Wiki Ed has been eager to show off the course design and monitoring tools that we launched last month. We had our first chance to do so in late July, when Outreach Manager Samantha Erickson and I attended the American Society for Plant Biologists (ASPB)’s annual conference in Minneapolis.
ASPB is recommending Wikipedia assignments to its members, as they wish to expand the quality, depth, and breadth of content and experiential learning opportunities on Wikipedia about plant science. ASPB Education Coordinator Katie Engen believes we can increase our impact on Wikipedia content by bringing more instructors who are members of ASPB into Wiki Ed’s programs. During the conference, she helpfully introduced us to members whose courses she thinks will be a good fit in our Classroom Program.
We met with about 75 instructors at ASPB’s education booth, many of whom tried out our course creation tools and dashboards on a laptop. People were excited, and many explicitly mentioned an interest in getting students to contribute to public scholarship, especially when they realized the dashboard highlights page views of the articles students have created or expanded. Seeing our tools in action helped instructors see how easily they can set up a Wikipedia assignment and track student work. Watching people react to these tools has convinced me that they’re going to make an enormous positive impact on our courses.
This was a conference about plant science, so we highlighted the upcoming Wikipedia Year of Science initiative. Instructors told us that Wikipedia’s coverage of plants is fairly good, but it can use improvement from a communications perspective—particularly in making existing articles more accessible to non-scientists. Students completing a Wikipedia assignment follow key practices of a communication-intensive assignment by identifying their audience, writing drafts, reviewing their peers’ work, and revising their contributions. We think this is a great way for students to improve Wikipedia’s coverage of plant science during the Year of Science, and we look forward to collaborating with ASPB to improve Wikipedia.
Educational Partnerships Manager