Working with Wikipedia in the curriculum helps students to “think critically and make balanced judgements about information. It empowers us as citizens to reach and express informed views and to engage fully with society” (“CILIP Definition of Information Literacy 2018”, 2019)
It is also widely recognised that digital capabilities are a key component of graduate employability. To stay competitive globally, ‘the UK must ensure it has the necessary pool of (highly) digitally skilled graduates to support and drive research and innovation throughout the economy.’ (Davies, Mullan & Feldman, 2017)
Our 3 years of work was to facilitate staff and students across the university to develop information and digital literacy skills and to address the gender disparity of editors and participants in the community. Hundreds of staff and students have now been trained across all three teaching colleges; engaging positively with implementing Wikimedia in the curriculum, working in close conjunction with Academic Support Librarians and course teams.
“Too many students I met were being told that Wikipedia was untrustworthy and were, instead, being encouraged to do research. As a result, the message that many had taken home was to turn to Google and use whatever came up first.” (Boyd, 2017)
Far from being anathema in academic contexts, Wikipedia has proven it has lots to offer to teaching and learning. A 2016 study found that 87.5% of students reported using Wikipedia and finding it “academically useful” in an introductory or clarificatory role (Selwyn & Gorard, 2016). This is important when one considers Wikipedia ranks highly in Google search results and “the funnelling effect” where users click on the first page of Google results 90% of the time (Beel & Gipp, 2009). There is therefore agency to editing Wikipedia. Supporting an informed understanding of how Wikipedia works and exploring areas of mutual benefit has been a core part of this project.
“Wikipedia is a fantastic example of how literature can be synthesised as evidence in an accessible way. It’s great to see the product of the students’ work, and one that lasts beyond the life of the assignment.” – Ruth Jenkins, Academic Support Librarian and Wikipedia trainer.
This presentation will showcase stories of student engagement and co-creation in subject areas such as Reproductive Biology, World Christianity, Translation Studies and Data Science for Design; providing exemplars of how students have engaged with, and been intrinsically motivated by, researching and publishing their scholarship online in a real-world application of their teaching and learning. This presentation will also share key performance indicators to make the case why working with Wikipedia is a worthwhile return of investment for universities.
“Not only were students enthralled when they saw their pages go live, they were able to gain digital learning skills and academic skills such as writing clearly and citing good sources. Even more valuable, students were now included in a process of knowledge exchange – bringing the things they were learning in the classroom out to the world around them”. – Dr. Alexander Chow, Wikipedia course leader and Lecturer in Theology.
• Beel, J.; Gipp, B. (2009). “Google Scholar’s ranking algorithm: The impact of citation counts (An empirical study)”. 2009 Third International Conference on Research Challenges in Information Science: 439–446. doi:1109/RCIS.2009.5089308.
• Boyd, Danah (2017-01-05). “Did Media Literacy Backfire?”. Data & Society: Points.
• CILIP Definition of Information Literacy 2018. (2019). Retrieved from https://infolit.org.uk/ILdefinitionCILIP2018.pdf
• Davies, S., Mullan, J., & Feldman, P. (2017). Rebooting learning for the digital age: What next for technology enhanced education?. Retrieved from https://www.hepi.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Hepi_Rebooting-learning-for-the-digital-age-Report-93-20_01_17Web.pdf
• Selwyn, N., & 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. doi: 10.1016/j.iheduc.2015.08.004