On Tue, Jul 14, 2009 at 4:11 PM, Andrew Turvey <andrewrtur...@googlemail.com
> wrote:

> I'm pleased to share with everyone that I've managed to get myself in as a
> speaker in the Open Source Schools "un"conference in Nottingham next Monday
> 20th July. Although it's primarily focused on open source software, they
> have agreed to extend it to talking about open source content as well.
> I'll be leading a session from 2:05 - 2:35 on the subject of "using
> Wikipedia in Schools"

Well done, Andrew. :-)

>From my speaking experience*, audiences vary in their knowledge of, and
attitudes to, Wikipedia. You'll probably need to cover some of the basics -
i.e. how it works - but balance this with an educator's perspective: what
good is Wikipedia for my students, or for me; why should they or I use it;
how would they know if it's reliable or not?

The angle that I usually stress is that Wikipedia's transparent and
participative nature has profound implications for the construction of
knowledge, and becoming critical - educators trying to promote critical
thinking have a valuable resource in Wikipedia to show students how
knowledge is always contestable (and is contested!). (Some more at: <
http://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Inside_Wikipedia>.) And for those who just
want the (unvandalised) facts, you could mention flagged revisions as a
mechanism for ameliorating vandalism, and promoting reliability - as well as
the fact that dealing with vandalism is an extraordinary, distributed
effort, often using pretty sophisticated tools, as well as basic ones like
recent changes, history, watchlists, diffs, rollback (ie 'how it works').

Also, don't forget Wikipedia's sister projects - Wikibooks and Wikiversity
being the most obviously relevant ones. Teachers can write their own
textbooks or materials, or adapt those of others - the practice of teaching
has always involved sharing ideas amongst teachers. And students can give
feedback on resources, edit them directly, or create their own resources
that facilitate their learning processes, or simply document how they
learnt. One thing that educators often feel strange about is that someone
else could edit *their* educational resources - you can mention the ability
to 'fork' into derivative works, rather than necessarily edit the same
resource. These are cultural issues, and quite complex - but it's worth at
least helping people recognise the opportunities, as opposed to the threats
of free culture. This is a growing educational agenda now - taking the
initiative of 'open source' towards developing 'open educational resources'
(OER) - and Graham Attwell, who I've met, will no doubt be plugging this.

And yes, as Thomas points out, there are school-friendly Wikipedia resources
- and that we're always looking for ways of improving/extending/refocusing
them, and always appreciate help. ;-)

All the best,

* Yup, will put my details on the wmuk speaker page now. :-)
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