UC Berkeley faculty, researchers use Wikipedia to educate students

faculty creating wikimedia pages for courses
Celine Bellegarda/Staff
Wikipedia articles annotated and edited online by students for their courses may be presented at research symposiums.

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UC Berkeley faculty and the Wiki Education Foundation are using Wikipedia to help students research, annotate and edit articles on topics they are learning in their courses.

Students are able to engage with their subjects and learn the importance of accurate sources, according to UC Berkeley Wikipedian in residence Savannah Cragin. In addition, there are research projects on privacy that are also utilizing Wikipedia as a resource, according to campus sociology doctoral candidate Naniette Coleman.

“Wikipedia is so widely used that it’s such a good tool for students to learn about their topics and have them contribute to a public platform,” Cragin said.

According to Cragin, the Wiki Education Foundation helps students improve their media literacy skills and trains faculty to implement courses.

Cragin said courses using Wikipedia are widespread across many disciplines, including biology, anthropology, public policy and nutrition.

“What Wikipedia does is it allows students to have a sense of agency in what they’re learning and also know that they’re going to be putting out a page on something that they’ve learned,” Cragin said.

The American Cultures Center has been a longtime supporter of the project, according to Cragin.

Cragin added that she created a social action student guide on the American Cultures website that provides resources to help students edit Wikipedia pages.

Additionally, Cragin said she hopes students contributing to this project will understand the importance of reliable and accurate information online.

“Wikipedia is the best platform for people to learn virtually because everything is done online,” Cragin said.

Labs such as the Interdisciplinary Research Group on Privacy are also using Wikipedia as a resource for their work.

According to Coleman, the lab researches privacy knowledge while having undergraduates create and annotate Wikipedia pages to present at research symposiums.

“Credit earning and volunteer students (over 100 to date) have founded and edited privacy, cybersecurity, surveillance, and whistleblower related Wikipedia pages,” Coleman said in an email.

Undergraduate students are able to identify intersections between subjects they are learning and the privacy knowledge they are exploring in the lab, according to Coleman.

Coleman added that she does not expect students to know how to annotate or edit Wikipedia pages and helps to train them in these mediums.

“I have used Wikipedia as a teaching tool and as a means to expand the public’s literacy on privacy, cybersecurity, and surveillance since 2016,” Coleman said in the email.

According to Cragin, using Wikipedia for remote instruction should not pose many obstacles due to its online nature.

The impact of the project could be significant considering the fall semester will mostly be online, according to Cragin.

“You can either write Wikipedia pages or edit subjects that are already developed,” Cragin said. “It’s really to better the Wikipedia pages online.”

The deadline to work with the Wiki Education Foundation for the fall semester course is July 26.

Contact Shylie Ati at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @shylieati.