Education booklet – Imperial College London

Extract from the Education booklet case study, written by Wikimedia UK and University of Edinburgh.

Earlier this year we produced a booklet with the University of Edinburgh, bringing together a collection of case studies from across the UK in order to provide insight into the use of the Wikimedia projects in education. It is our belief that the Wikimedia projects are a valuable tool for education, and that engagement with those projects is an activity which enriches the student experience as much as it does the open web itself. As such we have a number of education projects, and have managed to introduce Wikimedia teaching as a part of the Welsh baccalaureate. You can find what we’ve blogged about these projects in the education tag.

Educators worldwide are using Wikimedia in the curriculum – teaching students key skills in information literacy, collaboration, writing as public outreach, information synthesis, source evaluation and data science. Engaging with projects like Wikipedia – particularly through becoming a contributor – enables learners to understand, navigate and critically evaluate information as well as develop an appreciation for the role and importance of open education. Once published, material produced by students becomes immediately accessible by a global audience, giving students the satisfaction of knowing that their work can be seen by many more people than just their tutor.

As individuals working in the open web in the twenty-first century it is incumbent upon us to embrace innovative learning, embedding into our practice those tools which equip our students to work collaboratively, be skilled digitally, and think critically.

Of our 13 examples, 12 pertain to Higher Education, and one to Secondary; but although this work has thus far been more common in Universities than schools or colleges of Further Education, it is far from being restricted solely to them. This resource has been designed for anyone involved in education, and will be of particular interest to those teachers, lecturers and learning technologists involved in open pedagogy and course design, or who have an interest in innovative learning, working on the open web, co-creation, collaborative working, or digital skills.

Feedback from both students and course leaders, at the University of Edinburgh and beyond, has consistently highlighted:

  • Student-led creation of academic quality content, available to be shared and used by wide audiences
  • Students and course leaders having the opportunity to examine their subject area reflectively through a global, publicly engaged perspective
  • Students having the opportunity to learn and practice beginner-level coding skills and increase their digital competencies

Wikimedia and Skills development

The Wikimedia projects are more than just Wikipedia.  There are 13 projects in all, four which are of particular interest here: Wikipedia, Wikidata, Wiki Commons, and Wikibooks.  

Wikimedia UK has produced a report mapping engagement with the projects to existing digital skills frameworks in the UK, which can be read on Wikimedia UK’s website. and a report on The Potentials of Wikimedia Projects in Digital, Information and Data Literacy Development in the UK context. 

The skills which can be enhanced through engagement with the Wikimedia Projects include:

Wikipedia  the online encyclopedia

  • Computer and internet literacy, from opening an account to searching and critically evaluating information online.
  • Creating, preparing (digitizing, editing, converting), uploading, categorising, translating information and digital content
  • Collaboration, communication and consensus building in an online environment
  • Understanding reliable, verifiable sources, licences, consents, and copyright
  • Encyclopedic writing in the public domain, using citation softwares and referencing

WikiData an open database and central storage for structured data

  • Understanding data concepts, data types, data functions and data characteristics
  • Importing, exporting, linking, reusing, and combining datasets
  • Understanding of Creative Commons database rights 
  • Engaging with the development of data models, exploring and visualising your data 
  • Collaborative data management 

Wiki Commons a host of media files and their metadata

  • Understanding of free digital file types and formats
  • Understanding organisation of information and discoverability
  • Understanding of the educational value of different types of content
  • Content reuse skills, including editing and improving images

Wikibooks a collaborative, instructional non-fiction book authoring website

  • Wring in Wikitext or in a combination of Wikitext, HTML, and CSS 
  • Content creation, collaborative editing, translation
  • Editing skills (like spelling and grammar or formatting errors) 
  • Understanding of licensing (GFDL and Creative Commons)

Here’s one of the case studies included in the booklet…

Life Sciences BSc degrees, Science Communication, Imperial College London

File:Eimeria stidae infection rabbit liver. Taken by Sofia Amin on 15/03/2017 at Imperial College London.

Final year Biochemistry and Biological Sciences BSc students at Imperial College London selected and improved Wikipedia articles within their Science Communication module by adding content to existing pages, including adding their own illustrations.

Course leaders: Prof. Stephen Curry, professor of Structural Biology, and Dr. Steven Cook, Principal Teaching Fellow in the Department of Life Sciences.

Class size: 30 students.

Course duration: 1 academic term, featuring a 3-hour workshop introducing Wikimedia, Creative Commons, and practising Wiki mark-up language.

Learning outcomes

  • Developing writing skills suited for a public audience.
  • Increasing critical thinking, information and digital literacy.
  • Introducing basic illustration and graphic design skills.
  • Introducing collaborative writing, useful for future academic and work-based projects.

Further support and resources used

  • Wikimedia UK’s Programmes team.
  • The Wikipedia Manual of Style guidelines.
  • Science communication and illustration workshops run by staff on the Science Communication module.
  • Wikimedia Commons and the RCSB Protein Data Bank.
  • User:Polypompholyx’s Wikipedia page includes guidance for students.

Impact beyond the classroom

  • 100 articles improved since 2012.
  • Several illustrations and photographs were created and uploaded to Wikipedia pages to support the relevant compound’s Wikipedia page.
  • Contributed to the growing Wiki culture and community within the University.

“There are plenty of incomplete and missing articles on Wikipedia, and it would be great to get students involved in editing articles much earlier in their Careers.”

“The articles have to be on a scientific topic, and they typically choose life science topics, as that is their expertise (biology and biochemistry students). Some articles are created from scratch, others take existing articles and improve them. This is typically by rewriting the text to make it clearer, more complete and more up to date. Most articles end up with new sections, updated references, and additional media: either from Commons, or media they create and CC license themselves.” Dr. Steven Cook, Course Leader

For more of the education booklet case studies, take a look at the free digital copy here. For more information on our education projects, follow the blog tag, sign up for our newsletter, or get in touch with us. To support Wikimedia UK projects like this one, please consider donating or becoming a member today.