Wikipedia in Higher Education

July is just flying by. Earlier this month, I attended part of the Wikipedia in Higher Education Summit. I knew from the Reference class I took last fall that Wikipedia is about as reliable as other encyclopedias, but the idea of incorporating it into the classroom – professors assigning students to edit existing pages or create new ones – is somehow revelatory. Most reference sources are one-way – you consult them, they don’t consult you (unless you’re an acknowledged expert in your field). Wikipedia is a two-way information source, in that you can consult it and contribute to it. This is becoming legitimized and encouraged in academia, and it’s exciting.

I’ve collected a few articles around this topic here, in reverse-chronological order, with links and snippets. It’s worth noting that David Ferriero, the archivist of the United States (and a GSLIS alum!), spoke at the summit, supporting Wikipedia in higher ed. (Ferriero also had good things to say about the National Archives’ “Wikipedian-in-Residence” – a GSLIS student).

Read on – and please add any relevant links in the comments.

July 11, 2011, “Wikipedia Aims Higher,” Inside Higher Ed
Late last week, the Wikimedia Foundation, which runs the encyclopedia, took another step toward assuming the mantle of an accessory of higher education: it held an academic conference. The first-ever Wikipedia in Higher Education Summit convened professors who had incorporated Wikipedia into their teaching, as well as others who were considering doing so, to talk about pros and cons of assigning students to improve the publicly edited online encyclopedia.

May 1, 2011, “For More Students, Working on Wikis is Part of Making the Grade, New York Times
Although wikis, with their collaborative approach and vast reach online, have been around for at least 15 years, their use as a general teaching tool in higher education is still relatively recent. But an increasing number of universities are now adopting them as a teaching tool.

February 5, 2011, “Web-Dominated Web Site Seeking Female Experts,” New York Times
Today women earn 57 percent of the bachelor’s degrees, 61 percent of the master’s degrees and, as of 2009, a majority of doctorates in the United States. It is inconceivable that this well-educated majority should be largely absent from the world’s most popular interactive encyclopedia project.

January 30, 2011, “Define Gender Gap? Look Up Wikipedia’s Contributor List,” New York Times
In 10 short years, Wikipedia has accomplished some remarkable goals. More than 3.5 million articles in English? Done. More than 250 languages? Sure. But another number has proved to be an intractable obstacle for the online encyclopedia: surveys suggest that less than 15 percent of its hundreds of thousands of contributors are women.

September 7, 2010, “Wikipedia for Credit,” Inside Higher Ed
Some professors believe Wikipedia has no place in the footnotes of a college paper. But could it have a place on the syllabus?

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