Wikipedia:Education noticeboard

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This page is for general discussion of items that relate to student assignments and the Wikipedia Education Program. Please feel free to post, whether you're from a class, a potential class, or if you're a Wikipedia editor.

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See also
  • Special:Courses (a list of courses using the Education Program extension)

Noticeboard archives

Request for course instructor right: TinyDynamo (talk) (course page draft)[edit]


Kate Freeedman


University of Massachusetts Amherst

Course title and description

Course title: Demystifying Library Research

Student levels: Freshmen-Senior

Description: This course is an exploration of the process of college-level research. In this course, students will learn efficient and effective methods for managing "information overload" and for finding, using, evaluating, organizing, and presenting information.

The way that students will learn these skills will largely be through evaluating and editing Wikipedia articles. Wikipedia is a major secondary source for advanced research, used by both college students and scholars alike. By placing Wikipedia at the center of this course, students will gain an intimate understanding of how Wikipedia works and where this key information resource fits in the research process.

Each student will edit two Wikipedia articles. First, they will work as a class to edit the article on the W. E. B. Du Bois Library. Second, they will work in small groups to edit an article that is related to their personal or academic interests. As part of this process, students will also peer review each others' work on Wikipedia.

Number of students


Start and end dates

January 21, 2015 - May 6, 2015

@Helaine (Wiki Ed), Pharos: @Jami (Wiki Ed), Bluerasberry, Kevin Gorman: --TinyDynamo (talk) 03:35, 21 January 2015 (UTC)

Hi Kate. I'm just a regular editor here, not part of the education program, but I have to say: your course page looks fantastic. You clearly put a lot of time and thought into it; I think it's the most mature lesson plan I've seen on here. I particularly appreciate the subsection on academic honesty. A couple of quick notes:
  • Your grading rubric may have gotten away from you—it totals to 125% at the moment!
  • I like the emphasis on ethics throughout your course page. Biased editing has been a particular problem for us on Wikipedia. Our articles U.S. Congressional staff edits to Wikipedia and Church of Scientology editing on Wikipedia might be handy in leading off a discussion about recognizing bias and the importance of maintaining neutrality in your work.
Best of luck to you with your class! Maralia (talk) 07:01, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
@Maralia Thank you so much for catching the bad math on my grading rubric! I split the additional assignments into three sections, but forgot to delete the additional assignments category when I did that! It is fixed now! TinyDynamo (talk) 15:06, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
@TinyDynamo: I agree with Maralia. You have created a very thoughtful plan for your Wikipedia assignment. I especially like your integration of library resources into your plan. I'm going to grant you the course instructor right, and I'll create your course page for you as well. I'll be in touch via email with some more info about wiki Ed's resources. thanks. Helaine (Wiki Ed) (talk) 18:34, 21 January 2015 (UTC)

Introducing Ryan (Wiki Ed)[edit]

Hello, I'd like to introduce my colleague Ryan McGrady, Ryan (Wiki Ed). As we announced last week, Ryan will be filling in for me in the upcoming months while I am on maternity leave. Ryan edits as a volunteer as User:Rhododendrites and is a veteran of the education program as User:Ryan McGrady. If you have any questions about the Classroom Program in the U.S. or Canada, please reach out to Ryan. Thanks. Helaine (Wiki Ed) (talk) 17:26, 21 January 2015 (UTC)

Added ep-coordinator user access. — xaosflux Talk 17:56, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
Xaosflux Thanks! Helaine (Wiki Ed) (talk) 18:05, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks Helaine (and Xaosflux)! I'm really looking forward to the next few months working with Wiki Edu. A quick note of clarification regarding my other accounts: While I have used User:Ryan McGrady for teaching purposes in the past, it was only for my own teaching. I've added an edit notice to this effect. --Ryan (Wiki Ed) (talk) 20:33, 21 January 2015 (UTC)

Update from Wiki Ed, 21 Jan 2015[edit]

