Wikipedia In The Classroom

June 3, 2007 at 11:18 pm (Uncategorized)

I had a long drive a couple of days ago, and while on that long drive i did a lot of thinking.  granted, many of my thoughts had to do with the book I’m writing, Battlestar Galactica, vampires, space travel, and so forth, but periodically I did think about more work related subjects.  One of the things I thought was, “How does a teacher use Wikipedia in the classroom?”  Here’s an idea I came up with:  Writing papers is not the great exercise it once was – kids can get papers on many topics online, they cite terrible sources, etc.  I’m not in close to teaching, but these are just things I hear on the periphery.  One thing teachers are always telling students is to not use the Internet to find materials for their research.

So I thought, why not start with a Wikipedia article on a given topic.  Divide your students into small groups, and give each group a topic.  The group goes to Wikipedia and prints out the article about that topic.  The group then does research to find out if the article is accurate.  Fact checking for dates, names, places, but also seeing if there are any really important things missing, or extraneous things added.  Talk about the tone of the article – is it too informal?

By printing it out, they have something static to work with – there’s the chance that others would be improving the article while the students were engaged in their project.

After doing their research and making determinations about the article, students could then update the article on Wikipedia according to their findings, and keep track of the article for a period of time afterwards to see if any changes are made by other ‘pedians.

Outcomes – students would gain experience evaluating the credibility of their sources.  Students would gain experience in a larger interactive online environment.

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2 Comments

  1. irkstyle said,

    I like this idea. It’s pretty difficult to impress into kids the need to be careful about what source you use for research. I say ‘into’ because they are quite savvy about telling you what you want to hear – and then going on to do the complete opposite of what they just said was the best way! Quick and easy, that’s the best way for many of them.

  2. supercrazylibrarianguy said,

    Blue Skunk Blog has been making some good points and generating interesting discussion about Wikipedia also:
    http://doug-johnson.squarespace.com/blue-skunk-blog/2007/6/7/defending-wikipedia-its-our-job.html#comment854711

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