Congratulations to Dr. Nicola Pratt and her postgraduate politics students at the University of East Anglia who are using Wikipedia in an original and exciting way.
The students edit Wikipedia articles and then research and create new articles as part of their studies. In preparing for weekly seminars the students are expected to refine exisitng Wikipedia articles. After eight weeks editing experience the students submit their own article to Wikipedia.
This activity works at so many levels. I have heard and read of students creating and contributing to class wikis, but this project encourages students to engage in real scholarship, resulting in new information that adds to the sum of global knowledge.
These students will experience writing for a purpose for a specific audience and will develop critical thinking skills. Their research grounded in real world issues encourages collaboration not only with their peers but also with the world wide community of Wikipedia users. Crucially their work which is assessed by the University, is also subject to the critical review of other users of Wikipedia.
It seems that Dr. Pratt would like to extend her pilot scheme to include undergraduates. This would be a worthwhile extension of the project and could be employed in other subject disciplines. Engaging undergrads in the creation of knowledge, instead of providing them with facts could offer us many opportunities to encourage reflection, deep learning and increased student engagement.
While researching this entry I discovered that Wikipedia actively encourages school and university projects, and provides guidance, templates and links to several other projects.