Hi all, and apologies for the delay in this overdue update. As I promised last month, we've made some changes to the process for onboarding classes this term, and I wanted to provide some clarity around what those changes are, since User:Helaine (Wiki Ed), User:Jami (Wiki Ed), and (now) User:Ryan (Wiki Ed) have been granting user rights to new instructors and reviewing course pages. Per last month's announcement, we are ensuring each class goes through our staff, rather than getting onboarded by volunteers, which enables us to do a thorough review of each course page. The Programs Team at Wiki Ed carefully reviewed the reasons behind problems from last term, and we've come up with a checklist that the program manager is using while bringing each new class on board; you can see this checklist at User:Helaine (Wiki Ed)/Course onboarding checklist. Courses that "pass" each of these checkpoints are onboarded into our system; courses plans that raise red flags or fail one of the check points require that we get on the phone with the instructor and talk through some changes to make the course design better. While these changes don't necessarily solve every problem (not all students actually follow directions, for example), we think this can head off most of the biggest course-wide challenges.

Another thing we're changing is we'll be rolling out a "dashboard" that offers more insight into what student editors are contributing on Wikipedia, in both program-wide and course-level detail (you can see a test version of it at — look for an announcement next week with more detailed information about the features). We think this tool (which is linked from every Wiki Ed-supported class's course page on Wikipedia) will provide more transparency and insight into student work for everyone, including the editing community. I look forward to what I hope is a very productive spring 2015 term for Wiki Ed-supported classes on Wikipedia. --LiAnna (Wiki Ed) (talk) 20:15, 21 January 2015 (UTC)

