Posts Tagged ‘wikipedians’

Should pupils really edit Wikipedia?

In a previous post, The Upside Downs of Wikipedia in the Classrom, I claimed that the use of Wikipedia in the classroom can and should be turned upside down from time to time by having the students/pupils write and edit articles instead of just reading and citing them. You might ask, Is this really practical? Can pupils really edit Wikipedia? What is Wikipedia going to end up like if they do? I believe that this to a large extent depends on how it is done, especially how the topics are selected.

A few weeks ago, I said to a class I teach in both Norwegian and English (K-11/Vg1, Media and Communications): “I am going to present you with a real challenge now. In mid-February, I am attending a workshop to learn about how to edit Wikipedia. This is because I want to teach you how to do this. So the challenge is: Write an article in Norwegian for Wikipedia. Are you up for it?”

They were surprisingly positive. Actually, many of them seemed excited, and no one objected. I went on: “Of course, if you are going to write new articles, instead of just editing existing ones, you have to be really careful about what topics you select.”

We then talked this over for a while. For example, three of them are involved in a band. Would it be possible to make a Wikipedia article about that band? The students spent some time that session brainstorming. When I asked them the next week, almost all of them had an idea for an article. While some of them had found gaps in the Norwegian edition that they wanted to fill (not planning to make translations, though), others had more local topics, for which they perceived themselves as experts to a reasonable degree. So I would say we are ready to go–after the workshop on Friday next week.

To be continued …


The Upside Downs of Wikipedia in the Classroom

The controversy about using Wikipedia as a source and the debate about whether this is a reliable source of information seems to have calmed down over the last few years–in Norway and probably most other places as well. Instead of banning Wikipedia, most teachers nowadays, I believe it is fair to say, encourage critical thinking and judging sources, whether these sources are online or offline. (Please correct me if I am wrong.)

The question I would like to address in this post, however, is whether teaching the students how to make proper use of information on Wikipedia is the natural end station, or whether we as teachers should prop ourselves up to go further. Is time ripe for looking seriously at the upside downs of Wikipedia in the classroom?

In his book Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and BeyondAxel Bruns details the recent (and ongoing) transition in human web-based culture from usage to produsage, the idea being that in a wiki like Wikipedia, and in other web applications, anyone can make the choice to take part in the collaborative process of adding, revising and improving content. (For a short introduction, see the produsage website.)

In this environment, what does it really mean to ‘involve digital literacy in teaching’? (Cf. the subtitle of my blog.) For my part, I have decided to use Twitter, blogging, wikis and even Wikipedia editing in class, in the sense that I will teach the students how to do this and have them use such channels or tools in their projects and in text production and publishing.

In order to be able to do this, I have to master those applications myself, obviously. Thus, I am now embarking on a journey during which I hope to become more digitally literate and able to meet the challenges of making what happens in the classroom more relevant for the student who wants to learn how to use the web for something meaningful.

My goals in doing this are quite ambitious:

  • Create better learning results in my students
  • Work more efficiently and thus save time (that can be wisely reinvested)

Along the way, I will share information that might be useful and helpful for those who choose to follow this blog, including classroom assignments. And who knows, maybe most of us will eventually turn the use of Wikipedia upside down in the classroom from time to time?