Appropedia's service learning programs help to create an essential knowledge base for the world via a learning experience for individuals and classes. The Appropedia Foundation and the Appropedia community work with universities and learning programs to create these opportunities. Appropedia has been shown to be a particularly useful tool for educators to provide service learning.[1]

This page gives details of the program and how to participate. In brief, it covers:

  • Kinds of content that are welcomed - includes topic overviews, in-depth technical pages, how-to/guide pages, and accessible news or magazine-style reports, project descriptions (including research, hands-on, awareness-raising), technologies, practices, relevant educational programs.
  • Topic areas that are welcomed - all aspects of sustainable technologies and practices, and international development, from food security to renewable energy policy and technology to the built environment.
  • Classes that work with Appropedia - include engineering, environmental science, physics, communications and languages.
  • Kinds of participation that are welcomed - includes creating new pages, improving existing pages, copyediting, categorization.
  • Appropedia's programs - working with classes, offering internships and volunteer positions.
  • Platforms - the tools and facilities offered by Appropedia.
  • The benefits for the academic and for students.

If you're wondering, "Does Appropedia cover my area?" - the answer is probably "Yes." Appropedia currently has thousands of pages - while this is a good start, there are many gaps. If you can't find your area here, but it fits broadly into this description, it probably means that we need your contributions - so please consider working with us, and contact us with any questions. Even if your work does fall outside our scope (e.g. political campaigning, or areas unrelated to sustainable development) we can still help you get started and eventually find a more suitable home for your work.

What can be placed on Appropedia?[edit | edit source]

A common question is: What kinds of subject areas are suitable for Appropedia? The short answer is: Anything related to sustainability, tackling poverty, or improving quality of life in an environmentally sensitive way.

The Appropedia community is very open and supportive, and welcomes contributions by academics and students. We gladly welcome pages of any of these types:

  • Broad topics - e.g. Water or Appropriate technology.
  • Very specific topics - e.g. a page on "Coffee-plantain intercropping", "Constructed wetlands in south-western Australia", "Traditional farming methods in Guatemala" or "Economics of wind energy in Yunnan, China".
  • How-tos and guides
  • Research
  • Analysis - for example life cycle analysis
  • Designs
  • Case studies
  • Projects - describing student projects in e.g. construction, communication projects for sustainability or health programs, or life cycle analyses. (See these examples of LCAs, most by students.)

(Other content types may also be acceptable - contact us if you have questions.)

Note that most of these content types are not acceptable on Wikipedia. Appropedia is different from Wikipedia - we're ultimately concerned about our planet and the welfare of humanity, and any practical knowledge and solutions that address these.

To give some ideas:

Science and engineering[edit | edit source]

Health sciences and global health[edit | edit source]

Medical technology and public health information has been growing rapidly on Appropedia, with the medical devices page indexing medical technologies for the developing world, beginning in late 2011 (based on work by Michigan University and resources from the World Health Organization).

Architecture and planning[edit | edit source]

Built environment, including construction, architecture and urban planning.

Communications[edit | edit source]

Raising awareness of Appropedia is an important part of our strategy to have an increasing positive impact. This includes extensive use of social media.

International Mass Communication

Anthropology and sociology[edit | edit source]

A key unifying theme of Appropedia is appropriate technology, emphasizing the importance of context and cultural understanding in every sustainability action, every development program and every application of technology.

Sustainable practices in different cultures.

Differing uses of technology according to culture.

Economics, finance and business[edit | edit source]

Development economics, from microfinance to international policies, is a central part of international development.

Languages[edit | edit source]

Translating Appropedia pages has been motivating for students, knowing that their work can make a difference in the world, compared to artificial translation tasks.

Education[edit | edit source]

Study this service learning program, and/or develop enhancements for it.

Study the effectiveness of Appropedia as an educational resource. Document the different ways in which it is used by our service learning partners.[2] Develop an engaging and short online course for a relevant subject (e.g. a permaculture, green building or climate action topic).

But we don't stop there...[edit | edit source]

Not all classes fit into these categories. For example, permaculture classes span food production, sustainability, design, appropriate technology, water and sanitation.

See the suggested topics for content interns for examples of specific topics intended to be developed.

Programs[edit | edit source]

The main streams are:

Appropedia works closely with classes at several universities, so that students help to create a knowledge bank for a rich and sustainable world as part of their course, and are inspired to learn and contribute.

Our program
Appropedia has a number of university classes in the United States and Canada using the wiki as a platform for service learning, and we plan to expand this to other universities and other countries. Programs include written research reports, writing up field projects, and translating pages. See also Category:Service Learning and Portal:Service learning.
So far
This has received very good feedback from instructors and students. It's a boost to motivation, it showcases the work of the class and the university, and contributes to a global body of knowledge to solutions in sustainability and development.
The future
  • We are expanding the program and are ready to work with new partners.
  • We are adding new functionality to Appropedia, first and foremost to serve service learning programs.
What we offer
  • We've had experience with running various kinds of wiki service learning programs, starting with students who've never used wikis. The founder of Appropedia is an engineering instructor at Humboldt State University in California, and a major contributor has been an engineering professor at Queens University, Kingston.
  • Ease. Similar to a hosted solution, where the technical load taken by us, the framework already provided and under constant development in response to classes' needs.
  • Security. Records are available as a site dump updated weekly, and at any time as an export of all relevant pages with revision history (go to Special:Export and enter the name of any category of whose pages you wish to download).
  • These programs teach the students wiki literacy, and let them see how their work is used by others (pageview counter, and potentially comments and messages from other users).
  • An experience in collaboration. Pages are rarely developed by just one person.
  • A flagbearer for service learning. Whether or not you're working directly with us, the results of these programs can help you overcome resistance to change. You can point to these programs and say "look, it works!"

