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Action Learning: Wikipedia Projects

Further Reading

Learning is cradled in the task. --Reg Revans, The ABC’s of Action Learning (1988)

Action learning aims to organize groups or sets of peers around the experience of solving “real” problems through collaboration, critical thinking, and reflection. Rather than emphasizing traditional, “programmed instruction” (P), Action Learning underscores the importance of “questioning insight” (Q) and teamwork as key strategies for problem solving. By putting students in real, problem-solving something, and encouraging them to seek new solutions to familiar problems, action learning hopes to

 

With the release of its user-friendly tutorial, Adventure, Wikipedia has created new opportunities for action learning across disciplines. Divided into seven Missions that teach users how to edit, create, format, and publish contributions, the Wikipedia Adventure provides teachers and students with the research, writing, formatting, and curating skills they need to contribute to a real knowledge community. Using a badge system to mark progress and mastery, Adventure awards badges for such skills as communication, collaboration, research, neutrality, and civility. Put another way, Wikipedia projects teach students transferable, 21st-century skills and important Student Learning Outcomes while simultaneously empowering them as authors and members of global knowledge community with the ability to reach millions of readers.

See the attached PowerPoint at the bottom of this page for more on learning outcomes and student data as it relates to my English 102 class’s Wikipedia article on Gus Nall.

 

Projects:

  • Edit a Wikipedia page on an important class concept, process, or historical figure like mitosis, hegemony, entrepreneurship, vectors, cognitive development, Harriet Tubman or Marie Curie, using course materials and/or new research. (Editing includes adding, improving, moving, and deleting.)

  • Create a new Wikipedia article on a class-related topic using the Requested Articles link or finding a notable topic for which there is no article. (This is far more difficult than it might seem.)

  • Evaluate the accuracy and thoroughness of a Wikipedia article on an important class concept, process or historical figure, using course materials and new research.

  • Interact with experienced Wikipedia users from across the globe in the Teahouse. Ask questions about Wikipedia articles and policies, or get help with your project from experienced peer-editors.

 

Strategies:

  • Incorporate the Adventure Missions into your course design. Grade students on completing Missions, which they can show by uploading screenshots of their badges into Canvas.

  • Create teams or “sets.” For team or class projects, create groups that include at least two students in the following roles: Researchers to find and cite resources, Writers to summarize the research for publication on Wikipedia, and Formatters to add the writing, references, and images to Wikipedia. For class projects, it helps to appoint or elect team leaders responsible for quality control and communication.

  • Incorporate students into the decision-making process. Hold class meetings designed around solving problems such as choosing a topic, finding new avenues of research, organizing ideas into categories, adding images that support and illustrate the writing, and creating references. Hold class votes, and document your decision making process for reflection.

  • Use the Wikipedia Sandbox included in user profiles to create a rough draft of your Wikipedia contributions before submitting them for publication to the Wikipedia community.

  • Ask for help from experienced peer-editors in the Teahouse.

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