Wikipedia:Wiki Ed/UBC/ENG470D-003 Canadian Studies (2017)
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Our class, UBC's English 470D (Canadian Studies), focuses on the intersection of Canadian Literature and Web 2.0, described by scholar Nicole Cohen as “interactive, participant-based online media.” Who is participating in online discussions of Canadian literature, and why? ... Together, we ask what motivates Web 2.0 users to take up this literary content? Which publics do they imagine and reach? What social needs do they address? What cultural work—or “social actions” (Miller)—do they perform? Who does and does not benefit from their labour?
Wikipedia CanLit Edit-a-thon
One of our assignments is a CanLit Edit-a-thon that we are working on throughout the month of March 2017. There are 44 of us in total -- 43 students and myself, the instructor -- and we are being supported by educational developers from UBC's Centre for Teaching & Learning, technical support staff from Arts ISIT, a research librarian, and the team at WikiEd. Students will be working in groups to edit 11 new or existing articles on Canadian literature, and we welcome input from interested members of the Wikipedia community.
The Wikimedia Foundation, the not-for-profit organization that runs the open-access encyclopedia, Wikipedia, has the following <a href="https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Vision">vision statement</a>: “Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. That's our commitment”. There are major barriers, however, to working toward this imagined future of equal access to all knowledge. As <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/beta/arts/canadians-art-feminism-wikipedia-1.3472711">Leah Collins of CBC Arts argues</a>, while in theory anyone can edit Wikipedia, “the trouble is that everyone doesn't”. The social position of those who do volunteer to edit Wikipedia – predominantly white males who live in the United States and Europe – informs which articles they do and do not invest their time in to write and revise. For example, the <a href="https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/76/Editor_Survey_Report_-_April_2011.pdf">Wikimedia Foundation’s 2011 survey (pdf)</a> revealed that only 8.5% of Wikipedia editors identify as women, and today, <a href="https://wikiedu.org/changing/wikipedia/">Wikipedia states</a> that “at least 80% of Wikipedians are men”. These systemic biases have been reported in the media, summarized in Wikipedia articles, and acknowledged by founder Jimmy Wales (for example, see
- <a href="https://www.wired.com/2015/03/wikipedia-sexism/">https://www.wired.com/2015/03/wikipedia-sexism/</a>
- <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_bias_on_Wikipedia">https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_bias_on_Wikipedia</a>
- <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racial_bias_on_Wikipedia">https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racial_bias_on_Wikipedia</a>
People have sought to address exigencies of equitable representation by organizing and participating in Wikipedia edit-a-thons that counter racial, gender, and colonial biases. For instance, during Black History Month 2015, the White House <a href="https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2015/02/23/telling-untold-stories-african-americans-stem">organized an edit-a-thon to document</a> “previously unrecognized stories about African-Americans in STEM fields - science, technology, engineering, and math”. And just last month, <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ago-hosts-wikipedia-edit-a-thon-to-boost-profiles-of-black-canadian-artists-1.3931982">the Art Gallery of Ontario hosted an edit-a-thon</a> to “boost profiles of Black Canadian artists”. “<a href="http://www.artandfeminism.org/">Art + Feminism</a>” is another example. Started in 2014, this edit-a-thon has had over 280 events around the world, including the <a href="http://do604.com/events/2016/9/17/rematriate-wikipedia-edit-a-thon">2016 Rematriate Wikipedia Edit-a-thon for Indigenous artists and organizations</a> that took place in Vancouver and an <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Meetup/Vancouver/ArtAndFeminism_2017">upcoming UBC edit-a-thon on March 18-19th</a> hosted by faculty member Christine D’Onofrio, which focuses on Vancouver art. Other edit-a-thons have also taken place here at UBC: this past September for Science Literacy Week, UBC librarian Erin Fields and open-education strategist Will Engle <a href="http://guides.library.ubc.ca/scilit16/wiki">hosted an edit-a-thon</a> to add “more content to Wikipedia about local women scientists - UBC researchers and alumni” in parallel with edit-a-thons at SFU and BCIT.
