Over nine terms of running the Wikipedia Education Program in the United States and Canada, we’ve helped more than 300 instructors in higher education implement a Wikipedia assignment. Through their experiences and feedback, we’ve put together some assignment design guidelines and online training for instructors and students.
If you’re interested in using Wikipedia as a teaching tool in your classroom, here’s the information you need to know. Have questions not answered here? Reach out to us at contactwikiedu.org.
Learn the basics
The instructor training and the instructor basics brochure will walk you through the editing basics and community norms on Wikipedia, information instructors find crucial for designing assignments that set students up for success.
If you haven’t spoken to a Wikipedia Education Program representative about your assignment plan yet, the next two resources will be helpful. Our Case Studies collection highlights various models and learning objectives for incorporating Wikipedia into a course. The Syllabus collection provides detailed information on how instructors have run successful assignments. In particular, the model 12-week syllabus represents our best recommendations for running a full-term Wikipedia research and writing assignment.
The “Listen to Wikipedia” website is a fun way to generate excitement and introduce a class to the pace of change on Wikipedia. Article traffic statistics are also great for motivating students at the beginning of a Wikipedia assignment.
All students should go through the Wikipedia training for students, which takes about an hour. Completing the training is usually the first required step in any Wikipedia assignment.
We also have a range of print (or PDF) resources you might find useful, depending on the details of your assignment. The trio of brochures—Editing Wikipedia, Illustrating Wikipedia, and Evaluating Wikipedia—are general resources for newcomers, while the packet of classroom handouts has specific, detailed instructions for the key steps in common Wikipedia writing assignments: from choosing an article, to creating a new article from scratch, to requesting help. (If you prefer, you can download any of these handouts individually.)
Some areas in Wikipedia have topic-specific guidelines for contributors. This can range from Wikipedia-specific details on sourcing or citations, or ethical or legal guidelines specific to that field. Over time, this section will include a variety of handouts with guidance for editing within particular subject areas on Wikipedia.
- Editing Wikipedia articles on Medicine
- Editing Wikipedia articles on Psychology
- Editing Wikipedia articles on Sociology
These handouts explain specific Wikipedia policies and procedures in a way student editors can understand. You can download them individually below, or download the full suite of our handouts in a single .pdf file.
Selecting article topics
A lot of instructors find it useful to select the articles for the class based on their own expertise and any obvious scholarship gaps relevant to the course topic. If you have decided to allow your students to select their articles, please distribute this handout and review notability guidelines and reference requirements in class. You may want to ask your Ambassador or a Wikipedia editor within an appropriate WikiProject to approve new article topics.
The course page system on Wikipedia lets you and other editors monitor student contributions throughout the term. You can use our Wizard to customize your own course page, such as this one from an experienced instructor in our program. To create a course page, you can use our Assignment Design Wizard tool.