Month: March 2016

Teaching with Wikipedia (some recent homegrown examples)

A little while ago, I came across the reasons to use Wikipedia, (well worth a read) and have been reflecting on how Wikipedia and its sister projects can be best utilised as a teaching tool.

Simply working with Wikipedia as a teaching assignment is much more straightforward using the new Visual Editor WYSIWYG interface (What You See Is What You Get) which makes editing Wikipedia as easy as using Microsoft Word or WordPress blogging. Students can be taught how to edit in as little as 45mins-60mins and thereafter can work individually or collectively to research & write, with academic rigour, brand new Wikipedia articles.

By way of example, Anouk Lang, English Literature Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, has applied this in getting her students to create a new page on a literary text, Conversations in Bloomsbury, a 1981 memoir that depicts writer Mulk Raj Anand’s life in London during the heyday of the Bloomsbury Group, and his relationships with the group’s members.

The collaborative process engaged her students, and some students in particular who had perhaps been more reticent (or less confident) in participating in more traditional assignments, in researching the topic & in applying the digital literacy skills required to achieve the page’s creation. The net result is not an essay or report that could potentially be filed away & forgotten but instead something that adds to the sum of human knowledge & is discoverable by other readers & editors all over the world so that they, in turn, can add more to it.

Conversations in Bloomsbury

Which all fits in with achieving, quite nicely, with achieving the University’s mission and Wikimedia’s mission.

Areas of convergence between Wikimedia UK and the University of Edinburgh's missions.
Areas of convergence between Wikimedia UK and the University of Edinburgh’s missions.

Similarly, Dr. Chris Harlow at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Reproductive Health, has run Wikipedia research sessions with his Reproductive Medicine Honours students where, within the space of an afternoon’s session, they were able to navigate the open access journals to find enough good quality, reliable published sources to create a new article on a term that previously did not exist on Wikipedia: neuroangiogenesis. In doing so, the students created a page that significantly added to the discourse, and the visibility of the discourse, on a number of other related pages: Angiogenesis, Alzheimer’s disease and Endometriosis.

Neuroangiogenesis

The two links below are booklets which have a number of good places to begin teaching with Wikipedia including how to design your assignment as well as alternative assignment ideas such as translating an article into different languages (now even easier with a Wikipedia tool that allows both articles to be onscreen), illustrating an article (with photos, infographics, videos etc.), copy-editing articles to improve critical thinking skills on how good writing is achieved in your particular discipline and so on.

The second booklet explores a number of case studies of approaches taken implementing Wikimedia assignments within a university. However, it is important to note that these are just starting points and that, as this is a new & developing discipline, that newer models can be designed to better suit your purposes.

  1. How to use Wikipedia as a teaching tool
  2. Wikipedia Education Program – Case Studies

If you would like to know more about how our main open knowledge project, Wikipedia, fits in with academia then these recent articles make very compelling reading:

  1. Wikipedia 15 and education
  2. Wikipedia the digital gateway to academic research

Myself and Martin Poulter, former Wikimedia Ambassador at JISC and the current Wikimedian in Residence at the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, will also be attending the OER16 Conference in Edinburgh on 19-20 April if you want to learn more about the education projects he has been involved in.

Indeed, should you wish to discuss teaching with Wikimedia or collaborating on any projects then I would be only too glad to hear from you.

A smorgasbord of Wikimedia projects to choose from: not just Wikipedia!

In visiting a lot of different people of places over the last two months, one question keeps cropping up: what is the difference between Wikimedian and Wikipedian?

Which is a fair question.

Ultimately, Wikimedia UK is the parent or umbrella body, a charitable non-profit foundation (the UK chapter of the global Wikimedia movement which has its HQ in San Francisco) which exists to support & promote Wikimedia’s projects in the UK: one of which happens to be its main open Knowledge project, Wikipedia.

From the Wikimedia Foundation’s FAQs:

“What is Wikipedia?

Wikipedia is the largest collection of free, collaborative knowledge in human history. Millions of people from around the world have written and added to Wikipedia since it was created in 2001: anyone can edit it, at any time. Wikipedia contains more than 35 million volunteer-authored articles in more than 290 languages. Every month, Wikipedia is viewed more than 15 billion times, making it one of the most popular sites in the world. The people who support it are united by the joy of knowledge, their passion and curiosity, and their awareness that we know much more together than any of us does alone.

What is the Wikimedia Foundation?

The Wikimedia Foundation is the non-profit organization that supports and operates Wikipedia and the other free knowledge projects. All of our work is guided by our mission to share the sum of all knowledge with every person in the world. We keep the websites fast, secure, and available. We support the community of volunteers who contribute to the Wikimedia projects. We make free knowledge accessible wherever you are — on your phone or laptop, on a boat in the South Pacific, or in the hills of Nepal. We help bring new knowledge online, lower barriers to access, and make it easier for everyone to share what they know.”

However, while Wikipedia draws the most attention, there are numerous ways where staff & students can get involved & directly contribute their knowledge & expertise to develop Wikimedia UK’s diverse range of projects.

Slide10

Not just Wikipedia: Wikimedia UK’s diverse range projects (above).

 

Wikisource, for instance, is a ‘free content library of source texts’ with some 300,000+ source texts which anyone can use.

Wikimedia Commons is our media repository with over 30 million freely usable media files to which anyone can contribute to and re-use.

Wikibooks, an open-content textbooks collection that anyone can edit, has been utilised by some academic institutions (notably Greg Singh, lecturer  in Communications, Media & Culture at the University of Stirling) as an assessed part of their courses where students work in research groups to contribute chapters to create a brand new textbook, the Digital Media & Culture Yearbook.

Wikidata, in particular, as Wikipedia’s newest sister project offers up a wealth of possibilities as a structured database of all human knowledge which is readable by humans and machines. For example, the Histropedia website makes good use of the data Wikidata harnesses in order to create visually stimulating & dynamic timelines: be it as straightforward as a timeline of University of Edinburgh alumni or something much more bespoke: such as a timeline of descendants of Robert the Bruce, who are female, and born in Denmark.

Example timeline from Histropedia
Example timeline from Histropedia

As the residency continues, I hope to explore each of these projects a bit further (and others besides) and see if any collaborations can be achieved which mutually benefit the university and Wikimedia in adding open knowledge content to these projects. So watch this space… and if you have any questions about any of the projects then let me know.

Listen to Wikipedia

Screen Shot - Listen to Wikipedia  By Stephen Laporte (http://listen.hatnote.com/) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Screen Shot – Listen to Wikipedia
By Stephen Laporte (http://listen.hatnote.com/) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
During the recent History of Medicine editathons, I would often open proceedings by introducing people to a rather wonderful website…

Listen to Wikipedia

The website demonstrates all the real-time edits occurring on Wikipedia taken from Wikipedia’s ‘recent changes feed’ and puts it to music (bells for additions, strings for subtractions).

From the website’s own description:

Bells indicate additions and string plucks indicate subtractions. Pitch changes according to the size of the edit; the larger the edit, the deeper the note.

Green circles show edits from unregistered contributors, and purple circles mark edits performed by automated bots. You may see announcements for new users as they join the site, punctuated by a string swell. You can welcome him or her by clicking the blue banner and adding a note on their talk page.”

Anyway, check it out as it is a lovely way of visualising the Wiki community and all the edits occurring around the world. (NB: And it didn’t hurt that it created a zen-like pagoda garden experience for our editors while they busied themselves adding & subtracting to Wiki articles themselves.)

 

Art+Feminism Wikipedia editathon – Saturday 5th March

In a 2011 survey, the Wikimedia Foundation found that less than 10% of its contributors identify as female while only 15% of the English Wikipedia’s biographies are about women. As a result, content is skewed by the lack of female participation.

About our next event

Following the successful editathon held at Modern One to mark the opening of the exhibition Modern Scottish Women, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is holding a follow-up Wikipedia Edit-a-thon during Women’s History Month as part of the Art+Feminism series. This event will coincide with other International Women’s Day events happening elsewhere in Edinburgh that day and will carry on where the last Modern Scottish Women editathon left off; creating and improving articles relating to those women featured in the exhibition.

Modern Scottish Women is an exhibition of work by Scottish women artists and concentrates on painters and sculptors. It covers the period from 1885, when Fra Newbery became Director of Glasgow School of Art, until 1965, the year of Anne Redpath’s death.

