Wikipedia and American Women Writers: Closing the Gender Gap through Collaborative Learning

Jennifer Travis

Abstract


Despite academic admonitions, Wikipedia continues to be one of the most trafficked websites, and studies show that students regularly use Wikipedia, often at the start of an assignment.  In my Nineteenth-Century American Women Writers course, all of my students admitted to using Wikipedia frequently, yet not one of them had ever edited a Wikipedia page. This essay describes how these same students transformed from consumers to producers of the site and used discipline-specific research techniques to develop the Wikipedia presence of some of the writers we were studying.  The course encouraged students to cultivate their collaborative skills, to promote more effective use of peer comments, and to guide students toward more nuanced understandings of the use of secondary criticism and the importance of documentation. By participating in web-based knowledge creation and drawing on their collaborative learning in an upper-level literature course, students dipped their toes into the burgeoning field known as the digital humanities.


Keywords


wikipedia; american literature; women writers; digital humanities

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