Speaker Series

Dr. Zach McDowell, PhD. Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, UIC

"Don't Cite it, Write it! Student Learning Outcomes and the Wikipedia Assignment"
Friday, March 2, 2018 1:00PM to 2:30PM
LSRI 1535, 1240 W Harrison Street

Everyone uses Wikipedia - but does everyone participate? Studies suggest that nearly 90% of editors of Wikipedia are white men, and there is a serious content bias due to this. Most students are unaware of the systemic bias problems that plague Wikipedia. Although Wikipedia remains “the encyclopedia anyone can edit,” most have never even made a small grammar correction, let alone created a username.

Writing a Wikipedia article is very similar to writing a research article, except it forces the student to write in a public sphere. Steps include familiarizing with Wikipedia’s practices, researching content gaps, finding resources and building an annotated bibliography, and creating literature reviews. Wikipedia-based assignments in lieu of traditional assignments teach a few things at once: 1) they create new ways for the students to understand ideas about the creation of knowledge and of collective intelligence, 2) they create a space where students begin to question the validity and verifiability of information, and 3) students are invested in, excited about, and care about the quality of a public project.