In Fall 2011, the American Sociological Association (ASA) launched its Wikipedia Initiative, a project with two main purposes: “first, to improve the sociology entries in Wikipedia by making it easier for sociologists to become involved in writing and editing them, and second, to facilitate professors giving Wikipedia-writing assignments to students in their courses.” (Wright, 2011, para. 1)
“I like to think of Wikipedia as an example of a ‘real utopia.’ It embodies ideals of equality, open access, participation, and deliberation in a domination-free environment. It has created a public good available to all. It encourages a demystification of credentialism as a source of authority. It softens the boundary between producers and consumers of information, making everyone who uses Wikipedia a potential contributor as well. It is part of a broader movement that challenges exclusionary forms of intellectual property and treats knowledge as a vital commons.” (Wright, 2011, para. 5)
The ASA Wikipedia Initiative is part of the Wikipedia Education Program, wherein professors have their students contributing to or writing new Wikipedia articles. This news piece highlights how this type of assignment is an engaging alternative to the traditional term paper – and a pilot study found that “72% of students preferred a Wikipedia assignment to a traditional assignment,” saying that “they were excited
to do a useful assignment for class, rather than a throwaway assignment that nobody but their professor would ever read.”
Georgia State University does not have any courses registered with the Wikipedia Education Program – so, consider this my call to action for Panther Professors to consider joining the Wikipedia Education Program and contribute to the ultimate open-access resource!
Wright, E. O. (2011). A call to duty: ASA and the Wikipedia Initiative. ASA Footnotes, 39(8). Retrieved from http://www.asanet.org/footnotes/nov11/wikipedia_1111.html