9 Tools For Using Wikipedia in the Classroom

Wikipedia cannot and should not be ignored. While it’s of course not the definitive source of information, it is easily one of the most useful digital resources that’s not used as much as it should be.

The APS Wikipedia Initiative

But how should teachers actually incorporate Wikipedia into the classroom? It’s a tricky thing for sure. Luckily, hundreds of psychology students took part in the APS Wikipedia Initiative (APSWI) in 2011 to figure out cool ways to use Wikipedia in course writing assignments. The experience has been encouraging for students, faculty, and the Wikipedia community. As one educator put it:

“Students found it enjoyable as they proceeded with the project. They felt their work was meaningful because their contributions are shared with the entire world. Some students even noted with pride that their contributions might have a wider audience than some articles published in academic journals.”

To support teachers and students, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, in collaboration with APS, have developed tools and resources to make it easy to use the Wikipedia writing assignments in the classroom. Faculty found them very helpful in tracking students’ activities and coordinating group work and peer-review tasks.

Students found the tools helpful in allowing them to see what others in class are contributing; in identifying classmates who can help them with editing difficulties; and in completing peer reviews. All of this resulted in a strong sense of community within the classroom.

Find relevant articles

You can easily find relevant Wikipedia articles that require work. You can browse articles by area of interest such as “social psychology” or search by keyword and get a list of relevant articles along with information about the quality, and importance. While browsing the articles, you can assign a particular article for your students in any of your classes to work on.

Help pages

Simple tutorials are available to help you and your students become more familiar with the Wikipedia interface, understand how Wikipedia works, and learn how to contribute to Wikipedia.

Wikipedia assignment wizard

This tool provides step-by-step procedures to build a custom course page for your class to incorporate a Wikipedia assignment into the syllabus.

Feedback tool

An easy way to review the work of your students and provide them with feedback. This tool will enable you to view a list of your students and see the work they have done (e.g. total number of words edited and time spent editing).  Additionally, you can see all the changes made to an article and have easy ways to comment on their work, either privately or on the article’s discussion page.

Access to discussions and feedback from other faculty who are using Wikipedia in their classes

The application provides a discussion forum in which you can post your questions and concerns and view stories about experiences of others.  Wikipedia experts will monitor the discussion forum and respond to your questions as quickly as possible.

Support for students’ peer review process

This tool provides rubrics for the peer-review process and an easy way for you to assign peer reviews to your students in the class. You can also view reviews submitted and provide a forum for students to comment on each others’ work.

Support for students’ group work

This tool allows students to choose a group mate among their classmates and provides information about groups working together to the instructor.

Suggested timeline

The application provides a suggested timeline of how to organize Wikipedia assignments in the classroom based on experience of previous instructors.

Student activity

Students will be able to see what others are doing.

Start Exploring

Start planning now to include Wikipedia writing assignments in the next term. Explore the APSWI portal to get familiar with the features, tools, and resources available. If you have questions, you can connect with other faculty who use Wikipedia through the portal or contact Rosta Farzan, one of the researchers at Carnegie Mellon University.