Throughout my schooling years Wikipedia has been a website we have been told to AVOID AT ALL COSTS! Due to its unreliability many educational institutes do not allow its use as a form of gathering knowledge and using it as an academic reference. Due to this I have unfortunately never had the opportunity to explore this program and I was pleasantly surprised to see the amount of credible information that is on the site. After exploring the many pages on Wikipedia my views have changed in regards to its reliability as a source and its use as an educational tool. If you take the time to check its references to decipher the graffiti from the academic sources you will be pleasantly surprised like myself to find interesting and useful facts and resources that can be incorporated into the classroom.
While on my exploration of the site I came accross some of Wikipedia's sister projects. One sister project in which I thought would be a fantastic tool to incorporate within the classroom would be the Wikibooks. This wikimedia community is just like an online library with over
30 000 books created and edited by the online community (Wikibooks, 2009). Within this you can access a variety of books within different subject areas but my favourite by far is Wikijunior books for children. The books within this area are written by an online community of writers and teachers while being child friendly and reliable (Wikibooks, 2009).
Both Wikipedia and the Wikibooks (wikijunior) can be incorporated as pedagogical tools to help enhance the knowledge and skills of students within the classroom. Within a unit of work such as 'spinning in space' students could use Wikipedia to establish some ground knowledge within the area from here students can direct their own learning by establishing the direction of their learning by choosing what to study. Once this has been established the LM can incorporate the use of the Wikijunior books to enhance student knowledge and assist them within their learning journey, this could also be used as a means to spark brainstorming between the students on the subject. The use of the Wikipedia Encyclopedia and wiki book could be incorporated into learning design under Olivers resource framework (as cited in Australian University Teachers Committee, 2003). This learning design is focused on the Solar system and incorporates resources (Wikipedia and Wikibooks) which are ICT mediated and can be used as an effective pedagogical tool to scaffold the students learning through teacher support.
Wikipedia and its several sister projects (for more information head to the Wikipedia home page) can prove to be an effective tool within the classroom. Although the LM must ensure that these are used meaningfully and are not just 'slapped' into the presentation to make it look effective.
Australian University Teachers Committee. (2003). Learning Design. Retrieved August 14, 2009, from http://www.learningdesigns.uow.edu.au/project/learn_design.htm
Wikibooks. (2009). Wikibooks. Retrieved August 14, 2009, from http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Main_Page
Wikibooks. (2009). Wikijunior. Retrieved August 14, 2009, from http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Wikijunior
Wikipedia. (2009). Wikipedia. Retreived August 14, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What_is_wikipedia