Paola Ricaurte Quijano is a full time professor at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, Mexico City Campus and an expert on cyberculture, e-politics, digital activism and digital literacies. Her pedagogical philosophy includes having students create academic content that is free and open to the public. Despite her short experience with Wikipedia, she has made uploading Wikipedia articles an integral part of her class.
Ricaurte Quijando began this project two years ago, encouraging her students to create works that not only benefit the student or result in a grade, but also to develop consciousness of “collective intelligence,” or the production of new knowledge for everyone. Equally, she encourages students to not simply be passive consumers of online content, but also to create content in a professional manner.
Ricaurte Quijando gives classes in “Communication and Media Studies, “Communication and Cultural Studies,” “Media Culture and New Media” among others, teaching students from various majors from medicine to communications, asking all to create Wikipedia articles. The classes contain between 20 and 25 students, working in groups of four, which usually results in five or six new articles each semester.
These articles can be on any topic related to Mexico, related to the class or issues related to students’ majors. Most find topics to write about searching Wikipedia in other languages. Examples of uploaded articles include Teoría de dos pasos , Elihu Katz , and Final Cut Pro (video software) .
Writing for Wikipedia is not easy and requires a certain amount of work as well as the development of new abilities, such as seeing the topics from the point of view of the course. This starts with the ability to do research. Often students need to learn how to synthesize information and discriminate among sources of information and sometimes students need to learn how to consult traditional sources of information such as books. All this adds up to a large amount of work. In addition, students must work as a team, develop critical thinking and decide which information is valuable to the article and which is not. Language issues include Wikipedia’s own requirements of a neutral point of view, often requiring students to present more than one point of view without favoring any.
Writing for Wikipedia is an activity that is part of the course material, however from my point of view I see it as an enriching activity that helps generate neutral content and contribute to a network like Wikipedia successfully. At the same time I view it as giving back to my community, because not everybody has knowledge in different languages and their search for information can be cut short because the information appears in languages that they do not understand.
Lizbeth Márquez M., Wiki Borregos