Book Chapter or Section
In this essay, we examine the innovative community college classroom project that resulted in the first installment of Wikipedia Project Octavia E. Butler: the crafting of thorough, rigorously researched, well-written Wikipedia entries for Butler’s works by teams of undergraduate students.
The first part of the essay focuses on our design of a student-centered system which would guide our students in becoming experts in a Butler novel while satisfying the goals a traditional composition and research class—to collect, analyze, and use sources as well as to develop ideas by drafting, revising, citing and documenting sources, critiquing, and editing final drafts. Our discussion addresses how community-based learning enabled our students to gain the necessary background to become authorities on different aspects of Butler’s work, detailing the stages of our teamwork and the advantages of being supported by a librarian who provides integrated and ongoing information and digital literacy instruction. The second part of the essay talks about the benefits of this type of assignment for the teaching and scholarship of Butler. For us, perhaps the most important outcome was that each student participating in the project demonstrated both a broad and a deep understanding and appreciation of Butler’s bestselling novel. Another significant benefit of this type of project is the product it generates and what this product means for the dissemination of knowledge on Butler’s work and the scholarship surrounding it. This increase in visibility may be especially important for Butler scholarship, which ordinarily is only accessible to a minute, privileged part of the world, as most resources are either contained in book chapters or in the paywalled databases of academia.