This fall, the Wiki Education Foundation is working with nearly 250 instructors in our Classroom Program at more than 160 colleges and universities. That’s a lot of classes and students engaging with Wikipedia, but some of our instructors don’t think it’s enough. In fact, we often hear this sentiment: With an assignment that provides a meaningful experience, helps students develop employable skills, and improves the world’s biggest open educational resource at the same time, shouldn’t even more classes participate?
A Wikipedia project is a great option for a research and writing assignment, and not just in theory. At the end of the spring 2016 term, 98% of instructors said they would teach with Wikipedia again. We asked those same respondents why more of their colleagues don’t teach with Wikipedia (yet!), and their answers confirmed our suspicions. About a third of instructors said their colleagues don’t know they can teach with Wikipedia. Another third suggested instructors need to know about the tools and support they have available to them when they set out to teach with Wikipedia.
That’s why we’re so grateful for our passionate advocates who set out to share their experiences with newcomers who may not know yet that they’re champions of bringing together Wikipedia and education. Thank you to Dr. Tina Brock and Dr. Amin Azzam, who, with support from the University of California, San Francisco Educational Technology Services, developed these videos to share their motivations for teaching with Wikipedia. We used the opportunity to record an informational video about the support available to instructors who join Wiki Ed’s Classroom Program. After all, when you bring Wikipedia into the classroom, you don’t have to do it on your own!
Dr. Tina Brock, a pharmacist and educator at the University of California, San Francisco, talks about how Wikipedia assignments activate what Daniel Pink calls the “motivation trifecta.” Dr. Brock assigns her students to edit Wikipedia articles related to medicine and pharmacy because the process helps them develop autonomy, mastery, and purpose—a combination that makes them highly motivated. Students build their confidence along with their competence, and they produce high-quality work during this engaging process.
Sharing high-quality information with the world
Dr. Amin Azzam, a faculty member at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine and the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health, shares why his Wikipedia assignments and advocacy for medicine on Wikipedia are the biggest things he’s doing in his professional life. Dr. Azzam breaks down the collaborations that have made his students’ contributions so impactful to the world. He works with us, the Wiki Education Foundation, to provide students the tools and resources they need to enter the Wikipedia community with respect for the guidelines and an understanding of the Wikipedia-writing process. He works with WikiProject Medicine, a volunteer-based organization that identifies medical articles most likely to impact readers’ medical decisions, helping medical students prioritize their work. Once students and other editors have improved the articles’ quality, Translators without Borders volunteers translate the work to other languages, and projects like Wikipedia Zero further amplify their reach to readers searching for medical information.
Support from the Wiki Education Foundation
Samantha (Erickson) Weald, Outreach Manager at the Wiki Education Foundation, reviews the basics of a Wikipedia assignment and how Wiki Ed is here to support instructors and students. A Wikipedia assignment mirrors much of a traditional writing assignment—asking students to select a topic, research it thoroughly, and synthesize the literature in their own words. The biggest difference is the next step: publishing that information to Wikipedia, a website accessed 20 billion times per month, so others have access to this important academic knowledge. When instructors expose students to Wikipedia in this way, they do so with tools like our Dashboard, training materials, and support from Wiki Ed.
All three videos are licensed as CC BY-SA 4.0, and we encourage you to share them with proponents of free knowledge and student engagement. If you’re interested in joining our program and assigning your students to write Wikipedia articles, email us at email@example.com.