Special issue


Collaborative worldbuilding is an ideal digital writing project for promoting critical thinking about contemporary issues, developing and applying disciplinary expertise writing transfer, and building digital literacies. In the context of the global Covid-19 pandemic where the student experience was characterised by isolation, collaborative worldbuilding also offered a powerful means of building solidarity and community. This paper presents a case study of using collaborative worldbuilding for gaming to achieve key digital writing learning outcomes. The case study shows how this innovative pedagogical approach can be mapped to two key frameworks for information and digital literacies: the Digital Competence Framework for Citizens and the Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education of the Association of College and Research Libraries. The case study also illustrates how a MediaWiki installation can be used for worldbuilding and as a means of critically introducing students to Wikipedia itself. Qualitative feedback from the students shows that the class achieved its key learning outcomes. More importantly, student engagement during the class and their feedback ascertains that collaborative worldbuilding is a powerful means of building connections and empathy between students in the context of isolation, amid a global pandemic.

Practitioner Notes

  1. The worldbuilding framework for collaborative writing developed by Trent Hergenrader can be adapted to contribute to the goals of a first-year seminar. However, there are logistical and technical factors to consider.
  2. Worldbuilding for gaming is an engaging class activity whether used for online or in-person education.
  3. Using a MediaWiki installation as the platform for digital writing is a felicitous means of imparting proficiencies identified by two information literacy frames, the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education and the Digital Competence Framework for Citizens.
  4. Worldbuilding by authoring encyclopaedic entries on a MediaWiki installation allows for a critical consideration of Wikipedia itself.
  5. Genre knowledge is essential to a student’s development as a writer. Discussions of knowledge transfer often focus on the ability of students to apply and transfer expertise across disciplines. Speculative fiction writing based on academic research is an example of knowledge transfer between genres.