Filling in the Gaps Together: International Women’s Day Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon

Rose Olivera introducing the edit-a-thon

By Lyndsay Bratton, Rose Oliveira, Becky Parmer, and Ariella Rotramel

On Wednesday, March 8, we hosted the first annual International Women’s Day Wiki-Edit-A-Thon in Shain Library’s Advanced Technology Lab (ATL). International Women’s Day is observed throughout the world on March 8 and in some countries it is a public holiday. While celebrations in some countries include bringing women flowers or celebrating with a women’s night out, the day has a political history that resulted in this year’s call for a women’s strike in the United States.  International Women’s Day provides an important opportunity to reflect on ongoing gender inequality and the ability of women and allies to act to make change. Editing Wikipedia collectively provides one platform for responding to issues of gender inequality.

According to the 2011 Editor Survey, 91% of Wikipedians are men. Not only does such a homogenous editor force yield a body of work that reflects a limited scope of perspectives, but the survey also found that the relatively few women editors each make far fewer edits than men editors. Wikipedia Edit-a-Thons are staged periodically around the world, and often focus on reversing such trends by bringing women editors on board to fill in gaps in content related to women’s issues and women in history. A great example of one such initiative is the Art + Feminism Edit-a-Thon.

To address these issues of gender bias, we held an International Women’s Day Wikipedia-Edit-A-Thon. Edit-a-thons are events where newcomers and experienced Wikipedians alike come together to learn and participate in editing. Everyone was welcome and no prior editing experience was needed to participate. We had 13 people attend the evening’s event to create or improve articles on women and related topics.

Faculty, staff, students, and community members at the edit-a-thon

Rose Oliveira, Becky Parmer, and Ariella Rotramel started the event by talking about the the gender issues that face Wikipedia and how Ariella has used Wikipedia in her feminist theory class. Becky and Rose then reviewed the Five Pillars of Wikipedia to ensure that editors understood how to carry out their work effectively. Rose demonstrated how to create content on Wikipedia and the basics of editing. Andrew Lopez and Ashley Hanson shared a set of library resources they curated to help participants get started in their work. We also linked many resources on our Wikipedia libguide to assist editors in moving into editing.

Articles edited or created during the edit-a-thon

For the remainder of the time, we dove into the work. People chose to either collaborate in teams or work by themselves to research, create or improve a variety of articles. They contributed citations; rephrased poorly written sections; added new content to existing entries; and began work on developing new entries. All of these actions help improve Wikipedia by creating or strengthening content that relates to women and other underrepresented groups. In the last 10 minutes, everyone added their entries that they worked on a whiteboard: Lois Gibbs; Mary Foulke Morrisson; 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence; Trans Day of Action; Caroline Black; Avtar Brah; Beatrice Cuming; and Marie Hoppe-Teinitzerová. We concluded the evening by taking turns sharing the woman, organization, or event that they worked on. It was rewarding to see what we were collectively able to do in a short amount of time.

As a result, on the third Wednesday of every month, we have decided to hold an informal Wiki Meetup or “Wiki Wednesday” at The Social at 5:15pm. We welcome new and experienced editors! To check in about the meetup, please contact Rose Oliveira (roliveir@conncoll.edu). For more information about working with Wikipedia in the classroom, please contact your instructional technologist or library liaison.

Building a bibliographic portfolio with RefWorks

RefWorks Screenshot
References saved in RefWorks account

Co-authored by James Gelarden, Access Services Librarian

Building a bibliographic portfolio is a way for students and researchers to work smarter rather than harder. RefWorks is a tool that allows users to create bibliographies, organize references around a theme, and collaborate and share their bibliographic research.

In October, we held a workshop for ANT 201 Theory and History of Anthropology students to teach them the basics of using bibliographic software and strategies for organizing their research. Our hope was that these students would be developing a skill that would help them with research in their various courses at Connecticut College and beyond.

