Don’t Cite it, Write it! Try a Wikipedia Assignment With Your Students

Editor’s Note: As Middlebury faculty prepare classes for fall semester, many may be interested in the opportunity to connect coursework to Wiki Education, which partners with faculty to develop teaching assignments and student work focused on contributing to Wikipedia and using it more critically. The following guest post from Wiki Education Outreach Manager Samantha Weald explains how the partnership can enrich your teaching and your students’ critical digital fluency. Additionally, faculty at Middlebury can learn more from Samantha at an upcoming Monterey campus visit on 24 September 2018. The meeting will be available by Zoom. For more on a new Wikipedia project at Middlebury, see Amy Collier’s “Newspapers on Wikipedia project – What DLINQ students & staff are up to,” DLINQ Website, 20 July 2018. — Michael Kramer, Acting Director, DLA

By Samantha Weald, Outreach Manager, Wiki Education

Wikipedia: it is the fifth most visited website in the world, so we know our students are using it, but has anyone ever talked to them about how to use it with a critical eye? Wiki Education, a small nonprofit organization from California, offers free teaching tools and resources for instructors interested in deepening their students’ digital literacy practices. In a Wikipedia assignment, students are asked to improve or create articles on Wikipedia as a course assignment. As with a term paper, the assignment asks students to select a topic, compile a bibliography, write a draft, and complete a peer review. However, better than a term paper, they are also asked to critically evaluate Wikipedia, to improve their media literacy and digital fluency, and to communicate their area of inquiry to a public (live!) audience. All as part of this active learning assignment.

Wiki Education has been helping instructors and students develop these assignments for over six years. The nonprofit’s suite of resources include an online course management system, instructor orientations, student trainings, and assignment templates. Wiki Education also provides staff to help with assignment design, and to support you and your students on Wikipedia during the project. You can read more instructor testimonials on the Wiki Education blogIf you join their program, you get access to all this and much more for free!

How you can make a difference:

Teach with Wikipedia!

Wiki Education’s strategy focuses on increasing knowledge equity on Wikipedia. They are looking for courses in all disciplines excited to improve public access to their field via Wikipedia. To learn more, just head to the Wiki Education Dashboard and sign up with Wikipedia. This will provide you access to the Wiki Education instructor orientation and assignment templates, which you can customize for your course.

Share with your friends!

If you have friends or colleagues at Middlebury College or elsewhere who you think may be interested, feel free to forward details about Wiki Education, their programs, or contact information to Outreach Manager Samantha Weald.

If you’d like to discuss incorporating a Wikipedia assignment into your next course, Samantha is available to answer questions about assignment design, Wiki Education’s online tools, and more. She can be reached at