Teaching with Wikipedia, the Fall 2017 Edition

Image from the Eli Coppola Wikipedia article created in Fall 2016 ; Polaroid photo of Eli in 1992, captioned by Eli

This fall I am again working with Wikipedia in my Feminist Theory course (check out: Why You And Your Students Should Work To Improve Wikipedia, Feminist Praxis and Wikipedia in the Classroomand Adding Voices to Scholarship: Wikipedia Editing). It’s the second time that I’m mixing the Wiki Education Foundation’s online dashboard with our Linda Lear Center’s archives. This Wikipedia-based assignment continues to be a uniquely engaging for students because they are not only able to contribute to public knowledge, they become Wikipedia editors. They shift from being passive visitors to the Wikipedia site to editors with a working knowledge of the principles and culture of Wikipedia and an ability to add and edit Wikipedia pages.

In this blog post, I want to offer up a few key reasons to consider using Wikipedia in your class:


As of As of Friday, November 10, English Wikipedia had 5,491,385 articles and is estimated to be the seventh most popular site in the United States, and the fifth most popular in the world. I have yet to teach a student who has not visited Wikipedia. While there is a longstanding skepticism of the reliability of Wikipedia, students are often unclear about how the encyclopedia works and yet often use it for information. Through a Wikipedia-engaged assignment, faculty can assist students in learning when Wikipedia could be useful and when it is not an appropriate source.

You can do it!

Thanks to the Wiki Education Foundation’s development of an online dashboard, there is an increasingly easy to use and nicely scaffolded way to plan out an assignment. My dashboard allows me to draw on the trainings provided by Wiki Education to help students learn the basics to Wikipedia as a community, as well as how to edit, conduct research, write an article, and provide substantive feedback to their peers. It also harnesses the transparency of Wikipedia to make it easy to track students work throughout a project. Plus, each class gets connected to a Wikipedia content expert who can provide additional support to students. I have asked my content editors to video chat with students the past two years and that has been helpful for establishing rapport. All in all, while I don’t ever feel like I’m an uber-Wikipedian, I know that I have the basic knowledge needed and when I hit a roadblock, I have the support I need.

Built-in Motivation

Students respond well to the challenge of a Wikipedia assignment because it engages with a public-facing platform. In this case, it’s a site that possibly everyone they know has visited at some point. As a result, they care more about doing high quality work because they have a sense of responsibility towards a public audience. They also look forward to sharing their work with friends and family. Finally, I already have had a student be asked to do Wikipedia work during a junior year internship, and she surprised her placement supervisor by already having this experience.

Student Feedback & Assessment

This fall in their reflection essays, students noted that this assignment allows them to engage with a mainstream audience.

As a student argued:

In 2017, in a climate of extreme political polarization and turmoil, as well as an increasing sense of distrust in news and credible sources, assignments such as the Wikipedia Project are exceptionally valuable, in terms of the content they produce, as well as the online communities they form and support.

Another observed:

Student created content creates a sense of accountability and agency within learning. Producing knowledge is empowering. It gives students a sense of greater purpose within the classroom, creating a conversation in which students can be critical of information and its production. Instead of simply reading about theories about voices being left out and that there is not enough content written by women, I was able to learn transferable skills and add to the voices on Wikipedia that are written about and by women.

Overall, while they noted some limitations of both Wikipedia (an important element to the assignment to develop their understanding of concepts like positivism, objectivity, situated knowledges, and standpoint epistemology) and working with materials from the archives, students reported that this was a particularly compelling assignment unlike a standard research paper.

In regards to assessment, Wiki Education provides suggestions and an assessment rubric that can be repurposed for your own needs.

Interested, but not sure about all this? Drop me a line and I will be happy to meet up to look through the dashboard with you.

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Impact of Open Access

I’m a young researcher from Guatemala who has been asked by a national TV channel to talk about climate change and hurricanes in an interview. Having access to this highly relevant article gave me the chance to prepare for the interview and provide the most science-based information. Thanks!!