Thanks for being genuinely responsive to the community. I took a careful look at the onboarding checklist, and I am very favorably impressed. I can suggest a few more things that could be added, as "red flags" if they are absent: the instructor should have a user talk page, and should check it regularly; the students should put Template:Educational assignment on the talk pages of pages they intend to modify, and do it early, and it should link to the class page. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:48, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks, Tryptofish. The course pages created through the Assignment Design Wizard do instruct students to add the template to their pages (here's one example). My team is working on getting all the course pages that were created without the wizard to be updated as well. I like your other suggestion as well, although I have to say, I'm curious how you think we should judge whether the instructor will check their talk page regularly! --LiAnna (Wiki Ed) (talk) 02:01, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
LOL! (Couldn't the NSA do that for you?) Oh well, I guess they need to say that they intend to check it regularly. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:41, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
Well, one step towards that would be for WEF staff to use talk pages themselves. At present, all follow-up (see here for just the most recent example) seems to be via email or phone. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 21:14, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
I agree. The "Course onboarding checklist" linked above forbids off-Wiki article writing, so why is off-Wiki contact and discussion ok? The instructors have user accounts and talk pages... so use them. It'll be good as a learning example; that keeping an eye on your talk page and responding to comments and questions posted there is vital to being a part of this community, instead of apart. --Geniac (talk) 00:32, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
Clarification?: Off-wiki article writing forbidden? What exactly does that mean? Because that sounds particularly horrifying. HullIntegrity (talk) 01:12, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
"The instructor will have their students start work either in sandboxes or the article namespace—students will not use other off-line spaces like Word." Why does that sound horrifying to you? Sounds like common sense to me, and anybody else who has dealt with students copypasting in their poorly formatted and broken wiki markup into an article on the last day of class from Word or wherever else they were working on it the whole semester. --Geniac (talk) 04:19, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
"Horrifying" because that is an unenforceable policy without a basic alteration to what Wikipedia is. I can currently move my students "off site" at any time. I currently choose not to. If I am forced to be "on-site" I simply will not do it. HullIntegrity (talk) 15:45, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
On the one hand, it doesn't make sense for an instructor to promote article preparation through MS Word or g-doc etc, since that complicates the technical mark-up. So I understand the Wiki Ed criterion. On the other hand, I certainly wouldn't forbid my students from writing on paper, Word, parchment, Etch-a-sketch, or anything else that will facilitate their writing. Plus, a student's "writing" process would benefit from plenty of off-wiki collaboration, discussion, and feedback. So, maybe this shouldn't sound as if we don't appreciate the benefits of off-wiki work. Thanks, ProfGray (talk) 01:04, 25 January 2015 (UTC)
I, for one, as a writing instructor of students with (often severe) deficiencies, do no want others interacting with their work until they feel "safe". Learning to research and write has a lot to do with trust and confidence building. Most of my students' work on their Wikipedia articles is off-site (in shared Google Docs) and it will stay that way. I, for one, do not need the added craziness of random people "walking through my classroom". Wikipedia is part of "my class". Like going to the Museum of the Moving Image (New York City) , I plan the trip with care, organize with the staff, and maintain as much control over the experience as humanly possible. We do not hang out there all the time, every single day. HullIntegrity (talk) 14:26, 25 January 2015 (UTC)
I partially disagree with that last point, to the extent that I doubt that there is anything mysterious being withheld from the community when WikiEd contacts instructors. Instructors are real people with real jobs in the real world. If they are already engaged with Wikipedia, then that's a very good thing. But WikiEd is of particularly great help to regular editors if and when they reign in the instructors who are doing things the wrong way. You don't correct those instructors by leaving a note on a page here that they are not looking at. It makes very good sense to make the initial contact via a medium where the instructor will actually get the message. --Tryptofish (talk) 00:40, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
I get the intent to help new Wikipedian Instructors, and agree with contacting them where they are, but language like "reign in the instructors" is not likely to get much traction with, well, us. I, for one, am not a very likely to be "reined in" and will politely skirt any attempt to do so. I think "assist where needed and wanted and possible" might be the language you are looking for. However, *roflsnort*, I understand some instructors could use some serious "reigning in", but do not quote me on this (except this is public, of course). HullIntegrity (talk) 01:04, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
And I am feeling inclined to use this discussion, and previous similar ones, as a text in an upcoming course, because it is really interesting how we see instructors and students (I actually mean that, I am not trying to be snarky).HullIntegrity (talk) 01:15, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
Only in academia would people get that worked up over my reference to reigning in. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:22, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
LOL. Perhaps that is true, but you are dealing with academics here, and being referred to in equestrian terms is kind of annoying. I know you did not mean it that way. :)HullIntegrity (talk) 15:49, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
And contacting the instructors however possible is an excellent idea. Do not assume they are on Wikipedia every single day. HullIntegrity (talk) 15:51, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
I agree with jbmurray in that it would be wise to model good onwiki communication practices. There is, of course, a learning curve, but monitoring one's own talk page is kind of the bare minimum in participation here. Encourage them to enable email notifications for their talk page. If there's a concern that instructors may miss an important talk page message from Wiki Ed, then send them a single-sentence email asking them to respond to your query on their talk page. We need them engaged here. Maralia (talk) 06:01, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
My team's been busy this week with making sure all the problematic course designs get fixed, but I've asked them to think about this suggestion. Look for a response next week. --LiAnna (Wiki Ed) (talk) 00:37, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
Regarding the checklist - If the contribution will be an entirely NEW article, suggest driving towards the Draft: namespace as opposed to only a sandbox or article. — xaosflux Talk 13:41, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
@Xaosflux: What do you see as the benefit of the draft namespace over sandboxes? --LiAnna (Wiki Ed) (talk) 00:43, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
Nothing, I see the Draft name space, and use of the articles for creation tool, as a step between sandboxes and mainspace articles if the student will be creating an entire new article. Drafts in progress can proceed where poor articles are more likely to get deleted. If someone is just working on a new section to incorporate in to an article, or arewrite-sandboxes are the best. — xaosflux Talk 01:29, 24 January 2015 (UTC)

Sparked by this thread, we talked quite a bit about the role talk pages should play in our communications with instructors. As an active Wikipedian I'm sympathetic to the idea of getting people to use talk pages for making things transparent wherever possible.

