Wikipedia:Ambassadors/Courses/Reading and Writing in the Digital Age (Amrita Dhawan)

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Course description[edit]

This course is an introduction to the philosophy, politics and creation of information. We begin by reading excerpts from The World is Flat to get an overview of the key technological forces impacting the changing landscape of information. We will examine how information and knowledge are created in traditional and in emerging media. The concept of a "flat world" is used to set the stage for discussing current trends in information and technology that impact us as creators and as consumers of information. We will use Friedman's book to identify an initial list of issues for further study and students will be encouraged to supplement with readings from current news sources and their own experience.

Instructor and Ambassadors[edit]

Amrita Dhawan
Campus Ambassadors
Online Ambassadors
DGG ( talk )


Week 1: Wikipedia Essentials[edit]

In class
  • Overview of the course
  • Introduction to how Wikipedia will be used in the course
  • Handout: Welcome to Wikipedia (available in print or online from the Wikimedia Foundation)
Assignment (due week 2)
  • Read Five pillars, an explanation of Wikipedia's basic rules and principles

Week 2: Editing basics[edit]

In class
Assignments (due week 3)
(See this and this for example assignments.)
  • Create a Wikipedia account, create a user page, and sign up on the list of students on the course page.
  • To practice editing and communicating on Wikipedia, introduce yourself to one of the class's Online Ambassadors (via talk page), and leave a message for a classmate on their user talk page.
  • All students have Wikipedia user accounts and are listed on the course page.

Week 3: Exploring the topic area[edit]

In class
Assignments (due week 4)
  • Critically evaluate an existing Wikipedia article related to the class, and leave suggestions for improving it on the article's discussion page.
  • Research and list 3–5 articles on your Wikipedia user page that you will consider working on as your main project. Ask your class's Online Ambassadors for comments.

Week 4: Using sources[edit]

In class
Assignment (due week 5)
  • Add 1–2 sentences of new information, backed up with a citation to an appropriate source, to a Wikipedia article related to the class.
For next week
  • Instructor evaluates student's article selections, by week 5.

Week 5: Choosing articles[edit]

In class
  • Discuss the range of topics students will be working on and strategies for researching and writing about them.
Assignments (due week 6)
  • Select an article to work on, removing the rest from the course page.
  • Compile a bibliography of relevant research and post it to the talk page of the article you are working on. Begin reading the sources.

Week 6: Drafting starter articles[edit]

In class
  • Instructor and/or Campus Ambassadors talk about Wikipedia culture & etiquette, and [optionally] introduce the concept of sandboxes and how to use them.
  • Q&A session with instructor and/or Campus Ambassadors about interacting on Wikipedia and getting started with writing
  • Video resource: Sandbox tutorial
Assignments (due week 7)
  • If you are starting a new article, write a 3–4 paragraph summary version of your article (with citations) in your Wikipedia sandbox. If you are improving an existing article, write a summary version reflecting the content the article will have after it's been improved, and post this along with a brief description of your plans on the article's talk page.
  • Begin working with classmates and Online Ambassadors to polish your short starter article and fix any major transgressions of Wikipedia norms.
  • Continue research in preparation for expanding your article.
  • All students have started editing articles or drafts on Wikipedia.

Week 7: Did you know[edit]

In class
Wiki assignments (due week 8)
  • Move sandbox articles into main space.
  • For new articles or qualifying expansions of stubs, compose a one-sentence "hook," nominate it for "Did you know," and monitor the nomination for any issues identified by other editors.
  • Begin expanding your article into a comprehensive treatment of the topic.

Week 8: Building articles[edit]

In class or outside of class
Wiki assignments (due week 9)
  • Expand your article into an initial draft of a comprehensive treatment of the topic.
  • Select two classmates' articles that you will peer review and copy-edit. (You don't need to start reviewing yet.)

Week 9: Getting and giving feedback[edit]

In class
  • As a group, have the students offer suggestions for improving one or two of the students' articles, setting the example for what is expected from a solid encyclopedia article.
Wiki assignments (due week 10)
  • Peer review two of your classmates' articles. Leave suggestions on the article talk pages.
  • Copy-edit the two reviewed articles.
  • All articles have been reviewed by others. All students have reviewed articles by their classmates.

Week 10: Responding to feedback[edit]

In class
  • Open discussion of the concepts of neutrality, media literacy, and the impact and limits of Wikipedia
Wiki assignments (due week 11)
  • Make edits to your article based on peers' feedback.
  • Nominate your article for Good Article status.
  • Prepare for an in-class presentation about your Wikipedia editing experience.

Week 11: Class presentations[edit]

In class
  • Students give in-class presentations about their experiences editing Wikipedia.
Wiki assignments (due week 12)
  • Add final touches to you Wikipedia article. Try to address issues from Good Article reviews.
  • Write a reflective essay (2-5 pages) on your Wikipedia contributions.

Week 12: Due date[edit]

You made it!

  • Students have finished all their work on Wikipedia that will be considered for grading, and have submitted reflective essays.


Thank you for your help and support but at this point our wikipedia projects are not doing well and I wonder if it is partly due to the fact that I did not spend sufficient time planning the project or understanding what it involved.. Only one student is continuing his work - he is translating an article from Polish to English for wikipedia.
However, on the bright side the class is well educated in Wikipedia and its the point that they serve as informal ambassadors of wikipedia and educate family, friends and professors about the way wikipedia REALLY works. They think they understand what wikipedia is about and how it works and are very happy they got this knowledge. This in itself is no mean feat and I want to thank you for your work in this. They feel empowered by this knowledge and have told me so. From this point of view, the lesson on wikipedia has been one of the highlights of the class this semester.
I hope we can work on a similar project next semester ..but this time we will plan it ahead of time so the wiki project is integrated better into class.
Thank you again for your help and support. - instructor Amrita Dhawan

This table will list each article that a student is working on, and which other students will be peer reviewers for the article.

User Article 1st reviewer 2nd reviewer
User: Teresa Żarnowerówna (being translated from Polish Wikipedia) open open

Article banners

To mark each article the subject of a student project, add the following code at the top of the talk page for each article: {{ WAP assignment | course = Wikipedia:Ambassadors/Courses/Reading and Writing in the Digital Age (Amrita Dhawan) | university = City College of New York | term = 2011 Q3 | project = }} That will result in the following banner (and make the articles easy to track):


Wikipedia contributions will be graded as follows:

  • 5% each (x3): Participation grade for early Wikipedia exercises (weeks 2, 3, and 4)
  • 10%: Participation in Wikipedia discussions in class
  • 10%: Peer reviews and collaboration with classmates
  • 15%: Presentation and reflective essay
  • 50%: Quality of main Wikipedia contributions, evaluated in light of reflective essay


Add your username to the list here using the format for Example User below: