Critical issues presentations/Wikipedia in teaching

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Submission no. 193
Title of the submission

Wikipedia in teaching

Author of the submission
  • Saul Hoffmann
Country of origin




  • Teaching
  • University
  • Students
  • Difficulties
  • Problems
  • Editing

The academic world officially disregards Wikipedia. Most professors actually explicitly tell their students to avoid it. Nonetheless, students steadily resort to Wikipedia for studying, and many professors admit consulting it, too.

Of course, Wikipedia does not guarantee full reliability and completeness, therefore it is not deemed a suitable source of information for academic purposes. But it is exactly from the academia that knowledge should come. Professors should make students contribute to the Free Encyclopedia for their own interest.

Integrating the editing of articles in the course syllabus would make students more aware of how content in Wikipedia is created, learn whether they can trust an article and its sources, become active contributors instead or remaining passive readers. Teachers would gain motivated students, having them work at a worldwide project. The articles created will then be useful for his/her classes, as well as for others around the globe. Wikipedia itself would gain high-quality articles written by (or at least supervised by) experts in that specific field, but most importantly, it will secure a number of potential future contributors. Once the students have got accustomed with Wikipedia's structure and editor, it will be much easier that they will edit it again.

Thanks to the work of universities and high-schools alike, Wikipedia will become more reliable, therefore becoming more easily accepted by teachers, making them more willing to work on it with their students, consequently expanding and correcting it more. Then the circle starts over again.

The problem is, starting such an activity can be quite difficult. Many things that could go wrong and being able to tackle them is crucial for the good outcome of the project.

Thanks to the experience gathered during some courses recently held at Ca' Foscari University, we try here to present the most common issues one could encounter while working with a classroom, and to give some possible solution. Some of the problems a teacher and his/her students could face are for example articles getting deleted after creation, lack of feedback from the community, and how to evaluate the work at the end of the class.

Of course teachers will be the most interested in this talk, but any person planning to start a project on writing for Wikipedia with users without any prior knowledge of editing is welcome.


Not accepted