Submissions:2018/"Can I Use Wikipedia as a Source?" Bringing Wikipedia Editing into the Composition Classroom

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Due to limited space, WikiConference North America 2018 unfortunately could not accommodate this submission in its program this year.
Please check out our Unconference for opportunities to present and share there.

"Can I Use Wikipedia as a Source?" Bringing Wikipedia Editing into the Composition Classroom

Editor Recruitment & Retention / Wikipedia and Pedagogy

Academic Peer Review option


Type of submission



Bailey Poland

E-mail address

Wikimedia username


Affiliation(s) (optional)

Bowling Green State University


One of the most common questions I get from students during the pre-writing, research, and revision phases for writing projects is whether Wikipedia "counts" as a valid online source-and many students have made compelling arguments for why teachers should stop banning Wikipedia in the classroom. Rather than leaping to a blanket "no" when a student asks, or offering the pat and unsatisfactory reply that Wikipedia is a starting point for further research, I argue that bringing Wikipedia editing into the composition classroom can be a beneficial strategy for writers in first-year composition courses at the college or university level.

Learning how to edit, write for, and add citations to Wikipedia articles can help students develop critical and lateral thinking skills as they figure out how to assess claims for bias, determine where additional research might needed, and fact-check sources before using them in a paper or adding them to an article. Further, such work assists students in developing research strategies that will help them with their current and future writing projects both inside and outside an academic setting.

Working on Wikipedia editing as well as scholarly writing gives students the opportunity to write for multiple audiences and receive feedback from their peers in the classroom and online-not just from a single instructor. Students also have the ability to make substantial contributions to Wikipedia and see the immediate impact of their work by comparing edit histories and looking at page view statistics. Wikipedia editing reinforces composition studies research findings that show writing is a collaborative process: students will need to work with their instructor, their fellow students, and other Wikipedians to make successful changes to any given article, and learn how to relinquish control over the product, as Wikipedia articles are never static or owned by a single contributor.

Drawing on my ongoing experiences as a Wikipedia Fellow and connecting Wikipedia's training resources to teaching needs, I will propose ways for composition instructors (and anyone teaching research-based writing) to more productively engage with Wikipedia in a classroom setting.

Length of presentation

15-20 minutes

Special requests

A projector screen and internet connection are preferred but not critical

Preferred room size


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


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  1. Matthewvetter (talk) 21:30, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
  2. Shalor (Wiki Ed) (talk) 18:18, 14 August 2018 (UTC)
  3. Samantha (Wiki Education) (talk) 17:02, 15 August 2018 (UTC)
  4. Ian (Wiki Ed) (talk) 20:51, 15 August 2018 (UTC)
  5. BobCummings (talk) 21:28, 15 August 2018 (UTC)
  6. Norwegianblue (talk) 19:51, 26 August 2018 (UTC)
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