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Teaching Wikipedia: The Pedagogy and Politics of an Open Access Writing Community
Vetter, Matthew A.

2015, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Ohio University, English (Arts and Sciences).
This dissertation is a study of Wikipedia’s collaborative, open access culture and the opportunities for writing pedagogy it provides. Because the encyclopedia showcases productive writing processes in radically transparent ways, Wikipedia enables rich opportunities for students to observe, practice, and learn about writing. Wikipedia can help students gain social and procedural writing knowledge as well as more traditional learning outcomes related to research, writing and rhetoric. Engaging students in Wikipedia’s interactive community can also lead to an increase in rhetorical knowledge as students practice negotiation and collaboration with authorities outside the “traditional” classroom. Additionally, the encyclopedia provides opportunities for cultural studies projects that involve students in the recognition of identity politics of representation and cultural marginalization as they work to rectify missing articles and topics that are underrepresented. Discussion of these opportunities provides a range of pedagogical insights into how writing instructors can approach and teach with the encyclopedia, by asking students to join the Wikipedia community and—through their writing—improve existing articles and create new ones. Such insights are supported by three information-rich classroom case studies, made available through a qualitative research design that emphasizes student and instructor experience by re-creating classroom contexts. In addition to asserting and describing the pedagogical benefits of Wikipedia writing assignments, these classroom studies interrogate the cultural politics of access and representation that emerge when students and others try to join and write in this community. Despite its ambitions for global representation and its open access editorial ethos, Wikipedia’s project is hindered by problems of homogenous editorship, troubling issues of editorial access, and gaps in coverage of already marginalized topics. Examination of how these issues manifest in the encyclopedia and speculation on their origin further demonstrate how academics (especially in the humanities) can contribute to Wikipedia. Involving students in projects to remediate problems of representation can improve the encyclopedia while diversifying its editorial demographic. Coming to a deeper understanding of the epistemological limits of the encyclopedic genre, a final goal of this dissertation, provides possible avenues for Wikipedia’s future development.
Albert Rouzie, PhD (Advisor)
Mara Holt, PhD (Committee Member)
Jennie Nelson, PhD (Committee Member)
Howard Welser, PhD (Committee Member)
206 p.

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Vetter, M. (2015). Teaching Wikipedia: The Pedagogy and Politics of an Open Access Writing Community. (Electronic Thesis or Dissertation). Retrieved from https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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Vetter, Matthew. "Teaching Wikipedia: The Pedagogy and Politics of an Open Access Writing Community." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio University, 2015. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. 19 Oct 2018.

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Vetter, Matthew "Teaching Wikipedia: The Pedagogy and Politics of an Open Access Writing Community." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio University, 2015. https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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