Hacking Academic Collaboration with GLAM Edit-a-thons

  • Rebecca Thorndike-Breeze Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Greta Kuriger Suiter Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Keywords: Wikipedia, collaboration, hacker ethic, Wikipedia edit-a-thons, GLAM


GLAM edit-a-thons can enhance the presence of underrepresented groups and topics on Wikipedia, and by sharing valuable cultural holdings these events can also foster the public’s cultural awareness. And when university students and faculty are invited to these events, the impact can be even greater. Scholars in the fields of library science and writing studies have shown that Wikipedia’s collaborative composition model supports key learning goals for students, including collaboration, information literacy, and critical thinking about knowledge creation. At MIT, librarians, archivists, writing instructors, and local Wikipedians have collaborated to host several edit-a-thons with the common goals of addressing content gaps on Wikipedia and offering the public and the MIT community (including students, staff, alumni and faculty) new ways to engage with the institute’s archives and special collections. As we organized these events, we observed other opportunities for librarians, archivists, and instructors to collaborate on classroom instruction and their own research projects. This article shares results from MIT's GLAM edit-a-thons, and argues that approaching projects from the perspective of Wikipedia's collaborative culture can enhance other kinds of academic collaboration.