Open Education at CUNY

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Considering any Wikipedia classroom assignments in the Summer or Fall 2012?

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    Local Wikipedia Campus Ambassadors are starting to plan for activities this Summer and Fall. In the past Prof. Michael Mandiberg has successfully used Wikipedia in his classes ( Check out the Wikipedia US Education Program/Campus Ambassador Program courses page to see other examples:
    Their assignments are all there in detail with student work posted publically on Wikipedia. Here is a sample entry from a student in Professor Carwil Bjork-James’ Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples ( class at Hunter this past Spring:

    Please fill out this form if you think you might be using Wikipedia as a site for any classroom assignments in the Summer or Fall 2012:

    There will also be a Wikipedia “Edit-a-Thon” at New York Public Library that you could bring your class to this summer that you can RSVP to on this form (NYTimes coverage of a similar event in the past –

    Feel free to contact myself or Richard Knipel, Regional Campus Ambassador [] if you’d like to find out more.

    Beth Evans

    Very interesting. Thanks, Ann. I like to see the librarian ambassadors involved and the link to Prof. Carwil Bjork-James’ course is very instructive. It is interesting that none of the reference’s in the professor’s or the sample student article are to material obtained from library databases. The student is citing all primary sources. I realize, of course, citations to library databases would be closed links for the unaffiliated and problematic, but I still see value in the content. Curious what others think.



    @bethevans One of the big emphases of the WEP is to get folks to add citations to offline and/or library database based sources. It is okay if they are not linkable: the onl requirement is that someone *could* go get the material if they tried (e.g. ILL, got access to db’s, etc)

    I want to second @amatsuuchi‘s encouragement re: teaching with Wikipedia. I have had really productive experiences assigning students to write Wikipedia in my classes. Here is a bit of a pitch:

    At the undergraduate level there are four reasons why I have students write Wikipedia as a course assingment: 1. It is an empowering experience. Students are writing articles that will be in the top three search results for that subject. They are having a real impact in the world. 2. It is a great way to ensure that they are doing their research. All but one of my students responded in their self-evaluations that it was the most research they have ever done. They also recognized how much they learned, and said they enjoyed it. 3. The students were motivated because their work had a relevance outside the classroom, and was working for the greater good of society. Or to put it another way, they were introduced to service/volunteering. 4. Lastly, the way that the software tracks every edit, and the requirement that every statement be cited means that you have a better control over plagiarism, and can help students actually understand why they have to follow the rules. It also helps that many of the pages are regularly edited by other editors, who will remove items if they are not cited, or are clearly plagiarized; this happened in many cases. The best overview is in this blog post by the Wikimedia folks: My undergraduate course is here, though it is a little messy:

    I have also used it at the GC in PhD classes, where it is a great way to force these individual-minded scholars to collaborate. My assignment is here: At the graduate level, the challenges is that they are forced to work, collaboratively iteratively, and in public. Graduate students in the humanities are almost never allowed (let alone encouraged) to collaborate, and yet (I believe) collaboration is fundamentally important for any contemporary citizen & maker. They are also encouraged to work privately, hoarding their knowledge until a time when they make it public. Working in this way also helps them accept that ‘great is the enemy of good.’ Working collaboratively also forced an engagement with the social aspects of Wikipedia editing, leading to some substantial reflections on online communities. This comment thread ( is in the middle of a wikipedia edit conflict scenario, that the students ultimately resolved with the editor they are speaking about, and in the process learned a ton.

    If any of you have any questions, I also would be happy to offer more on this forum, or speak directly. And as @amatsuuchi has pointed out, Richard Knipel is really the person to talk to. At the time I started I was comfortable doing basic edits, and could add photographs, but not much more; Richard and others helped me with some of the next level skills (talk pages, flagging pages, etc).

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