Education/News/March 2018/The role of Wikipedia in education - Examples from the WikiEdu foundation

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The role of Wikipedia in education - Examples from the Wiki Education Foundation[edit]

Author: Pen-Yuan Hsing

Summary: Teaching critical thinking, digital literacy, and academic writing with Wikipedia with resources from the Wiki Education Foundation.

I have experience designing and delivering undergraduate education, which ties into my general interest in science education and outreach. I've been doing science outreach for more than a decade, and teaching formalises that process and is a challenge I enjoy.

What has always saddened me, however, is that the vast majority of student assignments don't "go anywhere" after they are submitted. The audience of student writing is usually just one: their instructor. This is a great shame because I have seen great writing and creativity in student assignments that end up in a forgotten corner of their computers or the dustbin. Wikipedia writing assignments give students a change to share what they've learned with the world.

Many academics dismiss Wikipedia because the information contained in it can be "unreliable", but the iterative process of editing Wikipedia - writing, peer review, correcting mistakes, and all the blemishes that come with them - is the perfect example of how knowledge is formed. So by editing Wikipedia, students are challenged to think critically and distil what they learn in class into a good, accessible piece of writing subject to peer review.

Several months ago, I gave a talk on integrating Wikipedia into education and how the Wiki Education Foundation plays a big role in making this happen. With their support for instructors and an online dashboard for course management, many instructors around the world have successfully integrated Wikipedia assignments into their courses. Disciplines range from biology to history and beyond.

Students are motivated to do a good job because they know their work will be seen by millions, and through the process they practice critical thinking skills and gain digital literacy, both crucial skills especially today. They write their assignments "to be read, not just graded".

I am embedding the video of my talk with this post (uploaded to the Wikimedia Commons or Vimeo) which gives examples of how instructors have done this, and shared the editable slides of my talk on the open science sharing platform Zenodo under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.

I'd love to hear your constructive criticisms, and feel free to share and remix the slides (and video) for your needs!

Tags: Wikipedia, Wiki Education Foundation, critical thinking, digital literacy, education