Have you started your students on writing for Wikipedia yet?

The education program at Wikipedia has as its motto: “The end of throwaway assignments and the beginning of real-world impact for student editors.”

How can we embrace this powerful motto and have our students learn through contributing to Wikipedia? I put together a slide show on this topic you can get from Slideshare: here.
Here are some principles I will try hard to get across.

1. Wikipedia is not technically difficult. You do not have to teach how because there are tons of online resources.
2. Every student should do their own piece.
3. The rough drafts, with references should go straight up on Wikipedia before polishing so they can get feedback.
4. They should be turned in separately for grading because things change rapidly on Wikipedia.
5. The work should be done in pieces. We did 500 words plus 5 references, then twice 1000 words plus 10 references. One could even do just the first piece and make a difference.
6. Look at other student’s work and comment on the talk tab.
7. Revise the work and put the changes up.
8. Additional revisions responding to the community are also good, but could be informal, not point based.
9. Join a Wikipedia project for better feed back.

It may seem a little challenging at first, but the energy of students doing original writing and defending and revising what they say is worth it!

About Joan E. Strassmann

Evolutionary biologist, studies social behavior in insects & microbes, interested in education, travel, birds, tropics, nature, food; biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis
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1 Response to Have you started your students on writing for Wikipedia yet?

  1. Jeremy Fox says:

    Readers may also want to check out Meghan Duffy’s two posts on her (unfortunately quite negative) experience with Wikipedia in the classroom, and the lessons she took from the experience. The comment threads are very useful as well. Much of the advice overlaps with Joan’s above, but some of it is different.



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