Wikipedia Pedagogy

Teaching & Learning 

Less than a decade ago, seventy-percent of instructors noted that they use Wikipedia often, but stated that they would never allow their students to use Wikipedia.1 Now, instructors are shifting their thinking away from Wikipedia as a source for completing assignments, instead of using class materials as a way to improve Wikipedia. All in all, there tends to be a pedagogical shift towards how Wikipedia can enrich traditional teaching and how it can be harnessed as a tool for gaining refined digital literacy skills. 

Wikipedia learning involves a series of valuable skills including understanding how to assess Wikipedia articles for reliability, when to utilize and not to utilize Wikipedia content and sources based on these reliability standards, how to write Wikipedia articles based purely on academic or reliable sources through a neutral gaze, and critically reflect on these processes.2 Alongside this, necessary research skills are gained through the process of compiling sources based on these standards. At the end of the project, students will have created an article that will live past the assignment end date, adding a social responsibility component to the assignment. By watching their article over time, they will notice changes and have to engage in friendly discussions with other editors to discuss the betterment of the page.

Find out more about the important skills students gain through a Wikipedia assignment below! 

Olanoff, “With the Encyclopedia Dying”   
2 Konieczny, “Teaching with Wikipedia,” 18.   

Why should I encourage my students to edit on Wikipedia? Are there significant benefits to incorporating Wikipedia learning into my curriculum?

Having Wikipedia assignments as part of your curriculum offers many benefits to your students, including developing significant digital literacy, research (specifically within the intersection of public and private information), and collaborative skills.1, 2 Wikipedia’s unique open-source non-profit technology forces students to think beyond their own academic goals and towards knowledge equity goals, embedding a sense of social responsibility into the core of their course work. To learn more about the effects Wikipedia assignments effects on student-learning outcomes, review the student and teacher testimonials on WikiEducation Foundation’s blog. A list of academic resources on Wikipedia pedagogy is located on WikiEducation’s instructor FAQ page.

Are my students qualified to write on Wikipedia?

Yes! Students do not need to be experts to edit Wikipedia articles because they will have access to some of the best academic resources for their writing. Everything students write will be based on these resources, with a neutral point of view. Therefore, developing a firm understanding of reliable sources is the object of editing Wikipedia articles, not expertise nor argumentation. Original research is NOT allowed on Wikipedia. One of the joys of editing on Wikipedia is that a wide community will continuously add and edit the information after your students have finished their Wikipedia assignments.

How does Wikipedia combat unreliable sources and biases?

Contrary to popular belief, Wikipedia uses a variety of methods to identify and combat reliable from unreliable information. Wikipedia has a firm neutrality rule; every sentence must be based on a reputable source or sources. Biased sources require an understanding of multiple viewpoints or are better left out of an article altogether. Wikipedia has a community of expert editors that grade articles based on the quality of content and sourcing. You can find where an article currently stands by heading to the “talk” page tab found on the top left corner of any article page.


  1. Blumenthal, Helaine. “10 Years of Tackling Wikipedia's  Equity Gaps.” WikiEducation Foundation, October 27, 2020.   

  2. Konieczny, Piotr. “Teaching with Wikipedia in a 21 St - Century Classroom: Perceptions of Wikipedia and Its Educational Benefits.” Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, September 4, 2016.    
  3. Olanoff, Drew. “With the Encyclopedia Dying, Wikipedia Is Slowly Gaining Ground in Education.” TheNextWeb, March 16, 2012.
5 Pillars of Wikipedia

Guilia Forsythe, CC BY 2.