Learn Wikidata: An Interactive Course

Learning to edit Wikidata is challenging; we aim to make it easier with this interactive course.

The Landing Page of Learn Wikidata

The Learn Wikidata course aspires to teach librarians, library staff members, and other information professionals how to edit bibliographic information on Wikidata. While library professionals are experts in bibliographic data, the data model and editing environment of Wikidata may feel unfamiliar. In this peer-led course, library professionals at Vanderbilt University provide a guided tour of Wikidata, starting with basics like creating accounts and adding items and then introducing advanced tools to make editing more efficient.

The project uses Twine to make learning interactive. Twine is an open-source tool for generating branching narratives. While authors typically use Twine to craft ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’-style stories, we used it to customize our learning pathways. Since we recognized that not everyone has the same level of interest in, say, learning how to use Wikidata gadgets, we made that pathway optional. Of course, there’s always the option of exploring a missed pathway if your interest grows while taking the course.

We also created a video animation for each topic. In the videos, a friendly robot introduces introduces the subject, walking through a screencast of how to perform the relevant task on Wikidata. Creating the videos required lots of interaction between project team members. The steps included scripting, recording screencasts along with voice-over narration, creating the robot animations, and composing everything into polished videos. We hope that you will enjoy watching these videos as much as we enjoyed creating them.

The course is available in three different languages: Chinese, English, and Spanish. A French version of the course is coming soon. These editions are not simply translations but full contextualizations of the content. That is, we tried to select culturally-relevant articles and books for the different language editions. The decision to contextualize the content required us to produce four videos for each of the twenty topics we covered. You can do the math! But we feel the final result was well worth the effort. If other Wikidata users would like to produce a different edition of the course for another language, we would be happy to provide advice and support. If you want to take a closer look at our creative process, we have made our project artifacts available at our Github repository.

The project participants were Clifford Anderson, María Pía Arrate, Steve Baskauf, Marymae Jansson, Benjamin Klempay, Charlotte Lew, Greg Weldy, and Andrew Wesolek. Tania Carter and Susan Grider provided administrative support. We are grateful to Liam Wyatt, Senior Program Manager, Wikimedia Foundation, for his guidance and encouragement throughout the project. Finally, many thanks to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for supporting these WikiCite grants.

Please do give the course a spin and let us know what you think! If you have suggestions for improvement, we’d welcome the feedback. Happy editing!