I can’t stop thinking about Wikipedia lately. Again.
About two years ago, I got all fired up when I read about the gender gap among editors on Wikipedia (aka Wikipedians). I’m not sure what article it was specifically, but something like this piece in NYT ‘Define gender gap? Look up Wikipedia’s contributor list‘.
‘No way,’ I thought, ‘I am going to get out there and start contributing.’ So I created an account. And poked around a little at the back-end of things. This is where things stalled. Sure, I was comfortable enough with basic wiki mark-up, but there’s a whole lot of policy in place at our favourite ‘free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.’ But beyond that, a peek at the ‘talk page‘ behind any article reveals a whole universe of perplexing Wikipedian culture.
At least they have a behavioural guideline stating ‘Do not bite the newcomers‘?
I edited a little, but not much. Yet my interest in Wikipedia and desire to contribute remained.
Then I went off and had a baby, took another year’s mat leave, and returned to work at Brock last month.* And then happened upon this article by Adrianne Wadewitz, ‘Teaching with Wikipedia: The Why, What, and How.’ Yes!
So now, here I am — all fired up again. I read up on the Wikipedia Education Program — there’s a way for me get involved! I start doing some digging around Brock: is anyone already getting their students to work with Wikipedia? How might we work together? I’m still trying to find out (please contact me if you know of anyone…). With the traditional undergrad research paper going the way of the dodo, perhaps Wikipedia assignments are an option to explore?
And then the stars aligned & I caught wind of ‘Wikipedia, Scholarship & Pedagogy‘ at University of Toronto Scarborough (More details here ).** With Dr. Wadewitz as keynote. It was an impressive event with a great talk (her slides are here) & active debate from faculty who had experience using Wikipedia in the classroom, and those interested in doing so. Attendees also included students who are involved in the Wikipedia Education Program as ‘campus ambassadors,’ supporting instructors with these assignments.
So, what are my next steps?
Step one: Edit (more).
Step two: Become a campus ambassador. I need to get more experience editing in order to be useful to faculty and students.
Step three: Have some conversations at Brock to find out who is already doing this, who is interested. Maybe host a similar event in the not-so-distant future?
That’s the plan.
* That’s my excuse for not having blogged in so long. And I just gave the blog a wee makeover & it’s still ‘under construction,’ so please pardon any mess :)