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Today, I realized that most of the actual learningthat is,
the uptake of new informationthat I do takes place
during "wiki walks", as I wonder aimlessly through
Wikipedia, going from article to article through links
which tickle my fancy. During the course of these "wiki
walks" I've come
to know about many topics as diverse as
The culture of The Canary Islands' native Guanche people;
The industrial uses of hydrobromic acid;
The Yoido Full Gospel Church in Korea, which has
The incomprehensibly gigantic "filaments" of matter which
are the largest known structures in the universe;
And the anatomy of Placozoans, the simplest known
All of these subjects are things that I was not interested in
before, and had no knowledge of, but now know much
about. And I've learned all this information without doing a
page of homework or attending a single course.
That said, I acknowledge that conventional schooling is
very important. But it's just as necessary for students to
gain a more worldly knowledgeto increase their scope
and learn about general topics that may not be part of the
curriculum. "Wiki walks" are a way to make this happen.
Thus, I suggest a class period in schools which is devoted to
"wiki walking." Each student in the class would be placed
in front of a computer with an internet browser logged on
to Wikipedia. The students are then all given a starting
point for the day: a Wikipedia article that they all begin
on, be it "Kitti's hog-nosed bat", "Underground comix", or
"Transcendental number." The students then have an hour
to freely roam Wikipedia, but only through clicking from
article to article through links. Searching is not allowed.
Each student's browser history is recorded and assessed by
the teacher of the class, to make sure they're not just
playing "Five Clicks to Jesus" or Tetris. Students are
allowed to go to non-Wikipedia websites, but only if
they're directly linked from a relevant article, and they
must promptly return to Wikipedia.
The teacher reads each student's history and talks to the
student to make sure they've gotten a satisfactory
understanding of the topics they were reading about.
Grades are given based on how much information the
students were able to absorb based on how much time they
spent on each page.
||re: your last paragraph... that would require either an extraordinarily knowledgeable teacher or Wikipedia to have an educational adjunct with memory and deductive-reasoning tests for every article, targeted towards several levels of pre-knowledge.
||I'm of the outside opinion that schools should spend
as little time forcing computers on children as can be
gotten away with, in trade for other skills and time
to develop them, with the exception of a class or
two. Kids will get enough computer time as it goes.
||I'm frightened by how much we may be losing in one
||@FT: I'm thinking that the questioning
would be more along the lines of the student
describing what they had learned to the teacher.
The teacher would assess the validity of the
||@RS: If the kids are going to be on the computer,
they might as well be learning something instead of
wasting their time.
||I love my "wiki-walks", but applicability and therefore retention is limited. This would be akin to the old days when a student would be turned loose for a period in the library with no specific goal. It would be undeniablly useful in SOME manner, but it would be difficult to quantify.
||The student should have a quota of errors to correct in
the pages visited, and be required to show sources for the
corrections. There could be a antiwikipedian requirement
that the sources be offline.
||I could go for that, mp. I do as many Wiki-walks as
anyone, having more time on my hands in the land
of the unemployed. There is something to be said
for their expansion of my world and view, a little
like the random topics here.
||However, there is also something to be said for
more physically-interactive forms of learning, as
well as something further to be said for learning
how to put several topics together into a more
cohesive viewpoint, theme, and constructive
strategem rather than a simple collection of
random articles. The world isn't random by any
means, and it belongs to those who can construct
cohesion out of samples of chaotic information.
||[+] for the phrase wiki-walks. It's something I've enjoyed doing for a while now, and which tabbed browsing has made a real joy as I fan-out, opening a range of topics to absorb/explore later from a central theme.
||On the dynamic nature of wikipedia, can the kids edit their wikipedia pages, either adding their own wiki-links, in case they get stuck, or pulling up a particular ladder by deleting a link after they've clicked on it?
||No. The problem is primarily that schools are seen as educational insitutions. They actively prevent learning and need to be scaled down and seen as a last resort for childcare, and nothing to do with education. There is unlikely to be much need for conventional education at that level though there may be a small minority of children who would benefit, mainly on the autistic spectrum.
||Concerning Wikipedia, there's no need for that in schools because it can be replicated elsewhere without direction. If schools have any educational value, it would be to do things which are difficult to replicate elsewhere, such as having a representative cross-section of a community and what can be done with that.
||Wikipedia is flawed. I have yet to decide if it's redeemable. I do know it has a lot of influential editors who completely deny things that are both notable and verifiable for no apparent reason.
||[-] Yay for [Ray]! you said it all.
||Oh, and WHEN this plan is actually taken seriously
(as all other pill taking, computer stupefying, wii
gaming ideas tend to become) PLEASE oh please
have them ADD knowledge to the wikipedia,
definitely allowing them to search. Then have
them come back to the previously edited idea, a
week later, and find out what the world did with
their editing. The teacher of course can assist and
follow this activity...
||I agree with nineteenthly about wikipedia...
||Get two windows open side by side on the projector and have them compete for fewest clicks between random topics. At least then you're honing critical thinking. This method seems a little formless. Good for stoners.
||//but endorsing its use in schools just seems like lazy teaching.//
||Not that I particularly disagree with your end-assertion that teaching with Wikipedia is probably not a good idea, I do take issue with your reasoning about lazy teaching, which I'd always associated with the concept of reading from an authoritative text, and responding to wider questions about how or why with a shrug, as if the only thing that mattered was what it said in the curriculum authorised book. You don't get the opportunity to do that with Wikipedia, you have to read everything with a critical eye, for the very reason that you can't necessarily trust it - and so, I'd argue that learning from Wikipedia would require a more actively involved teacher, not a less one.