The first step was having students create RefWorks accounts. This is an easy task and all Connecticut College students have free access. RefWorks is not the only bibliographic software available: Zotero and Mendeley are also excellent options. However, RefWorks has a lot of useful features such as downloadable PDFs that can be annotated, cite-as-you-write compatibility with MS Word, and lots of sharing functions to facilitate group work.

Next, James demonstrated some of the basic functions of RefWorks: searching in databases (Jstor, Google Scholar, ProQuest, etc.), saving references and PDFs, creating folders, and sharing work. We impressed upon the ANT 201 students that building a bibliographic portfolio is of particular interest to majors. Students can create bibliographies for specific assignments and courses but they are likely to find that this research will serve them well in many courses as they navigate their majors and pathways. Our hope in this class was that students would become aware of central academic conversations in contemporary anthropological theory. As Anthropology majors take more classes in the discipline, they will start to build upon existing knowledge rather than doing all the work from scratch each time this write a new paper. RefWorks makes finding saved material very easy. This software encourages its users to create folders to organize their research by subject but entries can be tagged, and all aspects of the database are searchable.

RefWorks facilitates collaboration and sharing simple. Students doing group work can create and share bibliographic references, making it easier to coordinate research. Those writing theses and projects for graduation can share their work with their advisors, who can add new references and notes.

RefWorks Screenshot: Folders
Folders in RefWorks

At the end of the workshop, all the students had functioning RefWorks accounts and a basic understanding of the platform. They have been putting the software to use in their annotated bibliography assignment and their term paper. We hope that they will continue to use RefWorks or another reference software throughout their time at Connecticut College. Getting organized about research early on in an undergraduate career can be a big time saver and is an excellent way to start building expertise and familiarity with scholarly literature in specific fields. It is also possible for Connecticut College graduates to request continued access to their RefWorks account.

Exciting Workshops Just Ahead! Wikipedia, Scalar, Tableau and More…

We are very excited for our next Teaching with Technology workshops and hope you can join us! We promise you will leave these workshops inspired and excited to try new tools in the classroom and in your own research. Also, don’t forget we are hosting the Data Fair this week in Shain Library!

Wikipedia Assignments for Developing Literacies
Wednesday, September 28, 1:00 – 2:00 PM
Haines Room, Shain Library lower level
In addition to adding much needed diversity and authority to Wikipedia, Wikipedia editing assignments teach students many important skills and requires them to think critically about information. Join us to discuss the value of Wikipedia editing and how to incorporate these assignments into your classes. Please bring your own computer for the hands-on portion.
Register

Digital Publishing and Visualization Platforms: Scalar and Tableau
Thursday, October 20, 3:00-4:00 PM
PC Classroom, Shain Library lower level
WordPress is not the only free publishing platform on the block for digital projects. Come learn about Scalar, a free online platform built by the University of Southern California. Great for incorporating multimedia formats into your text, Scalar is easy to use and looks beautiful. Tableau is a free platform for building interactive visualizations with your data. You can then embed your creations into WordPress and Scalar sites, or anywhere else you publish to the web.
Register

Help Diversify the Largest Encyclopedia in the World through Wikipedia Assignments

Last week several librarians, instructional technologists, and faculty met virtually with a representative, Samantha Erickson, from the Wiki Education Foundation. This is the same organization that Ariella Rotramel and Andrea Lanoux worked with on their recent Wikipedia assignments. The meeting was inspirational!

Wikipedia is the 7th most visited site in the world with content from over 80,000 volunteer contributors. Of this number, Samantha told us, 85% of the contributors are white, male, and Western. When most content is created by a homogeneous group, you can see their interests and viewpoints reflected in the existing content and the many content gaps in the online encyclopedia. One goal of having students add content to is to help diversify the contributions.

One interesting example is the entry for Susan Band Horwitz (see below). You can see an early entry is cursory and lacking specifics. We learned this short entry is called a “stub” – there are currently over 1.9 million stubs in Wikipedia (view the current list of stubs – this is fascinating!).

"Stub" entry for Susan Band Horwitz
“Stub” entry for Susan Band Horwitz

If you saw this entry you might assume that this scientist did not contribute significantly to her field. Through the work of students in a course using Wiki Ed’s training and tools, and as part of their Year of Science, they expanded the entry significantly this past spring.

