Wikipedian: Li_wiki_2015

I also created post on my blog, so I am attaching the link below with the password.


Password: EDST403


Genetics of Cancer

Blog Summary of Wikipedia experience



Wikipedia is a widely used resource for quick referencing. From past experiences working in a Genetics Science lab, my colleagues would use Wikipedia if they needed to search up a gene or a pathway quickly without having spent the time searching up for the exact article reference. If they needed more information, they could use the citations Wikipedia provides at the end of the page. It is true that anyone can edit Wikpedia pages, including myself in the past week, which decreases the reliability of Wikipedia because it is hard to trace the changes to a primary source. However, I noticed that I would more likely believe information if I see a citation attached to the text. Not all citations are necessarily made appropriately by other editors, but at least it gives the text an opportunity to be justified. As a Science teacher, I tend to believe something if it can be justified by Science research (evidence), which shows an interesting connection between belief and justification in Plato’s statement that “knowledge is justified true belief”1. Thus citations become a very important tool to empower readers with the option to check references and potentially lead to deeper understanding.


My work and experience

Pages edited:

My first edit was creating more concise and meaningful links in my page. For example, “genetic disorder” originally lead to a separate “genetics” page and a separate “disorder” page, but I linked it to a page titled “genetics disorder”. This was a more accurate link. As I was reading the page, I tried to imagine myself as someone who knew nothing about genetics of cancer and found words that may needed more clarification, such as “oncogene”. I also linked these words to the actual wiki page. I think these links will help the reader make meaningful connections between key concepts and search up words they may not understand. I felt very comfortable making these changes because I believed that I was making the reading process easier for the reader. These were not major changes, so I didn’t feel the pressure of injecting incorrect information.

My most significant edit was adding to the DNA repair genes section. I introduced a few concepts, which I found individual pages to (genetic/genomic instability). This made it difficult for me to choose which page to add my section to. Ultimately, I added a blurb on the original page I was working on, and a sentence on the “Genome instability” page and added links that cross-referenced both pages. I also included a citation on both pages to the article that I drew my information from. I felt less comfortable making this change because I was changing the wording in a section. I didn’t agree with that statement that used “could” and had no citations attached. Since I tend to question myself when I question knowledge, I was a bit more hesitant during this edit.

I received no feedback and chose not to participate in the “talk”. I am very surprised that I got no feedback on the changes I made because it makes me question the credibility and the regulative process on what is shown and what is not. On the other hand, the decision to review changes may depend on the type and size of the change. Both changes were relatively minor and I did not add new sections to the text. The “talk” room was originally disabled for the “genetics of cancer” page and the “genome instability” page has one clarification comment on a previous edit. Both “talks” had much too little to be discussed. If I were to start a conversation I wouldn’t be sure how I would start the conversation. The page that had that 1 person sharing justified his edit and did not intend to start a discussion on the page. Thus, I held back.


Wikipedia in the class

I would consider weaving Wikipedia in my courses in a different way than I edited the pages for content. For a new learner, using Wikipedia may not be the most accessible way to understand the material. Sometimes language is the limiting factor and sometimes it could be a lack of visuals. Creating links or a concept map may be ways to improve the learning experience of user who use Wikipedia. For the genetics of cancer topic, genomic instability, tumor microenvironment, cell selection, and cancer stem cells are all conceptually connected. Wikipedia only has the links embedded in the text and the table of contents to create these connections, but it’s not yet perfect. Making Wikipedia more accessible could be an assignment I choose to do with my students. They will still need to know the content to either change the wording of certain sentences or creating those links inside paragraphs. I may even get them to justify why they created those links on the Wiki page. A big project for me as a teacher is to do a class collaboration with Wikipedia to create concept maps embedded on Wikipedia pages so users can see how different key words are connected. These key words would then link to other Wiki pages. This not only helps the reader conceptualize what is read, but to also have a space to explore their questions and curiosities. I think this would take student learning outside of the class where they can apply the concepts they learn in any given course. Moreover, Science communication is an important concept with many unexplored opportunities in real life practice (ex. writing for the magazine Scientific America).

