Folks, good news: 2016 is the Wikipedia Year of Science. While every year should be the year of science (says the old school nerd), this is a specific initiative to improve Wikipedia’s potential for communicating science to the public.
Wikipedia's doing this by connecting higher ed classrooms to the publishing power of Wikipedia. And there's more: the Wiki Education Foundation is helping future scientists learn about science communication, while continuing to improve Wikipedia’s science coverage for readers worldwide.
According to Wikipedia, they have more links from search engines than any other website, and are often the first search result listed when searching for information about science. Wikipedia’s content reaches more than 450 million readers around the world, on topics ranging from greenhouse gas to the solar system. This makes Wikipedia one of the most powerful platforms for the dissemination of science information worldwide.
Wikipedia's take on women and science: The Year of Science is an opportunity to build the skills of the next generation of women scientists. While nearly 90% of Wikipedia’s content is written by men, more than 65% of Wiki Education Foundation’s student editors are women. The Wiki Education Foundation is focused on developing biographies of women scientists to help balance the gender content gap. They believe that expanding Wikipedia’s coverage of important women will bring greater awareness of women’s role in the sciences and inspire the next generation of pioneers.
What's the point in the end?
The Year of Science will produce well- sourced articles on important scientific topics to Wikipedia, written by students studying the topic and overseen by subject matter expert faculty members. Students gain crucial science communication skills, such as critically assessing existing content, identifying what’s missing, and filling those gaps with clear language cited to reliable sources.
How can you get involved?
For Higher Education Instructors (United States and Canada) –
The Wiki Education Foundation provides the support for the Wikipedia portion of Year of Science classes, including:
- Assignment design guidelines based on their expertise
- An online training to introduce students to Wikipedia policies and procedures
- Printed handbooks offering advice and guidelines for students and professors
- Phone, email, and video support during the term for professors and students
- Metrics about student edits, including amount of content added and page views of articles
- Partnerships with academic associations in the sciences
For Wikipedia editors –
The Year of Science is a community-wide event. They’re developed an on-wiki portal to support open involvement from Wikipedians, new and old, and interested WikiProjects. See the portal at [[Wikipedia:Year of Science]], where you can also find news, highlights, projects, and events.
For everyone else –
Wikipedia's looking to hear from instructors, academic associations, Wikipedians, journalists, and universities who are interested in the Wikipedia Year of Science. Send 'em a message here, and they’ll contact you with more ways to get involved.