Director at a research institute in Guatemala, from MIT’s OA Stories

I work and do my PhD in a small institute, and even though it’s connected to a quite big university it’s often hard for me to find certain papers. So thank you for providing this service.

A student in the Czeck Republic, from MIT’s OA Stories

Inspiring stories about how OA has helped people across the world abound. Read stories from people around the world that used openly available articles made available through Harvard and MIT to achieve goals. Or peruse bePress’s 100 Stories of Impact report to learn about the impact of OA to institutions, authors, and readers.

At Connecticut College, faculty research in our institutional repository has been downloaded 33,332 times. Of those, 45% (or 14,890) downloads are from the United States, with the remaining downloads coming from 175 countries. Top countries include the UK, China, Canada, India, and Germany. 

Upload your work to Connecticut College’s digital repository, Digital Commons, and make your research available to a global audience. Our repository works directly with Google and other search engines to maximize the visibility of your work. Attend our workshop tomorrow at 4:15pm in the Davis Classroom and learn how we can help you contribute to this movement.

Maximizing the Visibility of Your Research Workshop

Map of download locations from Digital Commons @ Conn College

Let us help you get your research to the broadest audience possible! Institutional repositories like Digital Commons work directly with Google and other search engines to maximize the visibility of your work. Putting your published research in Digital Commons is an easy, effective way to increase access to your work by making it available to a worldwide community of researchers who might not otherwise have access to expensive databases. Bring a CV to this workshop and library staff will help you determine which articles, conference presentations, and other research can be made openly available in Digital Commons.

Join us on Wednesday, October 25, 4:15-5:00 in the Davis Classroom (main floor, Shain Library).  Register (recommended but not required) by filling out the registration form or by emailing Jessica McCullough.

See you at Camp Teach & Learn!

Will you be at Camp Teach & Learn next week? If so we look forward to seeing you at the following sessions!

Reflect, Integrate, Demonstrate: Student Digital Portfolio Pilots
Wednesday 24 May 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM

As we build a curriculum that asks students to reflect upon and integrate their coursework and co-curricular activities, several members of our teaching and learning community are experimenting with digital portfolios as a space for this work.  Through digital portfolios, students can archive artifacts that document and demonstrate their path through their education.  Narrative explanations and curated examples make it clear why they selected courses, a major or pathway, as well as what they learned and accomplished.  Faculty and staff who have used portfolios or participated in the pilot will share their experiences and sample student portfolios will be demonstrated.  We will end with a discussion and leave with ideas for future implementations.

Session leaders: Laura Little and Jessica McCullough; discussants include Amy Dooling, John Madura, Ariella Rotramel, and Sarah Queen.

Open Access & Digital Commons
Thursday 25 May 10:30 AM to 12:15

Did you know that most journals allow you to make previously published articles freely available over the internet?  Archiving your research in an institutional repository like Digital Commons makes it accessible to researchers who don’t have access to expensive databases and can make it more readily discoverable by those who do. Bring a c.v. or list of publications to this workshop and we will show you how to determine which articles can be made open access and how we can make your research as widely available as possible through Digital Commons.  We will also discuss some of the author features that make Digital Commons a practical, useful, and appealing platform for your research.

Developing Digital Humanities Projects:The Why and the How of Digital Scholarship
Thursday 25 May 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM

Does digital humanities (DH) research have the same outcomes as traditional research? Does DH appear to require more effort to reach the same end goals? Why do digital humanities?

This session will focus on how digital scholarship projects can enhance student engagement and lend students useful new skillsets (both technical and critical), all while helping you achieve your pedagogical goals. Hear from faculty about why and how they integrated digital projects—mapping, online exhibitions, and computational analysis of data mined from digitized texts—into their humanities courses, what worked well, and what students gained from the experience.