In terms of allowing my students to use Wikipedia as a reference source, I would allow them to use Wikipedia to help them generate a rough picture of what they’re looking for and use the citations to help them build concrete knowledge. They would not be able to cite Wikipedia directly. This could be a discussion in class: if anyone can edit Wikipedia, why are people still using it to get information?

I’ve also thought about signing up for a Wikispace ( account and have my students set up their account in my class. They can use their accounts to write their own “Wikipedia” page on what they learned in the course or in a research project. Their pages would have headings, subheadings, a table of contents, and citations to replicate a real Wikipedia page (will need to check for plagiarism of an actual Wikipedia page). I’ve done this as a student in a UBC course and found Wikispace created a safe environment where students are not externally judged, so they felt comfortable making and editing their own page(s).


Journal Section

June 16, 2015

Today I made minor changes (checked off this box too while editing). I also wrote a brief description of my edits in my submission: “Created more meaningful links for the key words used“.

I changed the link “genetic disorder” so the link goes directly to the “genetic disorder” wiki page. The previous links were for “genetics” and “disorder” where the 2 words linked to separate pages. I found this inefficient because the user has to make the connection between “genetics” and “disorder” which could be a good exercise, but it would be up to the user to even make that connection and to make the correct connection (which isn’t too difficult in this example). Most importantly, the genetics disorder page is there and not used, which I find is a waste of resources (

For that same reason, I created the “oncogene” link as well to make resources more accessible for readers.

I thought of a project/assignment that I could try with my future students. The purpose of the project is to make changes to wiki pages so that they’re more accessible to the reader, whether that is breaking the language down so the average person can understand knowledge outside of their expertise or to create links to other resources. This project could be tied to a research project they have to do for any unit. As they are editing for language or writing something new, they’re showing they understand what is required for the unit.

Alternatively, they don’t have to do this on Wikipedia, we can use Wiki Spaces as a classroom tool (, which I’ve used in one of my previous courses. Student might feel uncomfortable editing Wikipedia, but this could be a better choice for their.


June 18, 2015

While reading the page carefully, there are certain sentences and words that appear “fishy”, but I can lay a finger on how I would correct them. For example, I don’t think cancer is solely a “genetic disorder”. Cancer is caused by mutations in the germline, but cancer is a direct result of those mutations causing cells to proliferate at abnormal levels. Another sentence I have a problem with is “These DNA damage recognition and repair genes could be considered a unique class of cancer. ” “Unique” is too strong of a word because most cancers are caused by DNA damage to the repair system, but the “could” in that sentence takes away the credibility of that sentence. Why not just delete that sentence in the first place?

I’m slowly seeing how this assignment ties into the knowledge part of our course from how I am questioning knowledge and actively engaging in changing “common knowledge”. I call Wikipedia common knowledge because it is a widely used source, even for researchers in the lab when they want to check something quickly. It is a lot easier to engage in because we don’t have to conduct science experiments and write papers to share knowledge or engage with reshaping “knowledge”. Wikipedia is a community where knowledge from research papers (evidence) are reconstructed so that the general public is able to understand, which we teachers and scientists have a responsibility for. Since this is a new community, I feel that there is a lot of work to make these pages easier to understand and more reliable for general users. The page that I’m editing right now has very little entries, but is such a big topic in Genetics. To me that was surprising at first.


June 22, 2015

How to make Wikipedia better:

– links to other keywords instead of having them scattered across the page – I had to find this out by searching up the links on Google because my exact phrasing may not be the same on the Wiki search. Sometimes it was difficult to determine which section should my new information be entered in, so I decided to put it in both and cross-referenced the pages. This is why I think certain topics should be cross-linked. It would be beneficial to the reader if the ideas were connected prior to reading the page(s).

Edited pages:



[1] Smith, M., & Siegel, H. (n.d.). Knowing, Believing, and Understanding: What Goals for Science Education? Science & Education, 553-582.


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