Writing Wikipedia Articles is a free online course developed in collaboration with the School of Open, and conducted (mostly) here on Wikipedia! It is designed as a six-week course; we conducted it three times in 2013, and the next round will begin in February 2014. You may also take the course at your own pace, as described below.
If you can read Wikipedia, you can learn to build it! In this course you will learn about the software, rules, and cultural values that drive and support this ubiquitous and community-built online encyclopedia. We will focus on articles about openness in education: open educational resources, MOOCs, Creative Commons licenses and more. Students will learn about the values and culture that have driven hundreds of thousands of volunteers to build Wikipedia, which in its 12-year history has generated millions of free articles in hundreds of languages. We will cover the technical skills needed to edit articles, as well as share practical insights into the site's collaborative norms and social dynamics. Students will gain confidence in taking on technical challenges and editorial disagreements, and will graduate with an ability to compose useful articles, and a sophisticated understanding of how Wikipedia works, and how to search and read it.
Students who successfully complete the course and the final project will earn the WikiSOO Burba Badge.
Learning objectives & evaluation
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
Students are expected to work toward the WikiSOO Burba Badge, which requires:
- Do one of the following:
- Start a new Wikipedia article, and bring it to at least "Start" class on the Wikipedia quality scale; or
- Improve an existing Wikipedia article at least one level on the quality scale.
- Make 200 or more edits to Wikipedia
Students with less time to devote to the course may instead seek the WikiSOO Signator Badge, which requires:
- Enroll in "Writing Wikipedia Articles"
- Create a Wikipedia user account
- Make any edit to a Wikipedia article or talk page
- Participate in three or more class sessions (viewing archives counts!)
- Ask a question or make a comment in a lab session or on the course discussion page
Past students earned the WikiSOO Burba Badge through improving articles like the following:
Taking the course "live" with other students
Let's explore Wikipedia together! Photo by Mlet
, licensed CC BY-SA
We offer this course periodically, in a format where students can join live webinar sessions. We have a one hour class session and a one hour lab session every week, for six weeks. The next planned course will begin in February 2014. Please visit that page to join us!
(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
The Writing Wikipedia Articles course was originally designed to be taken as part of a class, in a set six week period. But if you prefer, you can take it at your own pace! Please see the home page for self-paced students.
You will visit the course pages for Week 1 through Week 6, watch the videos, and complete the homework at whatever pace you like. Even though you are not part of a group taking the course together, you will be guided in how to get feedback on your work, and how to engage with peers and more experienced Wikipedians.
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!)
Lab sessions, 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 the self-paced course, be patient! It may take a few days, or longer, for somebody to see your question and give an appropriate answer.
During scheduled courses, we offer weekly lab sessions where you can ask questions about homework, present ideas, etc. These are less structured than the regular class sessions. Homework may be taken on in your own time, but the labs are a great opportunity for peer support and extra help. Course instructors Pete and Sara will be online for (at minimum) one hour, and we invite students to continue working together following the scheduled session.
Our main tool for class and lab sessions is Blackboard Collaborate. During lab we also use an etherpad page for shared note-taking.
Please feel free to use other communication channels, especially within your team! Some tools that have worked well with our course's previous rounds:
- Twitter (hashtag #WIKISOO)
- Freenode IRC, in the #oer channel
- Google Hangout