The Technion’s Social Hub and the Center for the Promotion of Learning and Teaching have teamed up with the NGO Wikimedia to encourage students to write Hebrew Wikipedia articles, with the aim of sharing knowledge with the public and expanding the free knowledge in the fields of science and engineering.
Hebrew Wikipedia is the fifth largest site in Israel in terms of views, with about 2,000 page views per minute. Today, there are more than 300,000 entries on the Hebrew Wikipedia site, but there is a shortage of quality and quantity when it comes to STEM subjects — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Dr. Keren Shatzman, coordinator of academic projects at Wikimedia, explained that the organization is working to expand Wikipedia’s free knowledge base.
“In this framework, we seek to encourage students to write entries in their fields of study, which will increase the quantity and quality of free information,” she said. “Although Wikipedia is not an academic source, about 85% of students in Israel use it as ‘pre-search’ — to understand basic terms and gain background on the subject before turning to academic articles — so it is important that the information is good quality and reliable.”
According to Dr. Meirav Aharon Gutman, academic chairman of the Technion’s Social Hub, the collaboration with Wikimedia is part of the social involvement the Hub is trying to encourage at the Technion. “Writing entries in Wikipedia is an effective way of disseminating knowledge to teachers, students, and anyone who wishes to do independent learning, outside the confines of the campus.”
Technion students have already participated in writing articles for Wikipedia. The entry “Public Space,” written as part of Dr. Aharon-Gutman’s course, has already received 5,000 views, and “Porosity,” written as part of one of Professor Uri Shavit’s courses, has received about 6,000.
In a January meeting, Zohar Weiss, a graduate student in the urban planning track in the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning, said that writing the entry on “cooperative housing” combined her personal interest with the professional knowledge she acquired in her studies. “At the end of the day people use Wikipedia to find out about everything, but its impact is even greater because the information reaches a really wide audience, which is really exciting.”