While visiting the Linguistic Society of America Conference in Austin earlier this month, I asked attendees: why do you think the study of linguistics is so relevant today? Their replies were varied: the election, the rise of fake news, the importance of understanding language bias, and knowing how we use rhetoric to persuade others.
In 2016, linguistics was a topic of interest not just in academic scholarship, but also in popular culture and politics. When Arrival hit theaters in the fall, it challenged us to think about the power of language in shaping our understanding of the world — or other worlds. Throughout the year, news outlets asked us to consider the relevance of the President-elect’s rhetorical devices and speech patterns in shaping public opinion.
Here at Wiki Ed, we agree that the public’s understanding of these issues is paramount. That’s why in November 2015, just as we were starting to promote our Year of Science, we announced our partnership with the Linguistic Society of America to support students as they work to systematically improve coverage of linguistics topics on Wikipedia. And in the last year we’ve done just that.
Since the beginning of our partnership in the spring 2016 term, we’ve supported 25 courses with 348 students as they contributed to language and linguistics articles on Wikipedia. Together, the 373 articles they improved, including 13 new entries, have been viewed over 13.5 million times. These numbers further illustrate the relevance of linguistics to public conversations in 2016. That’s partly why I found myself so glad to be returning to LSA as we kick off the new year, and why Wiki Ed is so proud of our partnership. In 2017, we’d love to continue to grow our support of these classes.
Wiki Ed provides technical tools, training materials, and flexible assignment timelines to make integrating Wikipedia into your courses as simple as possible. Instructors and students also receive staff support throughout the semester. One instructor teaching with us for the second time this spring came by my booth at the conference and said “Wiki Ed’s support will save me 50 hours in prep time!” I hope you’ll join us in using Wikipedia to help the world understand the crucial work of linguists.
For more information about teaching with Wikipedia generally, visit teach.wikiedu.org. If you’d like to talk with someone about setting up an assignment in your next course, reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.