This CanLit Edit-a-thon assignment asks you to address the exigence of equitable representation in Wikipedia by contributing new or expanding existing articles about Canadian literature. In undertaking this assignment, we are taking part in a wider open-access educational initiative in Canada and the United States, the Wikipedia Education Project by the <a href="https://wikiedu.org/about-us/">Wiki Education Foundation</a>. To date, WikiEdu student editors have “created or improved” 37,000 articles and their work has been viewed “<a href="https://wikiedu.org/changing/wikipedia/">147 million times</a>”. UBC students have been contributing to Wikipedia in edit-a-thons and for class assignments (e.g., Department of French, Hispanic & Italian Studies, History, and Land & Food Systems), and we are joining their efforts. We are piloting this particular assignment structure – a course-based edit-a-thon – with support from Wiki Ed, UBC’s Centre for Teaching & Learning, and the Faculty of Arts Instructional technology team. We will then share what we learn – what worked and what did not – with other interested faculty so that they can adapt this assignment to meet the learning objectives of their courses and the needs of their students.
As a group, choose a topic relevant to our focus on Canadian literature (e.g., an author, text, or institution) that you argue is currently underrepresented in and symptomatic of systemic bias on Wikipedia. ... Importantly, your Canadian literature topic must meet the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Notability">Wikipedia community’s criteria of notability</a>, “a test used by editors to decide whether a given topic warrants its own article”. There are specific notability guidelines relevant to our CanLit project:
- books: <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Notability_(books)">https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Notability_(books)</a>
- people:<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Notability_(people)"> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Notability_(people)</a>
- organizations:<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Notability_(organizations_and_companies)"> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Notability_(organizations_and_companies)</a>
Then together, draft and publish an article that begins or strengthens this representation by synthesizing existing scholarly and public knowledge. As well, write a group reflection of what you learned during this project. See Part One and Two below.
Part One: Wikipedia Entry (600-800 words: note revised length)
Approach this article as a public genre, addressed to a general readership that includes both experts on and non-specialists interested in your topic. Your article must <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Identifying_reliable_sources">cite five “reliable sources</a>,” minimum; if available, two of these sources should be scholarly. The length of your article (or article section/s) should be approximately 600-800 words, plus a listing of your sources following <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Citing_sources)">Wikipedia’s guidelines</a>. To give you points of comparison, currently the article on Laurence Hill’s Book of Negroes is roughly 2000 words, and the one on Joy Kogawa is roughly 1000 words. In comparison, the article on CWILA, Canadian Women in Literary Arts, is only about 100 words and categorized as a “stub” (too short to constitute encyclopedia coverage) that is rated of “low importance.” Post your final draft in your group's sandbox and your final version to Wikipedia; then submit both the draft and the final article to me as a Word document via Connect (see the timeline for what to include in this document).
Throughout this class project, UBC’s Arts ISIT will provide us with technical support, and a volunteer from WikiEdu will host your group, facilitating your interactions with community members as required.
On the “Talk” page of Wikipedia articles, community members engage in ongoing peer review: they disagree with a contribution and explain their reasoning, recommend, make or undo revisions, and/or support a change. Accordingly, your group’s contributions may be deleted, altered, changed, or challenged by Wikipedians. This is all part of process: community members’ responses will not negatively impact your grade and may prompt you to make revisions that improve your final contribution. For your grade, I assess what you post to your group's sandbox on the specified dates and the final document that you submit via Connect.
Part Two: Edit-a-thon Reflection (400-500 words)
Please approach this reflection as a public academic genre, primarily addressing the reading expectations of experienced and apprentice scholars such as myself and your peers while being open to other interested readers. Write a 400-500 word reflection (plus Works Cited in MLA style) on what your team experienced and learned throughout this Web 2.0 project. Please address some of the following questions: What did you learn about the Wikipedia community, the article genre, the agency of Wikipedia editors, and the rhetorical constraints they work within? What exigencies did you hope to address and why? Did you accomplish what you set out to achieve? Is there something that you wanted to learn but did not? How did the team function together? What would you have done differently? What did your experience teach you about Web 2.0? Post your reflection to your group's sandbox and then also submit it to me as a Word document via Connect.
I would like to thank UBC's Will Engle and Cindy Underhill for their help in designing this assignment and supporting our class. Judy Chan also offered me excellent advice and sample reflection questions from her own assignment, which I have adapted here. Thanks to Helaine Blumenthal and the Wiki Education Foundation team and to the technical support team from UBC’s Arts ISIT for their support of our class project. And a big thanks to the students of #crazyforcanlit: Canadian literature and Web 2.0 for their enthusiasm, intellectual curiosity, and collaborative spirit during this project.