Wikipedia for virtual teaching and learning in pharmacy education 

By Arcelio Benetoli, PhD, MSc, BPharm and Cherie Lucas, PhD, BPharm, GradCertEdStud (Higher Ed) 

COVID19 has turned education worldwide upside down. It has changed the teaching practices for pharmacy education. With varying degrees of preparedness to switch to virtual or remote learning, educators were required to adapt. While this posed many challenges during the initial periods of the pandemic, it also provided the opportunity for the development of new and engaging teaching and learning practices, which could continue to be utilized in the future despite the pandemic.

Content Creation by Pharmacy Students 

Social media platforms encompass content creation by their users.1 In addition to popular social networking sites (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), social media includes other types of platforms such as video-sharing platforms, blogs, and wikis. Wikipedia is considered the most popular wiki and is widely accessed by practicing pharmacists. However, very few pharmacists actually contribute to this popular and widely used social media platform.2 Pharmacists are familiar with the concept of user-generated content in Wikipedia,2 but no study has investigated why they were not readily contributing. Since there is no guarantee that the content displayed is evidence-based, content can pose risks to those who rely on this source, particularly the general public. Therefore, it can be expected that a greater contribution from pharmacists could improve the health-related information available there. Pharmacists could benefit greatly with the inclusion of their contribution to Wikipedia during their formal education. 

During this time for online learning and new ways of teaching, it is timely that this provides an opportunity for pharmacy educators to engage and train our future pharmacists to be experts in online health resources and enhance their understanding of how social media platforms are used for disseminating information. Training should include evidence-based research to create reliable content for these types of public platforms. This will serve to provide accessible health information to the community by translating primary research studies into an understandable and easy language. This training could be applied in many situations which include but are not limited to formal educational settings (i.e., IPPE, APPE, or a course). However, we envision implementation to best fit as an early experience in elective format to enhance engagement.

Using Wikipedia for Content Creation

Educational sessions could include planning and familiarization with Wikipedia, small group discussions about the needs of each entry or group of entries for specific therapeutic and safe use of medicines for content creation, editing, translation, and expansion of existing entries as new evidence-based information arises. The major format of content created/edited would be text, however, images and pictures could also be inserted. Prior to content being uploaded to Wikipedia, it is proposed for pharmacist educators or practitioners to act as the “gatekeepers” by reviewing and critiquing content in the pre-submission process phase and further provide an opportunity for students to reflect on their contributions (through both self-reflection and peer reflection, sharing knowledge, insights, and challenges) before final submission of content to the Wikipedia platform.3-6  (Fig 1, Table 1) 

Fig.1. Process of educational activity involving pharmacy student contribution to Wikipedia.

Table 1. Proposed Educational Activities for Engaging Pharmacy Students 

Online Workshop Activity Further considerationsSessions/evaluation tips
Familiarization of the social media platform Current content, technical considerationsUse of social media (e.g., YouTube) videos to support explanation about Wikipedia creation/editing processes 
Small group sessions for initial discussions Proposed audience and type of contentUse of Reflective Practice Strategies3-6 
Evidence-based researchDevelopment of reliable and reputable contentExtracting reputable content that is available online
GatekeepingPharmacy educator/ practitioner involvement to review and critique contentEvaluation of content 
Self-reflection Individual to consider the following: their biases, assumptions, approaches that may affect the content creationIncorporating critiqued information from Gatekeeper into the pre-submission document
Peer-reflectionSmall group discussions, sharing knowledge, challenges, beliefs, approaches, insightsGroup considerations – sharing insights
Critical reflectionRefinement of content to be made based on self and peer reflectionIndividual to critically think of why changes and adjustments were required to be made on the content they originally created and what lessons have been learned for future development of submissions 
Content approved by Gatekeeper for submission N/AFinal proof read of document for accuracy
Content posted/publishedN/AFinal content to be uploaded to the social media platform

Engaging pharmacy students with the development of content creation to public platforms such as Wikipedia serves many purposes. It has the potential to expand the student’s future role as medication experts, places the value of future pharmacists as a valuable contributor to the field of delivery of medicine related information, develops a sense of empowerment through professional duty, all while serving the general public with reliable and valuable information.

What new ways of working and engaging students with social media platforms have been considered in your institution? We would love to hear your ideas. 

Disclosure Statement: 

Dr Cherie Lucas serves on the Editorial Board of Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning; and is a peer coach and Editor for Pulses. 


  1. Kaplan AM, Haenlein M. Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media. Bus Horiz. 2010;53(1):59-68. doi:
  2. Benetoli A, Chen TF, Schaefer M, Chaar BB, Aslani P. Professional use of social media by pharmacists: A qualitative study. J Med Internet Res. 2016;18(9). doi:10.2196/jmir.5702
  3. Tsingos C, Bosnic-Anticevich S, Smith L. Reflective practice and its implications for pharmacy education. Am J Pharm Educ. 01/2014;78(1). doi: 10.5688/ajpe78118
  4. Tsingos C, Bosnic-Anticevich S, Smith L. Learning Styles and approaches: Can reflective strategies encourage deep learning? Curr Pharm Teach Learn. 7(4):492- 504. doi: 10.1016/j.cptl.2015.04.006 
  5. Lucas C. Accessorizing the Science Foundation with Internal Mirrors: A Novel Open Source Tool to Enhance Reflective Practice. Pulses. Curr Pharm Teach Learn Scholarly Blog. August 28,2018
  6. Lucas C, Gibson A, Buckingham Shum S. Pharmacy students’ utilization of an online tool for immediate formative feedback on reflective writing tasks.  Am J Pharm Educ. 2019; 83(6). doi: 10.5688/ajpe6800

Author Bios

Dr. Arcelio Benetoli is an Adjunct Professor (Pharmacotherapy) at the State University of Maringa, Brazil. Educational scholarship interests include the use of social media in health and education and health services research. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with friends, bushwalking, and reading.

Connect LinkedIn or Twitter: @arceliobenetoli

Dr. Cherie Lucas, Senior Lecturer (Pharmacy Practice) and Clinical Education Manager (Placements) at the University of Technology Sydney, Australia. Educational scholarship interests include reflective practice, interprofessional education and simulation. Dr Lucas enjoys reading, salsa dancing, painting; and hosting dinner parties (not necessarily in that order).

Connect: LinkedIn or Twitter: @LucasReflection

Pulses is a scholarly blog supported by Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning

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