Forty million Americans rely on the internet as their primary source for science information. Half of all Americans have used the internet to fact check the science in a news report, and more than half say they’d turn to the internet first to learn about a scientific controversy. And 70% have gone online to learn about a new scientific concept (source).
That search typically includes Wikipedia. As the top online educational resource on the planet, with more links from search engines than any other site, Wikipedia is one of the most powerful platforms for the dissemination of science information in the world.
That’s why we made the Wikipedia Year of Science a centerpiece in our annual plan. It’s an initiative to improve science articles on Wikipedia, close gaps in scientific content, and help more people find free, high-quality information about science. In the meantime, we’ll offer real practice in science communication to students across the USA and Canada.
We’ll be recruiting in science fields to help expand the number of instructors teaching with Wikipedia through our Classroom Program. We’re especially looking for courses that can expand Wikipedia’s representation of women scientists. We’re already reaching out to form partnerships with academic associations. Of course, we’ll continue to support instructors outside of the sciences interested in teaching with Wikipedia as well.
It’s not just classrooms. We’re also in the process of connecting Wikipedia Visiting Scholars to science-based resources at institutions of higher learning.
If you’re an instructor, a representative of an institution of higher learning, or academic association, and interested in collaborating on this exciting, large-scale science communication project, reach out to email@example.com.
Photo: “StFX Physical Sciences Lab” by StFX – StFX. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons.
2 thoughts on “Year of Science initiative focuses on science communication, literacy”
I am mildly dissapointed in this topical focus, in that its the one that everyone agrees Wikipedia covers fairly well (and our typical demographic has expertise in). The humanities, social sciences, arts, or a more narrow “environmental and ecological sciences” would have much greater impact in filling gaps (and would likely recruit more women and minorities).
Thanks for your feedback, Alex.
The Year of Science isn’t only about improving hard science-related articles. We’re hoping to deepen public understanding of science in its social and historical contexts as well. A good case in point is our focus on biographies of women scientists.
We’re working with academic associations within a broad range of sciences, including social sciences. But we’re working through the humanities and other fields, too. With the help of participating academic associations, we’ll target narrower fields with room to get better. Those organizations will help us reach individual classrooms to focus on content that could be improved, or topics that lack articles altogether.
A look at our recent conversations with academic associations (http://wikiedu.org/blog/2015/07/15/june-partnerships/) is a good way to see the broad range of interest in the Year of Science. We’re engaging associations that focus on biology and plant life, but also history, linguistics, and sociology. We’ve heard positive feedback from these organizations, and we’re working with them to identify ways for everyone to make meaningful impacts on Wikipedia’s science coverage.