Earlier this week, I was honored to be an invited guest at my alma mater, the University of Puget Sound, to speak about Wikipedia. The Collins Memorial Library on campus invited me to speak to a gathering of librarians, professors, students, and staff from the greater Tacoma region, including Pacific Lutheran University, University of Washington Tacoma, Tacoma Community College, and of course the University of Puget Sound. I spoke for about 30 minutes, giving an overview of Wikipedia and the Wikipedia Education Program, then opened the talk up to questions.
The gathered group asked great questions, and I opened several peoples’ eyes to the “talk” page that accompanies each article, in which editors discuss the article’s content. We fixed a mistake live in the workshop, and the group walked away with a better understanding of how to help students use Wikipedia as a tool for their research as well as with ideas of how professors might incorporate Wikipedia as a teaching tool into the Puget Sound curriculum.
One professor on campus is already doing so as part of the Wikipedia Education Program: Dr. Derek Buescher asked students in his Critical Cultural Theory course to contribute to Wikipedia last term. He pointed to good student work like expansions of articles on Donna Haraway’s essay A Cyborg Manifesto and theorist Homi Bhabha’s ideas (and as someone who studied both topics in graduate school, I was impressed by the quality of the students’ work). Like many professors teaching with Wikipedia for the first time, he had mixed results, he told me — but he was excited to see more interest from the campus community about Wikipedia, and he’d consider using Wikipedia again with more involvement from the campus library.
I also had the opportunity to spend time with the library archives’ Wikipedian in Residence for the summer and do some training with her on Wikipedia. I’m really excited to see this university-GLAM collaboration, and I will closely follow the work she does to see how this pilot unfolds. I’m proud to be an alumna of a university embracing Wikipedia so widely, and I hope many other colleges in the U.S. and Canada follow suit in the near future!
Head of Communications and External Relations