Wikigate: A Wikipedia-Based Learning Activity

Wiki-gate: (v) an activity by which students begin reading a Wikipedia article, identifying and recording relevant information from the article and the begin following wordlinks or other links, repeating the activity, in an effort to aggregate information into a network of information.

Why? Students on campuses where laptops are prevalent often aren’t focused on the task at hand in class but instead distracted by social networking, youtube, etc. Faculty complain and students admit that they don’t read textbooks. Thus, finding a way to leverage student computer use and increase time on task should reap some learning benefits. Wikigation gives students an opportunity to use Wikipedia to aggregate information on the assigned topic.

I imagine doing this in two formats. For small classes (less than 30) assign students a topic for discussion and a starting wikipedia page. Starting at that page, they surf Wikipedia following links (paths of desire) and aggregating information they find along the way. At some point along the way, each student needs to read a discussion page in order to see some of the debate over content by page creators and maintainers.  Each student will then summarize her/his findings indicating the most interesting, useful or significant parts. These summaries will serve as the foundation for continued class discussion.

In a large class, students will share their knowledge with fellow group members. Groups will discuss individual finding and synthesize them into a report that summarizes their findings. Group oral reports can then be used either to engage the class in further discussion or as the basis for a quick mini-lecture to tie loose strands together.

As a follow-up activity, students will write a short essay synthesizing the knowledge gleaned from the topic…a learning log perhaps.

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