We're ready to work with people interested in this kind of learning and sharing, from around the globe.

Service learning and internships[edit | edit source]

There are many ways that students and academics can and do contribute to Appropedia, as well as benefiting from the site:

  • Classes can work on Appropedia as part of their assessment:
    • Creating topic pages
    • Carry out projects, documenting it on the wiki - design, steps, what worked and what should be done differently.
    • Translate pages
  • Academics and researchers can share what they are doing, describing their work (whatever they are willing to share under our free license), and collaborate with others on the site.
  • Students (or any suitable person) can intern with Appropedia, focusing on:
    • Knowledge sharing, e.g. through porting work
    • IT-related work, helping to manage, troubleshoot and/or develop the site.
    • Engagement and/or publicity
    • Fundraising

See Portal:Service learning, and don't hesitate to get in touch. We'd love to work with more classes and are keen to support the needs of students and educators!

Platforms[edit | edit source]

Appropedia's main platform is MediaWiki,W the knowledge sharing software used by Wikipedia and other Wikimedia Foundation websites. Additional functionality is provided through extensions.

There is also a WordPress site which can be used for specific applications, including blog posts.

Our platforms are under continual development, subject to resources, and specific feature requests can always be considered.

Examples[edit | edit source]

For a more complete listing, explore the categories:


Service learning programs to date[edit | edit source]

Courses - Undergraduate and graduate programs include:

Internships - Working closely with Appropedia's experienced team, as well as with their academic supervisors, Appropedia interns gain valuable experience:

Postgraduate students - Working with their academic supervisors and with the Appropedia Foundation and Appropedia community for support, postgraduates do valuable work on Appropedia, often focused on deeper research. Topics to date include online collaboration and Open Source Appropriate Technology. These include Masters students at Queens University, Ayon Shahed (past student and continuing Appropedia contributor), and Ivana Zelenika (current student, 2010) of the Queens Applied Sustainability Group.

Examples of content[edit | edit source]

Students create valuable pages on a wide variety of subjects - which remain as part of this living open knowledge resource, to be improved further. Just a few examples:

Particularly valuable and high quality content is regularly highlighted on Appropedia's main page as well as through our social media channels.

See also Highlighted service learning pages

Guide for teachers[edit | edit source]

We ask the teachers to:

  • Ensure students use an in progress tag to mark each page, if they don't want the pages edited by others yet.
  • Highlight the best pages from each class, e.g. by listing them at Appropedia:Highlighted pages
  • Marking very low quality pages (e.g. copyright violations, no substantial correct and useful content) with the {{delete}} tag.
  • Let us know when a class has finished, so "in progress" tags can be replaced by class attribution tags (we have a bot that can help with this).
  • Please consider asking your university to support Appropedia financially. Although the Appropedia wiki platform and our help are completely free and open, we need and greatly appreciate funds to continue our work. (Our donation link is here, but institutions will probably want to contact us directly first.)

Note that if a page is low quality (such that you don't want to have it associated with your class) but still has even a little useful content, the preferred solution is to:

  • Remove class tags ("in progress" or attribution)
  • Remove problematic material (e.g. copyright violations or incorrect information)
  • Add a relevant tag, e.g. add {{stub}} at the bottom of very short articles.

Appropedia's role[edit | edit source]

The Appropedia community:

  • Works on the wiki platform and the help pages, to make the service learning process as smooth as possible
  • Is available to assist with questions and editing needs

The Appropedia Foundation:

  • Plays a coordinating role

Call for service learning partners[edit | edit source]

Join us to improve the experience and quality of education of your students. Any questions, please leave a message on the talk page, or contact us directly.

Benefits to the academic in using Appropedia[edit | edit source]

In addition to using Appropedia as a course management system for teaching. Appropedia can also be used as a research aid. Some of Appropedia academic members post literature reviews, methods, and summaries of their research here. This has been shown to provide:[3]

  1. massive peer-review in the development of background material and experimental design,
  2. increased visibility, which leads to
  3. increased funding opportunities and improved student recruitment, and
  4. improved student research-related training and education.

Benefits for pedagogy[edit | edit source]

  1. Introduces the student to an important and powerful knowledge-sharing and collaboration platform.
  2. Facilitates group work
  3. Motivational for many students, knowing that their work will be seen by many people, and potentially be used in decisions and taking action.

Platform[edit | edit source]

Appropedia runs on MediaWiki, the stable and proven knowledge-sharing platform that runs Wikipedia and many other wiki projects.

Service learning on other wikis[edit | edit source]

As well as the classes using Appropedia, other wikis have students working with them, creating content. Notable examples include:

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Joshua M. Pearce, "Appropedia as a Tool for Service Learning in Sustainable Development", Journal of Education for Sustainable Development, 3(1), pp.47-55, 2009.Q-Share pre-printopen access
  2. See Category:Service learning courses and Category:Learning institutions.
  3. Joshua M. Pearce, "Open Source Research in Sustainability", Sustainability: the Journal of Record, 5(4), pp. 238-243, 2012. DOI free and open access

See also[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

FA info icon.svg Angle down icon.svg Page data
Authors Chris Watkins
License CC-BY-SA-3.0
Language English (en)
Related 0 subpages, 1 pages link here
Aliases Appropedia:Education, Appropedia:Learning institutions on Appropedia, Appropedia University, Appropedia:SL, Appropedia:Service learning
Impact 3,200 page views
Created August 14, 2010 by Chris Watkins
Modified January 22, 2024 by Kathy Nativi
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