To bridge all the gaps

As a classroom project, we hear time and again that the Wikipedia assignment is a huge motivator for students. In our Fall 2016 research study into student learning outcomes, for example, we found that “in addition to their value in learning digital/information literacy, critical research, teamwork, and technology skills, Wikipedia-based assignments also help increase students’ motivation to complete work over traditional writing assignments.” In my recent webinar with a group of instructors from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, I also heard this feedback echoed:

“Social equity editing can be very motivating,” says Matthew Vetter, longtime Wiki Education advocate and Assistant Professor of English at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. For example, Dr. Vetter recently worked with his graduate students to complete a citation analysis across five Wikipedia articles related to computers, writing, digital literacy, and digital rhetoric in order to show how Wikipedia’s gender gap manifests in the absence of cited research by non-male scholars. He then asked his students to edit Wikipedia to improve representation of women and women’s research in these areas. But after using the Wikipedia assignment and Wiki Education’s tools in more than 10 courses, Dr. Vetter has also found that “some student’s aren’t ready… it can be overwhelming for them to confront knowledge as a thing in flux.”

In her first term teaching the Wikipedia assignment this fall, Jialei Jiang noticed that “some of my students have said they want to bridge all the gaps.” This is one of the great outcomes of teaching with Wikipedia… that students begin to see issues with sourcing and content more often, and are prepared to deal with those issues. “My students are always so surprised when they are told they will be doing this,” says Dr. Vetter, “We’re taking something they heard was unrealistic [using and editing Wikipedia] and flipping that narrative.”

Webinar participants also mentioned feeling “very fulfilled while teaching this assignment” and that it allows them to “teach students collaboration and genre specific work.” To get involved, visit or join our upcoming professional development course.

To read more about this workshop, visit the Digital Rhetoric Collaborative blog. Reach out to with questions.


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