Using Wikipedia for Good and Not Evil in Education

WikipediaAlthough Wikipedia is often considered a woefully inaccurate, no-good, downright evil source by many academics, there has actually been a great deal of interesting discussion on how Wikipedia (and other open content projects) can be incorporated into course writing assignments. For me, the bottom line is this: Yes, Wikipedia and other online sources have their limitations and problems. However, we all know that students rely heavily on such sources (heck, many educators rely heavily on such sources, too), so rather than simply ignoring them or forbidding their use in a course, educators should be teaching students to critically examine all sources of information and helping them to understand the variety of ways in which knowledge is constructed in the digital age.

A great way to educate students about the nature of open content like Wikipedia is to engage them in the process involved in creating that content. The more students learn about how such content is created, reviewed, evaluated, changed, and discussed by the global community, the better prepared they will be to evaluate and understand the context of such information. Incorporating Wikipedia assignments into your course has two additional benefits: 1) you might learn a little more about open content and Wikipedia yourself, and 2) your students can contribute to improving the quality, accuracy, and depth of the articles that you may have so harshly criticized in the past. It’s win-win, baby. A wiki-win for everyone! Yay.

Below you will find a list of resources providing guidance on best practices for incorporating Wikipedia assignments into courses in higher education. You will also find some helpful links for learning to navigate, use, and contribute to Wikipedia, and at the bottom I’ve attached PowerPoint presentation from a workshop I did on this topic.

Articles and Blogs on Using Wikipedia in Teaching
Three Blogs by Mark Hatlie on Using a Wikipedia-Based History Assignment
Using Wikipedia

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