Longer entry for Susan Band Horwitz
Longer entry for Susan Band Horwitz

Contributing to Wikipedia can meet many learning goals, including conducting research, writing, and improving media and meta- literacies, communication, and technical skills. Students learn about authority (who has authority to create information, where does that authority come from), audience (who uses this information and for what purpose), debates in your field of study (highly controversial topics are often “locked,” editing wars break out), and the importance of citation practices.

Wikipedia assignments can take 5-15 weeks, depending on your goals and objectives. Wiki Ed Foundation, in addition to Connecticut College librarians and instructional technologists, are available to help you through every step. Wiki Ed creates a dashboard for you and your students to access training modules and track progress, librarians are here to help students find the best sources for their research, and instructional technologists can help with technical questions.

If you are interested in pursuing a Wikipedia editing assignment, contact your instructional technology or library liaison.

Adding Voices to Scholarship: Wikipedia Editing

I developed my Fall 2015 Feminist Theory course with metaliteracy as a learning objective to assist students in studying theory in context.  Metaliteracy is a framework that promotes critical thinking and collaboration in a digital age (Mackey & Jacobson).  The focus on metaliteracy helped challenge students’ common understandings of theory as distanced from empirical research and everyday life, and reinforced an understanding of research and academic writing as an iterative process.

Wikipedia page

The Wikipedia assignment that I used for the first two months of class provided a means of working with students to translate theoretical insights into accessible knowledge.  Each student created a new entry for Wikipedia on a topic related to gender and women’s studies.  Students’ firsthand experience with creating knowledge for a general audience provided an opportunity to struggle with questions of representation that otherwise they would have engaged largely as spectators rather than participants.  The project developed out of my interest in connecting with ongoing projects that seek to address the problem of gender and racial inequality in Wikipedia as there continues to be a significant imbalance in participation and content (see Gender bias on Wikipedia).  Moreover, the 2015 National Women’s Studies Association Wikipedia Initiative that connects Gender and Women’s Studies classes with Wiki Education Foundation staff provided further materials and support to carry out this assignment.

I took a scaffolded approach to the assignment.  Students started reading about Wikipedia through a critical perspective, including issues such as trolling and bias.  We took a paced approach in completing the wiki training and beginning to add content (the class Wiki Dashboard shows how the training was scaffolded and organized). Next time, I plan to integrate the discussion of bias with an in-class editing session to break the ice more efficiently. We also connected with our Wiki Education Foundation content expert, Adam Hyland, via Google Hangouts midway through the assignment, and next time we will introduce collaborators earlier to help students put a face to the person and become more comfortable reaching out about specific questions they have around their Wikipedia work. Students appreciated having the scaffolded approach to the assignment that allowed them to pace themselves and revise their work.  Finally, they gained much from presenting their work in a poster session supported by the Academic Resource Center as they received direct feedback from visitors and saw firsthand interest in their work, adding an face-to-face interaction that is missing from online work itself.

“it is one thing to be looking at all this information for one’s own personal benefit and use… it is a completely different thing to be able to not only use this information for one’s own personal sake, but also share it with other individuals that are seeking information.” – student reflection


Students’ reflection essays included many claims that the project did indeed help them understand theory as part of feminist knowledge production.  One student reported that the project was “
a direct way to overcome the lack of connection between theory and praxis” as they created information for a general audience.  In addition, students appreciated and found a sense of empowerment by creating content that will be widely shared and used. Students sharpened their research skills, and in some cases contacted individuals involved in the topics they wrote about such as The Kilroys, a theater gender parity group and the activists behind the #ShoutYourAbortion hashtag.  This shift from consumption to synthesis and distribution of information helped demystify one key source of information online for students.  

