Wikireader or Wikicreator

Yesterday in my presentation I talked about how educators and schools view Wikipedia. Where some schools have blocked the site and other schools have not blocked the site. How some teachers are allowing students to use it as a research site, while others are not.

This is still in debate, but I think we’re missing the bigger picture of what Wikipedia or Wikibooks allows us to do. We need to quit looking at Wikipedia as the end result and instead look at it as part of the learning process. Why not go to Wikipedia and use it as a learning device. Use it in our classrooms as part of the learning experience.

We talk about how our textbooks can not keep up with the changing nature of information, that information changes at to rapid of a pace. That non digital text is out of date by the time it’s in print. The image to the left is of an Astronomy book that is currently for sale here at the conference. This is the newest textbook produced by this company (Full Disclosure: I did ask permission to take this photo).

Why are we so afraid of Wikipedia. Why aren’t we using Wikipedia to study, for example Pluto. You could have your students read the text and read the Wikipedia article and then compare and contrast. I’m not saying everything in the textbook is bad, there might be information covered in the textbook that is not covered on the wiki page. If that is so, your class then is able to contribute their findings to that wiki page.

The problem is we view Wikipedia as a research site, rather than a site waiting to be edited. If you view Wikipedia and Wikibooks as a place to write the text rather than read the text, we change the Wikipedia from a place you go to gather information, to a place you go to write about, evaluate, and add information. That is a mindset that is very powerful. Engaging students in the writing of a Wikibook, or a wiki article could be used year after year as information changes. Your lessons might change, your content might change, but the learning goal could remain the same.

We need to change our mindset, students want to create and contribute, they are already doing it in spaces like myspace and youtube, why not allow them to create and contribute to the largest single web site, or to create the next textbook. Empower students in the learning process and at the same time teach them how to analyze this information. Let’s face it…whether Wikipedia is blocked or not in your school, it’s still the number one or two link when you search from home…and that’s reality!

[tags]earcos07, wikipedia, wikibooks[/tags]

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