History gets written by the winners. At least that’s how it used to be. With the Internet – and specifically, OaklandWiki.org – students (and anyone) can have the empowering feeling of making facts and information available, and of telling history. Oakland Wiki is a free website about Oakland that anyone can edit and contributing to it is a hands-on lesson in creating, using, and evaluating information.


Oaklandwiki is a great tool to use for teaching - in, or outside of a classroom. Students learn to do original research, convey their findings, and to make history, with results reaching out beyond the classroom and into the community. Research can be done in a variety of ways. Gathering physical information has the added bonus of bringing to light photos, maps, documents, etc. that may have languished in a library or archive [see === for a few Oaklandwiki examples].  

Wikipedia itself can be a great teaching tool, but Oaklandwiki is even easier to use, so less time need be spent teaching how to use it – leaving more time for learning how to do research, etc. And teachers have found that students put a lot of care into their articles, knowing that they will be ‘published’.

Using Oakland Wiki in the classroom [or your own] can:

  • Build basic computer, web, research, and writing skills.
  • Facilitate documentation and sharing of local knowledge.
  • Empower individuals through knowledge creation, collaboration, and confidence in contributing to a public web-based project.
  • Contribute to the creation of a shared informational resource about the city of Oakland written entirely by and for the Oakland community (and anyone else who wants to contribute!).


There have been many teaching experiences using Wikipedia, and in the spirit, they are shared. The Wikimedia Foundation has published three pamphlets with information and ideas. They are ”Instructor Basics: How to use Wikipedia as a teaching Tool”, a sample syllabus, and a case study. There are also many who have posted their experiences and ideas; simply search for “teaching with wikipedia” to get more ideas and results. Aside from the lessons of a research assignment, the experience is a great lesson in working collaboratively online. 

Don't worry about seeing the student's [or your own] original work after it has been edited or changed. While anyone can edit an article, older versions are always accessible. Students will likely see that changes made by other editors often improve their articles. Teachers can always revisit the version the student created to check their work by clicking "Info" after the article title. Can people post false information? Of course, but here's a story of a professor who had his class create a false Wikipedia page, and the backlash that it caused.

Sample lessons could teach:

  • how to use oaklandwiki [edit, upload pictures, etc.]
  • how easy it is to post information online (for better and worse)
  • about copyright, fair use, and public domain
  • what information is not online, and why

Also, learn how to:

  • check and verify ‘facts’
  • create and/or edit an article
  • do research
  • write in a neutral tone of voice


See also


Additional Resources

Konieczny, Piotr. "Wikis and Wikipedia as a Teaching Tool: Five Years Later." 3. Sept. 2012. First Monday. Web. 2 Jul. 2013.  Detailed article with assignment ideas, activities, and links. http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/3583/3313

"Teaching with Wikipedia" Indiana University, Bloomington. Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. http://citl.indiana.edu/resources/teaching-resources1/teaching-with-wikipedia.php