Back in the summer I listened to Brian Lamb from UBC reference an amazing project at his university where students worked on Wikipedia articles and achieved the extremely rare goal of getting ‘featured’ on the homepage (less than 1% of articles manage this.)
Today at Drumbeat I was lucky enough to hear about the project direct from the man who initiated it.
John Beasley Murray had been exploring and contributing to Wikipedia as a work avoidance ploy 🙂 and in doing this he realized that the articles in his area of expertise weren’t great and that maybe his students could do better.
So for an entire semester he set his class the goal of either editing or creating articles based on the authors and the novels they were covering in a Latin America literature class – with guaranteed As for any team that got featured.
In the end they managed an amazing three featured articles and a slew of ‘good’s (in itself an impressive achievement) and as an amazing side effect the work they did with Wikipedia not only gave them a much more mature insight into how to use Wikipedia but it also reignited much more traditional research skills with some of them actually really using the library for the first time though at one point the librarian recommended their own wiki age to them!
It is also nice to hear of the huge support some of the Wikipedia editors gave the students as often you only hear about vandalism and barriers from editors when the majority are knowledgable and helpful.
The Wikipedia project page is well worth scanning through;
They get the kind of traffic most scholarly publications would kill for and the entire project us an inspiring demonstration on the opportunities that can arise when traditional and open methods meet rather than clash!