Statistics graph for Sister OutsiderSome entries have received quite a bit of traffic.  The entry for Sister Outsider, Audre Lorde’s well-cited essay collection, has received 2,293 visits (25/day) over the past 90 days (see graph to left).  Previously, there had not been an entry for the national Green Dot Bystander Intervention program that is a core component of Connecticut College’s violence prevention work.  A student created an entry and the site has received 285 visits (3/day) over the past 90 days, and basic information about the program is now accessible to Wikipedia users.  In conclusion, while there are always some glitches and complications in carrying out an assignment like this one, it is evident from the semester and teaching evaluations that it was worth the effort.  Across the board, students gained a deeper understanding of knowledge creation and representation through this hands on experience.

The JSTOR of Data Archives: ICPSR

Connecticut College is a member of ICPSR (Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research), a data archive of more than 500,000 files of research in the social sciences. It hosts 16 specialized collections of data in education, aging, criminal justice, substance abuse, terrorism, and other fields. In this post, Anrdrew Lopez walks us through one scenario for using this rich resource.

Search Tip: Focus on Variables

Like other library databases, there are many options for searching the contents of ICPSR. This activity of searching for data in ICPSR takes places on the big purple tab. Because many of the studies in ICPSR are so large, however, they often contain hundreds of variables or more, it can be effective to focus a search on finding individual variables inside and across studies, rather than searching for the “perfect” study. 

Inside ICPSR, this involves using the Search/Compare Variables feature:

Purple Search Ribbon in ICPSR

Inside the variable search feature, use one or more keywords to search for variables across studies. I tried searching for “LGBT” and got 63 results. The variable highlighted below in the results list caught my interest, “LGBT organizations addressing the three most important issues facing LGBT communities of color.” 

List of Variables from Search

By clicking on the link to the variable, it opens in the context of the study of which it is a part.

Variable Result in Context

It is very easy to find other variables/questions that were asked in conjunction with the one I selected by looking at the column on the left. Other interesting questions are, “Homophobia is a problem within my racial or ethnic community (Q5A),” “Homophobia is a problem in my neighborhood,” “I feel connected with my local LGBT community,” and more. 

Working with Variables

I am interested in one of the variables on homophobia(Q5A), so I click the link at the top of the page to the study proper: “Social Justice Sexuality Project: 2010 National Survey, including Puerto Rico (ICPSR 34363).” On the study page, I can see this study contains 304 variables, and there is information about accessing the data, where I can see it has been prepared with options for built-in online analysis.

Dataset Options

These options mean the data for the study can be accessed on-screen without the use of any other statistical software, which is otherwise necessary for working with data in ICPSR. To take advantage of either option, and because we are going to be working with sensitive research data, you will need to create an ICPSR account and login.

Run a Crosstab/Frequency

To run a Simple Crosstab/Frequency I select the variables which initially interested me:

  • Row = Q5A: Homophobia is a problem within my racial or ethnic community
  • Column = RACECAT: Race categories
  • Control = GENDERID: Gender Identity
  • Run the table

This produces a series of data tables and charts, where I can see the results for the responses to the question about homophobia broken down according to the race and gender categories I selected. The chart below shows the response data for males:

Chart Showing Survey Results from Males

This chart shows the response data for females:

Chart Showing Survey Results from Females

Questions?

ICPSR offers many more features for using and teaching with research data. For more information or if you have questions, contact Andrew Lopez, Research & Instruction Librarian.

Literacy, Technology, and a 21st Century Curriculum

In my last post, I discussed some of my ideas for flipping the classroom  in the Social Sciences/Humanities. In this post I turn to a different theme – literacy – which has surfaced as an important and recurring topic in the Technology Fellows Program (TFP) meetings. In fact, the topic has come up so often, that this past summer, I participated on a conference panel about digital technologies, metaliteracy, and faculty-library collaborations at the Connecticut Information Literacy Conference (CILC). Joining me on the panel were my colleagues in Information Services, Laura Little, Instructional Designer/Developer, and Jessica McCullough, Instructional Design Librarian.

