In early March, I returned to the National Women’s Studies Association’s (NWSA) regional meeting of directors and department chairs in Chicago. We attended this meeting for the third year because it gives us an opportunity to learn about initiatives within women’s studies departments and to share updated strategies and resources with highly influential faculty.
After partnering with NWSA for the last two years, the meeting was a great opportunity to share the impact women’s studies students have made on Wikipedia and its gender content gap as part of our partnership. To date, more than 3,000 students in 140 women’s studies classrooms have added 1.88 million words to Wikipedia. Their contributions help to reduce the gender disparity in the encyclopedia, address bias on Wikipedia, and correct misleading information. Together, we’re helping the masses understand complex concepts in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies.
A powerful learning experience for students
We shared preliminary results from Research Fellow Zach McDowell’s research on student learning outcomes during a Wikipedia assignment, and attendees were excited to learn more as we publish results. One session at the meeting focused on curriculum transformation, and we discussed the challenges of addressing relations of power in the undergraduate classroom. Several Wiki Ed instructors have identified the way editing Wikipedia empowers students to produce knowledge as one reason they engage in this project, making Wikipedia-writing assignments a great fit for instructors looking to bring this learning experience into the classroom.
Support from Wiki Ed
For department chairs, the promise of making a big impact on the world isn’t always enough. Even when committed to developing new curricula within their own class or department, they’re also sorting out budget details and how to support instructors who want to try out new pedagogical tools. One great thing about Wiki Ed—as unique as we are to describe to instructors—is that we can provide some of that support for free from outside of the university.
Wiki Ed exists to bring higher education resources to Wikipedia and its readers. We’ve already proven students can make a powerful impact on Wikipedia’s content. When we ask instructors to join our initiative, we’re asking them to build a new project into their curriculum. Luckily, we already have Wikipedia expertise, trainings for students, and the Dashboard to help students learn how to participate in a meaningful way.
If you’re an instructor interested in joining Wiki Ed’s Classroom Program, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.