I had a great, although tiring, day yesterday: I went to the AussieChix microconf event. AussieChix is the Australian arm of LinuxChix. The “microconf” was a one-day event simultaneously happening in Melbourne and Sydney, with speakers in both cities, connected via videoconferencing. Giant thanks to Mary and Alice for organising it, and Google Australia and their wonderful employees for donating their space, bandwidth and time to enable us to have this event.
I first got involved with LinuxChix not long after WikiChix was founded, I suppose. I was curious about this group that we were modelling on, and I was probably feeling more confident about exploring Linux. I really can’t speak highly enough about the Australian LinuxChix. They are some amazing women. Every single one of them is just doing really cool stuff. Whether they are quiet or boisterous, they are all really strong and each have their own way of not taking shit from other people. It’s like women-company nirvana for me. And that we all just utterly geek out is the icing on the cake. :)
Anyway enough raving. I gave a ~15 minute talk on “Wikipedia & the education system”. It’s not anything super polished, just some thoughts I have been having since I attended ACEC, the computers in education conference.
- Wikipedia is now internet furniture. [I may have forgotten to use this phrase in my talk, d’oh.] What are the effects of that for the education system?
- WP the product (encyclopedia – traditional, conservative) vs WP the process/project (massively collaborative authoring – radical, new)
- WP (the product) is like EB with uber-visible referencing. WP’s referencing is psuedo-academic — not used in exactly the same way as academics.
- Schools will have a responsibility to equip students with media literacy skills for processing and understanding this new method of authoring.
- Schools – ways of using WP – directly as content – http://schools-wikipedia.org – or indirectly – referencing projects, reviewing projects, analysing how WP works
- Teachers need to educate themselves about how it works – contacting WM chapters is a good way to go
- NSW HSC English has WP on the curriculum – “Global Villages” module
- Universities – more animosity because it’s seen as an affront to authority – also more inappropriate for students to use
- Universities should recognise and reward academics’ involvement in Wikipedia just as they recognise getting an article published in a high-prestige journal. (What is the impact factor of Nature vs WP?) Academics have a responsibility to communicate the importance and relevance of their work to the general public.
- Authoring assignments for uni students (ie “write a WP article”) – good bc greater impact, readership, motivation; potentially better “peer review”- bad bc have to learn wiki skills (software & community) as well as topic area; WPians can be rude, abrasive and wrong
- What WP needs to do
- improve SW for ease of use – Wikipedia is too important to have technical barriers that stop people from editing – WYSIWYG, blame colouring, more direct stats
- welcome and encourage collaboration – both onwiki and offwiki (again chapters, outreach, engagement)
- WPians will eventually enter the education system as teachers – already have many editors who are retired teachers – both editing WP, and teaching, attract people who love learning.
Interesting post. Thanks.
I am the Director of Educational Technology for a fairly large school district in Alaska.
We are using MediaWiki (the Wikipedia software) as a tool for both collaborative curriculum development, and student publishing of various types of digital work products.
It is my view that with proper oversight and guidance, collaborative knowledge construction for an authentic audience could be an incredible hook to engage low socioeconomic status,
non-traditionally motivated students in academic tasks. Wikis offer the most promising way of making that happen.
Our district is talking with the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) about how to use their excellent visualization tools to help teachers track and assess student contributions to internally held wiki installations.
The have a very promising approach up and working with the Wikipedia itself, and we plan to link our internal “writing process approach” with MediaWiki to include Wikipedia as a higher editing and publishing output for academic credit if the contributions are “lasting”.
The PARC tool shows visually the frequence, the relative weight and the lasting nature of any users contributions.
Check it out by adding the WP article name to this URL:
This really offers some promise for educators, and I am working on a blog post about it as we speak.
Thanks for the post and the video.
John Concilus – firstname.lastname@example.org
— John Concilus · 27. October 2008, 04:47
Hi John, thanks for your comment.
Yes, the PARC Dashboard is something I forgot to mention in the past. I will have to remember it for next time. I’m glad to hear you’ve had success with MediaWiki. Please drop me a line and let me know if some good results come out of your projects.
— pfctdayelise · 1. November 2008, 16:17
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