Teaching with Data: Neighborhood Wiki

Resources & Strategies for Faculty Teaching Undergraduates

Neighborhood Wiki

Faculty Authors: Susan Harris and Jacob Peters

Course: Joint Educational Project (JEP) community volunteers’ JEPedia!  

Department or School: Joint Educational Project (JEP)

Student Population: all undergraduates, mostly freshmen

Duration: ½ semester


  • Review and critique of existing Wikipedia page on University Park in a reflective essay
  • Research of neighborhood data and posting of content with reflection essay
  • Mash-­‐up reflection essay on peer review process and assignment debrief
  • Actual posted content to wiki page
  • Peer editing and fact-­‐checking of wiki content

Keywords: wiki, Wikipedia, neighborhood, community, volunteer, reflection, mash-­‐up

Summary:  Student community volunteers in the University Park neighborhood review and critique existing Wikipedia pages for the neighborhood, and then research, post, and reflect on new data and content built in their own wiki describing the same region. Finally, students participate in a mash-­‐up to peer review, fact-­‐check, and edit their created wiki content.

Assignment Goals:  As you can see from the Wikipedia posting, the description of the University Park neighborhood is focused mostly on providing demographic characteristics and a list of various (primarily educational and government) institutions in the area. Focusing just on these existing categories, and depending on how one defines the “University Park” park neighborhood boundaries, this list is either incomplete or woefully inadequate.

Over the course of several assignments, you will use data, conduct research and draw from your experiences at your JEP volunteer site to develop entries for a course wiki: “JEPedia!” Together with your fellow JEP students, you will work toward developing a more complex and comprehensive picture of the communities in which you are working.

Each week of JEP you will have an assignment designed to help you focus your observations, critically reflect on your experiences, and appreciate connections between your experiences in the community.

Recommended Tools

  • Wiki Spaces
  • Blackboard
  • Turnitin (through Blackboard)
  • Katharin Peter, USC Data librarian

Faculty Advice:  Some suggestions from students were to have predetermined topics assigned to students. Assigning topics would bring more focus, tie better to objectives, and reduce anxiety because they would be editing as a group. I also recommend others include a reflective component, or get some kind of feedback about the experience, and have students think about what they learned from the task. I did not want to set it up in Wikipedia itself, or in a public form right away, but maybe that would be appropriate for another faculty to up the ante for the “realness” of the assignment. An instructional how-­‐to video and supporting documents were provided to help students learn how to build content in the wiki.