Collaboration and Canvas (Editing Wikipedia in Canvas)

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In this episode of the Canvas Collaboration series, we’re looking at a simple activity that asks students to edit a Wikipedia article as a collaborative exercise, and bringing that activity inside Canvas.

To quote the Wikipedia in Education program: “…Perhaps you want to be on the cutting edge of using technology in the classroom, or maybe you’re interested in improving your students’ writing, research, collaboration, or media literacy skills. A lot of students like that the Wikipedia assignment is “published”, rather than a throw-away assignment that only the professor sees. Some professors have even argued that it’s their civic duty to enable their students to give the world access to the wealth of information and research often available only in higher education.”

We’re going to create a Calendar Event in Canvas for the activity and embed a range of Wikipedia content to get people on their way.

  1. Start by creating a video explaining the activity. Load that video to Youtube.
  2. Create a Calendar Event in Canvas, making sure you’re entering it into the right course calendar, give it a title and time then click “More Options”.
  3. Here is where we will embed all the content for the activity, or you can create a link to a Page and put the content there.
    1. First, we’ll embed the Youtube video made earlier, that explains the activity.
    2. Open the video on Youtube and click the Share icon, then click the Embed tab and copy the code.
    3. Return to the Canvas Event you are creating and click “HTML Editor”. Paste the embed code you’ve copied from Youtube. The video will display after you have saved the event, but before you do that –  paste that embed code again, we’re going to use the second one to embed the Wikipedia page. We will simply replace the Youtube URL in that code with a Wikipedia URL.
  4. Go to Wikipedia and bring up the relevant topic article for the activity. In this example we’re bringing up the article Humanism.
    1. An article like Humanism is far too extensive and developed to expect a group of students to work into  easily, so we’re going to scroll down to the bottom of the article and click one of the categories that it has been given, in this case – the Humanism category.
    2. On the Wikipedia Category page for Humanism we see two main lists: the sub categories and individual articles. Both lists are presented in alphabetical order. The idea here is to present the category page to students, asking them to choose one article they see needs development, and pitch a proposal for what they can contribute to the article before establishing it as a project. So, we are going to embed this category page in the Canvas Event.
    3. A tip with embedding Wikipedia pages is to use the mobile version of the page, because it is simpler to look at, and a bit easier to use. To get the mobile version of any Wikipedia page, simply add “m.” to the URL, after the language indicator. Look carefully at this example:
  5. Copy this URL and return to the Canvas Event you are creating (step 3.3) and paste this Wikipedia URL in place of the Youtube URL in the second instance of the embed code.
  6. Save the event and you will now see two items embedded: The Youtbue video explaining the activity and the Wikipedia category page (mobile version). If you wish to adjust the display size of this embedded media, click edit and HTML Editor and change the units for width and height in the two  instances of embed code (iFrame tags).

Please feel free to use the comment feature here to ask questions, and generally discuss this idea.

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