Three Questions with Pamela Espinosa de los Monteros and Elizabeth L. Black

Pamela Espinosa de los Monteros
Pamela Espinosa de los Monteros
Elizabeth “Beth” L. Black
Elizabeth “Beth” L. Black

On this special edition of #DLFcontribute, we’re working with the Wikimedia Foundation’s #1lib1ref (1 librarian, 1 reference) campaign to highlight how librarians use Wikipedia to fill in public knowledge gaps about local and marginalized knowledge. Running from January 15 to February 3, the #1Lib1Ref campaign encourages librarians around the world to all add one citation to Wikipedia.

This post comes to us from Pamela Espinosa de los Monteros and Elizabeth “Beth” L. Black. Pamela Espinosa de los Monteros is Assistant Professor and Latin American Studies Librarian at The Ohio State University. She was the recipient of a Fulbright Garcia Robles Binational Business Fellowship to Mexico City, Mexico (2010-2011) and holds an M.S. in Library and Information Science from Syracuse University. Elizabeth Black is the Undergraduate Engagement Librarian and an associate professor at The Ohio State University. Black’s research explores integrating information resources into online educational settings and the library’s contribution to student success. She has a master’s degree in library and information science from Kent State University and a bachelor of arts in history and bachelors of science in education from Miami University.

1. Could you talk about your International Studies course on global information? What does the partnership with the OSU Wikipedia Connection student association as well as work on Wikipedia’s Art + Feminism campaign entail?

The Ohio State University’s Understanding the Global Information in Society course intersects international studies and global information literacy. Originally designed by area studies librarians, the course critically examines global information flows and knowledge equity. Through themes drawn from international studies and information sciences, the course engages students to critically assess information creation, dissemination, and distribution in the 21st century’s global information landscape in order to prepare students to work productively and creatively in our information rich world. Course content includes copyright, authority, access, censorship, and power in the context of existing and new information mediums such as Wikipedia, big data, data visualization, and even cartoons.

The course intentionally promotes global citizenship dispositions and competencies by exploring themes through distinct multinational perspectives. As a part of this course, each student follows the news and information flow of a particular country throughout the semester. The assigned country is the focus of several assignments; in addition students are expected to explore class themes through the context and perspective of their assigned country.

An example, is the Wikipedia Assignment. We partner with the OSU Wikipedia Connection student association to design an assignment that gives students the opportunity to contribute in a practical way to the knowledge creation process. Students are asked to complete the Wikipedia Adventure, read the Notability Policy of Wikipedia, and prepare to identify two sources that can be used to create or edit a Wikipedia page about a notable woman from their assigned country. This information is provided to the OSU Wikipedia Connection for use during their Art & Feminism Edit-a-thon. Students are offered extra credit for participating in this or another editing event sponsored by the OSU Wikipedia Connection.

We developed this assignment in conjunction with Kevin Payravi, a former OSU student and co-founder of the OSU Wikipedia Connection student organization. To prepare students for this assignment, one or two members of OSU’s Wikipedia Connection are invited as guest speakers to discuss Wikipedia’s global reach and international community. The OSU Wikipedia Connection students present on their involvement with Wikipedia, explain the basics of contributing to Wikipedia, and demonstrate editing through a “live edit”.

This guest speaker and related assignment is one example of how we aim to showcase practitioners from the field that are applying concepts and theory from the course.

2. What suggestions would you offer folks from the DLF community interested in integrating Wikipedia to their pedagogy?

Recognize that while most students regularly use Wikipedia, most do not know how it came to be. This includes not knowing the basics of what constitutes an encyclopedia or the rules and policies governing Wikipedia. A teacher or librarian also has most likely told them that Wikipedia is bad and that they should not be using it. Therefore, we suggest that you integrate uncovering and clarifying common misconceptions of Wikipedia as part of your plans.

Also, editing Wikipedia will feel very risky for many students. That is why our assignment requires that students learn how to edit through the Wikipedia Adventure tutorial but does not require actually editing an article. We do award extra credit points for those who edit as part of an OSU Wikipedia Connection event, at which students will have knowledgeable support.

Ultimately, uses of Wikipedia in pedagogy needs to align with the learning goals and objectives of the educational context (course, workshop, etc.). In the case of our global information course, the Wikipedia assignment provides a tangible way for students to enhance knowledge equity and representation from around the world.

3. What are the most interesting things that you’re currently preoccupied with from teaching this course, or, alternatively, what are you currently geeking out on, as a result?

Two things on our minds are 1) the importance of integrating relevant global and international perspectives to examine contemporary global issues and 2) supporting students in moving from consumers to producers of information especially in new information formats. We redesigned some of the key assignments for the current semester to emphasize these points and we are eager to see how they work. A key revision was changing the assignment where students create an information network about their country from a single assignment to one that is done in three steps. This ensures that students get feedback on the sources they are selecting, with an emphasis on diversity of perspectives (i.e. local, national and international) and formats, and an opportunity to use that feedback in the next iteration.