How To Design A Wikipedia Writing & Research Assignment

The idea of actually using Wikipedia to explicitly teach research for an entire unit is less common than its use for researching credibility.

How To Design A Wikipedia Writing & Research Assignment

Designing A Wikipedia Writing & Research Assignment

by TeachThought Staff

That you probably use Wikipedia but tell your students not to is why we’re here.

Wikipedia has long been the bane of educators–a poster child for the ‘don’t believe everything you read on the internet because anyone can publish anything’ movement. While making for wonderful subject matter in teaching credibility, authority, source citations, and more, the idea of actually using Wikipedia to teach explicitly teach research for an entire unit is lesson common.

Luckily, the good folks at Wikipedia Education have you covered with the following (very long) unit. In the unit, students will create, edit, expand, and otherwise immerse themselves in the surprisingly complex world of public-knowledge-article editing.

The unit is 12 weeks long and composed of 17 individual lessons. Obviously you can revise this however you see fit, from cutting bits that don’t apply to your students, to bolstering the bits that do with mini-lessons.

We’ve include the sequence below, and you can find all the bits at Wiki Education via their writing and research project page.

One thing we’d add here, beyond obviously revising the unit into a much shorter one that fits the intellectual stamina and readiness level of your students, is to consider emphasizing critical thinking a bit more than they do. Critical thinking is at the core of research and inquiry, not to mention the process of revising something–anything.

See also 249 Bloom’s Power Verbs for Critical Thinking

In the linked article above, Terry Heick says that, “To think critically requires you to aggregate knowledge, form some kind of understanding, get inside the mind of the clockmaker, judge their work, and then articulate it all for a specific form (e.g., argumentative essay) and audience (e.g., teacher).” A Wikipedia article can be neither researched, revised, or newly created without this kind of evaluation.

Take a look at the unit, and let us know in the comments what you think. What’s most useful to your students as they improve their research ability?


Explore a case study of the “classic” Wikipedia writing assignment: students work individually or in small teams to create or expand Wikipedia articles on a given topic.

Teacher Training Table Of Contents

1. Course Design: Create or expand an article
2. Wikipedia writing assignment
3. A sample assignment
4. Case study: A student’s perspective A 12-week course
5. Week 1: Wikipedia essentials
6. Week 2: Editing basics
7. Week 3: Exploring the topic area
8. Week 4: Using sources
9. Week 5: Choosing articles
10. Week 6: Drafting starter articles
11. Week 7: Moving article to the main space
12. Week 8: Building articles
13. Week 9: Getting and giving feedback
14. Week 10: Responding to feedback
15. Week 11: Class presentations
16. Week 12: All assignments due

You can find more Wikipedia resources for educators at Wiki Education.

How To Design A Wikipedia Writing & Research Assignment