Bulletin of Dental Education

University of Toronto Faculty of Dentistry: Transforming Wikipedia for Dental Students

 Permanent link   All Posts

University students, including dentistry students, use Wikipedia as a source of information multiple times a week, if not every day. But what happens when that information lacks accuracy and proper citations?

This is a problem the Wikipedia Collaboration of Dental Schools (WCODS) is aiming to address. Linnaea Halpert, a University of Toronto Faculty of Dentistry (U of T FOD) D.D.S. 4 student who is graduating in June, is the President of the Faculty’s WCODS club. The club was started three years ago with the assistance of Hashim Nainar, B.D.S., M.D.Sc., an Associate Professor at U of T FOD, and Head of the Dentistry’s Library, Helen He.

“Wikipedia is the first point of access for patient and student questions,” says Ms. Halpert. “WCODS is a community of dental students and dentists who monitor dental and oral health related content on Wikipedia and keep the information up to date.”

WCODS was started by Nour Geres, B.D.S., Professor at Dundee University in the United Kingdom, and now has chapters all around the world, including the one at the U of T FOD. At the beginning of ever year, each chapter is assigned a topic of focus with specific Wikipedia articles to work on to ensure that there is no overlap in editing efforts among different chapters. Since Wikipedia uses open collaboration, one of the challenges is that editing work can be undone. Ms. Halpert says each chapter monitors the pages after they have updated it to ensure accuracy.

Ms. Halpert became interested in WCODS when she was working at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and was working with someone who went to dental school in the UK.

“I know I have been told that Wikipedia isn’t a credible source, and we shouldn’t use it, but I also know it’s a website many of my classmates go to for a last-minute check,” she says. “So, I thought if so many of us are using it anyway, why not try to make it as good as it possibly can be?”

She also notes that because Wikipedia is so accessible, other people are using it as well such as patients and other dentists, making it even more important that everyone is accessing the same accurate information.

Univ of Toronto_Wikipedia_Picture1
The WCODS club from left to right (photo taken pre-COVID): Bronte Murcar-Evans, Linnaea Halpert, Noah Gasner, Joshua Tordjman. Credit: Adam Tepperman.

Ms. Halpert says this is a great initiative for the students at U of T FOD to be involved in and an opportunity for students at the Faculty to join a community of students and dentists around the world.

“Joining the WCODS club gives students great networking opportunities, the chance to bridge the gap between dentists and patients and allows them to gain dentistry knowledge and literature appraisal skills,” she says. “Being a part of WCODS also helps students in their pre-clinical years as a way to improve content online so that when the patient sits in their chair, they can help further bridge that knowledge gap.”

Ms. Halpert encourages all students and faculty to get involved in this club.

“We would love to have more faculty members involved so we can further expand the scope of the topics we edit and make more accurate.”

To learn more about WCODS at U of T FOD or to get involved, visit:

Courtesy of Rachel Boutet, Manager of Communications, University of Toronto Faculty of Dentistry, rachel.boutet@dentistry.utoronto.ca .

Published on June 8, 2022

Duggan ad 2013