Friday, March 25, 2016

Using #wikipedia article writing for assessments and exercises in law, biology and more

A few articles on this theme: Firstly a short article in a university newsletter
Byatnal, A. (2016, March 22). Cornell takes big red pen to Wikipedia life sciences content. Cornell Chronicle. This describes how Ashley Downs, food and agriculture librarian at Mann Library, Cornell University, and Kelee Pacion, undergraduate life sciences librarian, organised a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon for biology undergraduates as part of a biology class taught with faculty member Mark Sarvary. "The goal of the course, Sarvary said, is to use Wikipedia as a learning tool to develop stronger critical thinking and information literacy skills."

Bilansky, A. (2016) Using Wikipedia to Teach Audience, Genre and Collaboration. Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture, 16 (2). Preprint
"This essay describes a sequence of assignments to guide students though an informed effort at making contributions to Wikipedia that persist, and suggests ways this set of exercises in social informatics may also serve a number of common goals in a variety of writing, literature, and other courses: analyzing and writing for explicit editorial guidelines (“standards” in information science; “house style” in editorial practice); understanding, conforming to, and even negotiating conventions of genres and subgenres; collaborating online; writing for an audience that is not only real but talks back; and developing deep understanding of revision and the writing, editorial, and publication processes. Students first learn Wikipedia policies and practices and analyze the historical development of articles before they make contributions. The pedagogical opportunities arguably outweigh the concerns of those who doubt the credibility of an open-authored encyclopedia."

Kleefeld, J. C. and Rattray, K. (2016) Write a Wikipedia Article for Law School Credit — Really? Journal of Legal Education, 65, 597- Open access version at
"Most law school assignments are produced and consumed in a dyadic relationship of student-writer and instructor-reader. But consider a different scenario, one in which the fate of the work is presumptive publication to the world; in which feedback from any interested reader is potentially instantaneous; in which the instructor’s role is that of coach or mentor through the writing and publishing process as well as assessor of the work; and in which the student’s work, in turn, contributes to providing worldwide access to free legal information. The world we are talking about is that of writing or editing Wikipedia articles for law school credit. In this Article, we describe that world and the small part we played in it as law professor and law student in editing a Wikipedia article as an optional component of an upper-year Canadian law school course."

Di Lauro, F. and Johinke, R. (2016). Employing Wikipedia for good not evil: innovative approaches to collaborative writing assessment. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education. (Priced, early publication)
"Wikipedia is an open educational resource that connects writers and editors to diverse discourse communities around the world. Unwarranted stigma is attached to the use of Wikipedia in higher education due to fears that students will not pursue rigorous research practices because of the easy access to information that Wikipedia facilitates. In studies referred to in this paper, undergraduate writing students are taught about the need to interrogate any information they find on Wikipedia just as they would other online source material. They are inducted into fact checking, editing and creating Wikipedia articles as a means to analyse source material critically and to advance their research, writing and digital literacy. Meanwhile, in a postgraduate course in magazine studies, instead of writing essays, students are promoting Australian magazines and print culture by writing Wikipedia entries about Antipodean magazines and their editors. These courses experiment with new approaches to formative and summative assessment; promote group research, collaborative and participatory writing, writing across networks and negotiating discourse communities; and challenge students’ perceptions about peer review and the legitimacy of Wikipedia."

Finally, a bonus research study about students' Wikipedia use
Selwyn, N. and Gorard, S. (2016) Students' use of Wikipedia as an academic resource — Patterns of use and perceptions of usefulness. The Internet and Higher Education, 28, 28–34. (Priced article) "Draws on survey data examining 1658 undergraduate students' uses of digital technologies for academic purposes; 87.5% of students report using Wikipedia for their academic work, with 24.0% of these considering it ‘very useful’; Use and perceived usefulness of Wikipedia differs by students’ gender; year of study; cultural background and subject studied; Wikipedia mainly plays an introductory and/or clarificatory role in students information gathering and research." Open access version, embargoed til March 2017
Photo by Sheila Webber: Donnie, Lady Dinah's cat cafe, March 2016

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