Discussants include: Lyndsay Bratton, Karen Gonzalez Rice, Emily Morash, and Ariella Rotramel.

Wrapping up Open Access Week

Storify of Open Acces

We had a great time creating our tweet-stream about Open Access for International Open Access Week last week! If you didn’t follow us, click on the Storify above to read all our Tweets – I promise you won’t be disappointed! Bonus points if you find yourself mentioned!

I’d like to leave you with what I think the most important information about Open Access is. It is easy to participate and make a difference by including your publication in Digital Commons! Authors usually retain the right to make the final draft of their article freely available. In some instances, we can even make available a pdf of the final published version from the journal. Simply send an email to Ben Panciera and include your CV or a list of citations. Librarians will research your publications, determine what can and cannot be posted (and in what format), and will upload your articles to Digital Commons @ Connecticut College. It is a simple as providing us with a list of citations.

Your research does not need to be locked up behind a paywall, only available to those students and scholars affiliated with institutions that can continue to afford the ever-increasing prices for journal subscription packages. In addition to feeling good about supporting open access, making research available in institutional repositories increases citations to your work. It’s a win-win for everyone, including libraries.

If you have questions about Open Access, or the Open Access Policy at Connecticut College, view our Open Access webpage.

Open Access Week 2016, Open in Action, Starts Today!

Open in Action Logo

Today marks the beginning of International Open Access Week. This year’s theme is “Open in Action.” To celebrate, we are posting with the hashtag #ConnCollegeOA on Twitter throughout the week, multiple times a day. Follow us to learn about Open Access, why Open Access matters, how to participate and make your work more widely available.

If you can’t wait to read our tweets (or dislike Twitter!), you can read the series of blog posts I wrote two years ago during Open Access week:

Day 1: Happy Open Access Week!
Day 2: What is Open Access
Day 3: Local to Global Open Access
Day 4: Is Your Work Still Yours?
Day 5: Teaching Open Access

To learn about Open Access workshops, events, seminars happening all over the world, click on the map below!

Open Access Day 5: Teaching Open Access

Philo_medievThis week we’ve talked about what open access is, how we promote open access at Connecticut College, and how to maintain rights over your intellectual property. This is a teaching blog, so I’d like this last post to focus on educating students about open access.

Our students today are the scholars of tomorrow. Promoting open access is important if we wish the publishing landscape to change (if you’ve been reading the blog this week, chances are you agree some change is necessary). Here are a few ideas for educating students about the open access movement and its principles, but I know my creative colleagues can add to the list! Your contributions are very welcome – just comment on the post.

  • Have open discussions about copyright, intellectual property and open access in your classroom. What might this look like? I often link this to a discussion of academic integrity, participating in a scholarly conversation, and the students’ roles in that conversation. Not only does this change the discussion of plagiarism from finger-wagging to an intellectual exercise – a much more valuable way to approach plagiarism – but it also helps students understand why respecting others’ contributions is important and that the practice of citation is critical.
  • Are students struggling to find available resources for their course work? Are they being denied access to research or asked to pay for it? This is a great teaching moment! Talk to your students about why this research is unavailable. Second, it’s an even better time to recommend talking to a librarian and requesting items through our amazing (truly) interlibrary loan system.
  • Are you concerned with issues of inequality and access in your course? Here is a topic that may hit close to home. Unequal access to information not only stymies innovation, but it perpetuates the system that keeps people from the information they need to make important decisions or improve their lives. Students can see this first hand – their access to research is dependent on where they live, where they go to school or work.
  • Involve students in the open access publishing process. Digital Commons started as a platform for open access online journals, and it retains this capability. Students can create and run their own peer reviewed journals here on campus, and we have the tools to make it happen. There is no better way to learn about the scholarly publishing process than to experience it firsthand. View hundreds of student journals from colleges around the country here.

