Writing Wikipedia Articles is a free online course developed in collaboration with the School of Open, and conducted here on Wikipedia! The course is currently (February-April 2014) being taught for the fourth time. Enrollment for the current round of the course is now closed. For inquiries about late enrollment, please contact instructor Pete Forsyth.
If you can read Wikipedia, you can help build it! We will teach you about the community, technology, and rules behind this ubiquitous and community-built online encyclopedia. We focus on articles about openness in education: open educational resources, MOOCs, Creative Commons licenses and more. Students learn about the values and culture that have driven hundreds of thousands of volunteers to build Wikipedia, which has generated millions of free articles in hundreds of languages since its 2001 launch. We cover the technical skills needed to edit articles, and share practical insights into the site's collaborative norms and social dynamics. Our students gain confidence in taking on technical challenges and editorial disagreements, and graduate with a sophisticated understanding of how to use Wikipedia both as a reader and as an active participant.
Students who successfully complete the course can earn the badges described below.
Learning objectives and evaluation
|Students earn badges upon successful completion. See WIKISOO badges for details.
Students will learn:
- The history and values of Wikipedia
- The history and values of open education
- Wiki markup code
- Wikipedia's consensus-driven model for making decisions
- How to find like-minded Wikipedians, and how to get help
- How to construct a Wikipedia article
- How to trace the genesis of, and evaluate the quality of, a Wikipedia article
If you're curious what articles have earned past students earned the WikiSOO Burba Badge, here are some examples:
Let's explore Wikipedia together! Photo by Mlet
, licensed CC BY-SA
Taking the course "live" with other students
We offer this course periodically, in a format where students can join live webinar sessions. We have a one hour lecture followed by unstructured editing/homework time every week, for six weeks. The current course will began in February 2014.
(Are you an experienced Wikipedian, or an educator? Please get in touch with Pete if you would like to help out with the course, or offer it on your own!)
Taking the course at your own pace
During the February-March 2014 session of the course, if the times for the live sessions are inconvenient for you (for instance, if you live in Europe or Africa), we encourage you to take the course alongside other students, watching videos of our sessions (which will be posted within 48 hours after each session), and using our course's talk page to ask questions and share your work. In this case, it's best to enroll as all other students in the February cohort do; then use the same home page we are all using: Education Program:School of Open/WIKISOO (February 2014)
The only drawback to taking the course in this way is that it will take more effort to interact with course instructors and your fellow students. Interaction is key to working on Wikipedia, so we strongly encourage you to say hello on the talk page, and share any questions or comments there.
Week 1: Wikipedia under the hood
What is Wikipedia? What has inspired hundreds of thousands of people to volunteer their time to build millions of articles in hundreds of languages? We begin with a survey of the project's history, values, and culture.
We will explore how learners increasingly use Wikipedia as scaffolding, as they begin to build a general understanding of a topic. Herein lies an opportunity: how can we work toward a broader understanding of a topic like Open Educational Resources (OER)? Does Wikipedia help us speak a common language about openness in education? If not, what can be done to improve that? The session will conclude with practical steps to create a Wikipedia account and get started editing.
Week 2: Who am I to edit Wikipedia? Identity & collaboration
We survey issues of expertise, credentials, anonymity, privacy, conflicts of interest (COI). What are Wikipedia's standards? What kinds of conflict arise around editor identity and behavior? How can they be avoided or resolved? We will also examine avenues for on-wiki collaboration.
We will look at both success stories and controversies in Wikipedia's history, and discuss best practices. This will lead into an exploration of how to find and work with Wikipedians who share your interests, or who can help you solve problems.
Week 3: What is quality?
We explore the concept of quality in Wikipedia, as well as reviewing and expanding on Week 2's focus on communicating with other Wikipedians.
We consider several peer review processes within Wikipedia, and explore articles of low and high quality. We'll also look at techniques for gathering information about a page. For instance, how many Wikipedians are "watching" an article for changes? How many page views have there been in the last month? We'll also talk about how Wikipedians with similar interests find each other and collaborate to improve the site, and how you can get involved in projects outside our class.
Week 4: Build it bigger - Roundtable one
We'll look at how a Wikipedia article can evolve and improve over time, and how a good Wikipedia article can impact the world. A panel of experienced Wikipedia community members will share their experiences. We will discuss topics like how to build up a Wikipedia article on a smaller topic, where authoritative sources are hard to come by, and how Wikipedians work together.
Week 5: The deep dive - Roundtable two
We will hear from experts in open educational resources, in a panel discussion exploring how Wikipedia's coverage of this topic can be improved.
Week 6: The takeaway and student showcase
By now, students should be nearing completion of the final project! Students will have an opportunity to present their work (whether or not it is complete) to the rest of the class.
In this final week, we will helping students cross the finish line with the final project; we will devote more time to questions and discussion than we typically do in class sessions.
Helping you find ways to remain engaged with Wikipedia: how to find, join, and get engaged with a WikiProject; how to find local Wikipedians to work with; how to help your peers get involved with Wikipedia (or at least appreciate the value of your contributions!)
Getting help, and working together
Wikipedia is a highly interactive site. There are lots of ways to ask questions or share ideas with other Wikipedians, whether or not they are part of the class!
For our main class discussion board, we use the talk page for WikiProject Open. You will learn all about WikiProjects during the course; the important thing to know is, this is a place where Wikipedia contributors interested in open education tend to congregate. Whether you are taking our course as part of a regular cohort, or taking the self-paced version, you should be able to get answers to your questions there. If you are taking it in self-paced mode, be patient! It may take a few days, or longer, for somebody to see your question and give an appropriate answer.
Homework may be taken on in your own time, or at the end of each class with peer support and extra help. Students should feel free to use various communication channels when taking the course. Some tools that have worked well with our course's previous sessions in clude Twitter (hashtag #WIKISOO), Freenode IRC (in the #oer channel), Skype, Google Hangout and Jitsi.
WIKISOO is taught by Pete Forsyth, Sara Frank Bristow and Dr. Robert Cummings.