Putting on my instructor hat for a moment, however, I have reservations about this. It's one thing to have the students and I engage in an assignment in public, to post the details of an assignment online, and to receive feedback or criticism from the community, but it's another to be asked to make all communication with Wiki Ed public -- especially if I were a new professor who might not have a great idea of the content of that communication. There's also the discomfort associated with publicly talking about class management -- how I plan, schedule, and generally conduct the class. Again, it's one thing to receive feedback or criticism about the assignment from the community in public, but my relationship with Wiki Ed is different as I rely on them for support.

Finally I'll wear my Wiki Ed hat (still has its tags and stickers attached). Our priority in communication with professors is for it to be effective. The professors who need us most are the ones with little-to-no experience. First and foremost, we want to make sure they receive our messages and we receive their messages. That's by far the biggest issue here. Even if we guide them to turn notifications on, they might get confused, miss something, accidentally leave a response in the wrong place, forget to save properly, etc. Coming back to privacy, they may also forget that it's public and post sensitive information about their class or their students.

Wiki Ed has been spending a lot of time working out communication strategies to ensure we can avoid problems as well as respond to problems faster. Moving communication with professors to talk pages would work in the wrong direction, with the acknowledged sacrifice of transparency. That said, we are considering strategies to encourage professors to engage more on talk pages as part of their Wikipedia assignments.
Note: This is my own perspective. My colleagues on the Programs team have expressed their support, but this is not an official WikiEdu statement. --Ryan (Wiki Ed) (talk) 22:58, 26 January 2015 (UTC)

Just to clarify: for me, at least, the issue here isn't transparency. It's that, when things go wrong with educational assignments, the clearest indicator is that students and/or instructors fail to respond on talkpages. And it's that there's almost nothing that pisses off Wikipedians more (and with some reason, I think) than classes that fail to respond or communicate in the ways that all other editors are expected to do so.
I would add that there are plenty of positive reasons for using talkpages, of which transparency is merely one (and not the most interesting). Another, for instance, is that it encourages serendipidity and collaboration when other Wikipedia editors can see what you are up to. But again, the main thing is avoiding the negative implications and ever-present pitfalls that lie in wait for those who decline to learn or use the forms of communication embedded within Wikipedia.
Meanwhile, I'm not particularly swayed by many of the downsides you list. The one that, in practice, does concern me most is the release of private information: students constantly are on the verge of doing this, though I tell them not to. In egregious cases, however, oversight is an option. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 06:13, 27 January 2015 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Gdfinley (talk) (course page draft)[edit]

Course title and description
Number of students
Start and end dates

@Helaine (Wiki Ed), Ryan (Wiki Ed), Pharos: @Jami (Wiki Ed), Bluerasberry, Kevin Gorman: --Gdfinley (talk) 23:59, 21 January 2015 (UTC)

@Gdfinley: Thanks for using the wizard to create your course plan for your Wikipedia assignment. I've looked over your course page and don't see any red flags so I will go ahead and grant you course instructor rights and create your course page for you. Please look out for an email from me with more information about the ways Wiki Ed can support your course this term. Thanks. Ryan (Wiki Ed) (talk) 18:51, 22 January 2015 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Ayelet sapir (talk) (course page draft)[edit]


Ayelet Sapir


Bangor University School of Psychology

Course title and description

Methods in cognition and brain research, for graduate students. The module will provide specific examples in selected areas of cognition and neuroscience, including patient studies, psychophysics, MRI, EEG and TMS. Students will either create or change a Wiki page in a selected topic related to cognition and brain research.

Number of students

About 30 students

Start and end dates

27 January 2015 until 5 May 2015

@Helaine (Wiki Ed), Ryan (Wiki Ed), Pharos: @Jami (Wiki Ed), Bluerasberry, Kevin Gorman: --Ayelet sapir (talk) 22:47, 25 January 2015 (UTC)