Understanding Wikipedia in 3 Clicks

Understanding Wikipedia in 3 Clicks

Here we are in 2015. A year in which schools no longer buy sets of encyclopedias for the classroom and then the thing that replaced it….Wikipedia, we tell students they can’t use or trust. As I have talked to educators during trainings on wikipedia over the last month or so, I realize when I ask them why you can’t trust wikipedia the answer falls somewhere on the scale of: “I don’t understand it” Fair enough….if we don’t understand how to use something in education our first reaction is to not use it and to tell students not to use it. To be fair¬†nobody has ever taught us how to use this resource. The resource we were taught to use we no longer purchase! We don’t understand how Twitter works so block it. We don’t understand how to create learning communities on Google+ or Facebook so block it. Instagram? It’s just pictures! Of course the social networks are one thing but Wikipedia…really. I love asking groups of teachers how many of them have read and trusted what they read on a wikipedia article. Almost every hand goes up. So….what you’re telling me is we use it in our daily lives but when it comes to using it with students we should tell them………don’t trust it? There’s a disconnect here that we need to face…..we need to stop teaching that Wikipedia is a bad resource and start accepting it and understanding it. So let’s get started: The power of the Talk Tab It sits right at the top of every article just waiting to be clicked on and unleash its wealth of information about the page you are looking at. So find an article that you want to learn just how trustworthy it is and click on the “Talk” tab. Now you will see a yellowish box that has great information within it. Take some time to read everything in that yellow box. Don’t skim…..read and see what you find and notice. Feel free to click on any blue link that you want to learn more about. Go ahead….there’s all sorts of information back here about the page you’re on. Find the page rating Now that you have taken some time to read the yellow information box see if you can go back and find the “grade” or “class” the page you happen to be on has been given. Depending on...

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1 Million Edits, TED-ED, and Hall of Fames

1 Million Edits, TED-ED, and Hall of Fames

It seems like forever since I’ve sat down and blogged…..and yet at the same time it seems I spend all day blogging. Between school, COETAIL, and students I’m spending more time then ever in WordPress.  But tonight I’m closing everything else to reflect on some articles lately that I can’t get out of my head.  Some rights reserved by nojhan Wikipedia has its first 1 million editor. Stop and think about that for a minute. That’s pretty amazing that someone would take the time to sit down and make edits….for free…for others to use. What worries me most is Wikipedia is seeing a decline in the number of editors yet the website is as popular as ever…..and all I can think about is are we creating a generation of takers and not givers? How many teachers have taught the true meaning of giving on the Internet…..or actually given themselves. We all take, I haven’t met a teacher yet that hasn’t gotten a resource from the web, yet very few share and give back. The generation in our schools today are some of the heaviest users of Wikipedia and I hope that we’re challenging them to give back at least some of what they are taking. Wikipedia is a project waiting to be using in every subject I can imagine. There has to be away to use it in our schools.  Many schools, including mine, have expectations that students put in community service hours. I wonder if there is a way to count Wikipedia editing as community service. I’d love to be on that interview: “What community did you support?” “A community of about 1 billion people.”     TED-ED launched their new site recently which has some interesting features and an interesting twist to the flip approach. I need to dig into the site more to see how it all works but from the readings I’ve done and exploring the website it looks be be a pretty useful resource. But teachers will be the ultimate judge of that!  And lastly the Internet officially received its own Hall of Fame. Great to see those who invented this thing be recognized. It has been fun to read through some of their bios. It’s great to see people like Raymond Thomlinson who years ago looked down at his computer keyboard for a symbol that would separate the username from the domain host. He needed a symbol that wasn’t in...

