Category Archives: Teaching

Wayne State U Honors students can teach Wikid GRRLS for HON3000/service-learning requirement


Did you know that women are only 13 percent of Wikipedia contributors, that is, the people who write and edit the articles? Wikipedia’s gender gap affects what is (or isn’t) part of “the sum of all human knowledge” that the popular online encyclopedia offers.

You can be part of closing this huge gap. Register for HON 4940 for Fall Semester 2015 and teach middle and early high school girls in Detroit Public Schools online skills. HON 4940 also fulfills your service-learning/HON 3000 requirement!

You’ll teach in schools close to our WSU campus with a pre-prepared curriculum. We’ll meet weekly to discuss progress & blog about experiences. We’ll also collect data on how such interventions can encourage girls to contribute to projects such as Wikipedia.

Be part of closing Wikipedia’s gender gap!

If you have any questions about the class, on how to register or have trouble registering, don’t hesitate to e-mail Stine Eckert at


Four ideas from Stanford President Hennessy on Women in Technology

Right on target with our goals at Wikid GRRLs, Stanford University President John Hennessy said at the recent Intel Capital annual summit that when it comes to women in science and technology: “our system is broken somewhere between middle school and high school.” He listed four barriers that need to be addressed:


  • A lack of inspiration and role models for girls during puberty (girls do better than boys in elementary school in math and science)
  • A dominance of gaming culture, and within it a prevalence of “killing” that he says is little attractive to girls
  • An isolation effect for women being the only one or just one of few in a tough math or science class
  • An image of computer science as a “lonely pursuit”

He suggested more inspiration, role models, and support networks as solutions for girls to develop and keep up an interest in math and science.

This is what Wikid GRRLs is set out to do with a creative writing approach. In a group of like-minded girl peers, students in middle and early high schools play in a sandbox wiki to learn online skills to contribute to knowledge projects. We offer them an introduction to simple coding, writing creatively to produce content that matters to them, and presenting their work on the computer confidently.

If you are interested in teaching our free, ready-to-go Wikid GRRLs curriculum in your school (or library or community center) e-mail Stine Eckert at

More on the story on Forbes, November 4, 2014.

Tim Schaffer, 1972-2014

Tim Schaffer with Barrie Students on May 6, 2013

Tim Schaffer with Barrie Students on May 3, 2013. Photo: JN

Yesterday we were informed by Allison Druin, Chief Futurist at the University of Maryland, that our original FIA Partner, Tim Schaffer, who enabled us to win the grant in 2013, has passed away, his life cut short at the age of 42 by an electrical accident at his home. This is tragic news for his family and for the school, and largely for the whole community of people of good will like Tim, even those who might not have had the chance to know him.

Tim Schaffer was the director of technology at the Barrie School and he was instrumental in bringing about our after-school workshop even before we had clearly defined lesson plans. He met with Stine and me before the workshop started at the beautiful Barrie campus in Silver Spring and he helped us develop the curriculum and gave practical tips drawing on his experience as educator and technology expert. I distinctly remember the first time Stine and I drove to Barrie after winning the grant, completely wide-eyed, and impressed by the school’s sprawling and green campus, I remember how nervous and full of anticipation we were at this moment when for the first time there was a chance, a real chance unfolding in front of our footsteps as we made our way to Tim’s office, that our brainchild would become something in the world. And Tim was the bridge who made this possible.

Throughout the duration of the seed grant, which was also active in three other schools, Tim was especially helpful to me, as I was designated to teach the workshop at Barrie. Every time I went to Barrie he was there and always ready to help if the technology wasn’t working properly. At some sessions, he participated fully, acting as a second teacher, helping the girls on specific tasks they were getting stuck on. Then, on May 3rd, we held a final two hour session with both the girls and their parents, which was largely thanks to Tim who organized it and helped me plan it. This final session was a great success as the parents got to learn from their daughters specific online knowledge-creating or sharing-skills, and we were able to hand the girls certificates and presents in a very uplifting and celebratory atmosphere.

Tim was very much a part of the continuing legacy of WikidGRRLs and wanted to be informed about our future endeavors. He would certainly be glad to know that we are now working on establishing a partnership with a middle school in Baltimore and expect to be sharing the curriculum with them in thi fall. We will miss Tim so dearly. I attach the testimonial that he had kindly sent us for the final presentation to the Future of Information Alliance (FIA) and Deutsch foundation partners, as he could not make it in person that day. This little audio clip is precious to us now, not so much for the content, but for the bittersweet impression of Tim’s presence amongst us that it can create, at least for this fleeting moment. May he rest in peace.

It is done! Our old WikidGRRLS articles are moved to this new blog

wikid-grrls-logo.jpgWe were so glad when we learnt a few days ago that our old blog, hosted by the University of Maryland, was restored. The university took it down in late spring as a reaction to a larger security issue in their system and just now made our content available again.

