Digital age doctors

Tel Aviv University Medical Students Take Course on Wikipedia Writing

First course of its kind aims to improve quality of medical information available to the public online.

Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati
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Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati

A new course offered at Tel Aviv University seeks to teach medical students a skill that may be of use outside the clinic: writing and editing entries for Wikipedia.

The one-credit elective, called “Wiki-medicine: The Wonderful World of Wiki and Free Medical Information in Hebrew Wikipedia,” is the first of its kind in Israel. Participants will meet with writers who regularly contribute to Wikipedia in both Hebrew and English to learn how to produce reliable entries and about intellectual property rights.

Across the world, as well as in Israel, there are a number of cooperative arrangements between educational institutions and Wikipedia, which require students to write Wikipedia entries as part of the coursework. But this is the first time that an Israeli academic institution is offering a course dedicated entirely to writing for the online encyclopedia.

Shani Evenstein, a Wikimedia Israel board member who thought up the course, underlined the significance of medical students contributing to one of the largest websites in the world.

“Students who take the course will contribute to creating freely available content in Hebrew Wikipedia, which will serve the general public free of charge," Evenstein said. "We hope that the students will use the knowledge and experience they gain in the course to become regular editors, thus increasing the number of volunteer Wikipedia editors who contribute their free time to expand the largest human knowledge database in the world."

Prof. Yosef Makori, dean of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University, welcomed the initiative, saying that in an era when nearly everyone searches the Web for medical and health information, it is very important to give students the tools to write and edit medicine-related entries.

“I’m convinced that the students who take the course will vastly improve the level of online medical information available to the public,” he said.

Tel Aviv University medical students simulate practice resuscitation. Credit: Alon Ron
Wikipedia.

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