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Wiktionary in the EAL Classroom

My favorite part of the CoETaIL program that Kim and I run is coming up this semester. The 5th and final course for the certificate includes teachers having to apply what they’ve learned in the first 4 courses in their classroom. Last week I met with Donna Hurst one of our EAL and IB TOK teachers and we hashed out a plan to use technology in meaningful ways with her 12th grade EAL students. We settled on having the students study and learn vocabulary words not by looking up definitions in a dictionary, but instead by helping to create the dictionary itself. Donna found Wiktionary the sister site to the ever so popular Wikipedia. Within Wiktionary there is a section called Simple Wiktionary that is for English Learners. I love their tips for writing: Keep it simple - Simple pages will be easier to read by people who do not speak English well. But that does not mean the definition has little content! Write good pages - The best dictionary pages are clear and have enough detail to help the user understand and use the word. See also Wiktionary:Entry layout explained Use the pages - These pages help people learn English. You may use pages from this Wiktionary to make pages in a different language. But you have to translate it to your own language yourself. Be bold! - Be bold in creating new entries. It does not have to be perfect, because other editors can make it better. Just don’t be afraid to start new entries yourself. A perfect place for English Language Learners to not only learn…but add value back to the Internet. Even better yet was the fact that Simple Wiktionary uses the Academic Word List. The same list our students use and would be choosing their words from. After we found the site we then starting thinking about how we could adapt the lesson to fit. Instead of having students do all the work, they would be reading the word page, assessing the content on it, finding out what was missing, and then improving the page. One common thing we found missing on all the pages was a sentence using the word. So, the students would write sentences using the word, we then found that some of the ways the students were using the word in the sentence wasn’t the same definition that was on the page, which meant that student would...

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Taking control of your school's profile: Where to start

So I woke up this morning to find that my post last night on school’s taking control of their profiles has started a little conversation. I gave a talk on this topic to educators and administrators at the EARCOS conference in March that scared a few, made a few jump into action, and others left shaking their heads not knowing what to do. So where do you start? First you need to understand that I work at a private international school. At the end of the day we are serving customers and need to understand where our customers are coming from and where they go to find information about our school. This is the reason why I think my talk at EARCOS hit home with so many. There are over 100 international schools that belong to EARCOS. We are all private, we all have customers, and in many cases we are completing with other international schools in our cities for those customers. So the image of our schools might be different then those of a public school. Although I would argue that a public schools image has a lot to do with how students ‘feel’ about school to begin with. In the comment that Doug Johnson left he asks what steps I think schools should take, where should they start? The long and short of it: Start where your customers (students) are! You need to start shaping your school’s profile in those social-networks that your students use. Internationally, that mean Facebook. I encourage you to go to Facebook and start searching high schools that you know (this is more of a high school thing). Why Facebook? Internationally that’s where our kids are. In a presentation earlier this year to the high school student body I asked them how many had a facebook page. Easily 95% raised their hands. That should be a dead give away to the school that this is where the students are, this is where they find, and look for information. Ask the students at your school. What is the “hot” social space for them…and then get there! Case in point. This comment written on the wall of a group started by students. (Taken from an open group on facebook without permission) Step 1 High Schools especially should start by creating a group on Facebook that they can control the content on. Then invite their students...

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Schools: Take control or forfeit your profile

Who is controlling your school’s online profile? In my presentation to educators I usually say: You need to take control of your online presence, because if you don’t…someone else will! Do schools have someone looking after their online profile? Do we need to create a new position in the communication office? I just got done editing my school’s wikipedia entry where someone had put false information on the site. It was brought to my attention today by a teacher who was told by a student about the edits made to the article. Funny enough as I’m writing this blog post I go back to the page to find more edits made that are false. I quickly go to the history page, see that the person editing the pages is logged in as user: shanghai12345, and quickly undo their edits again. I’m loving this! They make an edit I click on the history, click undo, write a quick summary of my edit and click Revert. The real information comes back. Schools need to understand where students go to get information about their school. Schools need to understand that if you don’t control the school’s profile students will. How is your school represented on Facebook? How is your school represented on Wikipedia? How can your school leverage these places as communication avenues? How can your school leverage these social-networks for learning? If someone at your school isn’t asking these questions…isn’t actively creating and managing your school’s online presence then the school is allowing students past/present/future to create it for them. If school’s are not going to adopt and take these spaces seriously…then they will allow these social places to run the school’s image. Someday I have a feeling that will ruin a school, an administrator, or a teacher. We are only at the beginning of the use of these tools. Take control now or forfeit your online profile to...

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