Note: This blog post is the fifth in a series of profiles of students’ experiences on Wikipedia when participating in the Public Policy Initiative during the fall term.

Georgetown University junior Adrian Bien was excited when he first heard he’d be editing Wikipedia for his “Theorizing Culture and Politics” class last fall. But as the Cleveland, Ohio, native started to learn wiki markup and the guidelines for articles, he realized how much work it would be, which dampened his enthusiasm.

That didn’t last long. Once Adrian’s Campus Ambassadors, Rob Pongsajapan and Yonatan Moskowitz, gave an overview of editing and answered questions, he was delving in to the intricacies of Wikipedia.

“It was definitely a pleasant surprise,” Adrian says of his experience. “I was very pleased overall with the Wikipedia assignment instead of writing another dull paper. As I see it, I’d rather spend thirty hours putting work into a project that will be available for public consumption upon its completion than putting 10 hours into a project which gets graded, returned, and then either thrown out or forsaken and forgotten. Turning in a paper and getting it back with a letter on it is far less rewarding than submitting an article onto one of the world’s most renowned knowledge bases for all to see. It makes putting all those hours of work into a project seem far more relevant and practical.”

Adrian hopes he’ll be able to use Wikipedia in a forthcoming assignment at Georgetown. Now that he knows how to write for Wikipedia and has experience with the markup, he thinks the assignment will take a lot less time – and he’e eager to continue to participate in useful assignments while at college.

“I applaud the effort—and courage in many cases considering the ridicule Wikipedia often receives in the scholarly community—of university professors working with the Wikimedia Foundation on this project,” Adrian says. “Whether students like it or not, these sorts of assignments (not necessarily with Wikipedia per se, but similar) are increasingly looking to be the way of the future.”

LiAnna Davis
Communications Associate – Public Policy Initiative