Learn from each other: journal article walks through Wikipedia assignment

If you’re looking for a research-backed, step-by-step account of the benefits of a Wikipedia assignment, look no further than the latest issue of the Computers and Composition Online Journal. Helen Choi, of the University of Southern California, and Malavika Shetty, of Boston University, co-authored the piece after meeting through Wiki Education’s blog.

Since Spring 2019, the authors have collectively taught with Wikipedia in 29 courses. Their students have edited over 377 Wikipedia articles, created 37 new pages, and added 577,000 words and 6,510 references that have been viewed by almost 13 million Wikipedia users. In the detailed journal article, you’ll find the following and more:

Student learning outcomes

  • which student learning objectives the assignment best meets (with research that backs it up)
  • how the assignment kept students motivated and engaged even in the emergency teaching scenarios presented by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • the implications of using Wikipedia to fulfill aspirations of inclusion and accessibility in the writing classroom

Course logistics

  • how they structure and scaffold the assignment for their different disciplines
  • what the instructor’s role in the assignment can look like (how much do you need to know before the course vs. how much can you learn along with your students?)

Institutional support

  • what to say to Wikipedia skeptics about the value of the assignment
  • what institutional support for the assignment can look like – from hosting pedagogical workshops to meeting Center for Teaching and Learning goals

Student experience

  • what their students had to say about the assignment (Do they prefer editing Wikipedia over more traditional writing assignments? Are they more likely to think of themselves as digital citizens?)
  • what happens when students go from consumers of information to creators of it

Notably, one of Dr. Shetty’s international students could connect what he was working on in class to his career aspirations and interest in law school, as well as his Korean culture. “I could apply my knowledge that I have learned at Boston University. Plus, the involved parties for the topic were from South Korea, my home country, and from the United States where I am studying,” the student shared. “I contributed to a kind of collective intelligence and feel excited because my efforts were published online where anyone can read.”

“Despite exhortations to avoid Wikipedia by some in higher education,” the authors write, “students understand the value of their contributions, both as a way to give back to a source that they themselves often use and as a means to enhance their learning in the composition classroom. Students, and especially international students, also see the Wikipedia assignment as a way to share information about their backgrounds and cultures on a forum where their cultures are not always represented or not represented accurately.”

Wiki Education has long provided professional development and networking opportunities for instructors. By incorporating a Wikipedia assignment into your next course, you are joining a unique academic community of hundreds that have come before you.

The Wikipedia assignment works for courses across all disciplines. Sign up for Wiki Education‘s free tools and assignment templates at teach.wikiedu.org


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