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Public Archaeology's Mammoth in the Room: Engaging Wikipedia as a Tool for Teaching and Outreach

  • Katherine M. Grillo (a1) and Daniel A. Contreras (a2)

Abstract

Although archaeology has become increasingly concerned with engaging diverse publics, and has embraced the internet as a means of facilitating such engagement, attitudes towards Wikipedia have—understandably—been more ambivalent. Nevertheless, we argue here, Wikipedia's popularity and reach mean that archaeologists should actively engage with the website by adding and improving archaeological content. One way to do this is in the classroom: this paper provides a detailed how-to for instructors interested in having students create new Wikipedia content. We provide a case study in Wikipedia engagement from an advanced undergraduate course on African Archaeology, assess a program (Wiki Education) designed to help, and suggest further avenues for future outreach. We conclude that Wikipedia's utopian mission aligns with many of the goals of public archaeology, and argue that archaeology has much to gain by engaging with—rather than ignoring or even shunning—Wikipedia.

Aunque la arqueología se preocupe cada vez más por comprometerse con públicos diversos, y aunque se haya acogido a la red como medio que pueda facilitar tal compromiso, la disciplina sigue – por razones comprensibles – ambivalente hacia el rol de Wikipedia. Sin embargo, aquí planteamos que por la popularidad y amplia influencia de Wikipedia los arqueólogos deben comprometerse a contribuir y mejorar el contenido de este recurso en internet. Un sitio donde se puede realizar tal compromiso es el aula: aquí se proveen instrucciones detalladas por los instructores que se interesan en involucrar a sus estudiantes en la creación y/o mejora de contenido para Wikipedia. Discutimos un caso práctico de este tipo de trabajo con Wikipedia desarrollado en un curso bachiller avanzado en arqueología africana. Por este medio, evaluamos un programa (Wiki Education) diseñado para apoyar tales esfuerzos, y sugerimos otras posibilidades para este compromiso. Concluimos que el objectivo utópico de Wikipedia se alinea con varios objectivos de la arqueología pública y planteamos que la arqueología puede ganar mucho comprometiendose con – en lugar de ignorar o incluso rechazar – Wikipedia.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

(kgrillo@ufl.edu, corresponding author)

References

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