Using Wikipedia as a teaching tool in higher education (Bookshelf)/Week 3

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Finalize article selection


Your students will have submitted a list of three final topics, or they will have chosen from a list of suitable articles provided to them. For the first option, now it's up to you to evaluate their choices and give a recommendation of which of the three topics they should choose. Consider these items as you evaluate their selections:

  • The inadequacy of the existing article on Wikipedia
How well does the existing Wikipedia article cover the proposed topic? Some topics will be a mere stub, with nothing more than a short description of the topic. Others may be longer, but have large missing holes in coverage. An article that is already well established will be a challenging one for the student to improve enough to be evaluated for your course. Please check the talk pages and recent history of any article you suggest to a student -- if a Wikipedian has been working extensively on the article recently, they may already have an expansion in the works, making it a poor choice for your student.
  • How much need there is in your discipline for that topic
Is there a significant need for your student to work on proposed topic? Are there other topics that may be more relevant? An excellent article about a topic so obscure that very few people will see it is not as useful as one about an important law or court case, for example. Students should contribute to building up inadequate articles that are of high importance to the topic of your course.
  • If the goal is reachable for the student or not?
How advanced the students are in their studies will factor significantly into the amount they are able to contribute to the article. Ensure, based on your knowledge of the topic, that the student has selected an article that will be of appropriate difficulty for the assessment requirements of your course.
  • Ask the students to begin creating finding sources for their articles, which will be used to create annotated bibliographies and outlines in following weeks
    • Example of an outline

Ask students to review existing Wikipedia articles


An early assignment in which students evaluate existing Wikipedia articles can help them understand how Wikipedia works and what they should keep in mind when are assigned to contribute later on. Ask students to review one or more existing Wikipedia articles, analyzing strengths and weaknesses as well as the process by which the articles were created.