The BC Festival of Learning is happening next week in Burnaby. This is an amalgam of a number of different workshops and conferences that have been supported by BCcampus; Educational Technology User Group (ETUG), the Open Textbook Summit, and the Symposium on Scholarly Teaching & Learning.
I’ve got a busy week ahead of me, facilitating or participating in a number of different sessions, including a three hour Wikipedia workshop on day 1 with Judy Chan and Rosie Redfield (UBC) and Jami Mathewson from the Wiki Education Foundation.
I am quite excited about this session as this is something I have wanted to see happen at an ETUG for the past few years. I have written about Wikipedia in the past and have been a semi-regular contributor for many years. I also maintain a curated Scoop.it collection where I stuff articles on how educators are using Wikipedia.
Getting ready for the workshop, I’ve been impressed with how much work has been done by the Wiki Education Foundation to help support educators who want to use Wikipedia in their class. The resources available to instructors – from handouts, how-to’s, lesson plans to real live people who can help support them – have really lowered the bar for educators to begin using Wikipedia. This is not the same unsupported landscape for educators as it was 10 years ago when early adopters like UBC’s Jon Beasley-Murray were trailblazing. Full credit to the foundation for making it easier for educators to engage with Wikipedia.
It’s been interesting to watch perceptions of Wikipedia change in higher ed over the years from the days when nobody knew exactly what Wikipedia was, to the backlash forbidding its use by students, to tacit acceptance that it could have a role to play in higher ed, to today where we are seeing active engagement on Wikipedia by many in the academic community interested in exploring open pedagogy.
I have also been heartened to see academics who treat the platform seriously and realize that the worlds largest repository of open knowledge is being heavily used by people in their daily lives. They understand that, as academics, they have an important role to play in helping to maintain the accuracy, breadth and diversity of Wikipedia. Faculty like Dr. James Heilman and Dr. Amin Azzam who regularly correct misinformation on Wikipedia articles about health.
Heading into the world of Wikipedia is not without its risks, as UofT professor Steve Joordens discovered when he had his (1,900!) students start editing Wikipedia articles, flooding the existing Wikipedia volunteer editors with tons of extra work as they had to filter the contributions. Wikipedia is, first and foremost, a community made up of volunteers, and learning to negotiate and engage with that community is just as important as contributing & fixing content. It’s one of the topics we’ll be discussing at the workshop.
Image: Wikipedia by Giulia Forsythe CC-BY