Critical issues presentations/Wikipedia edits, editathons, research and academic publications: drivers for changing perceptions of Wikipedia as an educational tool

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Submission no. 148
Title of the submission

Wikipedia edits, editathons, research and academic publications: drivers for changing perceptions of Wikipedia as an educational tool

Author of the submission
  • Frances Di Lauro
Country of origin



Projects, Research

  • Wikipedia Education Project
  • student-focused
  • authentic assessment
  • Editathon

This presentation will focus on the challenges of introducing a Wikipedia Education Project in a prestigious and conservative institution, and the approaches taken to overcome cynicism, distrust and and resistance to such projects from teaching assistants and in some cases, colleagues.

Since 2012 the presenter has used Wikipedia as a tool to teach undergraduate students at the University of Sydney research skills, academic writing, fact checking, referencing, article organization, editing and proofreading among other academic skills. The outcomes of such student-focused endeavours in 2012 and 2013 have been disseminated at the EduWiki Conference in Cardiff in 2013, as well as in publications in two academic book chapters, and one academic journal article. Subsequent trials have formed part of a collaborative research study involving the presenter and a colleague at the University of Mississippi, the preliminary results of which have been presented at 4 major international academic conferences on writing and composition, assessment, and the use of technology in education.

In addition to the obvious benefit of being able to teach students to write collaboratively in an authentic reporting forum, they have benefited from being able to measure the extent of readership and interest in the topics they have contributed to, from the feedback they have received from Wikipedia editors, and learned about using and sharing creative material on Wikimedia Commons.

Due to this success, the presenter will pilot the use of Wikipedia in a first-year undergraduate course in 2016 that is to be delivered completely online. The lack of face-to-face contact in this online course will be offset with group assignments that will engage students in Wikipedia editing while satisfying their need to contribute equally. Using their sandboxes and history pages, teachers will be able to observe the extent of students’ interaction with each other, as well as their individual efforts and contributions. As contributors can participate in editathons from remote locations, students in the 2016 online class will also be asked to participate in a Wadewitz Tribute Editathon. In past years, students in mainstream classes have reported that participation in these editathons increases their sense of belonging to a community.


Not accepted