Submissions:2015/College Writing with Wikipedia
- Type of submission
- Zach McDowell
- E-mail address
- University of Massschusetts Amherst
Over the past four years I have taught three semesters of a Junior Year Writing course that requires students to write extensive articles on Wikipedia in lieu of traditional papers (as well as assisting in implementing Wikipedia-based assignments in three other courses). I have received outstandingly positive feedback for these classes, resulting in multiple teaching awards for a required class that, taught traditionally, most students find “boring.”
Integrating Wikipedia-based assignments in lieu of traditional papers does a few things at once: 1) it creates new ways for the students to understand ideas about the creation of knowledge and of collective intelligence, 2) it creates a space where students begin to question the validity and verifiability of information, and 3) students are invested in, excited about, and care about the quality of a public project, ensuring their critical engagement with not only the subject matter but their daily lives.
Most of challenges to Writing with Wikipedia are technical, and many of them can be managed with proper support. For the most part students tend to pick up the technical side of Wikipedia editing quickly, but take longer to understand the community behind Wikipedia, as well as fully understanding how to write neutrally. This is true also of faculty members as well, but in the opposite – they often “understand” the community and neutral writing, but have issues with the technical side of Wikipedia, and need more robust training.
Teaching Writing with Wikipedia is a strong pedagogical tool, as it forces students to cite properly, practice peer review, participate in “public” writing, and learn proper formatting of a literature review. As Wikipedia articles evolve over time, students continuously return to their articles, learning proper editing skills and understanding better the writing process. The quality of the work at the end of these classes has been, in my experience, outstanding.
This presentation will overview the benefits of teaching with Wikipedia, particularly in regards to college-level writing, discuss some potential challenges to teaching with Wikipedia, and discuss how to get started implementing Wikipedia in classrooms both personally as well as how to encourage faculty to implement Wikipedia-based assignments. The intent of this presentation is to illustrate some of the successes and challenges that I have had at the University of Massachusetts, as well as encourage more integration of Wikipedia assignments, particularly with the assistance of the Wikipedia Education foundation.
- Length of presentation
- 20 min
- Special schedule requests
- Will you attend WikiConference USA if your submission is not accepted?
- If I can get a scholarship, yes.
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