Teaching with Wikidata: A Case Study


In this talk, I discuss the use of Wikidata in a graduate seminar at Vanderbilt University. During the spring semester of 2018, a colleague and I taught a course titled The Digital Flâneur: Mapping Twentieth-Century Berlin. The seminar combined discussion about the history, literature, and subcultures of Berlin with instruction in fundamental techniques of the digital humanities, including geospatial data analysis, querying Wikidata, text mining, 3D modeling, and network analysis. Out of this digital whirlwhind, Wikidata emerged as a favorite among students, several of whom drew on Wikidata for their final projects. In this presentation, I explore practical means for incorporating Wikidata into the humanities classroom, indicate areas of difficulty for students (e.g., incomplete or misclassified data, misleading SPARQL queries, and challenges with transforming the data into other formats), and propose possible improvements to the Wikidata query interface to improve its utility in college and university coursework.

Columbus, OH