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One-shot Wikipedia: an edit-sprint toward information literacy

John Thomas Oliver (Library, The College of New Jersey, Ewing, New Jersey, USA)

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Article publication date: 9 February 2015




The purpose of this paper is to investigate which learning targets can be achieved by using Wikipedia as a tool for teaching information literacy within the context of brief one-shot library instruction sessions.


In this case study, a Wikipedia-editing activity was incorporated into 2-hour one-shot instruction sessions. A variety of qualitative data were collected during these sessions: Student reflections during a facilitated discussion, student responses to exit-survey questions and instructor observations about the extent to which students completed Wikipedia-editing tasks.


Students found Wikipedia-editing activities and Wikipedia-related discussions engaging, and as a result they seemed to learn valuable lessons about research and writing. Students participating in this project effectively identified gaps in Wikipedia entries, critically evaluated and used sources to address those gaps and appropriately documented those materials. Students were easily encouraged to be critical about information sources, including Wikipedia and the more traditionally scholarly resources alike.


While a great deal of attention has been paid to teaching with multi-week Wikipedia assignments and coursework, evidence from this project suggests that Wikipedia-related activities can be used effectively within much narrower time constraints, including during brief one-shot library instruction sessions.



The author wishes to extend his gratitude to Erin Ackerman for her invaluable encouragement and editorial acumen. This article could not have been completed without her. The author also wishes to thank Terrence Epperson for providing a spark for this thread of research, writing and teaching.


Oliver, J.T. (2015), "One-shot Wikipedia: an edit-sprint toward information literacy", Reference Services Review, Vol. 43 No. 1, pp. 81-97.



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