Thursday, August 13, 2009
When I started thinking about Wikipedia, I was reminded of an instance in Hawaii with my kids a couple of years ago. They were taking their time disembarking from a bus and the Hawaiian attendant said “Come on kids, wiki wiki!’ They looked at her blankly and she explained that it meant “hurry, hurry”.
Wikipedia is a free web based encyclopaedia which is contributed to and edited by any member. My teenagers have been using Wikipedia for school assignments for a few years and I see it as a useful tool as a starting point for new information. It provides a good basic overview of information on a topic, but I am never fully satisfied with its authenticity. I rarely reference this material, unless I check the sources first.
Constant updates mean that the information should be current, but it tends to be fairly broad.
I like the History Portal, as it takes the viewer to relevant links without wasting too much time searching. WikiProjects are linked to these pages and I enjoy browsing through them for specific information on a topic.
A WikiProject is a “collaboration area and open group of editors dedicated to improving Wikipedia's coverage of a particular topic, or to organizing some internal Wikipedia process” (Wikipedia)
I also discovered the Wikipedia sister projects which have some worth, particularly WikiVersity, WikiSpecies and Wikibooks.
I conducted a search for Vietnamese historical sites with the senior’s trip to Vietnam next year in mind. The results produced history, architecture, art, language and references to the war.
Wikipedia allows collaboration and a sharing of perspectives and that is certainly beneficial. Students can submit their work to Wikipedia and see their work benefitting from input from people around the world.
Another important skill which students are learning when they use Wikipedia is neutrality and the ability to present all sides of an argument. Bruns and Humphrey (2005) maintain that Wikipedia’s Neutral Point of View policy “teaches students the value of objectivity and the collaborative process of negotiating over the content.”
I have found that students, in a general sense, accept what is on Wikipedia and don’t go searching for other sources. This is not the fault of Wikipedia however.
According to Rosenzweig (2006) students have had an appetite for ‘pre digested and prepared information’ since the days of the family encyclopaedia. He further states that more time should be spent teaching the limitations of information sources and stressing the skills of critical analysis of primary and secondary sources.
Wikipedia: School and University Projects is a listing of schools and universities from around the world, using Wikipedia in their classrooms. This site offers advice, examples and free templates for creating wiki syllabi. It is very valuable when considering Wikipedia for teaching purposes.
Bruns, A. & Humphreys, A. (2005) “Wikis in Teaching and Assessment: The M/Cyclopedia Project”.
http://snurb.info/files/Wikis%20in%20Teaching%20And%20Assessment.pdf Viewed August 11, 2009.
Konieczny, P. ( 2007 ) Wikis and Wikipedia as a Teaching Tool, International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, Vol.4 No 1.
Rosenzweig, Roy. (2006.) "Can History Be Open Source? Wikipedia and the Future of the Past". Journal of American History. 93:117-146. http://chnm.gmu.edu/resources/essays/d/42
Viewed August 10, 2009.
Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page Viewed August 11, 2009.