Tuesday, 7 October 2008: 10:15 AM
George R. Brown Convention Center, 370D
Wikipedia is increasingly becoming an information source for many with Internet connectivity. The objective of this study was to understand opportunities for and constraints of using Wikipedia as an instructional tool for students enrolled in a Soil Use and Management Course at the University of Kentucky. In the fall of 2007, seven undergraduate and four graduate students developed a Wikipedia article or part of an article for their term project. This exercise had three main objectives. 1) Expand the student's specific knowledge of a soil-management related topic of interest that was not well documented in Wikipedia. The students submitted a proposal for approval by the instructor indicating the gap in Wikipedia that they intended to fill. 2) Motivate the students to write well. For most, good writing requires substantial effort and rewriting. Because their work would be published to Wikipedia and not only read by the instructor, the students were driven to do their very best. 3) Improve composition skills through writing, editing, and revision. Each developed three drafts. The first two were edited by the instructor and the third was reviewed by one or more subject experts identified by the instructor. The instructor worked with the students to post the contributions on-line; however, the students were not required to submit their final version to Wikipedia. The external editors were complementary of the students' contributions. To date, none have been vandalized. Only one has been removed because there were too few citations and most have only had minor editorial changes. This learning exercise motivated the students to write well and helped them improve their composition skills. It also resulted in valuable contributions to Wikipedia.