I have now moved all the old blog posts, which we foolishly hadn’t saved anywhere else. (With multiple contributing authors it sometimes can be a challenge to keep track of who saved what where offline or on the group’s Google docs). Now you can check out again our articles about the politics of the Wikipedia category and its consequences (here and here), the enthusiastic reception of Gloria Steinem who spoke at the University of Maryland in spring 2013, new research on career choices by girls, how tech writing is dominated by white men, and a summary of Nature‘s special issue on women in science.

But especially our teaching notes are now added to this blog. They provide a week-to-week overview of our struggles and joys with teaching the Wikid GRRLS curriculum for the first time. Feel free to browse them to get a sense of how we moved through the lesson plans, trying out different things at different schools and each having a bit of a varying experience.

We will stick with this blog now so please check here for updates on how our project moves forward. We are currently working on a Strategic Plan.

Feel free to contact us to receive our free Wikid GRRLS Teaching Package, including ten lesson plans, guidelines for teachers, flyers and completion certificate, to teach girls how to engage with wikis and other online tools! No matter if you’re a parent, education, community organizer, teacher, a student majoring in teaching, or otherwise interested. E-mail us: Stine at or Joanna at


Taking WikidGRRLS to the next level: Working on Strategic Plan

wikid-grrls-logo.jpgNow that we have our free Wikid GRRLS Teaching Package ready — including 10 lesson plans, guidelines for teachers, completion certificate and flyers — we are working hard to spread the word about our project and its availability to anyone interested.

Part of our effort at the moment is to build our Strategic Plan to take Wikid GRRLS to the next level, to spread it at the University of Maryland, in Maryland, the United States and eventually worldwide, and in languages other than English.

All you need to adopt the Wikid GRRLS curriculum at your institution/school/library/community center/… is a working computer with a working internet connection for each girl you teach. We provide the teaching plans, that anyone can teach who is interested in introducing girls to the beauty and fun of creating online content. If you are a teacher, parent, librarian, community leader, college student, educator or anyone else interested in teaching our curriculum, e-mail us:

Stine at
Joanna at


“Make a video game” & learn an Hour of Code

“Don’t just buy a new video game. Make one. Don’t just download the latest app, help design it. Don’t just play on your phone, program it. … And don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t. Whether you are a young man or a woman, whether you live in a city or a rural area, computers are going to be a big part of your future. And if you are willing to work and study hard, that future is yours to shape.”   — I hope many girls heard this message from President Barack Obama to start off the “Hour of Code” and to support computer science in education.

Screen Shot 2013-12-09 at 10.34.37 AMThe “Hour of Code” project is part of the current Computer Science Education Week, from December 9 to 15. On its first day almost 2.6 million kids already learnt an hour of code. {As of December 10 in the morning, the number has jumped to over 4.2 million.} Anyone can go to the website to start her/his hour of learning. You can also sign a petition if you are also interested in giving every student a chance to learn computer science at her/his school.

This great project is organized by to push computer science into school education. Especially girls should be encouraged early on to play with computers, to learn code, and to practice with fun how to create, manage, and organize computer programs and content.

Our free Wikid GRRLS Teaching Package helps to introduce the fun of computing and creating projects online to teenage girls in middle school and early high school. To receive our free teaching material, just e-mail either Stine at or Joanna at


Google doodle honors early computer scientist Grace Hopper

Screen Shot 2013-12-09 at 9.59.50 AM
It is one of these days when a pleasant digital surprise popped up in my browser. It is another Google doodle honoring a woman in computer science: this time it is Grace Hopper. Mousing over a cartoon strip-like image of Grace operating a gigantic early computer, I learn it would have been her 107th birthday today. Frankly, I had never heard of her or her name before bumping into the doodle. It appears that Google recently has been honoring more women in computer science and technology via their doodles, in addition to women artists and writers. It is all the better when it draws attention to women whose legacy and work are perhaps not as well known (yet) to a wider public.

In a nutshell, Grace Hopper was an early computer pioneer, as Time details, and coined the phrase “bug in the system”:

“In August 1945, while she and some associates were working at Harvard on an experimental machine called the Mark I, a circuit malfunctioned. A researcher using tweezers located and removed the problem: a 2-in. long moth. Hopper taped the offending insect into her logbook. Says she: “From then on, when anything went wrong with a computer, we said it had bugs in it.”

She’s also reported to have had an “incredible work ethic”. And as the short clip below shows, she was a good at teaching technical concepts that are hard to envision, for instance what a nanosecond is:

We hope with our free Wikid GRRLS Teaching Package we can help to introduce the fun of computing and creating projects online to many girls to become the Grace Hoppers of the 21st century. To receive our free teaching material, just e-mail either Stine at or Joanna at