Taking a ‘Michigander’ at Wikipedia classroom assignments

Jami Mathewson and Ian Ramjohn
Jami Mathewson and Ian Ramjohn

In November, Ian Ramjohn and I traveled to campuses in Michigan to promote the Wikipedia Year of Science. Along the way, we met with instructors and faculty from the University of Michigan, Grand Valley State University, and Michigan State University.

Wiki Ed rarely gets to speak with instructors in person. Workshops about teaching with Wikipedia keep us in touch with instructors’ motivations and concerns. New instructors said they liked the Classroom Program because students get to publish their course work. They also saw how important it is for Wikipedia to cover topics that readers are looking for. The concern we heard most from instructors was how to plan a Wikipedia assignment.

That’s where Wiki Ed comes in. Our digital infrastructure allays many first-time fears about a Wikipedia assignment. Time after time, demonstrations of our course management Dashboard elicits awe from instructors. They’ve never been able to track student work in real time, or measure the impact students have had on Wikipedia readers.

New instructors appreciate having a flexible assignment plan that they can tweak to fit their needs. In Michigan, I got to share a preview of our new student training. This tool provides helpful modules throughout the term, when students need it most.

Special thanks to:

  • Ye Li, Chemistry Librarian at the University of Michigan, for organizing our workshop and sharing her experience supporting chemistry students.
  • Christine Rener, Vice Provost for Instructional Development and Innovation at Grand Valley State University, who arranged our workshop there. We brainstormed ways to involve more science students in Wikipedia assignments.
  • Susan Kendall, Health Sciences Coordinator and Biology Librarian at Michigan State University, brought instructors from many disciplines together for our workshop.

We formed promising relationships with instructors at all three universities. I look forward to bringing more students into the Classroom Program.

Jami Mathewson
Educational Partnerships Manager


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