An Expedition into Wikipedia
Wikipedia is a free, online multilingual encyclopedia. Love it or hate it, Wikipedia is a useful and collaborative learning tool that has many advantages. It provides a platform for which students can begin their search for information.
Prensky (2006) suggests that teachers are faced with the concern that many students are using Wikipedia as their only source of data, while conducting research. I can relate to this concern, as throughout my university studies to date, Wikipedia has been frequently discouraged. The reasoning behind this is due to Wikipedia's 'anyone can contribute and anyone can edit' nature.
Wikipedia can be viewed from a connectivist perspective. Siemens (2004) suggests that the intent of all connectivist learning activities is gaining accurate and up to date knowledge. Prensky (2006) goes on to reiterate the need for teachers to discuss with their students the importance of how to research effectively in an academic setting, to ensure the information is in fact accurate and up to date.
After exploring the site in detail, i must admit my eyes have been opened to a whole new world of available resources. I was completely unaware that WIKIPedia belongs to a wider organisation that hosts a range of other products. These products include Wikibooks,Wikiquote, Wikiversity and Wikicommons.
Wikibooks provided me personally with access to a variety of books regarding learning theories and instructional design. These books are current print that i am presently using in my studies. Which brings me to my point that, Wikipedia has many valid sources of information available to students, however i do believe, it must be filtered thoroughly to ensure information is accurate and true.
Wikicommons describes itself as a repository of free content, images, sounds and other multimedia files. This site contains endless photos and other content that can be used, royalty free, in any classroom or home environment. Students could use Wikicommons to choose a landscape photo that they must recreate using pastel crayons. This introduces the learning cohort to the site before allowing to explore further.
Throughout my previous posts i have explained that my year 4/5/6 cohort are currently completing a medieval unit. Pages such as Medieval music could be displayed on the IWB and discussed openly as a class. This information then provides the basis for further lessons into exploring medieval instruments and manuscripts.
Wikipedia is a useful website that can provide learning managers and students with meaningful learning experiences.
Until next time,
Prensky, M. (2006). Don't Bother Me Mom - I'm Learning. St. Paul, MN: Paragon House.
Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved July 19, 2009, from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.html.