These are my notes from Philip Cummings‘ presentation, “Say Yes to WikiPedia” on 1 Oct 2010 at the Martin Institute for Teaching Excellence’s fall conference. MY THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS ARE IN ALL CAPS. Phillip’s blog is pgcummings.wordpress.com, he is @philip_cummings on Twitter. His homepage at school is available, as well as session resources on the #micon wiki.

Starting: What do you know about WikiPedia?

MultiURL site for today: www.multiurl.com/ga/yeswikipedia (MULTIURL IS A GREAT SITE FOR LOADING UP MULTIPLE SITES IN A SINGLE BROWSER WINDOW, SIMILAR TO SHARETABS)

Wikipedia Explained By Common Craft (GREAT VIDEO!)
– WikiPedia is NOT a place for contributors to share their own opinions / bias
– WikiPedia does allow published opinions of experts to be included (citing reputable sources)
– standards of neutrality and objectivity are important to WikiPedia

When we started our project, we started with the Millington, Tennessee WikiPedia entry (it was really lame at that point – archived old version)

I have problems with articles and perspectives that just try to ban WikiPedia, to keep students away from that information
– Sept 2007 Seattle Times article: “School officials unite in banning Wikipedia

Why use WikiPedia?
– active / engaged learning
– real-world research
– ethical internet behavior
– publicly published
– evaluate information
– sort information
– verify sources
– differentiation
– collaboration with peers
– quality scale rubric (is on WikiPedia, used for every article to be evaluated – WikiProject article quality grading scheme templateWikiProject article quality grading scheme for the Tennessee WikiPedia Project)
– examples to model

Common Core Anchor Standards for Writing
American Diploma Project and the Tennessee Diploma Project (what employers think students need)

We first looked at the Discussion page for our city’s page, and saw it was considered low quality (stub) and low interest

Talk:Millington, Tennessee - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

We tried to build some civic pride in this, comparing our city’s article to other communities
– this led to lots of conversation about what is reportable information, why is something important / relevant: lots of evaluation and sorting of information
– lots of reviews of links

When you look at the revision history, you can see how much (or little) work has been done

We have done a LOT of research to improve the article, you can see how many references we have
– still not all formatted correctly, but we are still working on this
– kids have done some remarkable work here
– kids have learned a LOT

District policies prevent any of our students from accessing email from school
– that prevented us from having students with their own accounts as they contributed to the project
– we used a teacher account for all WikiPedia edits

You can see the To-do list for the WikiProject Tennessee
– one of the things they want are articles about TN high schools, that may be our next project!

The fact this is a REAL WORLD application, and many of our mandates today require real-world connections, students sorting / sifting through information, etc made this a logical project

Showed students the WikiPedia article standards and exemplar articles to use for comparison

Now heard from the students

THIS IS A FANTASTIC PROJECT, AND ONE THAT IS READILY REPLICABLE IN EVERY TOWN AND CITY. I LOVE IT!!!

ONE RECOMMENDATION FOR PEOPLE WHOSE DISTRICT POLICY PERMITS IT WOULD BE TO LET STUDENTS USE THEIR OWN ACCOUNTS AS THEY MAKE WIKIPEDIA EDITS, THAT WAY THOSE CONTRIBUTIONS CAN BECOME PART OF THEIR DIGITAL FOOTPRINT. AS AN EXAMPLE, THIS IS MY ENGLISH WIKIPEDIA CONTRIBUTIONS LIST. WOULDN’T IT BE GREAT FOR ALL YOUR STUDENTS TO HAVE THIS KIND OF “REAL WORLD”

Originally when we started this project, our IP address was marked as an unauthorized address for editing because of past vandalism
– so we appealed this, but they showed us past vandalism from our IP address and denied our appeal
– we used a secure login to a site and were able to get a teacher account approved to edit WikiPedia

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  • Nihiltres

    “District policies prevent any of our students from accessing email from school
    – that prevented us from having students with their own accounts as they contributed to the project”

    This must have been a misunderstanding, because an email account is not required to register a Wikipedia account; it is strictly optional and is only used for email-related features, including optionally having other contributors contact you by email, or retrieving an account password (or rather, a temporary random password) by email.

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