Wikipedia assignments have demonstrated benefits for learning, such as:
- improving students’ writing skills (Freire & Li, 2016)
- improving students’ self-confidence with exercising information literacy skills (Dawe & Robinson, 2017)
- facilitating students in learning to analyze, understand, and write Wikipedia contributions (Martineau & Boisvert, 2011)
In comparison to editing a private class wiki, Freire & Li (2016) found students who engaged in a Wikipedia assignment showed improved writing quality, more balanced discussions of the issues at hand, and included greater number of primary sources.
Overall, Wikipedia assignments can support learning related to intended outcomes such as writing & communication, critical thinking, and information literacy. But what are the possibilities for assignment design? And how do instructors incorporate Wikipedia assignments without overburdening their students or themselves?
Wikipedia Assignment Design
First, let’s consider potential designs. Wiki Education suggests three possible kinds of assignments:
Create of Expand an Article: As of February 2018, there were over 5 million Wikipedia articles on the web. All of these articles are continually in draft mode and there is always something new to contribute. With a create/expand assignment, students either write a new article from scratch or expand an existing article that is currently short on information
Translate an Existing Article: There are nearly 3x more English pages on Wikipedia than French, 4x more English than Spanish, and 6x more English than Chinese. In a translate assignment, students straddle the language gap to translate high-quality articles from one article to another language.
Create new media: Wikipedia pages can be text heavy. There is incredible value added to a page when other forms of media are added. In a media creation assignment, students produce original media content for upload.
The 3 options listed above are a starting point for developing your own Wikipedia assignment that meets intended course goals. For more, check out the following handout or visit Wiki Education’s support page for Teaching with Wikipedia:
How do I get started with Wikipedia Assignments?
Wiki Education offers a Dashboard tool that supports instructors to develop their Wikipedia assignments (with helpful supportive materials designed by Wikipedia Education themselves). Further, the Dashboard serves as an assignment management system where students are supported to become familiar with Wikipedia pages through scaffolded tasks, and where they access all the details required for successful completion of your assignment. The Dashboard allows instructors to track and manage student progress, making it easy to provide feedback and grade work.
To get started with the Wikipedia Education Dashboard, visit their site.