Wikipedia Education Program at U-M

We say it often, Open.Michigan encourages a thriving culture of sharing at the University of Michigan by promoting and supporting open teaching and learning practices. These practices can be activities that are transparent, participatory, and collaborative, such as co-authoring a travel guide, contributing to an interactive syllabus, or adding content to a wiki. So we were excited to learn about the Wikimedia Foundation’s Wikipedia Education Program and U-M’s previous participation in the program via Cheryl Moy and Prof. Anne McNeil.

The Wikipedia Education Program is an initiative designed to support faculty who are interested in integrating Wikipedia based assignments into their syllabi. Wikipedia based assignments include creating new articles, creating new media (photographs, illustrations, animations) for articles, editing articles, and comparing and contrasting Wikipedia articles with traditional academic sources. Previously, Cheryl and Prof. McNeil worked with Chemistry students to create and edit new articles relevant to upper level Chemistry courses.

Recently, Open.Michigan and MLibrary hosted a Wikimedia Foundation sponsored information session and workshop that provided an opportunity for the U-M community to learn more about the Wikipedia Education Program. The information session and workshop were led by Jami Mathewson, an Education Program Associate at Wikimedia Foundation who focuses on coordinating volunteer initiatives and activities in support of the Wikipedia Education Program.

Jami discussing Wikipedia in Education Workshop
Wikipedia in Education Information Session CC BY Open.Michigan. Jami Mathewson discussing the Wikipedia Education Program.

A mix of 35+ faculty, students, and staff attended the information session and about 16 stayed for the interactive workshop.

For the information session, Jami introduced Wikipedia, addressed questions about the integrity of the site and its content, discussed the benefits and challenges of using Wikipedia as a teaching tool, and detailed how the Wikipedia Education Program can support interested faculty members through online/offline help materials and Wikipedia campus ambassadors. Campus ambassadors are trained volunteers that can assist students and faculty members with writing and editing on Wikipedia. Cheryl was the original U-M campus ambassador, but before her departure she trained staff from MLibrary and Open.Michigan to provide ambassador support moving forward.

During the workshop, participants explored examples of Wikipedia based assignments in more detail, and followed an editing demo led by Michael Barera, a Michigan Wikipedean. The Michigan Wikipedians are a student group that meets once a week to work on their own Wikipedia based projects.

Wikipedia in Education Workshop CC BY Open.Michigan. A Michigan Wikipedian teaches participants how to edit Wikipedia.

Open.Michigan and MLibrary are excited about our collaborative effort towards supporting this open teaching and learning practice. Check out these links to learn more about bringing Wikipedia into your classroom:

Contact Dave Malicke (dmalicke@umich.edu) and Ye Li (liye@umich.edu) to learn more about Wikipedia in Education at U-M.

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