Last week, we published an evaluation report about the project Wiki Education undertook over the last year to improve Wikipedia’s coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic through our Scholars & Scientists Program. But that wasn’t the only Wiki Education program improving content related to COVID-19 on Wikipedia: At least 40 student editors across 21 courses in our Wikipedia Student Program also tackled COVID-related articles in the fall 2020 term.
The Wikipedia article on ground-glass opacity — a finding from an X-ray or CT scan of the lungs — was created in 2012 and had lingered in stub form, even as the pandemic raged; ground-glass opacity is one of the most common imaging findings for COVID-19 patients. A medical student at the University of Central Florida dramatically improved the article, adding causes, patterns, and a section specific to COVID-19. The article has received more than 127,000 pageviews since the student improved it, with around 1,000 people a day consulting the student’s work during the height of the December surge in COVID cases. A student from Vanderbilt University added information about cytokine storms to the main COVID-19 article, which has received over 537,000 pageviews since the information was added.
As vaccine development became a key topic in late 2020, several student editors improved articles related to vaccines. While the COVID vaccine isn’t an attenuated vaccine, understanding the differences in vaccines was a key factor for public health officials in tackling vaccine hesitancy. Student editors in a Politics of Health Information class at McMaster University collaborated to improve the attenuated vaccine article. Since their work, the article has received more than 77,000 page views. Another group of student editors at the University of Michigan created a new article on RNA therapeutics; as an mRNA vaccine, the COVID-19 vaccine is one. Since the student editors created the article in December, it’s received more than 18,000 page views.
Medical content isn’t the only important aspect of COVID-19 information improved by student editors in our program, however. Student editors from University of California at Berkeley, the University of Ottawa, and the University of New Haven contributed content to the article on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on social media, while others looked at the impacts of the pandemic on mental health, healthcare workers, education, and sports. A business law student editor from Babson College expanded the COVID-19 section of the eviction in the United States section, updating with the changes to eviction law during the pandemic. And a Boston University student editor created an article on Chinese women’s rights activist Liang Yu, who provided female sanitary products to doctors and nurses in Wuhan during the initial outbreak.
These student editors’ contributions helped thousands of people get access to information during the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to their instructors’ participation in our Wikipedia Student Program. For more information on the program, visit teach.wikiedu.org.