Image credit: Teaching at Paris, in a late 14th-century Grandes Chroniques de France: the tonsured students sit on the floor

Open Access Week Day 4: Is Your Work Still Yours? Author’s Rights

whyopenWe have made it to the fourth day of Open Access Week!  At this point, we helped answer the questions What is Open Access? and What are we doing at Connecticut College?  We only have two more days left and there is still so much to discuss! This post will be devoted to author’s rights – something that concerns our entire faculty.

Does this scenario sound familiar?

“Congratulations! Your paper has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Reputable Scholarship. Please sign and return the Copyright Transfer Agreement.”

Did you know that the standard Copyright Transfer Agreement actually transfers ALL rights associated with your work to the publisher? You are, of course, giving them the right to publish the article, but often you are transferring wholesale rights to your work. You will not be able to distribute your scholarship via Digital Commons or other online repositories like ResearchGate or Academia.edu, provide copies to colleagues or students(!), or reuse parts of it in upcoming publications (like books!). This is certainly more control than the publisher needs, and likely more than you want to hand over. The agreement varies by publisher, some publishers allow you to deposit a version into the digital repository, for example. Be sure to read the document carefully.

If you are unhappy with the agreement you are asked to sign, there ARE ways to work within the existing system, publish your work in the best journals in your field, and retain rights to your work. The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) created the SPARC Author Addendum to to help you “secure your rights as the author of a journal article.” This addendum to the publisher’s agreement provides the publisher with the rights that it needs to publish your article, but allows you to retain some important rights to your work, including the right to include it in an institutional repository, reproduce it for colleagues and students, and to create derivative works. In addition, the agreement sends a message to the publisher that you value your intellectual property and desire to have the broadest readership possible.

Using the addendum is as simple as downloading a form, filling it out, and attaching it to your publisher’s agreement with a note calling attention to the addendum. The language is all there for you – no need to hire a lawyer or spend hours crafting a response to the publisher. Find out more and download the addendum here.

Tomorrow’s post, our last post for Open Access Week, will be about additional steps you can take to further the goals of open access.
Image Credit: Project 365 #303: 301009 Blink And You’ll Miss It! / Pete / CC BY

Local to Global Open Access

CamelEarthHow are we promoting open access here at Connecticut College? How can you get involved in this global movement on a local level?

You already are! Connecticut College is one of a few progressive institutions that have formally adopted an open access policy. In 2013 faculty approved the “Open Access Policy of the Connecticut College Faculty” stating that the faculty “is committed to disseminating the results of its research and scholarly as widely as possible.”

In addition, Digital Commons @ Connecticut College, our institutional repository, makes participating in the policy easy for you. The repository stores your published work (if permissible by the publisher), archives the work, makes it discoverable through Google Scholar and other popular search engines, and reliably accessible to scholars regardless of institutional affiliation. Over the past year, student and faculty research papers in the repository have been downloaded 169,982 times. Who knows what new information will be created based on the research we made available? We are proud to help make your research openly available to scholars, independent researchers, students and lifelong learners around the world.

Don’t see your research in Digital Commons? Simply send Ben Panciera your CV or fill out the manuscript submission form on CamelWeb and his team will do the necessary research to determine what can be made available and post it for you.  You may be surprised at what can be included – most publishers, including Elsevier, Springer, and most university presses allow authors to place a version of their article in their school’s institutional repository.

Our next post for Open Access Week will focus knowing your rights before and after publishing.

Missed our previous Open Access Posts? Read Happy Open Access Week and What is Open Access?

What is Open Access?

Do you know what open access is? There are many myths surrounding open access. Take a minute (or a few) to learn about open access by watching these brief but informative videos.

Have 8 minutes? Watch Open Access Explained! by Nick Shockey and Jonathan Eisen.

Only have one minute? Watch The Library Minute: Open Access from Arizona State University.

Tomorrow we’ll be posting about open access at Connecticut College. Missed yesterday’s post? Find it here!