Category Archives: Class info


Who are the keepers of history in the digital age? What does Wikipedia’s crowd know that major institutions could reproduce for the greatest public good?

With Washington, D.C., as the backdrop, students in the “Wikipedia and Public Knowledge” class will collaborate with some of the world’s greatest institutions in media, libraries, and museums to explore the best ways to capture knowledge in the public interest.

This Spring 2014 course at American University (Washington, D.C.) bridges both theory and practice, with the class pairing with world-renown institutions such as the National Archives and the Smithsonian Institution, to analyze the policies, ethics, and dynamics of large-scale collaboration. Students not only learn how to become a Wikipedian, they learn how to apply the power of crowds to the mission of any institution, and to create high quality multimedia content for their portfolios. The class will spend as much time in downtown DC and online, as it will be in the classroom.

The “edit-a-thon” is one of the primary ways we gather in the same room as professionals, Wikipedia editors and content experts to share experiences across disciplines.

Scheduled Edit-a-thons:

  • Smithsonian Archive of American Art, Sara Snyder (Feb 11, 2014) – Copyright and curation
  • National Archives and Records Administration, Dominic McDevitt-Parks (Feb 25, 2014) – Scanning and imaging
  • Smithsonian Institution Archive (April 1, 2014) – Women scientists and systemic bias in Wikipedia
  • Library of Congress (April 8, prelim.) – multimedia records and research
  • National Museum of the American Indian (April 15, 2014) – accuracy, quality and neutral point of view in Wikipedia and the news media
  • More to be announced

From Andrew Lih, associate professor:

“This class investigates the question of how historical information is constructed by using Washington DC as a unique laboratory. Through an active engagement with the city’s news organizations, GLAM institutions (galleries, libraries, archives and museums) and online crowdsourced efforts, students will work to edit Wikipedia on a wide variety of topics using multimedia content to better understand this new relationship between traditional curators of the historical record and open collaboration efforts such as Wikipedia.

This is a unique class organized around edit-a-thons and curator meetings that will also engage the public in the most renowned institutions in the world.”