Wikipedia has become a very common and frequently used tool for students when they are asked for any academic assignment or even as a research source about any study topic. Aware of this circumstance and also of the limitations and the quality of existing articles in Spanish and Catalan Wikipedias in relation to manufacturing processes, technologies and systems, a project was initiated aimed at enhancing and organising learning activities around the creation and improvement of these contents.
In this framework, the present work will describe the particular experience in two optional subjects: “Design for Manufacture and Assembly” and “Plastics Technology”. Students enrolled in these subjects were proposed to participate en the creation and/or improvement of Wikipedia articles related to the contents studied in both subjects. The proposed activity had the following main characteristics: it was a compulsory activity and, therefore, a part of students’ final mark; and it was based on a cooperative and coordinated work, where students played up to three different roles. These roles were: 1) (editor) edition of an article, including information search and contents creation in the form of texts, pictures, figures, animations, etc.; 2) (reviewer) review of an article previously created by a classmate, including any possible modification and/or improvement; and 3) (user) look up and use of an article previously created by a classmate, and assessing it.
Main objectives of this activity were: to encourage understanding, knowledge, skills and values closely bound to the active use of open and free information systems; to promote autonomous learning; to study in depth subject contents with a more active attitude; to give the possibility that work and knowledge generated by students remain on-line and accessible to other people and not just for the lecturer; to raise the ability for being critical and for evaluating different information sources; and to learn how to work in cooperative and collaborative contexts. In addition, manufacturing engineering contents in the two referred Wikipedias were significantly improved, with several remarkable created or improved articles in the manufacturing domain.
Based on the results of a questionnaire answered by students and on the opinion stated by participating lecturers, objectives have been fulfilled and outcomes have been very positive. Lecturers are satisfied in terms of both the quantity and quality of the contributions, whose time devoted by students has fit adequately to what was planned and intended skills have been exercised. Furthermore, some of the works have even been awarded with a Manufacturing Engineering Society prize. Regarding students, most of them have agreed that the activity was very interesting, would recommend it in the future and even think they will make more contributions in the Wikipedia.