Student-led activism promoting knowledge equity
“Historically, knowledge has been concentrated in the hands of the few. Marginalized groups’ histories and perspectives have been excluded by structures of power and privilege. Wikipedia revolutionizes this model, as the world’s largest, free, collaboratively-sourced encyclopedia.” (Wikimedia 2020)
In 2014, a national debate was taking place in Scotland about how to make a fairer, better, more inclusive society in the run up to the referendum on Scottish independence. This was also the year that the students’ association encouraged the University’s senior managers to explore how learning materials could be made open, not only for students within the university but across Scotland and the wider world.
Student engagement and co-creation have been fundamental aspects of open education resources (OER) work at the University ever since, with the role of Wikimedian in Residence, positioned alongside other learning technologists to further embed open practice.
This presentation discusses the first five years of the University’s Wikimedia residency; highlighting its efforts working with Wikipedia both as an ally and an important tool in its information literacy and digital skills strategy; delivering an informed understanding of how Wikipedia operates and supporting both student-created OER and student-led projects.
Now aged twenty, Wikipedia has been shown to be a resource and a form of learning technology to engage with, rather than avoid. Wikipedia assignments allow students to make connections between their learning and empower them to use their digital labour to build understanding globally.
With Wikipedia assignments, students have agency in addressing problems of bias, inequality and under-representation and this presentation will discuss projects led by students to improve coverage of Scotland, Slavery and Black History online. Addressing knowledge gaps and knowledge equity online is even more relevant for improving health information literacy where poor access to information contributes to negative health outcomes globally and this presentation will also discuss recent work with course programmes and student societies to improve global health topics and biographies of Women in STEM online.
In a time when many have felt disconnected and powerless, this presentation will showcase stories of student empowerment; providing exemplars of how students have engaged with researching and publishing their scholarship online in a real-world application of their teaching and learning.
Students are initiating collaborations and leading the way; motivated to make Wikipedia more representative, more accessible and better understood within education settings; and articulating that mainstreaming co-creation, digital citizenship and the sharing of fact-checked knowledge openly are the future as part of the new normal.
“Within universities, many staff and students are in excellent positions to contribute, improve and edit articles on Wikipedia. They can access resources, they have specific subject expertise and, with some persuasion, a desire to improve Wikipedia. This could mean that they could be valuable editors and empowered knowledge activists. Subsections of our website include how to create an account… how to edit, guidance around what you should be contributing, how to make an article, how to cite Wikipedia and how to teach with Wikipedia.” – Hannah Rothmann, Classics undergraduate
Wikimedia. (2020). Promoting Knowledge Equity. Retrieved from The Wikimedia Foundation: histories and perspectives that may have been excluded by structures of power and privilege
Hood, N., & Littlejohn, A. (2018, March). Becoming an online editor: perceived roles and responsibilities of Wikipedia editors. Information Research, 23(1). Retrieved from http://www.informationr.net/ir/23-1/paper784.html
Balch, O. (2019, November 28). Making the edit: why we need more women in Wikipedia. Retrieved from The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/careers/2019/nov/28/making-the-edit-why-we-need-more-women-in-wikipedia