Posts tagged ‘wikis’

Wikipedia and Wikis–Content Creation and Analysis Leads to Learning

While presenting at and attending several teacher conferences and workshops recently, I noticed quite a bit of negativity surrounding the issues of wikis in general and, specifically, Wikipedia. Mostly, I believe from my conversations, it seems that many still do not understand much about wikis or enough about Wikipedia. Certainly, there has been a lot published about Wikipedia and comparing it to other encyclopedias, with the Searcher article from early 2006 often cited, but I am still surprised by the strong reactions I receive from teachers, professors, and school librarians when I talk about Wikipedia as a positive example of Web 2.0.

Yes, I understand the downsides of the Wikipedia model, but I also recognize the positive aspects. For instance, I have never seen my undergraduate or graduate students in courses I have taught at Rider University and Rutgers University work harder at ensuring that the information they were providing or revising on their class wikis and/or Wikipedia was extremely accurate, up-to-date, and thoroughly-cited with academic resources! See, they knew that they were authoring information and placing their content into a vehicle which would automatically receive criticisms/comments by many, not just from their professor. This is a good thing, as they knew they were creating or revising global content, seeing themselves as members in a community of learners. Not allowing the use of Wikipedia whatsoever, or evening totally blocking it at schools with blocking software, is not the answer to our problems with it.

In my quest to better learn about and educate others on Web 2.0 collaborative tools, including wikis and Wikipedia, I must say that I have enjoyed the conversations and even some of the strong debates about their usefulness and appropriateness. But since I have not been blogging about Wikipedia itself, I thought it was time to do so. In a very recent email to a conference participant, I mentioned several older and recent postings and publications about Wikipedia in general that I would like to share more widely.

My favorite, now, is the 7 things you should know about Wikipedia from the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative that came out last month. I think anyone who wants to learn more about Wikipedia will find this 2-page article quite enlightening. EDUCAUSE provides an interesting scenario of a student using Wikipedia as a source for his paper, followed by a concise explanation of what Wikipedia is, who’s using it, how it works, why it is significant, its downsides, its future, and, finally, a short paragraph on its implications for teaching and learning, which ends by stating that “some theorists contend that content creation and analysis is a necessary component of learning. Wikipedia can encourage students to analyze what they read, ask questions, and engage in reflective, creative learning.” I wholeheartedly agree. Let’s learn both sides of this issue, and please, take the time to read and distribute this in your schools and libraries. Other articles and links I have led questioners to besides those mentioned/linked to above are these:

1) Middlebury College post in Mar. 2007, with almost a dozen other links.
2) A Business Week article in Dec. 2005. Check out the question and paragraph dealing with students citing a Wikipedia article.
3) Wikipedia’s own criticism article. Check out the references, as well as the critical article itself. Do a “Edit” and “Find on this page” search of “Wales” and you will see some of his comments here.

And you might also like Wikipedia’s other articles on itself with links:
1) Researching with Wikipedia.
2) Why Wikipedia is not so great.
3) Why Wikipedia is so great.

I hope this helps everyone better understand Wikipedia, and I welcome your thoughts and contributions to this post.

Technorati Tags: criticism, education, Library Garden, Wikipedia, wikis

July 14, 2007 at 11:02 am 6 comments

A Serendipitous Stumble: Social Computing Magazine

I was just surfing around looking for information on several topics for a variety of reasons when I came across Social Computing Magazine and had to share my serendipitous find.

Actually, I did not find the site directly but rather the article Wikis, Collective Intelligence and Libraries written by Laura B. Cohen. The article challenges academic librarians to create more subject-based wikis and to collaborate with students in order to take advantage of the collective intelligence of students and to keep their sites current. I think that public libraries should also be trying to harness the collective intelligence of their community via the use of wikis and this article gave me some great food for thought for a future post on this topic.

It is hard to tell how long the “magazine” has been around — I would say no more than two months given the dates of the articles in their online archives and the fact that some of the topics have yet to be written about. The articles and topics on the site look promising, but when I went to the message boards it seems as if they are just getting going with them.

While I was exploring, I read the article on The Blogger’s Code of Conduct and bookmarked it separately for future reference and use in blogging classes … oh, and though it took some doing, I finally discovered the crucial information I was wanting to know — who is the person/people behind this venture. I finally found it at the bottom of the article Is ‘Social Computing” a Breakthrough — or an Oxymoron?

Jeremy Geelan is Founder, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of Social Computing Magazine. He blogs at The New Web Blog and is Executive Director of The Social Computing Foundation.

It will be interesting to keep tabs on this in the months to come.

Edited to add:

Jeremy Geelan emailed me today to thank me for the positive review (and it is a positive review, I found the content useful and the overall site design easy to navigate). My one complaint about not easily finding the information about who was behind the site was a lot more visible than I originally thought — I will blame it on the fact that I was posting late on a Sunday night after spending the day in the garden and chasing after my toddler ;-)

In any event, here is some text from the email Jeremy sent that will help clear up the issue:


… As to prime movers, there is one other link on the SCM main page that would have helped you, at the bottom left: http://www.socialcomputingmagazine.com/editboard.cfm . We probably need to move that up above the fold, but we wanted content to come first, and personalities onl a distant second.

Between them, these guys are some of the most forward-thinking, savvy minds involved anywhere in and on the Web today. I am just the (lucky) conductor… they each play their instruments far better than I ever shall!

Thanks for the good thoughts,…and don’t forget, either, that SCM is a participatory site, so the more folks become involved the merrier: http://www.socialcomputingmagazine.com/submitnews.cfm

I for one plan to become involved and encourage others in the biblioblogosphere to do the same and give a librarian voice to this new venture.

Thanks for emailing me Jeremy!

April 29, 2007 at 11:20 pm 2 comments


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