Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Using Wikipedia for writing assignments

Recently information literacy and instruction librarians have engaged in a discussion on the idea of using Wikipedia as an assignment. Wikipedia encourages use in the classroom by proposing a number of project ideas that can be accessed at Wikipedia: School and University Projects. In addition, a presentation with audio, Using Wikipedia to Reenvision the Term Paper by Andreas Brockhaus and Martha Groom, University of Washington Bothell, from the EDUCAUSE conference has been made available this afternoon via Scholarship 2.0 blog. The presentation suggests that a Wikipedia assignment allows for authentic real-world feedback as well as an audience beyond their own professor. Furthermore, the students learn to question the validity of an open-source encyclopedia as they see their own work changed and edited, sometimes in ways in which they might not agree. It was their experience that students worked harder when they knew their work could be viewed outside the classroom and gained the experience of scholarly communication, building on the work of others. Also intriguing to Eckerd was the idea that this was a type of service learning. The presenters also discussed some of the difficulties they encountered and methods for overcoming them.

Here is an example from Martha Groom's class: Communal Wildlife Conservancies in Namibia

The Wikipedia project article provides guidelines, syllabus examples, suggested exercises, and current projects. For example, a developmental biology class at Columbus State University is working on the following project:

Students in Developmental Biology are collaborating to create an article on Dictyostelium discoideum and its importance as a model system in developmental biology. The goals of the assignment are to create an article of value to the developmental biology community and to give students an opportunity to experience collaborative writing.
The article "When Wikipedia Is the Assignment" from Inside Higher Ed also discusses this concept with comments from other educators.

Another forum, Eduzendium, a project from Citizendium, is designed for student projects. Citizendium works towards a higher level of accuracy.

Students, if you are interested in writing for Wikipedia as an alternative to a term paper, let your professors know. Faculty, I can help you prepare an assignment and workshops on library resources and technology for such an assignment.

1 comment:

Term Papers said...

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