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Click on image to view presentation slides

One major  theme of our panel was that the TFP has become a welcome yet unanticipated venue where faculty, instructional technologists and librarians are collaborating on student literacies.  We, the Technology Fellows, have found ourselves devoting a significant amount of time to discussing the links between teaching, digital technologies, and literacy-building. We have also found ourselves relying extensively on the expert knowledge that our colleagues in Information Services bring to the table as we think about revising some of our courses for spring 2015.

This topic emerged unexpectedly  during a conversation about the ways in which digital technologies can support the delivery of course content. Examples spanned the gamut from showing YouTube videos in class, creating and embedding video in Moodle web pages, and developing original media for interactive digital textbooks.  While the possibilities were intriguing, our conversation soon segued into a different discussion on how multimedia – e.g. online video, interactive web sites, or user-created Wiki pages – can facilitate so-called “higher cognitive levels of learning” as suggested by Bloom’s taxonomy of pedagogical objectives.

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Bloom’s Taxonomy

Digital technologies can certainly help students to better “remember” and “understand” course content. Moreover, they can also teach them to “analyze,” “evaluate,” and eventually “create” knowledge in relevant ways. Online videos are not only useful for sharing information, but they can also foster student thinking about the purposes, target audience, goals, biases, and historical contexts of  both analog and digital sources. Likewise, in using prominent user-created sites (e.g. Wikipedia), rich discussions can ensue on the benefits and dangers of open-source sharing and democratic knowledge production. As Historian and American Studies expert Jeffrey McClurken has commented, digital technologies can “create opportunities for students to become ‘critical practitioners’ of digital media rather than passive consumers or users.” An important rationale for using digital media, he argues, is the “notion of students creating and writing for a public audience … which has clear benefits for the students, the teacher and the institution” and “open[s] up the traditional, closed system of knowledge production” (Teaching and Learning with Omeka: Discomfort, Play, and Creating Public, Online, Digital Collections).

Upon further deliberation, the Technology Fellows have come to the consensus that the value in using digital technologies extends well beyond simply exposing students to new information or technological tools.  Indeed, current scholarship shows that digitized curricula can offer new opportunities for developing a sophisticated range of information literacies, including information technological fluency, and digital, visual, and media literacies. Library and information scientists, Thomas P. Mackey and Trudi E. Jacobson (the keynote speakers at CILC) developed the term “metaliteracy” to draw attention to  “multiple literacy types.” As knowledge becomes “increasingly participatory” and “takes many forms online,” they suggest, the consumption, sharing, and production of knowledge requires an increasingly “comprehensive” approach and reflexive “understanding of information.” (Reframing Information Literacy as a Metaliteracy).

Personally, I have found this notion of metaliteracy especially compelling as the College moves forward to revise General Education requirements and debates the types of “knowledge” or “competencies” that are relevant to the liberal arts curriculum in the 21st century. The framework of metaliteracy allows us to articulate and embrace the multiple modes of knowledge production that students will certainly have to navigate in order to participate in increasingly digitized and networked information environments. At a minimum, teaching students to consume and produce knowledge accurately, creatively, collaboratively, and responsibly will require a new awareness of the ways in which new networked modalities – online media, platforms, and tools – are changing knowledge formation in our respective disciplines.

 

“Flipping” the Classroom with Web 2.0 and Social Inquiry

This is a guest post written by Technology Fellow, Ann Marie Davis, Assistant Professor of History.

davis-annOne of the areas that I have been exploring as a Tech Fellow draws on the practice of sociality in academic inquiry. To put it simply, good scholarship often depends on good social interface. Trying out new ideas, drawing inspiration, and refining arguments, for instance, often require active and engaged participation in social settings. In pursuing these endeavors, scholars must not only read and write, but they must also network, collaborate, and share ideas. Indeed, embedded in the practice of scholarly inquiry are certain mandatory – and welcome – opportunities to bond and build communities with colleagues.

