Wikipedia in Review

As we near the end of the school year and make plans for fall, it’s a good time to review the opportunities available to campus through the Wikipedian in Residence.  Cassandra DellaCorte, based in Special Collections and Archives in the Richardson Library, is available to work with faculty individually or provide training sessions to departments or groups. Her special interest is in promoting Wikipedia as a teaching tool to engage and challenge students to improve and deepen their research and writing skills.

Cassandra partnered with Studio Chi for a faculty workshop on April 27. Participants considered Wikipedia’s benefits as a learning tool, and learned how to create Wikipedia assignments themselves. On May 5th, Cassandra spoke to faculty from DePaul and other colleges and universities at the Annual Teaching and Learning Conference. In this session, she covered the skills students develop and exercise while editing Wikipedia, as well as different approaches to Wikipedia-based assignments.

In February, Cassandra assisted Laura Kina’s Asian American Art class on Wikipedia editing projects. In small groups, students created brand new articles on emerging artists that previously weren’t included in Wikipedia. The students practiced their research and writing skills, and produced pages  on Kristine Aono, Pok Chi Lau, Sameena Mustafa, and Jave Yoshimoto (the Yoshimoto page earned a C-class rating from other Wikipedia editors, an important endorsement of the students’ work, having started from scratch!).

To facilitate faculty supervision and assessment, Cassandra suggested the Wikimedia Foundation’s Wiki Education (Wiki Ed) tools to structure their project. The students all enrolled in a Wiki Ed course that Cassandra customized, which led them through training modules and guided them through the stages of working on their new Wikipedia articles. Through this platform, Cassandra and Professor Kina could monitor each student’s progress and activity through the Wiki Ed interface. They were able to see the type and extent of changes made by each student to the Wikipedia articles on a dashboard, all in one place, rather than tracking the activity on each article separately.

Our Wikipedian in Residence didn’t just set up editing for others, she performed edits of her own, as well. Cassandra has made over 230 edits on Wikipedia since February, not only improving Wikipedia content related to DePaul collections, but also strengthening the resource for all users. She created new biographic entries for playwrights Claudia Allen and Charles Smith, as well as for Pilsen community activist Teresa Fraga. By creating new pages with links to the finding aids for their archival collections at DePaul, we hope to increase interest and use of these primary source materials. Cassandra also worked on the entry on the Division Street riots in 1966, and a new entry for the Humboldt Park riot in 1977. These important events in Chicago history are now better documented on Wikipedia- the most OK popular reference source in the world.

If you are interested in learning more about Wikipedia editing as an assignment, or have questions about Wikipedia content and Special Collections and Archives, please contact Cassandra DellaCorte at cdellaco@depaul.edu.

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