Why Wikis? Why or why not…Wikipedia?

Want to learn more about using and even creating Wikis?

From the just delivered WEMA (Wisconsin Educational Media Association) online newsletter:

Explore the World of Wikis  via Why Wikis — a very helpful resource – about WikiPedia and Wikis from the perspective of an authoritative expert, John Hubbard – staff member at U of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries. 

Wiki_john_hubbard_uwmil_1Hubbard has prepared a free online video course covering the benefits and disadvantages of the Wiki format.

This is an interesting and useful resource for all Wisconsin educators – higher ed and PreK-12 who are interested in Wikis and use of Wikipedia!

LMC Directors and educators using Wikipedia and Wikis please share your input! 

How are you helping your students understand and evaluate information found on WikiPedia?  How are you using Wikis in your classroom?

A surprize is awaiting the first 10 WI DEN and visiting guests who do!


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  1. Nichole North Hester said:

    I find it is difficult to help students understand how to use Wikipedia information, however it is important to help them! I am a high school science teacher; in my classes I spend one day each week looking at science coverage in the news. In order to make this useful, we must spend time looking at how to evaluate information. We spend lots of time developing critical thinking skills. This is difficult work because students are not accustomed to doing such hard thinking. I found the best way to “sell” them on the hard work is to appeal to the conspiracy theorist in most teenagers and help them see it will be harder for adults to manipulate them if they are better critical thinkers. All in all I believe Wikipedia, like most other sources, can be a useful information source for students well versed in critical thought.

  2. Rachel Yurk said:

    I have recently used Wikipedia in a science discussion when my resources failed me. I needed the most recent information about Pluto and where else could I go thean Wikipedia. We learned about it with a quick lesson on Wikipedia in which kids also learned about the web and when to trust information. It was great and they really understood all the lessons learned.

  3. Jan Wee said:

    If you didn’t have a chance to attend the EdTech Connect David Warlick Webinar last week be sure to visit the archive. And if you want my own notes from that session, email me. David shared the value of using WikiPedia for updates (which were posted within minutes of the announcement) on the status of Pluto as a planet. He feels that it is important that students can differentiate when and when not to use WikiPedia. By the way, the archived webinar will be posted soon… see

    Thanks for sharing Rachel and Nicole!

  4. Patrick Uselding said:

    I have used Wikipedia for my 7th grade geography classes many times. I often make Powerpoint presentations and find the photos from various countries helpful. The students appreciate the format of the information given about most countries. I caution students in their use of the site. The links to other sites are helpful. Many are ‘official’ sites from the given country’s government or tourist board. As a class, we have also discussed how one-sided those sites can be. The World Fact Book at cia.gov is great for certain information, as well. I have also dabbled in getting support information and pictures for my 8th grade U.S. history classes, as well.

  5. Patricia A. Hawkenson said:

    My classroom of 6th graders have tapped into Wikipedia for another of topics. We do discuss who is managing these types of sites and how we validate the source of information. I have set up and tried to begin a wiki for my own classroom from one of the free sites offered through the DEN, but my school district is dragging their feet on whether or not I can open it up to the students due to the opportunity the site allows for students to tap into other adult wiki sites. If they allow, we’ll be ready to go… until then, I open up Wikipedia for them as the topics warrent in our class discussions.

  6. cathy said:

    My family uses wikipedia all the time at home. It is a great source for help on homework. It is simple to use. Sometimes the articles are a little hard for my younger son, but great for the high school son.

  7. Heidi Catlin said:

    I have seen many teachers and students using Wikipedia at the high school but the biggest proponent of Wikipedia who I have run into is my son who is in college. He attends Harvard University and he feels that Wikipedia is a great resource because of the up-to-date and current information. He also likes that fact that the information is updated through the collaboration of several people, many of whom are experts in their fields.

    I am now looking forward to using Wikis and I think that many teachers are going to find Wikis to be a great tool for collaboration in their own classrooms.

  8. Crystal Nelson said:

    The idea of anyone adding information to wikipedia worries me. As with so much information that we see and hear at Thanksgiving much of it is not historically correct. I worry that information posted will not be scientifically or historically correct.

  9. Matt Malcore said:

    I work specifically with students with emotional and behavioral students. They sometimes have a difficult time understanding that all “published work” (like final copies of essays or reports, etc.) requires several revisions to get to publish-able quality. They often hurry to complete a written piece so that they can just “be done.” It can become a struggle for them to understand that ALL writers (not just students) go through that struggle of draft, revise, edit, (repeat), and hopefully publish.
    I began this fall using Wikipedia as a means to teach my students that understanding something is not and “end.” Rather, it’s more of a benchmark along a life of learning. Not too be too philosophical here… Essentially, the ever-evolving entries in Wikipedia are great analogies to a student’s evolving understanding of the world.

    I have found that students have a bit of an “a-ha” moment when I show them Wikipedia and how the entries have been revised and improved. We actually look up the word “revision” and note how many different things this pertains to.
    This process seems to have helped some students to realize it’s OK to revisit work and improve upon a previous draft.

  10. chris ausprung said:

    I like that wikipedia isn’t just an encyclopedia, but so much more. Similar to Rachel’s experience, I love using wikipedia for current events. We type in names of people in the news and are able to find out more, up to date information about that person. A lot of it is a little complex for my fourth graders, but I paraphrase for them. In paraphrasing, I try to leave out the questionable information that gets in.

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