Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Wikipedia and Wikimedia

Free haven of free, libre and open content online -

How and Why Wikipedia Works: An Interview with Angela Beesley, Elisabeth Bauer, and Kizu Naoko by Dirk Riehle.
The Hidden Order of Wikipedia by Fernanda B. ViƩgas, Martin Wattenberg and Matthew M. McKeon.
Wikimedia projects

I will ellaborate this question of "The free culture and Wikimedia movements impact on educational resources and future of education in general" mostly from the experience I have had so far with wikipedia, wikispaces and wikiversity with my students.

I have used Encarta and Britanica, before I started using blogs and wikis. The information was well organized, with videos of an excellent quality, links to the latest news. However, only a certain number of people could contribute to this encyclopedia, or learn other skills except the knowledge. I have been always amazed by the nice work done there and I wanted to be able to do similar things myself and my students too.

Whenever I search for something on google, it most frequently returns back information found at a wiki. It has been like that for several years now. I remember reading discussions that the information in wikipedia wasn't accurate, and the quality of the articles was not good. Fortunately, things have changed.

Here is an example of the first wikipedia project I have participated with my students. I liked the way it was organized. There were two fascilitators and 15 secondary schools teachers and students. Each of the 15 schools asked one question, on the other side each of the schools had to reply to the 14 other schools' questions. The fascilitators contacted the teachers every week by e-mail. The students were very busy searching for information making surveys and interviews, but also discussing soime of the questions with their peers.

Wikiversity is also well organized. It is not only for univesity learning resources but it's for all levels of learning. There are discussion pages where the articles are being discussed. The custodians are doing a great job, as they are encouriging and supporting the new users to learn and further contribute to the wikiversity.

I would also like to say a few words about the feeling of ownership, which I believe pushes the wikipedia users to volunteer their time, expertize and effort. A person is not only a learner, a user but a collaborator, a producer and a researcher at the same time.

"Be bold" is the message you get there, which means feel free to comment on other people's work, participate in discussions, participate and contribute to pages, but also create new ones.

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