Wikipedia:United States Education Program/Courses/Writing as Communication (Zachary McDowell)

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Course description[edit]

UMass Amherst Campus Center 2.jpg

The primary goal of this class is to advance your critical thinking and reading skills, and to provide instruction in the research and composition techniques.

Although the final paper will consist of a more "traditional" reflection paper, the journey of this class will be one that engages the collaborative nature of knowledge creation and how you can participate in it. As of Fall 2011, there is no greater place for collaborative knowledge creation than Wikipedia, so this is where we will begin to engage our writing as a transformative communicative event.

This course will give students a chance to engage a variety of topics typical of those within the Department of Communication. These topics may include, but are not limited to: Media Studies, Mass Media, New Media, Interpersonal Communication, Organizational Communication, and Advertising Studies. Students will engage academic sources to synthesize new content on Wikipedia.

This class serves as the Junior Year Writing course for Communication Studies Majors at the University of Massachusetts Amherst

Instructor and Ambassadors[edit]

Zach McDowell (talk)
Campus Ambassador
Kevin Rutheford
Online Ambassadors
My76Strat (John), Cind.amuse (Cindy)

Wikipedia Timeline[edit]

Note: Course Materials not engaging Wikipedia will be available at the Course Moodle site

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)
  • Read Five pillars, an explanation of Wikipedia's basic rules and principles
  • Create Wikipedia Account

Week 2: Basics[edit]

In class
Academic Readings / Discussion
  • Discussion: What does it mean to communicate?
    • Read: Briankle Chang - Communication as Communicability
    • Read: Claudio Moreira - A Life in So Many Acts
  • 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.
  • Critically evaluate an existing Wikipedia article related to the class, and leave suggestions for improving it on the article's discussion page. (optional)
  • 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.
  • All students have Wikipedia user accounts and are listed on the course page.

Week 3: Exploring your topic area[edit]

In class
Academic Readings / Discussion
  • Read: Shimpach and Jhally
  • Add 1–2 sentences of new information, backed up with a citation to an appropriate source, to a Wikipedia article you are interested in.

Week 4: Choosing a Project[edit]

In class
  • Discuss the range of topics students will be working on and strategies for researching and writing about them.
Academic Readings / Discussion
  • Discussion: Writing in Communication Studies
    • Read: Gencarella, Cooks, and Fuentes-Bautista
  • Project Proposal Due
  • Add article link to course page
  • All students have submitted Project Proposals on Moodle

Week 5: Consultation Week - Begin to Draft Article[edit]

Consultation week
Students will meet one-on-one with instructor to discuss proposal
  • Instructor will discuss Wikipedia culture & etiquette and introduce the concept of sandboxes and how to use them.
  • Video resource: Sandbox tutorial

Week 6: Drafting Sandbox Articles[edit]

In class
  • Q&A session with instructor and/or Campus Ambassadors about interacting on Wikipedia and getting started with writing
  • 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.
  • Begin expanding your article into a comprehensive treatment of the topic.
  • Get ready to move your article out of the sandbox.
  • All students have started editing articles or drafts on Wikipedia.

Week 7: Building articles / Did You Know?[edit]

In class or Computer Lab
Wiki assignments
  • 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.)
  • 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.
  • Handout: Submitting articles to Did You Know

Week 8: 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.
Mediated Writing / Writing and the Web
  • Readings: Geddes, Lessig (on Moodle)
Wiki assignments
  • 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 9: Responding to feedback[edit]

In class
  • Open discussion of the concepts of neutrality, media literacy, and the impact and limits of Wikipedia
Collective Intelligence
  • Readings: Levy and Lessig (On Moodle)
Wiki assignments
  • 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 10: Library Week[edit]

  • Students will meet with instructor at arranged times to discuss Critical Reflection Paper.

Week 11: Public Writing[edit]

Public Writing and Critique
  • Readings: Carbaugh; Castaneda; Geisler; Gencarella; Jhally; Morgan; Servaes
Wiki assignments
  • Continue to work on article

Week 12: Academia and the Public[edit]

Project Reflection / Academia and the Public
Wiki assignments
  • Add final touches to you Wikipedia article. Try to address issues from Good Article reviews.

Week 13: Class presentations / Project Due[edit]

In class
  • Students give in-class presentations about their experiences editing Wikipedia.

Week 14: Project Critical Reflection Due[edit]

  • Project Reflection Discussions
  • Project Critical Reflection Due 12/12

You made it!

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


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:Ktlin91 Telecommunication convergence krimsonshadow odolgopo
User:daniellecomm375 Sexuality in music videos jules2013 Jns521
User:jules2013 Youth marketing danielle Aja99
User:Jns521 Alcohol_Advertising_on_College_Campuses Daniellecomm375 GirlWithTheMostCake
User:Aja99 Effects of teen advertising on body image Jns521 scriptgeek
User:Laural17 Motivations for joining the Special Olympics Sabrina.roy richardw8704
User:Sabrina.roy Post-Classical Editing Laura L. krimsonshadow
User:GirlWithTheMostCake Feminist Blog Aja99 odolgopo
User:DianeElizabeth66 Misogyny and mass media Eff Gjeni Mike Nolan33
User:richardw8704 Little League World Series on television Sjeanbap Mike Nolan33
User:scriptgeek propaganda film Sabrina.roy Kellilivingston
User:Kellilivingston Branded content Laura L scriptgeek
User:krimsonshadow youth marketing Joujoute Sjeanbap
User:Eff Gjeni Gender Advertisement Diane GirlWithTheMostCake
User:Sjeanbap Impact of the Internet on Hip Hop Eff Gjeni Kellilivingston
User:odolgopo Communication for sustainable social change and development Diane richardw8704
User:Mike Nolan33 Video Games in Education Joujoute Ktlin91 aka Kai
User:Joujoute Media Representations of Haiti Jules2013 Ktlin91 aka Kai
User:dahlidahl National_Youth_Anti-Drug_Media_Campaign Eff Gjeni mtomao
User:mtomao Fashion_blog#Impact_on_the_fashion_industry LauraL17 Eff Gjeni

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:United States Education Program/Courses/Writing as Communication (Zachary McDowell) | university = University of Massachusetts Amherst | term = 2011 Q3 | project = }} That will result in the following banner (and make the articles easy to track):


Course will be graded as follows:

  • 25% Participation Total
  • 5%: Introduction - Personal Reflection Paper
  • 15%: Proposal for Wikipedia contribution Project
  • 30%: Main Wikipedia contribution project
  • 25%: Final Critical Reflection Paper


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