OpenEd21: OER’s for Data Literacy and Knowledge Equity: Integrating Wikidata into Higher Education

4 min read

OpenEd21 is happening this week and instead of tweeting I am blogging from selected sessions I am attending. These notes may be rough as the intent is to try to follow the flow of the talk and publish as soon as possible.

Session Description

The presentation offered here will be divided into two parts:

  1. A gentle introduction to Wikidata for complete beginners.
  2. The design, implementation and outcomes of the academic course and its implications in a wider educational perspective.

One of the course’s goals was that participants improve academic, digital and data literacies, and also become critical thinkers when it comes to information consumption. Raising awareness to issues such as copyrights, knowledge gaps and fake news were incorporated into the course, resulting in students becoming more informed as digital citizens. The course also highlighted issues such as social impact, the Gender Gap and Knowledge Equity, with at least half of the articles and Wikidata items created being on notable women in history, which were missing from Wikipedia and Wikidata. Since digital agents like Siri & Alexa rely on Wikidata for their answers, it also meant that these women were missing from the global public sphere. The articles and items were viewed hundreds of thousand times, noting a positive social impact. (full abstract)

Presenter: Shani Evenstein (Tel Aviv University

Session Notes

Wikidata is part of Wikipedia. It is a database of structured linked data openly licensed. Used by Siri, Alexa and other intelligent agents.

The first part of the presentation was numerous examples of educational tools that have been built using the underlying openly licensed Wikidata, like histropedia, a tool that automatically builds timelines from Wikidata, and an interactive website about witch trials and hunts in Scotland from Uni of Edinburgh, and Scholia a service that creates visual scholarly profiles for topics, people, organizations, etc using the information in Wikidata.

The Met developed visualizations using Wikidata that allowed them to find connections between artifacts. An example from the presenter was connecting the artwork Portrait of Madame X to a dress worn by Rita Hayworth, and the creation of a game called Deception that allows the public to help curate and validate the information in the Wikidata dataset (like the Recaptcha project). Many other Met examples.

Also shared a Brazilian proof of concept project where a Wikibook using Wikidata from a GLAM collection was automatically created, which automatically created a curated open educational resource – a Wikibook. Also another Brazillian project that used Wikidata to digitally recreate lost museum artifacts after the 2018 fire at the Brazilian national museum. A “data archeology” project.

The second section of the talk was more specific about a course developed at Tel Aviv University about Wikidata – how to use it, how to contribute to it.

Description of the course from Wikipedia Outreach article:

The course has 2 main assignments: One is to work in small groups of 3 to write a new article from the Women-in-Red list (part of the WikiWomen initiatives); and the other would be to do a small project in Wikidata, which will involve writing a suitable query and then working through the results to enhance the information in Wikidata. A diverse group of students take the course as an elective.

An explicit learning outcome of the course was to have learners become active participants in the creation of knowledge.

Wikipedia platforms are great for pedagogical activities because they have scale – when something is built in Wikipedia, it will be used, and that is an important motivator for students – they see their work being used IRL by people outside the academy. Students also liked learning about copyright and the content gaps in the Wikipedia universe.

For a small elective course, it has impact

My Takeaways

A fascinating overview of a little-known (to me) corner of Wikipedia: Wikidata. I did not realize that Siri and Alexa rely on Wikidata for their answers, so this session highlighted for me that the challenges of Wikipedia (ie representation) carry over to Wikidata and, as such, carries over to Siri and Alexa meaning that answers provided are not as fulsome as they could be due to who and what is missing from Wikidata.

It was also refreshing to see a student-focused open education project that utilized a different piece of the Wikipedia universe. I love this extension of the Wikipedia article as an open pedagogy assignment as this does seem to provide a platform for learners to take a deeper dive into digital and information literacy.


Cog.Dog October 19, 2021

WikiData is like a secret few know about. It powers many of those sidebar boxes of info in Wikipedia, like a profile when you look at the entry for an institution, say

The sidebar links to the WikiData item that powers it

There’s a nice tutorial and more from University of Edinburgh

One of my favorite activities is having people use WikiShootMe to find geographical entries in Wikidata that need images

I was really blown away by this map generated from Wikidata to show birthplace locations of women in central and south america that had entries in English Wikipedia but not Spanish

And its really all done by query language you can tinker with from a visual interface. I played around with it earlier this year, would love to have an excuse to do more

Clint Lalonde October 19, 2021

Those look like fantastic resource Alan. Thanks. I always knew Wikidata was there, but have never spent any time poking around with it to see what could be done with the platform and data. This session was a bit of an eye opener for me of possibilities.

Theme by Anders Norén