“Totally sold!” Why UTA instructors are excited to teach with Wikipedia

Last Friday, I hosted two online workshops for instructors and librarians at the University of Texas at Arlington who wanted to learn more about Wiki Education programs. At the end of my first presentation one instructor said they were “totally sold” on participating… here’s why!

Teaching with Wikipedia is a service learning assignment

When students work with their instructors and librarians to cite peer reviewed journal articles in their quest to update articles on Wikipedia, they are making pay-walled research available to the public. Most people in the world don’t have access to this knowledge – so the Wikipedia assignment acts as an opportunity for service learning, helping students understand how knowledge gatekeeping works, and giving them a direct path for what they can do to help rectify the problem.

Hosting a Visiting Scholar helps close content gaps on Wikipedia

When university libraries sign on for our Visiting Scholars program, they provide access to research for those most capable of making an impact on Wikipedia: long term Wikipedia contributors. And in 2018 as part of our Future of Facts initiative, we hope to work with universities and libraries to host Visiting Scholars in areas relevant to an informed citizenry. This means empowering Wikipedia’s strongest editors to close gaps in important subject areas like public policy, political science, law, history, environmental science, and sociology.

Each of these programs are powerful in their own way, and together, we are making a huge impact. Since 2010 Wiki Education has supported over 2,000 courses, with over 43,000 students updating 60,000 different articles. Together, they’ve added 40 million words to Wikipedia- that’s 138,000 pages – the equivalent of 26 volumes of a printed encyclopedia, shared with everyone, for free.

Despite being totally sold, attendees still had questions…. they wanted to know how best to select topics for students to work on, how to grade student work, how to talk to students about using proper sources, and how they could track the output of a course or scholar. Luckily, the Wiki Education Dashboard provides support for all of this. We have orientations and resources for instructors around selecting articles, a rubric for grading, and more. We have trainings for students around selecting proper sources and using citations on Wikipedia, as well as subject-specific handouts for when an individual field might differ. And at the end of the day, the Dashboard can track all the work that a student, course, or scholar contributes to Wikipedia. Read more about the functionality of the Dashboard here.

If you are interested in hosting an online or in-person workshop for colleagues at your university, or if you just want to learn more about how to get involved, please reach out at contact@wikiedu.org.

Header image: OEWeek_Weald_20180309, by Michelle Reed, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr.


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