When you are trying to get a general sense of something online, where do you go first? For many people, the answer to that is Wikipedia. Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia that allows anyone to go in and edit the content. Of course that makes it questionable and not always the most reliable source of information, but as long as you are looking at it for a general overview of something and not in place of actual scholarly research, then it is a wonderful source. Wikipedia answers a great many unanswerable questions that plague the modern internet user.
The Wiki Education Foundation uses the publishing power of Wikipedia to connect to higher education resources. It enriches the education system. So what does it do exactly? Let’s take a look.
If you have ever wondered who the people are who edit the Wikipedia page, I have some answers for you. Through the Wiki Education Foundation, students gain experience by editing Wikipedia. They are reading information and learning while they are reading what is there and understanding what should be expanded and improved. It allows the free encyclopedia to have a fine tooth comb brushed through it without having to pay someone to do it for them. The win is that it is free for Wikipedia while allowing students to gain both experience and knowledge at the same time. It’s a genuine win/win.
Some of the student testimonials on the foundation’s website include “My favorite part about writing for Wikipedia was knowing that the information being presented is valuable to someone,” “It feels awesome to take information squirreled away behind paywalls and share it with Wikipedia’s vast readership,” and “I was encouraged by more than the grade. I wanted to contribute to something long-lasting, and something bigger than myself.” While you should always approach testimonials with caution, it does seem like the vast majority of students working with Wikipedia are having a positive learning experience and gaining knowledge at the same time.
Another wonderful thing that the Wiki Education Foundation has done well is helping instructors and teachers design courses that appeal more to students while increasing the students’ public knowledge. Some of the subjects that the Wiki Education Foundation have included are:
- Bioinorganic Chemistry
- Introduction to Translation into English
- Applied Human Geography
- Topics in Art History
- Women and Writing
- Writing for Wikipedia
- German Diasporas
- Women, Art, and Culture
- Writing Through Literature
- Global and Cultural Perspectives
- Urban Sociology
- Human Development in Global and
- Local Communities
- Advanced Media Studies
- Cognitive Psychology
- Modern Art
- American Indian Literature
- Global Enterprise and Sustainable
- History of Psychology
- Molecular Immunology
- Conservation Biology
- Evolution of Terrestrial Planets
- Cold War Science
- Mass Spectrometry
- Prokaryotic Diversity
- International Trade
- Authors: James Joyce
- Introduction to Sociology
- Developmental Biology
- Introduction to Public Administration
- Ethics for a Free World
- History of Western Canada
Since the Wiki Foundation took flight in 2010, there have been over 14,000 student participants in the foundation. Of the instructors that worked with the foundation, 92% said that they would work with Wikipedia gain, which is not a statistic to scoff at. There have been more than 35,000 articles worked on by the students in the past six years, showing that having someone actually look at the content on Wikipedia has been helpful.
On a personal note, I have noticed that the quality on Wikipedia has gone up exponentially in the past few years it is certainly partly due to the hard work of the Wiki Education Foundation’s hard work to ensure that the pages are as accurate and well-written as possible, allowing anyone with internet access to have the ability to read a free online encyclopedia.