Submissions:2021/Expert fact-checkers rely on Wikipedia. You and your students should too!

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This submission has been noted and is pending review for WikiConference North America 2021.


Expert fact-checkers rely on Wikipedia. You and your students should too!


Tech & Tools, Other

Type of session:



The past two years have been difficult for students and faculty alike, as we have had to grapple simultaneously with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and an information infodemic, defined as “an overabundance of information—some accurate and some not—that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it” (World Health Organization, 2020). As social media platforms and fact-checking organizations have struggled to keep up with vetting COVID-19 related information (Frenkel et al., 2020; Izadi, 2020), it has become urgent for all of us to learn effective strategies for deciding whether online information can be trusted.

Wikipedia can play an important role in helping students quickly determine if sources of information are trustworthy. For example, the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) website appears to be a trustworthy source of information about vaccines; however, a quick search in Wikipedia reveals that the NVIC is an anti-vaccination advocacy group. In fact, professional fact-checkers often turn to Wikipedia as a starting point to investigate the potential biases or agenda of a source (Wineburg & McGrew, 2019).

Over the past several years, we have partnered with colleagues teaching civics to first-year college students at the College of Staten Island, CUNY. As one of 11 institutions participating in the Digital Polarization Initiative, sponsored by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, we have aimed to teach college students how to use lateral reading strategies to vet online information. Lateral reading involves leaving a website to investigate the people and organizations promoting the online content, finding out what other sources have to say about it, and tracing the content back to its original source. Using Wikipedia to investigate sources contradicts what many students have been taught in school. However, we have found that students are receptive to using Wikipedia to investigate sources and make gains in their ability and confidence to vet online information (Brodsky et al., 2021a, 2021b).

In this workshop, we will share findings from the Digital Polarization Initiative and help you build activities for your own courses that teach students to use Wikipedia when fact-checking online information.

Academic Peer Review option:


Author name:

Jessica E. Brodsky and Patricia J. Brooks

E-mail address: and

Wikimedia username:

Jeb245 and Brooks_patty

Affiliated organization(s):

The College of Staten Island, CUNY

Estimated time:

45 minutes

Special requests:


Have you presented on this topic previously? If yes, where/when?:


If your submission is not accepted, would you be open to presenting your topic in another part of the program? (e.g. lightning talk or unconference session)