A group of sixth form students helped improve Wikipedia’s pages on the Tudors at a recent event organised by Merton College, the Bodleian Libraries and the Wikimedia Foundation.
At the Rediscovering Rycote Wikipedia Editathon, 30 sixth formers from nine schools in Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Dorset, Hertfordshire and London learned about different writing styles and how to find information more effectively using the internet and books.
Oxford University historian Dr Steven Gunn gave a talk about his project investigating accidental deaths in Tudor England. The students then split into groups with the task of editing the existing Wikipedia pages on Sir John Norris, Rycote Magna and the Earls of Abingdon, among other topics.
The event was prompted by the Bodleian Library's Rediscovering Rycote website, an interactive project which documents the history of a lost Tudor mansion.
Laura, a sixth form student, said she attended the event because 'it sounded like an interesting and unique experience; an opportunity that would be too good to miss'. Her fellow student Imogen added: 'I have chosen to attend the Rediscovering Rycote Day because I would like to learn about studying history at Oxford in a more participative way whilst also learning about aspects of history not covered in the classroom.'
Dr Cressida Ryan, schools liaison and outreach officer at Merton College, Oxford, said: 'This exciting project demonstrates that history isn’t just about studying the past, but is also about shaping our future access to the past. The Rediscovering Rycote website is a great example of using the virtual world to fill in real world gaps; by enabling students to learn about the Tudors through actively engaging with Wikipedia, we’re exercising their skills of analytical and creative thinking, which is just what Oxford University looks for in its applicants.'
She added: 'Students will develop their writing skills, their knowledge of the Tudors and their digital literacy, challenging the notion of what a historical source looks like, and learning to work in unfamiliar teams.'
The Bodleian Libraries previously held a successful Wikipedia 'editathon' focusing on women in science to mark Ada Lovelace Day on 15 October 2013.