Home » The Powerhouse: Students’ contributions towards expanding and improving occupational safety and health content in Wikipedia
The history and motivation behind the efforts NIOSH (the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) is putting into expanding and improving occupational safety and health in Wikipedia was discussed in earlier NIOSH Science Blogs (May 19,2015 and July 25, 2018) and thru the NIOSH January 2017 eNews. Here we will focus on the partnerships created between NIOSH and university graduate and training programs since 2016. In 2015, the NIOSH authors of this Blog reached out to university professors to encourage adoption of the platform developed by the Wiki Education Foundation to train students (or interns) in Wikipedia editing and to add or develop evidence-based content to Wikipedia articles as a class assignment.
A NIOSH researcher who teaches a graduate course in occupational epidemiology at the University of Cincinnati conducted an initial pilot project in the spring of 2016. The course syllabus, assignment, and student topics, including before and after versions of the pages, are available through this link. The students did more than what was assigned to them, from not only improving existing Wikipedia pages, to creating five Wikipedia pages (in English and Spanish) that did not exist before, like the one on the health effects of coal ash and one on asma ocupacional(occupational asthma in Spanish). In total, the pages they edited were viewed 2.27 million times, during the time period tracked by Wiki Education (for approximately up to a month following the class’ conclusion). The feedback received from both faculty and students was very positive. A common response among students is that they enjoyed writing “to be read” and not just “to be graded” (see related article). Overall, everyone involved viewed the pilot project as a success. From the instructor’s point of view, the use of the WikiEducation platform did not add extra time in preparation for the class and some indicated that it ended up saving them time. The Wiki Education platform is user friendly, with online training and support offered by Wiki Education. Instructors can continue to focus on the subject matter of the course, while students and interns are able to get support from Wiki Education to address the mechanics of editing Wikipedia. NIOSH researchers and Wikipedians-in-Residence offered an extra layer of support pertinent to articles on occupational safety and health, including suggested topics.