support Specialist Award

Ewan McAndrew

University of Edinburgh (United Kingdom)

Ewan’s work as Wikimedian in Residence at University of Edinburgh is an excellent example of the role of specialist support in open educational resources and open educational practice. He is one of the few permanent Wikimedians in Residence in the UK and he has been working tirelessly for six years alongside learning technologists, researchers and policy makers to support staff and students across the University to develop the skills needed to contribute to Wikipedia – the  world’s largest open educational resource platform.   

Ewan works on the sharp interface of higher education (which moves slowly) and Wikimedia (which moves fast). He plays a key role in explaining rapidly changing technology tools developed by a technical community into language and practice that can be understood by (lay) staff and students. This is a core, enabling activity, which lowers the barriers to participation.  

He has made extraordinary contributions to advance open practice in education in Scotland and the support that he has within (and outwith) the University reflects the high esteem in which he is held by colleagues.

Ewan’s success in embedding Wikipedia activities in the curriculum is seen in the example case studies published and the many (128) events, editathons and showcases he delivers.   He has trained hundreds of academic colleagues (579) and students (1,606) to engage with open knowledge practice by contributing to Wikipedia, Wikimedia Image Commons, WikiSource and Wikidata. 

His work has reach beyond the University, he is an invited speaker at conferences and events about innovation in learning and teaching, embedding information literacy, open education and open practice. He blogs and publishes his training guides, support materials, videos and presentations on YouTube and on Wikimedia so that anyone in the world can get started and engage. 

He is the UK go-to expert on how to engage universities with Wikipedia and continues to innovate by developing frameworks for students to be assessed and accredited for their in-course work and their digital volunteering. He is a generous mentor of others too, many of the ‘alumni’ from Ewan’s projects have gone on to find professional roles that align to the values of open education and he continues to showcase and champion their work.

Ewan’s work includes a strategic focus on equality, diversity and inclusion. He relentlessly pursues creative opportunities to redress the skewed imbalance of content and topics in Wikipedia and champions consistently the ethos and values that underpin the mission to involve more women and diverse groups in being part of the editing community. He has now delivered more than 60 ‘Women in Red’ editing events which focus on improving the content about notable women and many more tacking Scottish history, race, culture, minority languages, LGBT+, women in STEM and women in witchcraft. The activities he delivers are welcoming and supportive, and participants return again and again to be part of an inclusive community.  

At senior management levels Ewan’s work is cited as part of the ways in which the University demonstrates its commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, gender equality and decolonisation. He has won national awards for innovation and inclusion.

The impact of this work is tangible. Hundreds of new articles (1192) have been created and many more (5658) improved as a result of Ewan’s work. One of his most notable high profile projects is the Wikidata work around historic Scottish witches which has influenced national and international debate at government level.  

Members of the University of Edinburgh are now one of the most significant contributing groups to Wikimedia UK, and each year more and more students gain insight, understanding, new skills, accreditation and the sheer joy of being part of a community of editors sharing resources openly for people all over the world to learn.

About Support Specialist Award

Award presented to an individual actively engaged in the use and promotion of OER and Open Practices. Someone, other than a professor/teacher, that supports the ideals of the Open Education movement through their own practices. These might include librarians, researchers, instructional designers, policymakers, administrators or more.