are reverted. In these cases, I show students how to interact with Wikipedia
admins, review Wikipedia’s deletion
policy, and examine the process of
deletion review. I have had several students’ articles recommended for deletion, and the students justified their
articles well enough to save them.
Why Assign a Wikipedia Article?
What is the larger value of this assignment? It helps my students in three
Learn how to do research. The assignment involves good writing skills and
a substantial amount of research for a
high school history class. Writing the
article gets students acquainted with
basic research methods.
Develop a new view of Wikipedia.
Most people have preconceptions
about Wikipedia but very little experience actually reading and writing an
article for the site. Even fewer people
have experience communicating with
other Wikipedia users, particularly admins and editors. This influences how
they interact with others on various
social sites and services. Moreover, students learn that not just anything can
be published on Wikipedia and that
rules and policies govern content.
Learn the difference between fact-only
writing and analytical writing. Most of
my students have a difficult time understanding how to make an argument and
how to differentiate between fact-based
reporting and analysis. Forced to write
a just-the-facts report helps students see
the difference between the two.
This assignment is successful be-
cause students find a topic they are
interested in and research it, learn
how to write for different audiences,
learn how to use Wikipedia more ef-
ficiently, and understand when it is
good to use Wikipedia and when it is
not. Furthermore, they get experience
with community and collaborative
writing and can use those skills long
after the course is over.
Citing Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Deletion Policy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Deletion Review: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
History Stubs: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
How to Edit a Wikipedia Page: http://
No Original Research: http://en.wikipedia.org/
Talk Page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
—Jeremy Boggs is the creative lead at the Center
for History and New Media and a history PhD
student at George Mason University. His work
focuses on how to teach and research history
using shared digital technology.
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