In Dr Kitamura Sae’s Tokyo classroom, Wikipedia is not just read, it is written. As part of their university coursework, Kitamura’s students regularly make contributions to Japanese Wikipedia, adding to the language’s 980,000 articles and counting.
“I just wanted to make my…class more interesting for my students,” she says.
Kitamura herself first edited Wikipedia in 2010. She added her first article in 2011 as part of a project to encourage researchers to edit Wikipedia.
Editing Wikipedia is like fighting evil all alone in the public sphere.
“This project made me understand the importance of contributing to the society as a scholar/Wikipedian,” she explains.
She has not stopped since.
Now a lecturer of English in Tokyo, Kitamura is still an active Wikipedian and advocate of the free and open knowledge movement. Recently, she found a way to match these interests and empower her students. She called it the “Wikipedia Translation Project.”
To engage her students practical language and research skills, Kitamura challenged them to choose an existing English Wikipedia article and translate it into Japanese.
“To improve students' information skills, I also teach how to use online databases and reference sources, and how to evaluate the credibility of information,” she adds.
Kitamura’s students contribute around 40 new articles to Japanese Wikipedia each semester. “Some students have grown very keen to correct wrong or unclear information, and I am glad at that,” she said. “Editing Wikipedia is like fighting against evil all alone in the corner of public sphere.”