Using the framework of Web 2.0, I have been trying to replicate some of the practices of social scholarship in my first year seminars and intro level history courses. In the broadest sense, I take from Web 2.0 the idea that sharing information online is user-centered, user-focused, and user-generated. The tools and platforms of Web 2.0 allow participants to shape and circulate knowledge via social networking sites, podcasts, blogs, video sharing, and Wikis. The users of Web 2.0 are not just passive viewers of static web pages, but rather they are the creators of their own dynamic and user-defined content. Fundamentally, the social media platforms of Web 2.0 are tailored to encourage user participation in the creation of information synergies via open online communities.

annmarie1

More concretely, I have been seeking ways to adapt social media to encourage more active participation in and outside of the history classroom. In my intro level classes, I often ask students to discuss complicated theories in live chat rooms and then send me their transcripts. I also ask them to create and post online multimedia presentations in which they analyze primary sources and develop new arguments. Once they have uploaded their findings on video sharing sites such as YouTube or Vimeo, they next exchange peer feedback and questions on social networking sites such as Facebook or Blogger. As a Tech Fellow, I have been working on better streamlining these activities and assessing their implications.

annmarie2

One major outcome of these assignments has been the showcasing of student questions, ideas, and discoveries as the heart of the history classroom. Online networking tools have allowed students to publicize their work, connect with peers, and engage course themes via familiar and potentially empowering online platforms. Given the user-centered context of Web 2.0, the students’ work rises to the fore, while instructor mediation fades into the background. Often, the public aspect of social networking also motivates students to publish “peer-worthy” work in anticipation of sharing online feedback and constructive criticism.

In this sense, emphasizing the sociality of scholarly inquiry has begun to “flip” my former classes. The dynamic synergism of collaborative knowledge-building offers a distinct contrast to the passive processes of listening and note-taking during lectures. More importantly, social media platforms allow students to experiment, share, and critique each another’s progress before setting foot inside the classroom. In this context, online tools operate as virtual laboratories where students present and assess digital evidence and field online questions about their findings. In turn, our class meetings become an opportunity to continue these interrogations with greater enthusiasm and depth. In sum, the generative aspects of online collaboration ideally “flips” the more passive modes of scholarly inquiry into a more dynamic and authentic experience for history newcomers.

annmari3

Images taken with permission from former students in FYS 172 “Butterflies and Barbarian” Representing ‘East’ and ‘West’ in Popular Culture” and featured on Professor Davis’s web site on The Virtual Past.

Freshman Research Skills: Workshop Summary

Thanks to all who joined us for our first Teaching with Technology event.  The topic was Freshman Research Skills, and Kathy Gehring presented the results from the Research Practices Survey (RPS).  The RPS is a tool that allows us to collect information on our first year students’ previous research experiences and assess their research skills.  The survey was developed by Dr. Jo Beld and is administered by the HEDS (Higher Education Data Sharing) Consortium.

We sent the survey to first year students a week or so before they arrive on campus in 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2013.  This year we saw a 50% response rate, a much higher rate over previous years.  Kathy presented several questions and the results from this year’s survey.  The questions we discussed were:

  • How much do you enjoy doing research?
  • When you did research in the most recent year, which of the following search tools did you use to find sources?
  • A citation is not required when…. (students were given several statements)
  • For each of the following, indicate whether the items are an entire book, journal article, or portion of a book… (students were then given three different citations).
  • What is a scholarly journal?
  • What best describes the way you pace your work?
  • Finally, students are asked if they agree with statements about research beliefs.  For example, “People are just better researchers than other,” and “researchers can ultimately get to the truth.”

Following Kathy’s presentation of the survey results, some participants were surprised at the results and others expressed that the results validated what they experience in their classes.  One major takeaway was that faculty, when designing research assignment, should assume minimal knowledge of terms like “scholarly,” how and why to cite sources, how to differentiate source types, and where to go to find appropriate sources.  We discussed ways to improve students’ research skills.  These included requiring or suggesting individual or small group consultations with librarians, bringing a librarian into your class to teach and reinforce some of these concepts, and collaborating with librarians on assignments.

The presentation is available by following this link (you’ll need to log in using your Conn account).  If you wish to work with a librarian to address some of these issues in your classes, please contact your library liaison.

If you were present and have something to add, please do so in the comments!