Why a student wrote “oat milk” into Wikipedia

The current cultural buzz around oat milk weaves together conversations around food sustainability, plant science, health, pop culture, and new industry growth. But before December 10, 2018, you couldn’t find anything about oat milk on Wikipedia. Now, thanks to a student in Yin-long Qiu’s Plants and Human Health course at the University of Michigan, the oat milk Wikipedia article is a great source of information about the plant-based product that anyone with an internet connection can access.

Oat milk has taken off internationally in the last few years, and in the United States in the last year. Coffee shops are running out of the stuff; celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio are backing new production companies; and publications like Quartz and the New York Times are writing about its sudden cultural relevance. In 2018, Innova Market Insights predicted that the industry would reach a value of $16 billion. But not as much is known about the production process of oat milk (what is it exactly?) or its health properties (is it really better for you than dairy?).

The Wikipedia article can now help demystify the product for the curious. This University of Michigan student created the article from scratch as a classroom assignment. Throughout the process, he connected course subject-matter to a wide array of interdisciplinary topics. And now the article sees an average of about 82 pageviews a day. Considering that most student writing is read, on average, one time (by the instructor and maybe peer), 82 pageviews a day is an incredible impact for a single classroom assignment. Studies have shown that the visibility of student work in an assignment like this motivates them to do better work. It also inspires a sense of pride that they’re making a difference for public knowledge.

Read about the production, market expansion, and uses of oat milk on Wikipedia now!

Interested in incorporating a similar assignment into your classroom? Visit teach.wikiedu.org for all you need to know to get started. Or reach out to contact@wikiedu.org with questions.

ImageFile:Green oat field.jpgW.carter, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.


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