Wiki event

On April 5th, the Center for the Humanities partnered with Making of the Modern World Assistant Director Heidi Keller-Lapp, the Geisel Library, and the non-profit organization, Wiki Edu, to present the workshop “Teaching with Wikipedia.” Below is a recap of some of the exciting ideas generated from the workshop.

Using Wikipedia as a Teaching tool

Samantha Erikson, the Outreach Manager of the non-profit organization, Wiki Edu, aptly framed the workshop “Teaching Wikipedia” from a pedagogical perspective. How do instructors harness a resource already widely used by university students? Since 2010, Erikson’s organization has been providing free resources and online training for instructors interested in incorporating Wikipedia into their courses. Their aim is simple. Help instructors use one of the world’s top information sites as an effective teaching tool. Here are some ideas that Erikson presented:

“Finding Gaps of Knowledge and Filling it”

“Articles grow, edit by edit, often by many different authors in collaboration. One contributor may start the article, another may add more text, and yet another may reorganize it to make it easier to read” (Wiki Edu Handout “Evaluating Wikipedia”)

In the workshop, Erikson discussed how Wikipedia articles are developed based on an open-editing model, which means anyone can edit. She also laid out the stakes that such an open-editing model presents. Amongst the issues of plagiarism and accuracy, she also touched upon the impact of one’s social position upon what kind of article entries get more attention than others (i.e. 90 % of Wikipedia volunteer editors are white, male, and from the Western world). In light of these issues, Erikson suggests instructors can empower students to develop media literacy and research skills by asking them to write or edit Wikipedia articles themselves. Students would go through the process of selecting a course-related topic, collecting literature on the topic, drafting an article, and making it live on the internet.

Designing Assignments

Here again is where Wiki Edu comes in. The organization offers support to both students and instructors in several concrete ways. This ranges from providing instructors consultation during the stages of course planning and syllabus design, case studies on how instructors have used Wikipedia in their courses, to online training for students on plagiarism and copyright violation.

Erikson also demonstrated how Wiki Edu’s website offers several assignment models that instructors can pick and choose from based on their course’s learning objectives. Here are just some of the assignment models Wiki Edu offers:

  • Assigning Wikipedia as a writing and research project
  • Translate an article
  • Adding illustrations to an article to illustrate concepts
  • Designing infographics
  • For more information on the assignments, please refer to the links at the bottom.

“Producing Knowledge in a Public Space”

In the last half of the workshop, Dr. Heidi Keller-Lamp, the Assistant Director/Lecturer of the Making of the Modern World Program, discussed the challenges and exciting outcomes from assigning Wikipedia as a research project for one of her courses. Dr. Keller-Lamp asked her students to write or edit an article in conjunction with a literature review. One of the experiences that she shared with us was the impact of giving students the opportunity to, in her words, “produce knowledge in a public space.” She explained that not only was the assignment helpful in developing her students’ analytical skills, but it allowed them to “archive” their work on a public platform. It is this important (even if challenging) element of the assignment, she pointed out, that gave her students a great sense of pride in their work.

To find out more about Wiki Edu’s current initiatives and resources, please see below:

  1. Resources for instructors –
  2. Wiki Edu’s online dashboard: Instructors can have the option of creating a login, review the online orientation for new instructors, and draft a course page for a future course –
  3. Information on Wiki Edu’s current initiative to impact the coverage of women in science: Year of Science –
  4. Visiting Scholars – A program to help deepen the coverage of academic topics on Wikipedia. To learn more visit this link:

Geisel Library has held wiki-related events in the past. For more information, please click on the links below:

WRITTEN BY: Lea M. Johnson