OCAD to 'Storm Wikipedia' this fall

Toronto's OCAD introduces a course in feminism and technology, with a Wikipedia entry as its first assignment.

Course on feminism and technology aims to alter gender balance on Wikipedia

OCAD University is introducing a new course this fall that aims to bring a better gender balance to Wikipedia — not only in its editors but also its content.

According to statistics gathered by Wikimedia, the foundation that runs the free online encylopedia, almost 90 per cent of its editors are men.

The new university course is Dialogues on Feminism and Technology, a first-of-its-kind collaborative digital course for credit in 16 universities all over the world. 

The first assignment is called "Storming Wikipedia." Students in the feminist course will have to write or edit a Wikipedia entry of a prominent woman in science or technology. The idea is to "collaboratively write feminist thinking" into Wikipedia, according to organizers.

That's not the only part of the syllabus that separates it from a regular university course.

The course in itself is a critique of the university model, with one professor or educator giving a lesson.

"That couldn't be more patriarchal," said Anne Balsamo, a course facilitator and dean of the School of Media Studies at the New School, a participating university. "That displays a hubris that is unthinkable from a feminist perspective."

It's what's known as a Distributed Open Collaborative Course (DOCC), an online course that features collaborative education, where there is not one teacher but many. It's designed by FemTechNet, a network of feminist scholars and educators that include OCAD University faculty Paula Gardner, Caroline Langill and university president Sara Diamond.

There are 12 recorded video dialogues featuring pairs of scholars and artists from around the world who "think and reimagine technology through a feminist lens."

The course is offered for credit at 16 universities all over the world, including Rutgers University, Brown University and Yale University.

At OCAD University, Dialogues in Feminism and Technology will be taught by Dr. Maria-Belén Ordóñez.

A public panel discussion and two video dialogues featuring feminist scholars will be recorded live at OCAD U on September 27.