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Amir Aharoni explains about the new translation tool to students.jpg
Amir explains about the new translation tool to students. Photo by Shani Evenstein (שני אבנשטיין), freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

On October 19, a new for-credit elective course called “Wikipedia: Skills for producing and consuming knowledge” has opened at Tel Aviv University (TAU).[1] The semester-long course (13 weeks) is available to all undergraduate students on campus and this semester about 50 students from various disciplines are taking part in this first-of-its-kind course in Israel.

Working in small groups to correct copyrights and Non-NPOV violations. Photo by Shani Evenstein (שני אבנשטיין), freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

The course draws from “flipped classroom” concepts and uses “blended learning” methods, which in simpler terms means that they combine in-class lectures, workshops, and small-group activities with online individual learning. Both the Moodle learning management system (LMS) and the Wikipedia Education Extension are used to monitor the students’ work and progress throughout the course.

The course has 2 main assignments—expanding an existing stub and writing a new article. We hope that the content added during the course will assist not only the students themselves, but also future generations of learners and general public. Though the course focuses on adding quality content to Wikipedia, it also helps students sharpen their academic and 21st century skills, highlighting collaborative learning, joint online research, and interdisciplinary collaborations in the process of constructing knowledge.

“Wikipedia: Skills for producing and consuming knowledge” was initiated and is led by Shani Evenstein, an educator at the Sackler school of Medicine, Wikimedian, and member of the Education Collaborative, in collaboration with the Orange Institute for Internet Studies at TAU. The syllabus for the new course builds on the success of Wiki-Med, a for-credit elective course designed in 2013 and being led by Evenstein at the Sackler School of Medicine for the third consecutive year. While Wiki-Med is focused on contributing medical content to Wikipedia and is only available to medical students on campus, the new course is designed to accommodate students from different academic disciplines and varying backgrounds.

Wikipedia course for BA students at Tel Aviv University – Course Logo. Photo by Shani Evenstein (שני אבנשטיין), freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

The course was chosen to be part of TAU’s cross-discipline elective courses system (“Kelim Shluvim”) and was approved by the Vice-Rector, who heads the program. In that, the course marks an important precedent in the collaboration between academia and the Wikipedia Education Program, as it is the first time a higher institution acknowledges the importance of a course focusing on Wikipedia on a university level, offering it to all students, rather than a faculty level or individual lecturers as mostly practiced.

It is our hope that other higher education institutions will follow this example and offer similar courses to students both in Israel and around the world.

Shani Evenstein, Wikimedia Israel and Wikipedia Education Program

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