All you need to bring is a laptop as wifi will be provided. But you can also have a look at the notable artists listed below to see if there is someone there you may wish to work on:

Hit list of articles to be created or improved

Articles to be created

Articles to be improved

** The work of those artists marked with a double asterisk has now passed into the public domain.

Come along if you can make it, the more the merrier. New editors are very welcome and full training will be given. With Visual Editor, it really is now as easy as using MS Word or WordPress.

The event signup is here: Art&Feminism Wikipedia editathon

Hopefully see you there!

We Can Edit
We Can Edit

Reflecting on the History of Medicine editathon – The Outcome

After 5 Wikipedia editing sessions over 3 days with some terrific guest speakers, our Wiki editors helped to upload over 500 images, created 12 brand new Wiki pages and improved 63 articles with 249 edits.

Anatomical gingerbread
Anatomical gingerbread

I would encourage everyone to have a look over the work that was created last week (Creating an Open Body of Knowledge editathon) as there are now some astonishingly interesting additions to Wikipedia which just simply weren’t there before….

Including:

  • A new article on Norman Dott – the first holder of the Chair of Neurological Surgery at the University of Edinburgh.
  • Our digital curator’s one man ‘Citation Hunt’ crusade to plug those pesky ‘citation needed’ labels in articles.
  • Improved article on Robert Battey – an American physician who is known for pioneering a surgical procedure then called Battey’s Operation and now termed radical oophorectomy (or removal of a woman’s ovaries)
  • Noteworthy work (because she’s on a banknote) doubling (if not trebling) the article on Mary Fairfax Somerville – a Scottish science writer and polymath, at a time when women’s participation in science was discouraged. As well as editing articles on Isabel Thorne, Matilda Chaplin Ayrton and the Scottish Blood Transfusion Service.
  • A new ‘Controversy’ section added on the intriguing case of James Miranda Barry.
  • A really helpful mapping tool of the buildings to be photographed: https://mapalist.com/map/573668
  • Our historian of medicine worked on The Brunonian system of medicine article – a theory of medicine which regards and treats disorders as caused by defective or excessive excitation.
  • A brand new article on Leith Hospital – illustrated with pictures the new editor took themselves and uploaded to Wikicommons.
  • Articles on Frances Helen Simson (a Scottish suffragist) and The Edinburgh Royal Maternity and Simpson Maternity Hospital Pavilion. Ably added to by work on Lady Tweedale.
  • Work on Emily Bovell’s article and a brand new article on the New Zealand Army Nursing Service page which came into being in early 1915, when the Army Council in London accepted the New Zealand government’s offer of nurses to help in the war effort during the First World War.
  • Improved articles on ‘Fabry disease’ – a rare genetic lysosomal storage disease – and on ‘Alport Syndrome’ – a genetic disorder affecting around 1 in 5,000 children, characterized by glomerulonephritis, end-stage kidney disease, and hearing loss
  • Improvement work on Frances Hoggan – the first British woman to receive a doctorate in medicine from a university in Europe, and the first female doctor to be registered in Wales.
  • And much much more besides…. including work expanding on The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh’s page on Chinese Wikipedia!
Burke and Hare myths debunked
Burke and Hare myths debunked at the History of Medicine editathon.

The fully illustrated (pics & tweets) story of the History of Medicine editathon can be found on our Storify page so please feel free to take a look: The History of Medicine editathon for ILW 2016

Happily, our editors’ efforts have now been rewarded with a nomination at the Innovative Learning Week 2016 awards. Out of nearly 300 ILW events, the award category we are shortlisted in states:

Best Impact – Innovation doesn’t just happen in a week and these event organisers know it.  They used the festival to support an idea which will have a great deal of impact outside of the classroom and for months – maybe even years! – to come.”

Our next Wikipedia editathon event will be for Women’s History Month and will coincide with a number of other International Women’s Day events in Edinburgh on Saturday 5th March. Feel free to sign up as new editors are very welcome and full training will be given. The event details are here: Art+Feminism Wikipedia Editathon for Women’s History Month

Thanks so much to everyone involved our last one for the History of Medicine for being a part of it.  If you’ve still got something lurking in your sandbox, go on & be bold and publish it!