American Studies Association to improve Wikipedia’s coverage of U.S. culture and history from multiple perspectives

By on October 5, 2017

American Studies Association to improve Wikipedia’s coverage of U.S. culture and history from multiple perspectives

By on October 5, 2017

American Studies Association to improve Wikipedia’s coverage of U.S. culture and history from multiple perspectives

Wiki Education has a new partnership with the American Studies Association (ASA). ASA promotes the development and dissemination of interdisciplinary research on U.S. culture and history in a global context, and they will encourage members to participate in Wiki Education’s Classroom Program to increase the availability of information about American Studies from multiple perspectives on Wikipedia.

The ASA is constituted by some 5,000 researchers, teachers, students, writers, curators, community organizers, and activists from around the world committed to the study and teaching of U.S. history and culture from multiple perspectives, and to the circulation of that knowledge both within and outside of the academy. To disseminate a broader understanding of U.S. culture and history beyond the academy, they are looking to Wikipedia. Wikipedia is the 5th most-visited website in the world, meaning it’s the source people use to get crucial information. University students have unique access to academic peer review journals and interdisciplinary research that define the topics important to American Studies scholars, but most people can’t access those resources without a membership fee or in-depth understanding of the field. Students love Wiki Education’s Classroom Program because they get an opportunity to take their learning on campus and transfer it out into the world for others’ benefit. Student editors studying interdisciplinary American topics already have contributed valuable information, expanding Wikipedia’s coverage of African American women, American Indians, and Latinx Americans. Bringing more American Studies instructors and students into the Classroom Program will amplify this outcome and help close the well-documented diversity content gaps.

In the Classroom Program, university instructors assign students to write Wikipedia articles, empowering them to share knowledge with the world. Students research course-related topics that are missing or underrepresented, synthesize the available literature, and use our tools and trainings to add distilled information to Wikipedia. Essentially, students turn literature reviews into a resource for the world, learning how Wikipedia works along the way. While contributing cited, well-founded information, they help combat fake news on the internet. After supporting tens of thousands of students, we’ve proven this model brings high-quality academic information to the public and meaningful learning experiences to students.

To better understand the types of skills students obtain from contributing to Wikipedia as a course assignment, Wiki Education sponsored Dr. Zach McDowell, of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, to conduct a study of our program participants during the Fall 2016 term. After careful analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data, the study found that Wikipedia-based assignments enhance students’ digital literacy and critical research skills, foster their ability to write for a public audience, promote collaboration, and motivate them more than traditional assignments. Students also gain a valuable understanding and appreciation for a source of information they use every day: Wikipedia.

We are thrilled to work with ASA’s members who are looking for support to improve their pedagogical practices and provide impactful learning experiences for students. Wiki Education provides that service and helps students learn how they can actively participate in the production of knowledge. In partnership, ASA can promote Wiki Education’s Classroom Program as one option for instructors to influence the broader perception of American studies. To join this initiative, email us at contact@wikiedu.org.

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