Teachers who once shunned the idea of students citing Wikipedia on class assignments now are embracing the Web site as a teaching tool.
Dozens of teachers at high schools and universities – including several in California – are assigning their students to write and edit entries for the online encyclopedia. The projects are designed to help students improve their research and writing skills, while adding to the public knowledge.
Sheldon Gen, an associate professor at San Francisco State University, asked students to write Wikipedia entries for an environmental policy class. His graduate students chose topics ranging from Mendocino County’s ban of genetically modified organisms to recent amendments to the Clean Air Act. Gen said some students initially were skeptical of Wikipedia and the assignment.
“One thing they truly appreciated is they published articles that are now part of the public dialogue.”
“The perception among a lot of people is that Wikipedia is not a particularly good source for newsworthy, policy-worthy information. My students shared that skepticism,” Gen said. “But all of them said at the end that they really liked the project. One thing they truly appreciated is they published articles that are now part of the public dialogue.”
Eric Goldman, an associate professor at the Santa Clara University School of Law, said he warned his students that the editing process for Wikipedia entries could be ruthless. Continue reading
By Anne Nelson
From what I can tell, most of my fellow educators spend more time criticizing Wikipedia than engaging with it. The conversation tends to go round in a fairly tiresome circle: The first educator points to an article on the subject of his/her expertise and points to a glaring error to demonstrate that the whole enterprise is worthless. The interlocutor responds with a (highly debated) study to argue that “Wikipedia is more accurate than Encyclopedia Britannica.”
But neither side comes to terms with the real Wikipedia revolution: It represents a restructuring of the architecture of knowledge. In the decade since its founding, the crowdsourced platform has grown exponentially, radically improved its content, and established a firm foothold in the online environment, now ranking as the fifth most-visited site in the world. The entire enterprise is based on Wikipedia’s utopian vision, as spelled out on the back of the staff business cards: “Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.”
That said, many observers — starting with the Wikimedia Foundation itself — realize that this vision is far from realized. This has led the foundation to launch a series of initiatives designed to improve the infrastructure and broaden participation. One of the most intriguing developments is the Public Policy Initiative and its corps of campus ambassadors.
Wikipedia represents a restructuring of the architecture of knowledge.
The challenges are formidable. Let’s leave aside, for the moment, the two-thirds of the world’s population that has yet to gain access to the Internet. The creation of Wikipedia content has striking limitations, even among the 400 million users who visit the site every month. According to Wikipedia’s own estimates, only 0.02-0.03 percent of visitors actively contribute to articles. Continue reading
If you’re still wondering about the implications of the effects of technology on learning, take a look at this brilliant video by Michael Wesch, a cultural anthropologist who studies the effects of media on society. The envelopment of sites like Google and Wikipedia into our daily lives has completely changed our relationship with information. What does that have to do with learning? Take a look.
Last week’s post about how the Internet affects plagiarism brought up some interesting points of discussion.
Readers are parsing the difference between copying information verbatim without citing the source, and paraphrasing information gleaned from sources like Wikipedia.
One reader writes:
As a graduate student and researcher, 80% of what I do is not expressing original thoughts, but accurately understanding, coherently organizing, and properly attributing other people’s thoughts. I realize TurnItIn focuses on essays and term papers, not research, but perhaps what we really need is better education on how to attribute and use sources.
Another reader takes a step back and frames the conversation in terms of information ownership:
We are entering an age where ownership of information is becoming increasingly shared or indeterminate. Therefore, it’s time to re-think the concept of plagiarism.
This young generation of thinkers sees intellectual property very differently than my older generation does. I believe we are not far from an era where most information is considered public property and one’s intellectual value is measured by what one can do with information rather than by how much one knows. In this new world, plagiarism will become irrelevant. Continue reading
Eighth grade students at Presidio Middle School share an iPad while working on a lesson.
There’s no argument that Silicon Valley startups have influenced how businesses operate. The fact that most companies now count social media strategy as a crucial part of their operation is a testament to the Internet culture infiltrating far beyond the Internet-only based businesses.
The same phenomenon is happening in education. Here are five ways tech-based startups in Silicon Valley have influenced education.
1. Social media
Not long ago, social media and education had absolutely nothing to do with one another. These days, it has become enmeshed in school policy and practice. Schools are figuring out guidelines for using Facebook. Teachers are using Twitter to engage and gauge student interaction. They’re using blogs and wikis to communicate and to teach. Parents are friending teachers and schools. “If you’re not on Facebook, it’s hard to communicate with us,” said Eric Sheninger, principal of New Milford High School in Bergen County, New Jersey. “Our new hub of real time information is Facebook. When I post things about kids’ accomplishments, and when students and parents comment, as a principal I’m proud.”