Looking back at the Spring 2017 term

The Spring 2017 term saw tremendous growth, but also prompted reflection for Wiki Education. We supported 358 courses and more than 7,500 students. Collectively, those students contributed more than 6 million words to almost 10,000 articles on Wikipedia on subjects ranging from Diagnostic microbiology to Police brutality against Native Americans.

Each term, we strive to improve our support for our instructors and students. Since its launch in Fall 2015, we’ve continually updated the Course Dashboard to better serve the needs of our program participants. This term, we launched a new feature that color codes student contributions so instructors can more easily track exactly what their students added to a given article. Though our digital tools are a critical part of the Classroom Program, Wiki Ed staff are always working to ensure that our courses are getting the help they need. During the Spring 2017 term, we held four sessions of Wiki Ed office hours in which instructors are able to chat with Wiki Ed staff to discuss any aspect of the assignment. We also hired Shalor Toncray to serve as Wikipedia Content Expert for our courses in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Finally, we released two new discipline-specific brochures to help students contribute more effectively to articles on books and films.

Since Fall 2014, we’ve more than tripled the number of courses participating in the Classroom Program in which instructors assign their students to contribute to Wikipedia as part of their coursework. As a result, thousands of students have had the opportunity to improve Wikipedia’s often neglected academic content, while improving their digital literacy skills. While it’s been relatively easy to quantify how are students are impacting Wikipedia, it has been more difficult to assess how contributing to Wikipedia is impacting our students. To answer this question, we conducted a research study during the Fall 2016 term to assess the student learning outcomes of Wikipedia assignments. We recently released the results of the study, and while this is just a starting point, we can report that students who contribute to Wikipedia improve their digital literacy skills, learn how to communicate for a public audience, and are more motivated by and satisfied with their Wikipedia contributions than traditional writing assignments.

The beginning of the Spring 2017 term also marked the close of the Wikipedia Year of Science in which we focused our efforts on improving science content on Wikipedia. During the initiative we supported 287 courses and over 6300 students in the physical and social sciences. The Year of Science was an incredible learning experience for us, and you can find the full retrospective here. We remain committed to improving science content on Wikipedia, and during the Spring 2017 term, we supported 222 courses in the sciences.

As we begin planing for the Fall 2017 term, we’re implementing changes based on this past year so we can continue improving the quality of student learning experiences, instructor support, and the content we add to Wikipedia. We’ll continue the important work of the Year of Science as well as continue to develop students’ digital literacy skills through our Classroom Program. Finally, we’ll continue to incorporate feedback from instructors to refine our tools and resources further.

Photo: Global Feminist Art class at University of Washington, 2015-04-23 04 by User:Ragesoss – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.0.


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