University College London undergraduates will create their own course text using Wikibooks

UCL Arts and Sciences undergraduates working with Wikimedia UK – image by Carl Gombrich, with permission.

Professor Carl Gombrich, Programme Director for UCL’s new interdiscipliniary course, BA Arts and Sciences, approached Wikimedia UK early this year to talk about his interest in using a Wikimedia element in the Approaches to Knowledge module of the degree.

This semester, the course began and 150 students are now working on creating chapters for an Open Educational Resources book which will be constructed by the students on Wikibooks, and then published by UCL Press, the Open Access publishing journal that UCL has recently established.

After initially discussing the use of Wikipedia itself as the basis for the course, it was decided that it would be hard to assess the contributions of a large number of students using Wikipedia. Contributions are more likely to get deleted, and the students would likely be looking at improving only a small number of quite core Wikipedia pages related to epistemology. So it was decided to have them collaboratively create a book together on Wikibooks, so that students could still gain an insight into how open source platforms like the Wikimedia projects, function.

UCL is interested in what working with Wikimedia projects can teach students in terms of research and academic skills, and the media literacy which comes with a deeper understanding of the guidelines for Wikimedia projects. They also liked the idea of being able to make a textbook and the meta-approach of people creating knowledge about knowledge.

Dr Richard Nevell has been helping as a volunteer, and Wikimedian Katie Chan did a training session for staff on Wikipedia and Wikibooks before the course began. Hannah Evans gave an opening lecture for the course before an initial workshop where students got into teams to decide what subject area they would work on.

The groups could choose from:

  • Knowledge and imperialism
  • Knowledge and truth
  • Knowledge and evidence

The groups will write chapters of 1200 words. These will all go on Wikibooks, and the best ones will be collected into a book which will also be published by UCL Press, the UCL Open Access repository. The project will also tie into a UCL education conference on April 1, 2019, where students will be presenting about the work they are doing.

Wikimedia UK is now working with many different universities across the country, and you can read more about what different courses are doing with Wikimedia projects on our website.

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