Integrating Wikipedia editing into health professions education: a curricular inventory and review of the literature

Lauren A. Maggio*, John M. Willinsky, Joseph A. Costello, Nadine A. Skinner, Paolo C. Martin, Jennifer E. Dawson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

Introduction: Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia read by millions seeking medical information. To provide health professions students with skills to critically assess, edit, and improve Wikipedia’s medical content, a skillset aligned with evidence-based medicine (EBM), Wikipedia courses have been integrated into health professions schools’ curriculum. This literature review and curricular inventory of Wikipedia educational initiatives provides an overview of current approaches and identifies directions for future initiatives and research. Methods: Five databases were searched for articles describing educational interventions to train health professional students to edit Wikipedia. Course dashboards, maintained by Wiki Education (Wiki Edu), were searched for curricular materials. From these sources, key details were extracted and synthesized, including student and instructor type, course content, educational methods, and student outcomes. Results: Six articles and 27 dashboards reported courses offered between 2015 and 2019. Courses were predominantly offered to medical and nursing students. Instructors delivered content via videos, live lectures, and online interactive modules. Course content included logistics of Wikipedia editing, EBM skills, and health literacy. All courses included assignments requiring students to edit Wikipedia independently or in groups. Limited details on assessment of student learning were available. Discussion: A small but growing number of schools are training health professions education students to improve Wikipedia’s medical content. Course details are available on Wiki Edu dashboards and, to a lesser extent, in peer-reviewed publications. While more needs to be done in conducting and sharing assessment of student learning, integrating Wikipedia into health professions education has potential to facilitate learning of EBM and communication skills, improve Wikipedia’s online content, and engage students with an autonomous environment while learning. Future considerations should include a thorough assessment of student learning and practices, a final review of student edits to ensure they follow Wikipedia’s guidelines and are written in clear language, and improved sharing of teaching resources by instructors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-342
Number of pages10
JournalPerspectives on Medical Education
Volume9
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Critical appraisal
  • Evidence-based medicine
  • Wikipedia

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