A day in the life: working online and in-person to expand the reach of Wiki Education programs

According to Wikipedia’s article about Higher education in the United States (citing the National Center for Education Statistics), there were 4,627 degree-granting postsecondary institutions in the US in 2015. Since Wiki Education was founded in 2014, we’ve worked with 553 institutions where instructors have asked their students to improve Wikipedia as part of an in-class research project. Our long term goal — to support a course in every postsecondary institution in the US. We still have a long way to go!

By increasing our visibility, more people are able to participate in our programs. Those people then tell their friends about their experiences and when those friends join, it helps us continue to grow and scale our work. More important than growing our own capacity, however, is that after each course we support, more people around the world are able to access higher quality information via Wikipedia. That’s why our Educational Partnerships and Outreach team is always looking to increase the visibility of teaching with Wikipedia.

On any given day, this work can mean traveling to conferences, hosting workshops, setting up informational phone calls, or simply just answering emails. We are always working to help others better understand our work! One day last week, I had the opportunity to meet with a group of local instructors here in the Bay Area and a group of instructors remotely on the far-away shores of the Florida Gulf.

While at California State University, East Bay, I spent an hour talking with faculty about the benefits of a Wikipedia assignment. I was joined by Jason Smith, Assistant Professor and Associate Chair in the Department of Health Sciences, who has been teaching in our Classroom Program since Fall 2017. Together, we answered questions from instructors about the time commitment for setting up this project, how to grade and assess students’ work, and the value (and hardship) of engaging experts in open access projects. (For more on these issues, check out our blog post about how “Setting expectations for your Wikipedia assignment” can positively impact student learning.)

But we can’t always visit each institution in person to answer these questions. That’s why we also spend time meeting virtually with potential instructors via our online workshops and webinars. After visiting CSU East Bay, I headed home to call in to a Teaching Discussion Group meeting at Florida State University. Instructors at FSU met in person, but I called in to share slides and answer questions about Wiki Education’s work. We were joined by Biological Science Faculty Member Hank Bass, who has been teaching in our program since Spring 2017. Hank and I answered questions from instructors about best practices for grading, and how the Dashboard can help instructors assess students’ work throughout the assignment. (For more on this, check out our recent post about “5 things you didn’t know the Dashboard can do“).

But even when we can’t meet with instructors online or in person, our resources are always available. If you want to learn more about our work, or get started setting up a course project of your own, check out teach.wikiedu.org or reach out at contact@wikiedu.org.


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