Exploring the perks of partnership with Louisiana State University

Bringing more instructors into Wikipedia helps bring more content to Wikipedia, and that means more knowledge and information shared with the world. One of the ways the Wiki Education Foundation is hoping to expand the scope of Wikipedia is by bringing in more instructors, students, and institutions that share this mission.

To advance those shared goals, we’ve been developing collaborations with institutions with similar missions. One way we’ve done that is by offering support at university events.

Earlier this month, Wiki Ed Executive Director Frank Schulenburg and I traveled to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to jointly host “Wikipedia-Palooza” with the Louisiana State University staff who run Communication across the Curriculum (CxC). This was a series of workshops about how LSU instructors can use Wikipedia in the classroom, which gave us the opportunity to discuss various assignment types, important policies and expectations on Wikipedia, and how students can benefit from a Wikipedia assignment.

We’ve worked closely with CxC over the past three years, especially with Associate Director Rebecca Burdette and College of Science Coordinator Becky Carmichael. Both have recruited instructors to teach with Wikipedia, helped them design assignments that meet their student learning objectives, set students up to positively impact Wikipedia, and trained peer mentors to assist student editors with learning the technological and writing skills they need for a rewarding assignment.

The relationship between CxC’s mission and that of the Wiki Education Foundation was an easy alignment of values. CxC’s mission emphasizes the pedagogical benefits of teaching with communication-based assignments. CxC staff offer faculty development workshops to aid instructors in certifying their classes as communication-intensive, and they oversee peer mentors who help students complete those projects. CxC stresses the importance of four types of communication skills—written, spoken, visual presentation, and technological. Their requirements for a communication-intensive certification at Louisiana State University are also complementary with Wiki Ed’s recommendations for Wikipedia assignments, including:

  • the student/faculty ratio should not exceed 35:1
  • students should explicitly focus on the appropriate audience
  • students should use a process of drafting, getting feedback, and revising their writing

Because of this, CxC can certify classes with Wikipedia assignments as being communication-intensive. That means CxC coordinators and peer mentors can support students who are contributing to Wikipedia in the classroom. This partnership represents the general move we’d like to make with these educational partnerships. When staff and faculty at the university are already focused on helping students to develop the same skills needed to be a good Wikipedia editor, the mutual rewards are clear.

We were excited for this opportunity to extend our support to CxC in expanding the program on LSU’s campus. The students at LSU have done great work, and the support infrastructure from CxC makes this an ideal place to scale the program. That’s the role I will be playing over the next several months—identify campus support centers where there is interest in owning the “teaching with Wikipedia expertise,” and support those centers during their outreach efforts. We’re looking to take on more of these partnerships over time to share resources, expertise, and enthusiasm for the project of bringing academia to Wikipedia and Wikipedia into academia!

If your university center emphasizes the importance of technological assignments, writing for a wider audience, and developing students’ research skills and information literacy, we’d love to discuss how a partnership with the Wiki Education Foundation can help push those goals forward. For more information, email me at jami@wikiedu.org.

Photo: The ‘Teaching with Wikipedia’ workshop at Louisiana State University in November 2014.


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