Engaging marine science instructors to teach with Wikipedia

This weekend, Samantha Erickson and I will join Shane Gero at the Society for Marine Mammalogy’s (SMM) annual conference for a workshop about how to use Wikipedia as a tool for teaching, outreach, and open access science. Run in conjunction with the SMM Education Committee, the workshop will demonstrate how Wikipedia can be used as a teaching tool in university courses, as a method for building digital literacy, and as a method to increase the free access to accurate scientific information.

Wikipedia in the marine science classroom
Since 2010, university and college instructors participating in our Classroom Program have assigned their students to add content to course-related articles on Wikipedia. Students gain key 21st century skills like media literacy, writing and research development, and critical thinking, while content gaps on Wikipedia get filled thanks to students’ efforts.

Wikipedia as a tool for digital literacy
The internet, and Wikipedia itself, is by far the first source of knowledge accessed by the public. Evaluating this quality and content of this information is a critical competency for this generation of students. Furthermore, contributing content allows students to evaluate and assess articles online, a central part of learning to be a scientist. As contributors, they learn to summarize and concisely communicate information from reliable primarily literature sources. A key to being a clear scientific communicator is the ability to communicate complex ideas at a lay level.

Wikipedia as a tool for open access
Wikipedia articles are viewed thousands of times a day by the public. Expert edits on Wikipedia increase the free access to current information about scientific fields, controversies in popular perception, and increases the level of public understanding. Expert content connects the public to scientific literature.

Workshop details
The workshop will cover:

  • The basic functions, policies, and practical use of Wikipedia
  • The specific course support available from the Wiki Education Foundation to faculty who use Wikipedia in academic courses on university and college campuses
  • As a practical exercise, attendees will participate in the 3rd SMM Wikisprint to update, correct, and improve the content on Wikipedia about marine mammal science. We will focus on developing content gap lists and identifying areas for development, particularly for students to use in the classroom during the Wikipedia Year of Science 2016.

Society for Marine Mammalogy instructors who cannot attend this workshop but would like to hear more about participating in the Wikipedia Year of Science should send us an email at contact@wikiedu.org

Some excerpts here are from the original text in the workshop description on SMM’s website.

Jami Mathewson
Educational Partnerships Manager

Featured image:Sea otter nursing young” by Mike Baird. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.


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