Embracing Wikipedia-editing as a teaching and learning strategy in higher ed: The case of medical schools

Colloquium | February 12 | 4-5:30 p.m. | 2515 Tolman Hall

 Amin Azzam, University of California, San Francisco; University of California, Berkeley; Samuel Merritt University

 Graduate School of Education

As of March 2017, Wikipedia had nearly 30,000 articles on medical topics in English that were collectively viewed more than 10 million times per day. However most of the content in Wikipedia’s health articles was created by a few hundred dedicated contributors, and approximately 75% of existing articles remain in the “start” or “stub” stage of development.  However, in 2017, Wikipedia-editing assignments were integrated into formal educational settings in 10 health professional schools, including medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, physical therapy, and public health, located in the United States, Israel, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.  In the US alone, 117 medical students across 4 medical schools made 3,150 edits to 73 English Wikipedia health-related pages, adding 128,200 words and 18 images to pages viewed 2,824,300 times.  Amin will present research assessing the impact of Wikipedia-editing assignments on medical students and the quality of Wikipedia itself. These findings have broad implications for learning pedagogies in higher education across all subject domains.

About the speaker
After completing his undergraduate degree at the University of Rochester, medical school at the Medical College of Virginia, a residency program at the University of California, San Francisco Department of Psychiatry, and a research fellowship in psychiatric genetics at the San Francisco Veterans’ Administration Medical Center, Amin Azzam discovered that his true passion was in medical education, so he went back to school for a two-year masters’ degree in education at the University of California, Berkeley, focusing on quantitative methods and evaluation. He is now a Full Clinical Professor at 1) University of California, San Francisco, where he is the faculty lead of the “Expanding Wikiproject Medicine” course; 2) University of California, Berkeley; and 3) Samuel Merritt University, where he is a Simulation Educator. He also serves as a Pedagogical Consultant to Osmosis, Inc. through a grant from the Hewlett Foundation.

His research interests include exploring the efficacy of various instructional approaches in stimulating health-professional students’ acquisition, retention, and application of content knowledge in their evolving roles as clinicians.

Beginning in 2013, Amin created a pioneering UCSF elective course for medical students to receive academic credit for improving health-related information on Wikipedia. Other schools shortly began emulating this work. In 2017, a total of 117 medical students across 4 US medical schools made 3,150 edits to 73 English Wikipedia health-related pages, adding 128,200 words and 18 images to pages viewed 2,824,300 times.  More broadly, by the start of 2018, Wikipedia-editing assignments were integrated into formal educational settings in 10 health professional schools, including medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, physical therapy, and public health, located in the United States, Israel, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

 goldwasser@berkeley.edu