Nywikiconf Wales Keynote on Jul 25th, 2009 :: 0:34:27 to 0:37:03
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Previous category: Grading metrics

0:34:26 to 0:37:03( Edit History Discussion )
Title: Jimmy Wales

A question about students editing Wikipedia for a course grade. Background info.

George Chriss

0:34:27 to 0:34:56( Edit History Discussion )

George Chriss: Jimmy Wales: Camera guy.

On a related question—
Audience member: What's your name?

My name is George Chriss, User:GChriss, of The Pennsylvania State University.  Some of the librarians and course designers there are talking very seriously about assigning editing Wikipedia for a course grade in courses that have several hundred students each.  My first question is: is that a good thing and how do we handle that?  How do we suggest metrics for them to grade on (like working with longstanding editors)?

0:34:56 to 0:35:43( Edit History Discussion )

Wales: It's a tricky thing to be sure, because we had some really bad and some really good experiences around that.  I remember many years ago somebody at Dartmouth assigned their students to write about things at Dartmouth and they had no instruction and no real preparation for the task, and so suddenly there were a bunch of articles about a bus stop, a garbage can, at Dartmuth, and then this was noticed by the community and basically all of them—even some that were good, reasonable articles about things like famous building there, whatever—they all got deleted because the whole thing was kind of annoying.  That wasn't a good experience for the students.  The one thing they learned was that you can't write about garbage cans in Wikipedia—unless there's third-party reliable sources

0:35:43 to 0:35:54( Edit History Discussion )

Laurence Parry: We do have an article about teapots.  It's the [ubiquitous] computer-generated teapots.
Wales: Ah, very good.

0:35:54 to 0:37:03( Edit History Discussion )

On the other hand, I think Andrew Lih, when he was teaching in Hong Kong, had students go out and create articles about things in Hong Kong.  He also is a very experienced Wikipedian himself and he prepared them and taught them, and it was a great opportunity to both improve Wikipedia but also to really give these students a much better understanding of how Wikipedia works and things like that.  I just think it just depends on how it's done.

In general, having somebody get up in front of a lecture hall with 400 students and say "your assignment for tomorrow is edit Wikipedia," yeaah, maybe that's not so helpful.  It might be better if what they did is set up a wiki on a university server and say "actually, we're going to generate our own mini-Wikipedia about 'topic X', go to Wikipedia, learn the conventions, the styles, we're going to try to write in a Wikipedia style but we're going to do it on our own wiki, then at the end of the class when we're done, we'll think about letting the Wikipedians know, if they want to take the stuff it's under a compatible license."  That would be a really neat kind of exercise, I think. There's better and worse ways of doing it, but it's tricky sometimes.

Adapted from: http://www.archive.org/details/NYwikiconf_wales_keynote_25july2009

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Opening Remarks
Keynote: Jimmy Wales

Sessions held at at 10:03 am on 25-July-2009
Room 210, NYU Vanderbilt Hall, New York, NY
2009 Wiki–Conference New York


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