Wikipedia:WikiProject United States Public Policy/Courses/Spring 2011/Federal Indian Law and Policy (Kristin Ruppel)/Progress Report (2011-03-23)
On March 23, 2011, Bonnie McCallum and I held our third major Wikipedia session for Kristin Ruppel’s Federal Indian Policy and Law Course at Montana State University. The MSU Library graciously provided their computer provisioned classroom for the venue which proved beneficial to the objectives of the day. We focused on two major themes—ensuring each student had and was comfortable with their WP assignment, and reviewing a number of basic editing and behavioral norms necessary for them to succeed.
Watchlists and Talk Pages
At the top of the list was a discussion about consistent use of talk pages to ask questions, communicate intent and acknowledge contact. We emphasized that each student should be checking their watchlist and talk pages every day, and that doing so ensures they can take advantage of help being offered, issues about their topic and become aware of mistakes being made that other editors are trying to correct. We emphasized that it was extremely important, especially at this nascent stage of their editing career, that they acknowledge comments and questions made to them on their talk pages. Doing so ensures the sender is aware that they are actively involved, listening and hopefully engaged in resolving whatever issues are on the table. We emphasized that failure to monitor and respond to talk pages denies them the opportunity to take advantage of experienced editors and ambassadors as they work on their articles.
We used a typical scenario that took place earlier in the day, to illustrate the importance of this behavior. A student inadvertently created their draft article in the mainspace. It was clearly not up to WP standards, and within a few hours had been tagged, renamed and ultimately nominated for CSD-A3. When I discovered this (by watching the student’s talk page) I declined the CSD-A3 (even though it was legitimate) and moved the draft back to the user’s space. I notified both the student (with a link to the draft) and the nominator (who appreciated the explanation) on their talk pages. During the class, the student confirmed that they had not been looking at their talk page or watchlist and was totally unaware that this event had occurred. We walked the students through the event in an effort to demonstrate the efficacy of watchlists and talk pages.
We reminded students of the need to be extremely careful about copyright violations, what they could and could not do and how to avoid them completely.
Questions and Demonstrations
Most of the remainder of the class was spent demonstrating (and allowing students to emulate on their PCs) various editing and composition techniques on draft articles, answering specific questions with associated demonstrations, and re-emphasizing the need to use talk pages, take advantage of Ambassador’s office hours and that Ambassadors are (if not otherwise committed) available to meetings anytime to help students with WP issues.
- Bonnie McCallum has organized a two day WP meetup in the MSU Student Union in April with the expressed purpose of attacting enough students interested in forming a Wikipedia Club at MSU (details to follow later)
- In June, MSU will host a three day Tribal College Librarian Institute Summer Conference for tribal libarian throughout the state. In coordination with Professor Ruppel, MSU Campus Ambassadors and several of Professor Ruppel's students will hold a discussion forum during the conference on WP and how it was used in the course. One of the objectives of this participation is the potential recruitment of ambassadors among the Tribal Librarians in the state.