I had two needs to use Wikipedia today. A Facebook friend, whom I virtually met when I became involved with Mike Nelson’s Print My Blog Pro plugin development project, requested some help with a Wikipedia project. The second, when I was interested in the origins of the phrase, “dog days of summer.”
These efforts in turn brought to mind my explorations of Wikipedia during my last days of teaching …
It has been a little over two years since I was a “Wikipedia Fellow.” At the time I participated in that program, I was overextended (teaching three courses, one of which I hadn’t taught in several years and whose notes were buried among 200 boxes in storage). Sadly, I failed to follow through putting to good use all I learned. I always thought that I might return to my Wikipedia editing lessons after retiring. Indeed, I thought that I might even organize a group of fellow emeriti to work on some Wikipedia projects.
Sadly, due to the pandemic two of my excellent Wikipedia instructors are no longer employed by the organization. And Wikipedia, like so many organizations, is feeling financial pressures. According to an email message they sent me recently, only 2 % of its users make a financial donation and the average donation is $22.
The piece below was written in late October of 2018 just as I was completing the Wikipedia Fellows course I was part of.
This semester I have begun to discover to what degree I have underestimated the value of Wikipedia and the degree to which it has matured since it first was created. I now better understand why it ranks so highly among learning tools on Jane Hart’s list of top tools for learning. Belatedly I am beginning to respond to Mahzarin Banaji’s 2011 call for action to harness the power of Wikipedia.
Wikipedia provides excellent resources (and online support) for incorporating Wikipedia assignments into courses.
- Discussions of plagiarism and how to avoid it
- Instructor resources
- Guides for Editing
- Suggestions for Creating Realistic Student Expectations
Maybe next semester I’ll turn my attention to improving Wikipedia’s history of Carroll. It needs some updating, and I have over 40 years of documented facts: