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Student Credits for Contributing to Online Content

Written by Nicole Chalmers · Thursday 3rd October 2013

I have some very exciting news to share with you today - the University of California (UC) in San Francisco will become the first medical school to give academic credit to students for editing content on Wikipedia.

Wikipedia has had a tempestuous history in academia. It was originally considered to be a very unreliable source until it was shown to be as accurate as the Encyclopaedia Britannica in 2005. Since then it has been gaining recognition among both students and academics as a reliable and important part of the research phase. Wikipedia acts as a base upon which further research can be built - its strong focus and policies surrounding citation mean that it’s easy to dig deeper into the information it provides. It’s brilliant to see that institutions are now recognising not only the value of using Wikipedia, but also the importance of contributing back to it and the value the service provides to both the student and the reader.

Like me, you're probably wondering how this will work. Well, students will be given the opportunity to improve commonly used but lower quality Wikipedia articles. Professors will then give credits based on the quality of each student's contribution to the article. Not only will it enhance the quality of online medical resources, it will also encourage collaborative working which will, in turn, lead to innovative thinking and advances in medicine. This progress is such great news for the future of medical education. I can’t wait for the day Meducation Authors are rewarded with credits for the amazing content they give to us!

As Charles Darwin once said “In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”