Wikipedia as a teaching aid

There’s been a fascinating discussion on the use of wikis, particularly Wikipedia, as a teaching aid on the Association of Internet Researchers discussion list over the last few days.  A number of courses are already active in Wikipedia, and some useful guidance is available on the site together with sample learning activities and a list of projects.

One aspect of suggesting or requiring that students become involved with Wikipedia that seemed to cause some surprise was the extreme unwillingness of many students to engage as authors with the encyclopedia.  One possible reason suggested for this, that students don’t yet have confidence in themselves as ‘producers of knowledge’, is compelling and I sympathise with those students who were uncomfortable with the ‘public nature‘ of Wikipedia editing.  There were also some entertaining stories of students blithely vandalising Wikipedia pages as the class viewed them and an audacious attempt to avoid an accusation of plagiarism by claiming that the plagiarist actually wrote the Wikipedia entry that raise questions about how so-called ‘Generation Y’ learners relate to crowdsourced content.

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